In our never ending search to hit the ball farther it is imperative that we consider every piece of the distance puzzle. It easy to focus on club head speed and draw the conclusion that the hands will be the key to increasing this, but there are other, just as important factors to consider.
The arms play an important role in helping to generate maximum club head speed and thus overall distance. Firstly they allow for width in the golf swing. We often hear of the need for width in the golf swing, as the longer the lever the greater the potential for a fast moving club head. Thus during the backswing it is important to keep the lead arm softly extended as the body coils into the back swing.
The second role of the arms is to keep the body and club working together. In the address position the arms hang in front of the body to take the grip, forming a triangle with the chest. As you turn into the backswing, this triangle should be maintained in front of the body as it allows the club, arms and body to work together as a single unit. This motion gives the clubface the best opportunity to stay square to the swing arc. Thus the club requires little or no hand manipulation to square it through impact, giving straight shots on a more consistent basis.
A great drill to get the feeling of the arms working in front of the body is the Ball Pass Drill. In your normal set up position, hold a soccer ball or similar ball in your hands with arms bent at the elbows. The elbows should be placed gently into the rib cage so that the ball is in front of the chest. Maintain your posture as you turn into your backswing pretending to pass the ball to someone standing beside you. The key is to keep the ball in front of the chest at all times. Then turn back into the through swing, again pretending to pass the ball to someone beside you on the other side.
Try this exercise at home and then take it to the range hitting first with your wedge, trying to get the same feeling of the arms working with the body. You might be surprised how much straighter your ball will fly due to a lack of sidespin, and less sidespin means the ball will also fly farther.
Derek Hooper is the Director of Instruction at Lake of Isles Golf Academy. He can be contacted at 1.888.475.3746 or firstname.lastname@example.org