- The ‘Chicken Wing’
As with posture 99% of golfers tend to encounter this problem. The ‘Chicken Wing’ is when the golfer pulls upwards with the arms during the hit of the golf ball bending the left arm dramatically and pulling the hands inwards towards the body.
This action causes the golfer to mis-strike the golf ball resulting in all manner of inconsistencies such as distance loss, ‘duff’ shots and direction problems.
This problem tends to be caused by two things.
1. Lifting the ball into the air. As we all should know the ball can only get airborne consistently and fly full distance by the club head striking downwards through the ball and into the ground. (My You Tube ball strike video is here
)This causes the ball to ride up the club face and rise into the air. Unfortunately most golfers do not know this and try to get the club head under the ball (there is not enough room) to lift the ball upwards.
2. The generation of power. As humans we tend to use our arms in every activity we perform. Therefore we associate our arm muscles, biceps in particular, as strong muscles. When it is time to hit a golf ball as far as possible these are the first muscles we use as it feels like we are putting good effort in to achieve a strong shot.
In reality the speed of a golf swing comes from the rotation of the golf club around the body. I cannot physically pull a golf club at a hundred miles an hour, however I can get the golf club to slingshot in a circle around my body that fast as that club can overtake my arms and travel far faster than I can!
Physically this movement puts a lot of stress on the upper body, particularly the upper arms, shoulders and upper back. Generally the golfer will not suffer physically as a result of this action but it could aggravate existing injuries.
This action requires a certain amount of strength as the golfer is effectively pulling the ball as far as possible. Therefore as the golfer gets older the distance that he/she can hit the ball will decrease dramatically as physical strength reduces with age. Results
A pull up and away from the golf ball with the arms can cause a few different problems.
- The obvious and most popular result is a ‘top’ shot where the golfer contacts the top of the ball with the bottom of the club leaving the ball to scuttle along the floor or embed itself into the ground.
- The second most common result is when this pulling action can not only cause the club to be pulled up away from the ball but also sideways away from the ball and into the body. This would cause the ball to be hit from the ‘toe’ end of the club head (the furthest part of the club from the golfer). This causes the ball to shoot sideways at an alarming angle away from the golfer, to the right for a right hander and vice versa.
Lastly a more subtle and uncommon result is that if the golfer pulls away during the strike of the ball it could be dragged away to the left (for right handers & vice versa) as the arms pull into the body late.
It is important to note a misconception here. I’m sure that you have heard the phrases ‘head up’, ‘I looked up’, ‘you lifted your head’ etc etc on the golf course before. Golfers seem to use these phrases willy nilly to explain away bad shots, particularly ‘topped shots’. Generally golfers do not lift their heads or look away from the ball. The human brain will not let you look away from an object you are trying to hit. In most cases it is the action of pulling up away from the ball that causes these bad shots and not anything to do with the golfers head.
When we stand to the golf ball correctly in good posture (see here
) our arms should hang pretty straight when the golf club is sitting behind the golf ball. Logic dictates that to strike a ball well we need to be in this exact same relationship at the impact position. If the left arm is bent at impact we must have shortened the distance between the body and the ball and therefore must be higher than we started and so top (or toe) the ball. The left arm does not need to bend at the elbow all the way through the swing until it is shoulder height in the follow through.
This all happens incredibly quickly and so the best way to turn the body and not use the arms is to be in a good position in the backswing and then a good position in the follow through. Unfortunately the only way to check this is to stop short of the normal finish position in the swing so that you are pointing your arms at the target. Both arms should be straight at this point. Swing any further and you will not know whether they were straight at impact or not, stop at that point and they have not had time to bend and then straighten again. Difficult but practice and it will get easier and easier.