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Swing Analysis: Right Arm Action: Drive it in or Leave it back?

In this video I take a look at the way the right arm functions in different players, and discuss my reasons for preferring one method over the other. We start with Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson, both of whom have great looking lines in their swings when watching from down the line. There is a major difference, however, in the way they use their right arm in during the swing to produce those lines. Stenson flares his arm in the backswing (as I would prefer and as I teach) but then leaves it back when the body changes direction so that his upper arm lies against his side halfway through the downswing. Tiger, on the other hand, pinches his arm more inward in the backswing, and then drives it even more in front of him coming down. He uses pivot compression (the TV talking heads would call it “dipping”) to create space for the upper arm to get in front of his rib cage, and thus is able to get his hands more forward leaned at impact and more sustained past impact. I also show Jeff Maggert and Ben Hogan as examples of the right arm inward move, and Martin Laird and Rory McIlroy as examples of the right arm back move. Of course, I see Hogan’s overall action as the ideal, with the right elbow flaring in the backswing then stopping and reversing in transition, as I feel it is the most naturally athletic move and is most closely analogous with throwing a ball with a low sidearm motion. I have focused on the “hands out” move in transition as I see it as an essential part of this right arm action, and the students I have gotten to move in this direction (from hands down to hands out) have mostly experienced better ball striking as a result due to the better path and attack angle (less inside out and more downward).

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6 Responses to Swing Analysis: Right Arm Action: Drive it in or Leave it back?

  1. Philip Palmer July 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Excellent contraste and compare video. Working on this daily !!

  2. John Neeson July 8, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Speaking of the ‘hands-out’ brigade, G-Mac was hitting it great at the French. Number 1 in GIR and his % for four days were: 83.3, 83.3, 83.3, 79.2.
    Good to see a good ball striking display on a tough track. There were 7s, 8s and 9s everywhere but G-Mac made only 4 bogeys for the week.

  3. Adam Auger July 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Hi Wayne, How do you know what backswing to incorporate? If you can’t keep your elbows level half way back (meaning right rt is too high) and can’t that right arm moving inward in transition (so the arm is still too high), would you think that a pinched backswing might be for efficient for some? What do you think?

  4. AJ April 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Comparing these it also seems like the guys that keep their elbow behind stand much closer to the ball at address and the elbow-in-front guys are further from it. The easiest to compare is Tiger vs Stenson hitting from about the same location on their approach on the same hole. This comparison takes out most of the shaft length discrepancy for each club relative to comparing address distance from the ball since others in the video are hitting different length clubs. When you look at TW and HS at address you can see the ball much closer to Stenson’s feet and much further from Tiger’s feet. Seems obvious to me that if you want to get your elbow in front not only do you have to move it properly throughout the swing, and hands out at the ball, and make space by compressing, and stay in the box while driving 45 but you also need to make sure the ball isn’t too close to your feet at address.

  5. Joel January 5, 2018 at 11:33 am #

    Interesting point about distance from the ball, TW vs HS.

    I have been looking at this right elbow move and wondering if the elbow behind would be better for me personally because of my old tendency to get steep, stand up, and let the hands come out to the ball, too far away from the body. Dropping the hands down and keeping the elbow behind—like Rory—might be a way to help correct this. But i get that it isn’t what Wayne prefers.

    I watched this again and noted that Hogan, although ‘elbow-in-front’ he stood pretty close to the ball. And, his elbow stays closer, more glued to his right hip than Tiger’s coming into the ball. This would be great if i could do it (obviously). But i can’t seem to keep the hands and elbow close.

    To me, Hogan looks more like Stenson at impact because of the tight elbow.

    Could it be that the key is what the elbow does from half down to the ball, not necessarily in transition?

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