Over the years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the proper position of the right elbow at the top of the backswing. Some players like John Daly swing with their elbow flying out, while others like Sergio Garcia keep it in, proving that it's possible to hit great shots with either method. However, my biomechanical studies with PGA Tour pros using the K-Vest, developed by Bentley Kinetics, indicate that the flying right-elbow position favors a fade ballflight while a tucked right elbow promotes a draw. If you struggle with slicing or have always wanted to develop a power-rich draw, then the right elbow may hold the answer. Plus, when you let the right elbow fly, it has the tendency to raise the right shoulder skyward, which almost always causes an over-the-top move during the downswing. Unfortunately, golfers often try to fix this over-the-top move with various compensations that simply don't last.
The key for long-term success is to eliminate the faulty shoulder tilt and right-elbow position at the top. The most efficient right-elbow position for keeping slices at bay and promoting a draw is on or just inside the seam running down the right side of your shirt. When you place your right elbow in this general area, it allows the shoulders to turn level to the spine, making it much easier to drop the club inside on the downswing, creating maximum power and control. This doesn't mean you glue your right elbow to your side, but if you tighten your shoulder turn and monitor your right-elbow position at the top, I guarantee you'll gain more feel and control of the club.
Tom Stickney is the director of instruction at the Club at Cordillera (www.tomstickneygolf.com) in Vail, Colo.