Elbow Room

Generate a more productive swing by correctly moving the right elbow

Elbow RoomContrary to popular belief, the arms and elbows, from address to the top of the backswing, travel only a short distance. This is a reality few recreational players grasp. Most choose to believe that the arms and elbows travel a very great distance, and this is what provides power in the golf swing. These golfers are drastically misinformed. Power isn’t generated by swinging the arms and elbows out and away from your body. In fact, just the opposite is true. Read on to learn why and how to develop a more compact, more efficient and more productive swing.

Compact Hinge
A key concept to understand is that the arms, which are positioned in front of the chest at address, must remain in front of the chest throughout the swing. Keeping your arms and elbows in front of you begins with being able to execute a proper right elbow hinge. Most amateurs are guilty of hinging the elbow backward, an error that moves the right forearm under the swing plane, eventually trapping it behind the right hip on the forwardswing.

The right elbow should hinge up, not back. Maintain your arms’ position in front of your chest and also keep your right forearm on the plane of your swing. Your shoulder turn brings the club behind your head, not your arms.

You can practice the correct elbow hinge with any club. Following the takeaway, focus on folding the right elbow up, not out behind you. Your swing should feel much more vertical than before. More importantly, it should feel shorter. That’s a good thing since, whether you believe it or not, a good backswing is only 18 inches long. From setup to the top, your right elbow should move just about a foot and a half, from the center of your torso to just outside the right hip.

Despite its smaller-than-expected length, a “true” backswing fuels a simpler swing, is loaded with big-time power and makes it much easier to return to impact without hindrances or compensations.

A proper right elbow hinge is paramount to creating a fundamentally solid backswing. But it’s only a small piece to a bigger puzzle. The secret to better golf is to get rightly related at the top—a requirement that involves the establishment of four key angles, all of which are 90 degrees.

90 Drill90/90/90/90 Drill
The first 90-degree angle is created by the right elbow. As you fold the elbow up (not behind, remember), it should hinge to 90 degrees. This 90-degree fold is measured from the right bicep to the right forearm. The other three 90-degree angles are made between 1) the right tricep and the right side of your torso; 2) your clubshaft and your right forearm; and 3) your shoulder line and the target line. Establishing these four angles adds extension and coil while keeping the backswing relatively short, compact and simple.

Stand up where you are and assume your standard address position. With your left hand resting on your hip, bring your right arm up and fold it 90 degrees right in front of you. That’s one 90-degree angle. Now, check that your right tricep makes a right angle with your torso. That’s 90-degree angle number two. Next, hinge the right elbow so that if you were holding a golf club in that hand, the shaft would make a right angle to your right forearm. That’s angle number three.


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