Teacher: Why keeping your arms straight is one of the biggest myths in golf

September 10, 2019

Editor’s Note: Baden Schaff has been a PGA teaching professional for 17 years and is the co-founder of Skillest, a digital platform that connects golf students with golf coaches across the world for online lessons. To learn more about Skillest and to book a lesson of your own, head over to Skillest.com or download the app in the app store.

Teaching golf is an interesting art. For a relationship between coach and student to become a successful one many things have to go right. It’s a lot more complex than most could ever imagine.

One of the most important aspects of fixing a student’s golf swing is understanding their concepts. Our concepts are made up of years of reading magazines, watching YouTube and of course our playing partner’s best intentions.

By the time most students come to me they are a conceptual Frankenstein, full of suggestions and ideas that rarely compliment each other and almost always create confusion.

One of the most common concepts I hear and see is “make sure you keep your arms straight!” But this can actually be quite a dangerous concept: Straight arms can often lead to loss of power, over-active wrists and an over-active body.

(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Straight arms are almost never seen in any other sport.

Have you ever seen a pitcher throw with straight arms, a batter bat with straight arms a tennis player hit or serve with straight arms, a shot putter, javelin thrower or quarterback with straight arms? A boxer, A runner, a skier a swimmer….. the list goes on! It doesn’t happen. It’s something Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee even highlighted recently during the 2019 U.S. Open:

As Chamblee adeptly highlights, power and leverage comes from having shorter arms. Thankfully these days we have 3D imaging and many other aids that help us totally dispel the myth that your arms need to be straight. Not only do we know that arms bend in multiple directions during the takeaway and downswing but they are even shorter at impact. As we always say…. You don’t arm wrestle with a straight right arm and at impact your right arm should feel exactly the same way, bent at almost 45 degrees.

To learn more about Skillest and to book a lesson of your own, head over to Skillest.com or download the app in the app store.

Feels can be so misleading, straight arms feels like you have more control, it feels like you know where the clubhead is, it feels like you can hit the ball straight. But all of these feels lie to you. You will you lose power, lose control and hit it all over the place.

As Ben Hogan said, “If the average golfer went out and did the opposite of everything they thought to be true they would hit it much better.” It’s a counterintuitive and contradictory game. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as I explain in more detail how straight arms can be so detrimental to your game.