quick coaching

Swing Like Sam: Line Up that Lead Arm

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Sam Burns during the second round of the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. Getty Images

Sam Burns is the 2021 Valspar Championship winner. This week he defends his title and after 36 holes, he’s in great position to do it. Speaking of great positions, what is it about Burns’ swing that allows him to contend so frequently on the PGA Tour? The young Louisiana star employs a very simple move all amateurs can emulate in their own game.
Inside that sweet swing there is one position we all should try and copy. Watch the tweet video below. Pay particular attention to his lead or left arm.
Notice how his lead arm runs across his shoulders. It almost looks as if it is drawn across that plane. To consistently hit this position in your backswing requires several other movements to come into place. The beauty of watching Sam’s move is that if we can hit that spot, then those connected moves will work for our game as well.
After a quick first look, we think, “that looks easy, let’s just try it.” We jump up in front of the mirror and attempt to move our arms in that position. Instantly, we notice other parts have to move as well. Here’s where the PGA Coaching comes in. Our goal is to repeat that lead arm position. We will train our arm to get there by starting with the following drill.
  1. Try this at home in front of a mirror. A club works best, but if you have low ceilings, please use a junior club or something shorter. We won’t be hitting a ball so just having your proper grip involved on a stick is all that matters.
  2. Take your golf posture so the mirror is to your trail side. For a right-handed golfer this means the mirror will be located to your right. Position yourself in the center of the mirror.
  3. From the address position raise the club straight up making a 90-degree angle between the shaft and your forearms.
  4. Now turn the shaft and your hands/wrists 90-degrees to the trail side.
  5. The club should now be parallel to the target line.
  6. Make a complete body and shoulder turn to the top of your backswing.
  7. Look in the mirror, where is that lead arm? It should run right through your shoulder plane just like Burns’ does.
So many golfers find it difficult to get this TV golf swing look. This quick demonstration/drill will show you the way. By getting that lead arm across your shoulders in the mirror, we now can deliver the golf club back to the ball consistently. By being more reliable in our delivery, we can hit the ball more solid more often. Keep repeating the drill in the mirror. Make sure you even try to hit that position with your eyes closed. Get that new backswing dialed in.
Once you can routinely hit your Sam spot with that lead arm through the drill, start blending your backswing. Instead of the initial lift and turn for the drill, begin by turning your body as you lift and turn the club. Feel the movement as you bring both together. By adding the turn and your new club position you will quickly build a Burns backswing. Just wait until you get to the practice range and deliver that club back to the ball. Your shots will be Sam solid, and your new tour backswing will be the envy of your playing partners.