What Should the Left Shoulder Do in the Backswing?

Updated January 20, 2022

What I would like to talk to you about now is a term that I have used in golf for 39 years and that is the term connection and let you understand what it means. Connection to us is to take the left arm and connect it to your left shoulder. Now, I find in golf, very few people know where their left shoulder is.

You can ask a person off the street, or a golfer, 'where is your left shoulder?' and they will always point right here [top of arm] and this is no ones left shoulder, that's your shoulder joint or socket. Your left shoulder, male or female, is the entire pectoral muscle and the entire lat. muscle.

A Simple Way to Understand Arm and Shoulder Connection

One of the things that we use with people to help them understand the connection and one of the things that Ben Hogan did in 1945 -1950 to change his swing, and he got this from my mentor Sam Byrd, was to hold a handkerchief underneath his left armpit. By holding that handkerchief underneath his left armpit that tied his arm to his shoulder. Babe Ruth did exactly the same thing in batting.

He tied his left arm by holding a towel underneath his armpit and he would never drop that towel throughout the swing. What that does is allow you to move your shoulder and not move your arm. First of all, understand this in the golf swing, people talk about shoulders all the time but they don't teach the shoulder. As soon as you are told to get a straight stiff left arm your arm comes out of the socket and it goes across the shoulder, or people tell you to take the club inside and your left arm rolls around your shoulder. Your shoulder never moves.


Shoulder Movement and Swing Power

To make your shoulder move try holding something under your arm, a handkerchief, etc. Now my left shoulder is moving. I use an example sometimes with people, if I wanted you to backhand someone and you had to hit them as hard as you possibly could, would you use a stiff left arm to hit them? All you would do with a stiff left arm is make them mad, you wouldn't hurt them. But if you tied your left arm to the body and hit them this way, now you are using the power of the whole body, and you can hit them as hard as you are capable of.

In the golf swing that becomes the inner pull and the left side pull, but when the left arm gets straight and stiff, or out of the socket or away from the shoulder all it can do is pull across the line of flight. So to us it is very important that once you understand the set up, get your left arm in a connected position tying the left arm to the shoulder so that we can build the triangle in the golf swing that we never want to change throughout.