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Question on Diagnosing Problems:

How important is it that I keep my left arm straight on my back swing (I am right handed).

It is important to a point. What is critical is that you come back to the ball with a straight left arm that mirrors your left arm at address. Think of your left arm as an extension of the club. To put pressure and power down into the ball you don't want to come back with a broken club shaft so therefore you want the left arm fully extended. Whether or not it breaks on the back swing has a lot to do with a player's flexibility.

An inflexible player who might be tight in the shoulders, chest and upper back will have difficulty keeping their arms fully extended on the back swing. When they try to force it straight what results is the swing breaking down as they either let go of the grip or stand up to try to get the club to the top of the swing because they are not flexible enough to maintain good positions.

It is o.k. to have a little bend at the top as long as it returns straight at the bottom. I have seen this with many great players, Jack Nicklaus being one of them. If I had my choice I would rather have a swing that is correct, but short of parallel rather than everything including the left arm breaking down as a result of trying to force a perfect full back swing.

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