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The Flying Elbow in Golf Swing

Updated on October 13, 2015

I just went through the worst period of my golf life. I am guilty of the ever-changing golf swing. People disparage Tiger's four swing changes. How about a swing change every week? That is my scenario for the past several years.

It gets to a point where you deviate from your swing so often that you eventually become like the recent television commercial that shows a golfer standing over the ball with over a hundred swing thoughts going through his mind.

I, for one can truly appreciate Tiger's dilemma at the Masters this year. He, himself actually said after the first round that the Haney backswing was in his head. He is currently being tutored by Sean Foley and what he means is that the current instructor and the former instructor, Hank Haney have encompassed each other in Tiger's muscle memory and produced a temporary confusion in the swing.

To get back to my point of this story, this happened to me a couple of weeks ago at my club. I went from scoring in the 70's last year to the 80's this year and 90's the last two months and finally ten days ago into the 100's! This was like watching a ball of string unwind. My playing partners were simply dumbfounded and felt the same pain I was feeling.

So, what happened to me? First, as I was stating above, the constant swing changes began to effect my game more and more with subtle changes here and there. However, ten days ago it was like I had just walked onto the course for the very first time and could not meet the ball squarely one time. My drives went maybe 150 yards. They went left, they went right. It was army golf at its finest.

I had three straight days in the hundreds last week and was thinking it was time to hang it up. The next morning, one of my playing partners who had not been with us the previous three days wanted me to join him. I decided to give it one more shot.

On the first hole, this playing partner told me what I was doing (I had alluded to my miserable three days before we teed off). He noticed that I was swinging around my body on a very flat plane. Suddenly, it dawned on me what was causing that to happen, the flying elbow.

Notice the right elbow in the photo on the right. This is a right handed golfer and he is halfway through his back-swing. The elbow is going directly away from his side, hence the flying elbow. In my case, when I did that it resulted in my swinging across my body from outside to inside rather than from inside to outside and down the target line. Therefore, I would catch the ball as I came across it causing either a push, or a slice.

Now, look at Tiger's back-swing and notice the elbow is staying much closer to the side as he takes the club away and up to parallel. Therefore, when he starts his downswing he has a much better opportunity to hit the ball from the inside which is paramount in good ball striking.

Long story short, I kept my elbow connected (close to my side) during my back-swing and swung from inside to the ball and down the target line and up, rather than around and hit the ball as solid as you could ever want. I began to make shots that I never made before. I literally could never hit a six iron with a very high trajectory and it always felt hard when I connected with the ball using this club. But, on this occasion I was faced with one of the tallest trees on the course and pulled out my six iron and hit the ball as sweet as I have ever felt and the ball went up and over the tree like I was hitting a wedge, onto the green and just off the back fringe.

I only had time for a few holes after that and they were mostly solid. You can not expect every shot to be perfect when you have just made a new swing change. Needless to say, I simply can not wait until tomorrow at the club with my playing partners to get my numbers back where they belong.

Hope my saga helps. Hit 'em long & straight!


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