Wings and Things
As I observe many golfers around the greens . . . including myself . . . one of the most glaring errors in short game technique that I see is the collapsing left arm at and through impact – the dreaded “chicken wing”. Whenever I hit an awful short shot, it invariably ends up in this unsound breaking down of the left side firmness through the impact zone. And it is something you NEVER see in a tour level player.
I collect photos from the golf magazines that illustrate the position of the best players just after impact and into the follow-through on their greenside scoring shots. I think there is a huge amount to be learned by these photos. But the two things that always stand out to me the most are 1) the consistent angle formed by the clubs and forearms – impact copies address – and 2), the firmness of the left arm well into the follow-through.
As for the former, that angle formed by the arms and shaft at address is what puts the club in the proper position so that the sole can work to its best design advantage as it makes contact with the turf or sand. If the angle is allowed to shallow out as the club is brought into the impact zone -- i.e. the arms and shaft form more of a straight line – then the angle of the club’s sole changes in relation to the ground and the entire “geometry” of impact is compromised.
The principle that ensures this angle remains constant is the firmness of the left arm until well after impact. Try this practice tip. Set up to hit some soft chip shots and focus on the left arm only. Lighten your right grip so that your fingers are barely feeling the golf club – it’s just along for the ride. Take the club back and through with your left arm totally in control. Make the left arm take the club back and return exactly through its address position, hanging naturally from your shoulders.
And don’t let that left arm break at all through impact. Just feel the left arm swinging the club back and through, like a pendulum. Forget “accelerate through the ball” – put the picture in your mind of a grandfather clock’s pendulum . . . back and through . . . back and through.
What you’ll find is that to keep the left arm firm through impact demands that you also rotate your body core through impact. Poor short game shots occur when you stop your core rotation prior to impact, the right hand takes over, which in turn forces the left arm to break down. The results are not pretty at all.
Take a few balls into the backyard and practice this. Get the feel for the firm left arm being totally in control of your delicate greenside shots and you will see immediate improvement.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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