Swing the club from your shoulder-high backswing position to a shoulder-high finish position. Your right elbow remains bent until your hands drop below waist level. At that point it straightens and remains straight for the rest of your swing ; your left elbow will bend as you reach your shoulder-high finish.
Your right elbow should be consistently tucked throughout the backswing and downswing , because that arm position will help you trace the proper swing path with the club. If you let the right elbow get away from your body early in the swing before trying to recover later on, it will be too late.
Your right arm is a major acceleration source at the start of the downswing , and the straighter you keep it on the way back, the more likely you’ll increase your shoulder turn (another power source).
Having the right elbow in the proper position at the top allows the trail arm to move externally and under the lead arm resulting in a shallowing of the club shaft. This allows you to deliver the clubhead to impact on an inside track with strong body rotation for power and control.
Flying right elbow can also cause a slice-inducing, over-the-top swing path. How the greats get away with it: Nicklaus manages to drop his right elbow into proper position as he starts the downswing, nullifying the effects of his unusual backswing.
Not only do we know that arms bend in multiple directions during the takeaway and downswing but they are even shorter at impact . As we always say…. You don’t arm wrestle with a straight right arm and at impact your right arm should feel exactly the same way, bent at almost 45 degrees.
Also, by straightening your right arm in the downswing before the right elbow reaches hip level, the maximum energy transferred from your torso and arm muscles to the club is lost on its way to the ball.