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.
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.