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The Truth About the Left Arm in Golf Swing

left arm in golf swing

Are you one of the many golfers who worry about whether or not they should try to keep their left arm in golf swing straight?

Have you read golf magazine articles saying that all pros keep their left arm straight, and that this is the key to hitting it longer and straighter?

Miles read something similar to this as well, and wrote to us asking:

I’m fairly new to playing golf, but I have heard that I need to keep my left arm straight and that it will help me hit better shots.  Is there any truth to this – and if so – what can I do?

The answer to this question, Miles, is that it depends on the golfer.

Exclusive Bonus: Step-by-step checklist that will show you what to do about your left arm. This is great to take to the driving range and practice (Download Here).

The range of motion in your Thoracic Spine (T-spine or upper back), in almost every case, will determine how straight you can keep your left arm or how much you’ll have to bend it (for a right-handed golfer) to make a complete backswing.

For me, I do like to see golfers keep the left arm fairly straight.

I don’t want it locked, but I only want this position if the golfer’s range of motion can support it.

One of the main reasons why some people are able to keep their left arm straight is because they have great range of motion in their T-Spine.

I’ve had students come to me who’ve read an article telling them that they must keep their left arm straight.

They come for a lesson, begin making a few swings, and then ask me if they were keeping their left arm straight during their swing.

left arm straight golf swing

What was happening was that their backswings would be so short they were unable to generate any momentum for their downswing and follow through.

Their rhythm and timing were out of sync and they could not produce an efficient swing.

If you are someone who has a tight T-Spine, don’t be afraid to allow your left elbow to bend slightly in order to complete your backswing.

JB Holmes bends his left arm…

A great example of someone who bends their left arm, but does not lack distance one bit is PGA Tour player, JB Holmes.

JB Holmes Golf Swing

Photo Credit: PGA Tour

He lacks range of motion in his T-Spine, and the only way that he can complete his backswing is to allow his left arm to bend slightly.

As illustrated by JB Holmes – who is one of the longest hitters on tour – bending your left arm does not rob you of distance.

This video will tell you a little bit more about the left arm in golf swing….

If you’ve been trying to keep your left arm straight and you find that you’ve lost or are losing distance, I hope this information gives you a clear picture of whether you should continue striving for that straight left arm, or whether you should consider bending it.

Here’s The Next Step:

If you’d like something as a reminder when you go to driving range or golf course to help keep your left are straight or not, then download the bonus below.

You’ll receive a free step-by-step checklist that shows you the exact step-by-step process to learning about your left arm.

Click Here and enter your email to get access to the free checklist or click the download image below.


{ 3 Read the comments or… add one }
  • Dan November 13, 2014, 11:35 pm

    I am 70 and still have a fairly decent golf swing, but I have always tried to keep my
    left arm firm and straight. My shots are scattered, never gaining a close shot pattern.
    Could I possibly be better of bending my left arm beginning at address?

    • Sean McTernan November 24, 2014, 6:51 pm

      You should certainly try it, don’t blame all your poor shots just on your left arm position. I’m hoping it will make it easier for you to complete your back swing, and hopefully get more distance.

  • Painter33 June 30, 2015, 8:07 pm

    I’ve been hitting my irons very badly for quite a while. I used to hit 9-iron from 150 yards, and now I have little confidence that I can reach that distance even with a 6-iron. While swinging a 6-iron outside in front of a glass door (like a mirror) the other day, I noticed that my left arm was stiff (and not very far up or back) and my wrist cock appeared restricted. I have less flexibility than I used to and believe now that if I allow my left arm to bend just a little, my hands reach a higher apex point and my wrists cock more easily. I can increase my arc and generate more club head speed by simply softening the extensor muscles (on the top) of my left forearm just before reaching the top. More wrist cock should mean that there should be more uncocking and greater lag, which should produce more power in my swing. This video is confirmation of my “discovery”. Thanks!

    By the way, the thoracic spine actually never moves much – the bulk of movement is in the lumbar spine, which is the location of most golfers’ back problems. I’ve had three lumbar spinal fusions, and with each, my turn has gotten shorter and shorter.

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