The next time you watch a swing of a touring professional in slow motion, take notice of how their arms stay in front of their chest throughout their swing. When we set up to the golf ball, all of us start out with our arms in front of our chest. Unfortunately, for many players, that relationship is lost somewhere in the backswing or on the downswing. In order to maintain the relationship of keeping your arms in front of your chest beyond the address position, you need to do the following:
Backswing: Set up to the ball with soft forearms and be sure to keep the butt of the club facing your center. Take the club straight back with no forearm rotation, maintaining the triangle formed by the arms at address. As your shoulders continue to coil, let your arms hinge naturally as you complete your backswing (as the club travels above your right shoulder you may feel some disconnect from this relationship of the arms and the chest but the first move in the downswing will provide some clarity).
Downswing: KEY MOVE as your lower body initiates the change of direction, let your arms drop as your back remains facing the target. This move will get the club and your arms right back in front of you. From there just shift your weight onto your left side in balance. The blending of these movements in one flowing motion will lead to solid contact and increased distance.
When the first move in the take-away begins with a turning of the hands (fanning the club-face open) the relationship is lost. You have created an angle that will lead to compensations in the downswing. A downswing fault that leads to this disconnect is when the hips clear too fast and the club gets stuck inside. Another common downswing fault is the right shoulder coming out, toward the ball too soon which gets the club in too steep of a position. That’s why it’s important to maintain your back facing the target a hair longer when starting your downswing to allow your arms to get back in front of you.
Players who do a beautiful job of keeping the club and arms in front of them are Ernie Els and Boo Weekley of the PGA Tour and Bernhard Langher of the Champions Tour. The problems that led to the changing of swing coaches for Tiger Woods had everything to do with not being able to keep the club in front of him and getting stuck inside. When players get stuck inside, one of two things are going to happen. You will either hit a block cut well to the right, or you will flip your hands at the bottom of the swing arc and snap hook it.