Right Elbow In Golf Swing: How It Can Effect Your Ballstriking

Golf Swing
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Does your golf swing fall victim to a flying right elbow? The result is usually a swing that is too steep, too many hooked shots left, and overall, inconsistent contact. 

If you’re struggling with getting your elbow in the right position, don’t worry, we’re here to help. To make a consistent, powerful swing you need to have all parts of your body working together. 

With your upper body, the arms need to work together with your elbows, hands, and wrists to make a consistent swing. While the chicken wing is an error with your left arm, the right elbow in your golf swing can cause plenty of issues too. Surprisingly, the elbows play a bigger role than you might think but with a few adjustments, you can easily fix this error.

Keep reading to learn how you can get your arms working together to groove a consistent golf swing. 

Right Elbow in Golf Swing

While the lower body starts the swing, the arms need to work together as one unit during your golf swing. But you might have asked yourself, “Where should my right elbow be in the golf swing?” 

This is a good question and a part of the swing that a lot of amateur golfers struggle with. Here is the proper position for the right elbow in each part of the golf swing. 

Address Position

Before getting into the swing itself, let’s talk about address position, which sets up the takeaway and backswing. Your arms should be straight at address, you don’t want (or need) a lot of bend in your elbows. This will create “alligator arms” because when your arms bend, your elbows will point out and make hitting it in the sweet spot nearly impossible. 

Here’s what the great Ben Hogan said about the elbows in his book, Five Lessons. “A word of emphasis about the elbows. You want to press them as closely together as you can. When you do this (and the elbows are pointing properly to the hipbones) you will notice that the ‘pocket’ of each elbow – the small depression on the inside of the joint – will lie in the center of the arm, at the midway point.”

If your right elbow is too much on top at address, this can lead to a swing that is too steep. When this happens, you will create the flying right elbow which is what you want to avoid. 

Additionally, you want to make sure your elbows are slightly rotated underneath at setup. It should feel as if the underside of your forearms are pointing toward the sky. This will also naturally bring your arms closer together and make it easier to keep them synced during your swing. 

Backswing

The backswing is where things can go bad with your arms/elbow and really mess up the rest of your swing. If you take the club back too far inside, it can lead to a flying right elbow on the downswing.

Conversely, if you tuck the right elbow too much on the backswing, that move can cause problems such as getting too shallow and overall poor contact. 

You want your right elbow tucked (but not too much) for the entire backswing. This will get you in a solid position at the top of your swing and get the club on plane. The goal is to have your wrist position match the position of the clubface at the top of the swing. 

Once you’re in a good position at the top of the swing, it’s so much easier to sequence everything on the way down. 

Downswing

Finally, let’s get into what the elbow should do on the way down to the impact zone. You want the right elbow to feel tucked into your right side on the downswing. 

Let me be clear, it doesn’t need to be so close that it feels like you’re suffocating your rib cage. But the more tucked the easier it is to generate speed and improve contact. 

This is when the arm unfolds and the clubhead should be coming from inside your target line. This will help you unwind the power that you’ve generated in the swing as your right arm straightens out during the remaining part of your swing. 

Best Drills 

If you want some assistance to correct your position, check out these two drills to train your swing.

Reverse Grip Drill

Tom Blanckaert from We Play Golf YouTube channel has a simple drill to help you get your elbows in the right position (watch it below). It’s very effective and something you can do at home too.

  • With a golf club, reverse your grip; meaning put your right hand where your left hand should be on the club and vice versa. This will get your right arm underneath your left arm. 
  • In a reverse grip position, take a practice swing with the club slowly and should get you into a perfect position at the top of your backswing.
  • Do this 5-10X, then switch back to normal grip and hit golf balls at half speed. Keep going back and forth until you feel the proper position. 

Towel Drill

Your golf towel can help with a myriad of drills, including getting your elbow in the right spot. Here’s how to do it:

  • Fold your towel and place it under your right armpit. Additionally, you can also use a headcover if your towel is too big or small. 
  • Squeeze your arm so it creates a firm grip on the headcover or towel. You want it secure but don’t feel like you need to clench and tense your entire upper body. 
  • Without a club, make a few practice swings at half speed. If the towel falls to the ground, you have some connectivity issues. If it’s secure, you’re staying connected in the swing.
  • As you advance, you can swing with a club and hit golf balls from this position too. 

Top Questions

Do you have more questions about the right elbow and its role in the golf swing? If so, we have even more information below. 

Should you tuck your right elbow in on a golf swing? 

Yes, your trail elbow should be tucked for your golf swing. 

You don’t want to get it too close on the way back or else it can lead to poor ball striking but it shouldn’t stray too far from your body either. It’s even more critical in the downswing so that your arms and body are connected.

How do you keep your elbow tucked in to the right?  

The main thing to look at is your address position. 

You want to go through the checklist above to ensure your arms and elbows are in the right position from the start of your swing. Then, use the towel drill and/or the training aids until this becomes automatic in your swing.

What training aids help get my elbow and arms in the proper position?

If you want even more help getting your shoulder, arms, and elbows in the right position, check out these two devices.

  • Swing Align:  This is a really cool training aid that helps you with a flying right elbow and helps with your alignment. There is a small alignment rod on top of each of the two cuffs that ensure you’re set up square and rotate through. While the cuffs keep your arms in a perfect position throughout the swing. 
  • Izzo golf Smooth Swing: This is a very affordable trainer that can help you promote a one piece takeaway. It also helps keep the trail elbow close to your body during the swing for better ball striking. Work for right and left-handed golfers. 
  • Tour Striker PlaneMate: The PlaneMate is a great training aid that will help you master your takeaway, which will positively affect the rest of your swing. The device teaches you how to take the club back more outside so you can shallow the club easier on your downswing. It helps keep your arms more connected throughout the swing which should lead to better contact and more distance. 

Does Jack Nicklaus have a flying right elbow?

While the elbows play a pivotal role in the swing, there are some exceptions. Notably, the 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. 

He has the classic flying right elbow but found a way to make it work quite well. Other players that also had this issue were Fred Couples and the long hitting John Daly. 

But I doubt they would recommend this for new golfers who are working on mechanics and creating a solid foundation. Instead, try to stay as connected as possible to get the most power and accuracy from your golf swing. 

Wrapping Up

With so many moving parts in the golf swing, it’s important to pay attention to details to play your best. The right elbow in the golf swing can play a big role in making sure you hit it more consistently at impact. 

One of the most important parts of this process is getting the setup correct. As Ben Hogan said in his book, “When your arms are set right at address, it makes it immeasurably easier to get the proper function out of the arms. With practice, they will act the same way on the swing after swing, with no variation, repeating the same action almost like a machine.”

Keep working on your setup so you can become automatic. When it’s in the proper position, you should see more distance and accuracy with every club in the bag.

Have you struggled with the flying right elbow before? If so, how did you fix it? 

Let us know in the comments below. 

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate, national sales career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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