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Original Issue

The role of the right elbow

My dad used to say that there were three times when the right elbow should be down: eating, riding a horse and swinging the golf club back.

At the start of the backswing, the straight left arm and the turning left shoulder must begin their critical functions correctly, but just as important for me in getting my swing on the right track is flexing my right elbow away from the ball. This flexing of the elbow gives me the feeling of wanting to turn—it really sets up my turn. It works in fusion with my shoulders and hips. Formerly, when I used to give my primary attention at the start of the backswing to bringing both hands back emphatically on the line, my arms and body worked independently of each other. I never felt as joined together as I wanted to.

Throughout the backswing, the flexed right elbow points to the ground. When you practice this movement and get it down right, you don't have to think of cocking your wrists going back. You think of cocking your elbow. I only want to add one word of caution. When golfers work on any new move, they are apt to forget that they must still pay attention to the real permanent fundamentals of every golf swing; in other words, when you work on flexing your right elbow away from the ball, don't forget that the left arm and shoulder must still share in the control of the swing.

MARILYNN SMITH, French Lick, Ind.



Flexed right elbow points to the ground


Elbow starts to flex early in backswing

NEXT WEEK: Billy Maxwell on putting from off the edge