If you frequently produce a slice -- sending the ball peeling off to the right for a right-handed player -- with your golf shots or tend to pull the ball weakly to the left, it might be because of an improperly positioned right elbow in the downswing. Diligent work with some simple drills can help you get the right elbow back in place for more solid, consistent ball-striking.
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PGA teaching pro Tom Stickney points out that a flying right elbow -- an elbow and upper arm that come well away from the body -- has a tendency to cause an outside-to-in path with the club that can promote either a slice or a dramatic pull, depending on the clubface orientation at impact. One thing is for sure: squaring the clubface and hitting the ball on your intended line with this swing flaw is next to impossible.
Segment the Swing
Teaching pro Karen Palacios-Jansen advocates a drill that breaks the golf swing down into separate segments to allow a feel for the critical juncture at which the elbow may go awry. She suggests that you take the club back to the top of your swing, and then pump your arms down halfway so that your right elbow points away from your body. This elbow orientation will help keep your arms closer to your side, keeping the clubhead behind your hands and doing away with the outside-to-in path.
Use a Towel
Teaching pro Mike Malaska recommends using a standard-sized bath towel to address the problem. His drill begins with positioning the towel across your chest so that it's secured in both armpits. This is certain to feel strange at first, so begin with slow practice swings, keeping the towel in place. The towel will force you to keep your elbows in place and upper arms close to your body through the swing. Work up to a full speed swing, and experiment hitting balls with the towel in place.
Shirt Seam Approach
A towel under your arms may feel too cumbersome for your taste. In that case, Tom Stickney has a slightly different approach. He recommends using the seam running down the right side of your shirt as the place to locate your right elbow for your swing. This will allow your shoulders to turn level to your spine, making it easier to drop the club inside on the downswing. Coming from inside will take away the possibility of the out-to-in swing path you want to avoid.