An Examination of "Release"
At EIDOLON we work with clubfitters and golfers alike, and in my conversation and dialog, one of the most misunderstood intricacies of the golf swing is that of impact and "releasing" the club. Almost universally, golfers seem to think that the club releases through impact by or with an unhinging of the wrists, so that the left arm and shaft form a straight line.
Well, guys, THAT’S JUST WRONG!!!
If you really, really want to improve your ball striking, your distance, your consistency and your scores, you will undertake the “great awakening” that comes when you really understand how the club has to release through impact. Many of you are stuck in front of your TV right now, watching golf instead of playing it. Well, make this time count. Watch the many slow motion videos of the golf swing from behind the golfer, looking down the line. You’ll see that the hands and arms are following a path that very nearly “covers” the position at address, where a distinct angle is formed by the left arm and shaft of the club.
As you study these videos and still photos, you’ll see that in the longer, more powerful swings – driver, metals, hybrids – the hands drift a little higher and away from the body more than they do with the middle and short irons, but the angle is there. As you watch these guys hit the little delicate short shots around the greens, the hands almost identically cover their address position.
That’s because a proper “release” of the club is not an unhinging of the wrists, but rather a rotation of the hands and arms through impact, driven by the rotation of the body core itself. Close examination shows that the hands remain almost directly in front of the sternum through the entire impact zone, and the forearms and hands rotate – not unhinge – so that the club is squared at the ball for consistent impact.
I was thinking about this a lot last week while we were in Orlando at the PGA Show, trying to clearly explain the concept to my EIDOLON partner, Ralph Thompson, who’s an “everyman” 12-14 handicap golfer. And then, lo and behold, one of the best illustrations of this is on page 102 of the new GOLF Magazine, where Trevor Immelman explains the swing plane. In the third set of photos, he explains that the shaft plane at impact is the same as it was at address, which would not, could not happen if his arms and the shaft had become a straight line.
Now, all this diagnosis would not be worth a dime to you if I didn’t show you how to begin to learn this. LEARN IT IN SLOW MOTION!!! If you will go into your yard and make swings with a 6- or 7-iron, concentrating on this rotational release, rather than the unhinging release you probably have been trying to perfect for years, you’ll see how easy it is to feel and learn. Your goal is to set up at address with the left arm hanging naturally from your shoulder, not pushed out toward the ball. Take the club back with a rotation of the body core, and then back through the impact zone, concentrating on making the left arm and hands exactly “cover” their address position. The angle of the wrists is maintained, and the club rotates through the ball, as your body rotates through impact.
Once you get the feel of it in slow motion, make slightly faster swings, concentrating on the path of the arms and that rotational release. When you actually hit balls with this newly-learned release – DO IT AT 35-50% POWER – you’ll be amazed at the boring trajectories and effortless distance you will get!
Let’s get some feedback on this, guys. How did you do?
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Ya Know....It's funny how alot of pro's and instructors are starting to "push" this direction! There's an instructor out there who has made many an enemy over the years by claiming that everybody else was teaching golf "wrong" and that he had the answer. Of course, putting it this way you will piss everybody off, but....this is exactly what A. J. Bonar has taught for many years. Not only does it work for the short game but for the "whole" game. I would encourage any and all to check him out at ajgolf.com. Especially if your body is failing you and you are having a hard time continuing the "standard" swing!
Went to the range today and horribly hit two buckets of ball with my Eidolon wedges. Quite a frustrating experience because when I first started hitting these, they were terrific. Gonna try this out tonight when I get home and flip to page 102 like you said and see if I can't fix this mess. Thanks for the post!
Wonderful tip as always! Thanks for the quick reply to my question! Your column sure is helpful!
Orlando- They'll come around. The last 3 rounds I've played had been with rental clubs. I got my EIDOLON's back in my hands today and remembered why I feel in love in the first place. The mats at a range are not a fair place to him them!
I completely understand Wedgeguy. The three R's of the golf swing.....rotational/wrist/release. I figured it out too late last year, but have been practicing it all winter with my Wii.
I had a little problem with "release" once, on a par 3 in Cancun. A small shower came up and got my hands wet. On my tee shot, I "released" my 5 wood about 80 yards out in the lagoon. Yes, the one with the 12 foot crocodile. I hope he enjoys it.
Send Chubs and Happy to get your club back from the Croc.
Tim Horan says:
Great shout again Terry! One of my favourite and fun practice drills may help you guys getting to grips with the release - On the range take your sand wedge and spank one shot as far as you can and then hitting every other ball in the basket to that distance working your way through your bag hitting 4/5 balls with each club. This really does coordinate your hands through the impact area. Any aberations in the swing path will be shown up here and the benefits to your short game being able to vary club selection from 100 yds or so. If you start this drill with the hybrids and longer irons it will give you the full power range 25% up to 85-95% progressively.
Tim Horan says:
I would also recommend a look at David Blair's video/ book Golfs Greatest Secrets.
It will cost you around $45 bucks! but well worth it. Not only does it cover exactly this element of the swing, it joins up the accelleration through the ball and the follow through to the full finish.
Tim Horan says:
CORRECTION...Sorry guys that should have been "The Secret of Golf" not "Golf's Greatest Secrets"
Thanks for the comments guys. And thanks Tim for the reading material reference. There has been very little written or shown on this . . . what I believe was the "secret" that Hogan talked about in his book. There's no question that understanding this principle of the golf swing will unlock the key for all of you.
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