The Role of the Right Arm in the Golf Downswing


In Golf Lag and the Compound Pendulum, we saw how power in the golf swing, in the form of club head speed, comes primarily from the correctly timed sequence of movements taking advantage of a simple mechanical phenomenon, the compound pendulum effect.

In this article, we take that discussion further by looking more closely at the role of the right arm in the golf downswing.

Once again, apologies to the lefties out there, but for simplicity these instructions are given for a right-handed golfer.

The right arm is often referred to by golf instructors as the “speed arm”, it has primary responsibility for transferring the energy from your torso through to the golf club, playing a crucial role in the golf swing kinematic sequence.

But the right arm isn’t simply used for energy transfer, it is also a compound pendulum in its own right, thus playing a complex role as a pendulum within a pendulum.

What’s more, the right arm amplifies the power generated by the torso as it transfers that power to the golf club.  The muscles in the arm and chest pulling and straightening the arm during the downswing, building more energy, and then releasing that energy into the golf club at precisely the correct moment for maximum club head speed through impact.

The timing of the movements of the right arm, and the timing of the application of force by the muscles within, and connected to, the right arm during the downswing, are crucial for a great golf swing.

Most amateurs use their upper body far too much and far too early in the golf swing.  This feels powerful, since your arms are connected to the golf club, but it prevents you from benefitting from the compound pendulum effect.  It throws away all of the club head lag that could be used to generate Tour-calibre club head speed if the golfer would only learn to back off and apply power with their right arm much later in the downswing.

If the muscles are fired too early, then the arm will straighten too soon.  This will disrupt the compound pendulum effect, resulting in a significant reduction in the energy that reaches the club head through impact.  It will cause momentum to be “thrown out” into the golf club too early, resulting in “casting” of the club and a dramatic loss of speed and accuracy.  Straightening the right elbow just 0.01 (one hundredth) of a second too early will result in a 10% loss of club head speed at impact.


Let’s take a look at how the right arm should move in the downswing:

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The Swing Like a Champion system will quickly teach you how to use your right arm as part of a Tour-calibre kinematic sequence in your own golf swing, generating more club head speed than ever before, with less effort, and less strain on your body.

If you have any questions or comments about this or other articles on Golf Loopy, please send us an email.


You May Also Like

Introduction to the Swing Like a Champion System

Overview of a Great Golf Swing, which summarises the correct movements in a great golf swing.

Golf Lag and the Compound Pendulum, which describes how you can use physics to generate more speed, accuracy and consistency in your golf swing, with less effort and less strain on your body.

An overview of the golf swing kinematic sequence, including a detailed analysis of the Downswing phase is presented in Golf Swing Sequence and Timing.

Golf Swing Sequence and Timing – Common Faults, which gives a comparison of the kinematic sequence for typical amateurs and Tour Pros, showing the common flaws that may plague your own golf swing.

Is the Golf Swing Powered by the Arms?

Why is Having the Shoulders “Connected” So Important?  Which explains how the shoulders enable the power of the big muscles in your legs and core to be transferred to the golf club.


Golf Anatomy and Kinesiology, a collection of articles describing the roles of the muscles involved in the golf swing.

The Role of the Deltoids in the Golf Swing.

Pectoralis major muscle.

The Role of the Triceps in the Golf Swing.

Core muscles, which describes the muscles that run the length of your trunk and torso.

Internal and External Rotation, which describes the rotation of the right arm in the golf swing, and how to increase your range of motion.

Kinetic Chain, which describes how the different parts of your body act to transfer energy from the ground to the golf ball.


» Golf swing instruction home page.

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