The Right Elbow and Forearm in the Golf Swing
Submitted by Aaron on Mon, 07/11/2016 - 12:57
The Right Elbow and Forearm in the golf swing is perhaps the biggest source of problems for most amateur golfers.
And many amateur golfers do not even know this - nor do they know how to fix it and turn it into their greatest asset in the golf swing.
This post will show you how to begin to master the right forearm and elbow to hit powerful, straight golf shots.
By studying some of the swings of history's greatest ball strikers, such as Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino and Moe Norman, you will find some similarities in certain aspects of their swings.
Regardless of their physical differences in terms of body build and physiology and swing plane, there are some similar mechanics and similar "swing feeling" they experienced through the hitting zone.
We know that Ben Hogan set up closer to the ball and more upright than Moe Norman and therefore some of his movements had to be different, but these greats had similarities that helped them be some of history's greatest ball strikers.
Paul Bertholy, a great golf instructor from decades past (40s 50s and 60s) wrote about the right forearm and right elbow.
He basically stated that when one learns what to do with the right forearm and elbow in the golf swing, the mechanics of the golf swing seem to disappear.
The right forearm and elbow (for a right-handed player) or the trailing arm can and do destroy most amateur golf swings because they have an instinct to hit from the top of the swing with their dominant arm, which creates a pre-mature release, casting and flipping of the club, and loss of most of the lag angle needed to create great club head speed and whip through impact.
If you study Ben Hogan's right forearm and elbow, Lee Trevino's right forearm and elbow, and Moe Norman's right forearm and elbow, you will find some similarities, specifically within the region of the swing just before and after impact.
Don't get me wrong, these 3 guys had very different looking swings.
However, the way they retained the elbow and mass of the forearm on the way down and then allowed the mass of the right forearm to rifle down the target line after impact confirms what Bertholy said about how to contain and release the right forearm mass.
If you watch Hogan's body movement through impact, you can see a very powerful upward thrust of the left shoulder as the right shoulder feeds very under-neath and down the line (feeling like the shoulders rotate on a very vertical path).
Likewise, check out Lee Trevino's right forearm and shoulder, feeding well under the chin and firing underneath and down the target line, like Ben Hogan's side-arm throw only even more "under-arm".
You can see that Lee Trevino looks like his right arm chased after the ball and well under his torso and chin.
Moe Norman, arguably the best ball-striker that ever lived because of how deadly straight he hit ball after ball, also said he had the feeling of swinging underneath himself stating his arms felt like a windmill.
Moe's right shoulder worked very much vertically underneath him (not so much around horizontally) on the way down and his right forearm was retained and his right wrist and elbow was bent until after impact.
Ben Hogan said he wished he had 3 right hands - but that was only around 6/100ths of a second before impact, when the right forearm began to release and the lag began to release through and beyond the ball.
The extra right forearm mass will ruin a swing if released too early and the right elbow flies away from the body too early in the swing, while the right forearm thrusts away from the body.
This is perhaps the BIGGEST AILMENT for amateur golfers of all ages - not knowing how to retain and release the mass of the right forearm at the right moment and in the right direction.
The proper feeling of the right elbow on the way down is that the right elbow is seeking the navel while leading the right forearm - which is leading the hand while the right wrist and hand stay bent in a "claw" position until just past impact.
Retaining the claw position in the right hand will allow for a flat or slightly bowed left wrist at impact, ensuring that the club face is square and there is a bit of forward shaft lean at impact.
In addition, the way to really feel the power of this retained mass of the right forearm is to allow the right forearm to continue to supinate (right palm to the sky) while the left forearm pronates (back of left hand to the sky), keeping the mass and potential retained by the right shoulder, so that it feels retained by the right shoulder well into the downswing.
This "torquing" motion continues to work in the opposite direction of the lower body rotating / moving toward the target until the last possible moment when the right forearm mass fires down the target line.
Notice how the right elbow becomes apparently pinned ahead of Hogan's right hip area on the way down and does not really release until after impact, riding his rotation around and then thrusting like a powerful piston toward the target.
Utilizing the right forearm mass, rotation, and release properly is not an easy accomplishment.
However, once you learn what this feels like, it is a very powerful asset in your game, and, like riding a bicycle, it can become second nature when learned properly.
If you are struggling or would like to learn some drills to help build these proper feelings into your swing, contact us below.
You can also leave a comment or question on the page below for some in-depth discussion on these concepts.
John Wilkinson is available for lessons in West central Ohio and surrounding areas. Aaron Schulman is available for lessons in the Delaware and surrounding areas.
John and Aaron are also available on a limited basis for online / Skype lessons. Contact us for details.