Becoming a One-Armed Bandit on the Course

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, August 5th, 2019


Over the years, having worked with numerous golfers who’ve had
physical challenges (like a loss of a leg, arm, polio, blindness or
prosthetics), I learned to walk in their respective shoes by playing
with only one arm or hitting shots on my knees.

This year I’ve had some major issues with my right shoulder which
has limited my ability to play. Rotator cuff issues combined with
bursitis and arthritis helped to complete a tri-fecta of aliments that
I’ve battled most of the year. Fortunately, I can still hit with my
left arm and drive a ball about 260 off the tee with my left arm…and
from 100 yards in, and around the greens, I am very effective getting
the ball close to the pin.

I’m right handed, but have trained myself to hit balls using the
left hand. I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to not get too
handsy swinging the club. Being that the hands are the only contact we
have with the club, this is the area where a lot of golfers fail
because of their insistence to use their hands at the most
inappropriate times.

In the photos are a sequence from a clinic I did a few years ago.
I was demonstrating how to hit shots with one arm projecting to the
target. In this case, I had a friend stand about 60 feet away and hold
up his right arm where I proceeded to hit a ball with my left arm into
his open hand. After accomplishing that task I asked him to put his
right hand between his legs as seen in the photos. I have to tell you
he was very brave to do that. I setup and made my backswing as
showcased in the top two photos. In the top right photo I’ve
highlighted my left hand/wrist by drawing an arrow at it. The key here
is to not lift, cock or pre-set your wrist because that could create
instability making it hard to control the club. For such a short shot
I’ve only gone about hip level high.

Next, I’ve allowed the laws of centrifugal force to take over
instead of trying to guide or manipulate the club. The bottom left
photo is the ball taking flight with my shoulders still square shortly
after impact. I’ve drawn a circle around my left hand to highlight
that the wrist never broke as the left forearm was controlling the
left wrist instead of vice-versa. This action creates the perfect
level system taking the hands out of the equation from wanting to hit
or scoop up the ball. When your wrists break down during the crucial
moment of impact this is where golfers will either chunk or skull the
ball across the green. That’s why it’s vitally important to keep the
back of your hand (in this case it was my left hand) square relative
with my left forearm. This is your built in security system that will
help you to eliminate those type of bad shots that can ruin your

Finally, the golf ball arrives directly into my friends hand
floating down like a butterfly with sore feet. I was fortunate to pull
this shot off in front of the audience in one take as we didn’t want
to do it for a second time.

The main point here is that having one arm or two arms doesn’t
mstter…the golf ball doesn’t care how it gets struck as it reacts
only to three things:
1). The angle of attack as the club comes into the contact (hitting area).
2). The squareness of the clubface at impact (open, square or closed).
3). The speed of the club head when it makes contact with ball.
When you have those elements in your swing good things are going to happen.
So try hitting some shots with only one arm as you practice. I
think you’ll come to appreciate the subtle nuances that the drill can
make in your swing.
Tom Ward can be contacted at


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