Many golfers separate their trailing elbow from their body too early by making a common mistake that has an easy cure. Starting your backward turn with your core, rather than your arms, will help keep your elbows in the proper position during the backswing, while starting your forward swing with your hips will keep them close during your forward swing.
Practice your swing without hitting a ball to notice whether your arms pull your shoulders and torso backward or vice versa. Note whether your arms or hips start your forward swing. Practice your initial core turn without a club in your hands, turning your upper body backward without moving your arms. Turn as far backward as you can with your elbows close to your body before you start separating your arms from your body, allowing your shoulders to push your arms backward.
Hold a club in your hands and practice your takeback with a ball tucked under your right elbow, if you are right-handed. Keep the ball tucked against your body, with your muscle relaxed, until you have almost finished your core turn. Note when the ball falls out and whether it’s falling out too early because your arms are leaving your body too soon -- well before you’ve finished your core turn -- resulting in your arms pulling your shoulders and torso backward.
Practice your forward swing without hitting balls. Drive your hips forward to begin your forward swing after you have stopped your backswing. Note whether your torso pulls your shoulders forward, which pull your arms forward, keeping your elbows close to your body, or if you are starting the shot with your arms instead of your hips.
Take your club farther back to eliminate taking the club straight up during your backswing. Practice taking your club back slowly, as if you are trying to point to an object behind you, rather than above you. Place the ball on an elevated platform, which puts the ball above your knees, to practice swinging from behind the ball, rather than down from on top of it.
Hit practice balls with a full swing. Begin your takeback by breaking your wrists backward so the clubhead initially moves away from the ball with this movement. This will decrease tension in your arms and allow you to relax as you swing. Hit practice balls starting with a ball tucked under your right elbow and look to see when the ball drops away from your body.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.