Reach and Roll
By Erika Larkin on 8/1/12
I see the dreaded "chicken wing" with a lot of my students. When the left arm/elbow (for a righty) pulls in and bends around the torso just after impact it can cause a pull slice, a nasty hook or sometimes even a toed or topped shot depending on how dramatic the movement is. With some golfers, repeating this move over time results in tendonitis in the elbow or forearm as well. So beware, this swing fault is very common and can be quite detrimental to you and your ball striking.

To avoid the chicken wing and the misses that come with it, you need to exaggerate extension of the arms and rotation of the hands, so I would sum up the swing fix by saying "Reach and Roll":
  • Reach: Just after impact it important to reach both of your arms. This means keep the left arm and elbow straight. It may feel like the club head is pushing out to the right past the ball if you’ve been chicken winging. You can tell yourself to "hit it to right field" or grab a head cover or a tee and place it a foot in front and a few inches the right of your golf ball’s target line. This will give you something to reach for on the way through. Another idea is to lay a golf club down between your golf ball and your feet and point it on a diagonal line 10-20 yards right of your target. Try and swing and follow the path of the club and you will start to push the ball straighter and maybe even out to the right a bit.

  • Roll: The other key component that you want to combine with the REACH feeling is to roll your hands over. The release is a tricky move for some golfers but if your arms are extending out properly past the ball, having the left wrist flat promotes good rotation of the clubface. You will want to feel that the right hand turns over the left through impact kind of like forehand topspin shot in tennis. If you are late with this move, the clubface will be open at impact, and if you are early with this move, you may have a closed face and see the ball turn left. So getting the timing of this move is tricky and important, so, practice lots of half swings to get it just right. Remember to relax your grip pressure and keep telling yourself to "Reach and Roll".
Good luck with this tip, it can work wonders for your game and have fun practicing!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was recently named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine and she's ClubSG's newest columnist. She'll be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at

Image via Flickr, pocketwiley

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