More on the left arm lifting properly

In the last two days, I have been convinced that chipping yips are caused by the left arm staying too low for too long.

I had two different students who went from literally not being able to get the club on the ball with a high lofted wedge on a tight lie, to going over 50% on their up and downs for the day on the course.

All I told both of them was to lift their left arm and hinge their wrists and reduce the violence in their transition. The irony was they turned even more than they usually do to make room for this move.

It also carried over into their full swing. One of them was a lipout from 10 feet on 9 away from shooting par for the first time in his life and it was still his low 9 (37). He is a 12 handicap.

Now, I went through the chips yips as well, and only started to come out of them about a year ago. I didn’t really make any adjustments. I just let the improvement in my swing bleed into my chipping motion.

I did a little experiment. I kept my left arm low and pulled it across my body and filmed it. It wasn’t a significant difference from a visual standpoint, but holy cow pies did it have an affect on feel. I immediately got the yip feeling.

All of this started from discussions Frank and I have been having about his chipping and full swing and how he hasn’t felt enough up and has felt too around.

It essentially comes down to this. Most beginners start with too much lift and not enough turn. Low and slow, use the big muscles, turn don’t lift, etc., gets beat into all of us and we over do it.

Not enough early lift leads to too much late lift, arm over run and a long backswing.

More and more I am believing that most golfers don’t set their hands early enough, or correctly and that has led to the left arm staying too low for too long.

Low and slow, widen the arc (to narrow), float loading to get more lag and other such things that lead to later hand set and later arm lift, keep getting worse and worse, the more I study and learn.

Obviously too much of a good thing is bad, but the key to the backswing is this:

The earlier you set your hands and the more your left arm lifts, the more you can turn your body.

The key is the hands set gradually, the arm lifts gradually and that syncs up with the turn…but these gradual moves needs to start with the initial movement off the ball so they don’t happen all at once, too late, or not at all.

Purposely going inside, staying low and keeping the hands from setting, sends the turn in a bad direction.

I am also starting to think the word “gradual” should apply to almost every movement in the golf swing. I have used gradual release for 4 years now. Handset and arm lift are added to the list. I can probably a hip turn on downswing, rotation of the left arm (on downswing which is key to gradual release), gradual weight shift back and through.

I would also like to “gradually” eliminate coil, lag, restrict, barrel, pronation, flexion, and other such words from golf vernacular.

Actually, how about immediately.




  1. exilgolfer

    I really think you are onto something here 🙂 Same experience for me, when I went to the chipping green and lifted my arms more. I hit them AND I feel them! How about some videos on this topic.

    • jaybee

      Monte’s elaborations on this topic are great. This guy misses the arm rotation part, but he seems to have been onto that arms lifting thing a while ago already and on video. It is amazing how many hits and positive feedbacks he got for such a simple thing. KISS rules. Maybe this video can be an initial help for the visuals and/or something to incorporate in the master’s version…

  2. Joeunc

    video, video please!!!

    • rojoass

      The best info you have put out in a long time Monte. Proof is in the pudding (3D). The one piece takeaway is a myth. Just “turn” is total BS. Turn without arm elevation is suicide.
      If you want total explanation read this What’s a Shoulder Turn? Part 2

      • theMIKE

        I think it is not so much about arm elevation, but setting the arms on a good path, steep shoulder turn and one piece takeaway is a “slight mis-match”, level shoulder turn and one piece takeaway is a match, steep shoulder turn and takeaway initiated out of the arms is a match.

        • Monte Scheinblum

          Steep shoulder turn and shoulder turn too level to ground are bad.

          Shoulder turn level to spine with matching arm lift is what needs to happen.

      • theMIKE

        well, I have to disagree, it is all relative, in this another video, this flattish roundhouse golf is bad because you have a too shallow angle of approach and if you extend your arms on the way down too much you can stall your pivot, to steepen that, you can bend over a tad more, since that requires core strength and flexibility and not everyone has the capability to do that, you can have also a very upright setup and swing, resulting in a more level shoulder turn and more lift (and a more one piece takeaway to start with), all to be found in the hall of fame. If you turn perpendicular to a monte type spine angle and you get too much arm lift, you can loose your posture, natural restriction and everything at the top of the swing (raising at the top).

        Plenty of ways how to skin a cat.

      • theMIKE

        ps. Monte, I am really greatful for your blog, but if you have a look on what I wrote in the other post, emulate what I have meant, we will be all learning ..
        And not disagree for disagreeing only:)

        • Monte Scheinblum

          I agree there are many ways.

          I just think it’s more difficult for most people.

          I am searching for the path of least resistance.

  3. Calvin


    I don’t have to coil, x-factor, maintain my triangle and lag.
    The only positive I have from years of doing the above is
    that it increased my flexibility considerably. Now I find that
    I can gradually lift and the turn just happens like grease.
    Free at last to play golf.

  4. StevieH

    I have been trying to follow the “Modern” body only / big muscles swing for 5 years, but I just cannot see how the arms get as high as they should without any lifting.

    I have always felt those guys who swear they “just rotate” are simply unconsciously lifting.

    It’s nice to finally hear that a professional is in agreement. Go post it on Wrx!


    • IPM

      I agree Stevie. I’ve been trying those things (big muscles, just rotate) and it has ruined my swing. My swing was better when I didn’t know what I was doing, and knew no technical jargon. Thankfully, Monte’s blog has helped me greatly.

    • woody

      Try Quiros (LINK). See much lifting? Maybe Butch will teach him some. (Alvaro Quiros 0:16)

      As far as I can tell there’s only one guru outlet that even claims to know where the big muscles are and what they do. But I think they want $60, and I don’t like their terminology about “hips” so I’m not interested.

      (They studied a lot of swings, but in the end it looks like they’re like just about everyone else–trying to reverse-engineer it from video.)

  5. David

    I always felt the arms needed to lift or I would get out of balance. If I focus on rotating around my spine and the pressure points under my feet, the arms lift naturally. If the arms remain low, weight goes behind me and the only way not to fall is to drop the torso to counter balance or shorten the backswing. With the arms lifting, arm+club weight takes longer before it goes behind you and pushes you out of balance so you can have a longer backswing.

    Also, keeping balance is a gradual action. Every movement is counter balanced as it happens by something else. Nothing drastic happens at any specific point. Everything happens gradually or you lose balance.

  6. woody

    “make room for this move”–This statement is a permanent keeper.

    Maybe I could have done a Bobby Jones backswing if I could have figured out his forward press. He rebounded from it, and when he got into his left-side idea, he was already into his turn. So, without telling people about it, Bobby was making room for his move.

    I like coil (windup? stretch?), if you know how to coil…but I don’t like this (LINK) which doesn’t look like such a great drill…except maybe for reducing love-handles, maybe promoting flexibility:

  7. DoyceM

    Great information, Monte. Really think that this is a missing element in most golf instruction. A good video would be really helpful. Please!

  8. woody

    More on lift: Hunter Mahan. He says his left shoulder and right hip are connected. (I say that the bun is doing the work.) (2:39) Hunter Mahan

    If the right bun is a hip rotator, and it’s swinging/rotating/turning away from the target, that means that the left shoulder is rotating down, and the arms are coming…up. If you give that a little bit of help, it looks pretty good on paper.


    • randomhero1090

      This is really working for me. Maybe I am off here, but I looked at a bunch of pro swings (DTL) and noticed a “gap” between the left arm and chest going back. Even Rickie Fowler, who doesn’t have a gap, has a slight lift. You can see the left arm work UP versus inside at the 1/2 point. Rickie is also much more bent over at address, so I think the comments about the lift matching the spine angle are pretty spot on.

      All I know is I hit the driver extremely well on Sunday, and the irons were crisp. Really helped with the chips/pitches too.

      Thank you!


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