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The last time we discussed release, we defined it as the point of extension of the lead arm and the golf club. The other part of release we need to concern ourselves with is that of squaring the clubface, which is the impact condition that leads to straighter shots. This, too, is defined as part of the “release,” albeit somewhat ambiguously.
The extension of the lead arm and the golf club, which I discussed in my last story, is a result of what is known as ulnar and radial deviation. The squaring of the face, which I am going to discuss in this article, is a result of the pronation and supination of the hands and arms. Both are essential parts of the release. The first part achieves a consistent swing bottom, while the second part squares the club face.
At address, the face of the golf club is at a right angle to the target line and the plane on which the club is about to swing. To facilitate the up-and-around motion, there is a certain amount of rotation of the arms so that at the top of the swing the club face is no longer at right angles to the plane — it is actually lying on the plane.
This position is referred to as “square,” but it is in fact 90 degrees open to the target line. If it were “square” as it was at address it would not be lying on the plane; it would coming off it at a right angle. All you’d need to see this is to pull the club down with no rotation and it would be precisely 9o degrees open to the ball at impact. So because the club was rotated by the arms and turning of the torso on the way up, it must be “re-rotated” on the way down. I think of this as “releasing the face,” an essential movement in solid contact.
In Part 1 of the release, I suggested that golfers uncock their wrists at different points in the downswing depending on the path and plane on which they are swinging. This also holds true for rotation and roll of the arms and hands into the ball. The factors determining when and how the face is released are also allied to the path and plane on which the golf club is swinging into the ball.
If you are a steep swinger, you need a conscious rolling of the forearms into the ball. That’s because the more vertical the club transitions, the more the face tends to open.
The flatter the swing arc into the ball, the less you need to roll your forearms into the ball. Your hands can be more “quiet” into impact. You still will need to square the clubface, but you can be more passive in doing so.
Here’s a great checklist if you’re struggling with hooks or slices
- Low snap hooks are the result of too much hand action from a flat arc.
- High, weak slices are the result of not enough hands from a steep arc.
It’s that simple.
If you tend to uncock the wrists early, this part of your swing may be in your golfing DNA. Don’t sweat the small stuff — simply play around it by making the necessary adjustments in your plane and path to facilitate it. The same goes for your freedom to release the club. If you’re coming in low on the swing plane, you can turn your body through and use less hands. If you’re high and steep coming down, let it roll, baby, roll. Any Doors fans still around today?
The best release drill I know is still one of the very first ones I learned: The Split Grip Drill. Simply split your grip so your left hand (for righties) is on the golf club normally. The position your right hand all the way down on the shaft below the handle. Now take some baseball swings; you’ll feel the roll-over, or the rotation. Do it several times. It helps.
For those of you who are regular followers of my writing and teaching, you see one consistent theme — work with what you already have in your swing. This is not a cop-out on my part as a teacher; I’m merely suggesting that certain motions are very difficult to change, but the good news is that you don’t have to.
What’s the problem with a flying elbow, a weak grip, a flat plane, bent left arm, across the line, laid off, etc.
Answer: Nothing. Qualification: Nothing in and of itself.
There are any number of golfers in the Hall of Fame who have swung the club with one or more of the positions I just described. How did they get away with it? They balanced their swing to arrive at impact correctly. That’s been the case since the first Scot slapped the first brassie from a mud peg and it remains the case today.
I can help anyone play better and become their own teacher if they are willing to make changes that are more compatible with their core move.