A proper release. Something everyone needs to know.

Golf instruction and improvement is all about semantics. 95% or more of the instructors and swing experts, both professional and amateur alike, are taking the wrong approach to improvement.

IMO, improving your golf swing is not about actively doing the correct thing, because correct is such an individual and diverse concept. How can anyone know what the correct thing is for each individual golfer? Improving your golf swing is about avoiding the incorrect things and allowing the correct things to happen automatically. See what I mean, semantics. However, the differences in semantics are huge, especially on today’s subject.

If you don’t want all of the technobabble, skip to the last 4 paragraphs under the line. There is a little after the line, but not too much.

In my mind there are 3 categories of releasing the club.

1. The chuck, cast or throw-this is the one you see most among high handicappers. It’s where you take your right hand (left hand for left handed golfer) and “throw” the club at the ball. This removes all the big muscles and turn from controlling the swing. It reduces accuracy because all of the control of the club face is put in timing the perfect throw of the club on the proper angle because the turn isn’t controlling the club any more. Throwing the club also reduces power because you lose the energy release way too soon.

2. The delayed release/adding lag-I have created a lot of stir by saying the delayed release is bad. Physics this and physics that show a delayed release creates more speed and a later energy release. Well, on paper that is all true, but it doesn’t take into account variables that take place in most people’s golf swings. First and foremost, over 90% of the people out there don’t practice enough to time this process properly to hit the ball square. It usually results in a block, or a late flip hook. Even if you do practice enough it reduces the width of your swing on the way down which causes a steep angle of attack. That creates more spin and a lack of trajectory control. What good is more speed if it’s crooked, too high/low and has too much spin? A delayed release also makes it difficult to keep your arms in front of your chest on the way down. This creates a need for the arms and hands to swing independently of the body. Another problem is it creates no touch around the greens and distance control problems with wedges. So unless you are willing to create two types of releases in your game, have a fun time trying to hit a straight 300 yard drive immediately followed by a distance, direction and spin controlled wedge…and when you can’t do that, a soft chip that will allow you to save par…if you can find your ball in the first place. Ever wonder why your buddies who hit it far can’t hit the green with a wedge or chip? Well, now you know.

3. The proper release-this is the best bet for a proper balance between your own maximum ability to hit the ball farther and more consistent. A proper release is a constant closing of the club face that matches the speed of your turn. Notice every great player who has ever played the Tour, draw, fade, high, low, long hitter, short hitter…including Hogan, the magic late release/lag man. After impact their forearms roll, the inside of their wrists touch and the butt of the club points at the golf ball. That is a proper on plane release. When you start releasing the club from the top, your arms and hands get back out on front of your body and allow your turn to square the club. The delayed release, adding lag or dragging the club through impact, whatever you want to call it…is not on plane. It is underneath the plane and the club face is open which requires your turn to stall so the club can catch up. Some will say you can cure this with a stronger grip, but the club is still underneath the plane and you still narrow your arc which creates more spin and more dispersion.

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The way to release the club properly is to use your forearms to roll the face of the club closed from the top of your swing and you will end up with a proper release. This is what actually happens naturally if you don’t throw it with your dominant hand, or try and delay the release. Now, here comes the debate and where all the Golf Machinists, Golf Channel watchers and hookers of the ball will tell me I am insane. “That will cause a hook and/or a loss of power.”

No it won’t. Of course if you just get up there and spin your forearms independent of your body, you are going to hit the ball about 50 feet with a big pull hook.

If you do this constant club face rotation from the top of the swing, while turning the rest of your body in sync, the club will square more often with the maximum power you are able to achieve naturally. The turning of your body in sync will prevent the ball from hooking and will achieve the proper amount of “delayed release” you are capable of automatically. Starting the release form the top in sync with your turn will also help keep the width in your arc and help you control spin and trajectory. In addition, if you are rotating it, you can’t throw/cast it.

Guess what I am working on that has my game getting back to pro quality?…and I am not losing distance. I am actually gaining some of my old distance back because I am getting more solid hits with less spin, with no loss of club head speed. Best of all, I am starting to wedge and chip it better because the club is out in front of me and on plane.

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16 Comments

  1. Hackinator

    Thanks for the tip , I can really feel it …good results as well , not consistant yet but very favorable.

    Reply
  2. steve lyons

    Probably the best piece of advice about the swing there is. Too bad half the people who need it, will dismiss it because of the “line drawer” instructors and commentators who like to show the angle between the left forearm and clubshaft on the downswing and say this is where the power comes from.

    A misunderstanding of cause and effect.

    Of course, this is nothing new. Been discussed for 50 years.

    Reply
  3. TonyK

    Monte, I think you are spot on regarding having a proper release and preventing the hook. Sometimes when I have a case of the hooks, I just concentrate of releasing the club properly. Almost always works since my hooks are almost always caused by my downswing being below plane.

    This goes against every instinct as well. When hooking the ball, sometimes the tendency is to delay your release even more which only leads to more dipping of the right shoulder and the clubhead being even further below plane….which leads to a duckhook!

    Reply
  4. meateater

    Good point, steve, and great post Monte.

    Typical lesson scenario: 80’s shooter hits it fairly straight but a little short. Pro observes swing and announces that he is not releasing the club properly. “You need to get that right hand active. Really hammer it. You know, Hogan said he wished he had three right hands.” Student immediately starts wiping the ball, as he attempts to get right hand involved. Now he is short, plus has a 20 yard slice.

    Reply
  5. hackgolfer

    I wish I can see compare and contrast videos of the right way vs the 2 other wrong ways. I’m way to visual. 🙂

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Ask and you shall receive. Look at tomorrow’s post just for you hack. 🙂

      Reply
      • hackgolfer

        awesome!

        Reply
  6. MS Golfer

    Monte, awesome tip. I recently got a lesson and the pro was really try to get me to roll that face closed (partially because I was so underneath the plane) and had me do this. I said the same thing you mentioned, that I’m going to snap hook the crap out of it. He gets up and rolls his hands as hard as possible, to the degree where at his abbreviated finish the club was pointing directly at the target with the toe straight down and the face going right, perpendicular to the target line So I watch this crazy finish and the watched the ball….fade….my mouth dropped, I was sold.

    Supposedly when Tiger started on tour there used to be little bruise marks on his wrists from how fast they flip over. My only question for this (and I’m just playing devil’s advocate) is they talk so much about tour players holding off the release where the left palm faces the target at the follow through, can they just pull that off from hitting tons of balls? This release is also usually done with short irons, not so much long stuff. Thanks again, great post!

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      The problem is with the “they.” Some of “they” are buffoons. Pete Kostis, for example. I talked in the post about semantics. Tour players don’t hold of the release per se. Compared to the run of the mill amateur who throws it, they hold of the release, but they don’t really hold it off unless they are trying to hit some sort of funky shot. Watch every one of them, they get the fully extended “triangle” just past impact, then their wrists roll. You can’t get to those spots properly without starting that roll early, especially when you are generating 110+ mph of club speed. Even Sergio, who downloads it more than anyone on the Tour is still rotating the face as he is downloading it…or else he would hit it 50 yards right.

      Reply
  7. peter mies

    Hi Monte:
    Just to clarify….are you suggesting that we begin the release from the top by rolling the forearms? I thought that you were suggesting that we UD (ulnar deviate) from the top which is a different sensation. That (UD) is more like the motion used when you want to cast a lure.

    Which movement do you recommend?
    Thanks
    peter

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      No, not UD, that is a throw/cast/chuck. That is bad. I thought that was clear. A constant forearm rotation synced up with the shoulders and lower body turning all at once.

      Reply
  8. peter mies

    Hi Monte: Thanks for the clarification…..Is the forearm roll used for chips as well?

    When I first began playing golf I took a lesson from an older scottish pro who said “laddie, set up to the ball and roll open your club face a tad and then take ye club back” As a new golfer I was slicing and that lesson was to help me shut the clubface upon impact. It worked so well that even today I will ocassionally roll open.

    Thanks Peter

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Here is the thing on chips. It is even more important to release the club on chips because you have so much less body rotation. If you don’t release it you end up raking it. Raking is described in the video and it is bad for having touch on little shots.

      Reply
  9. charles

    How do you keep the right shoulder from coming over the top

    Reply
  10. Nate

    Monte- So would it be your opinion that the reason Steve Stricker does not take deep divots.. or no divot at all (even on wedges) is because of his gradual release? Looks to me like his gradual release shallows the shaft nicely and allows for a release that maximises the bounce/helps control the swing bottom. I know we dont want to go down the path of “copying” tour players so not going down that route, but would be interested in your thoughts about his move as he seems to be more of a “gradual releaser” than say a Sergio for example. Your videos are helping me a ton.. so thanks!!

    Reply

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