There are a couple of ways to release the club, but are you doing it in a way that provides you with the most consistency and power? Watch the video to learn more, then read on for the technical details.
The release is a post-impact condition. It is the look of the hands after impact. Some would describe that the hands look in a rolled over position. Others might say the hands don’t roll at all. But, what is correct? Well, that depends on the golfer and the clubface at impact. Let’s discover the proper release.
Method 1: Roll the Hands
This method is the most commonly taught one and involves the golfer’s conscious rotation of the hands through impact in order to square up the clubface. In addition, this method claims to add speed at the bottom of the swing. Adam Scott is a notable player who uses this method on tour. Take a look at his release in this video. The photo below shows his release after impact.
Getting this method to work for you requires a lot of practice and hand-eye coordination. Think about it, impact happens in a very small fraction of time. Trying to feel or coordinate the same amount of hand rotation into the ball on a consistent basis is very difficult–it requires a lot of feel, and a ton of practice with minor variations. Not only that, but a conscious control of the hands during the swing can alter your swing’s low point and sabotage power–this is due to increased tension and coordination efforts on part of your brain communicating with the hands. Some golfers release the club and end up throwing away their stored power by flipping their hands at the golf ball. Other golfers will release the club and have a rapid amount of clubface rotation that causes the ball to start in varying directions.
Remember the ball flight laws:
- Clubface Angle at Impact: Determines ball start direction
- Club Path: Determines golf ball curvature
If you are releasing your hands using the rolling method, then your ability to have a consistent clubface angle at impact is diminished. Why? Because, let’s say, that you have return the clubface to square (0.0 degrees) at impact. If you release the club just right, in the perfect amount of time, you can return the club to 0.0 degrees. Other times you might end up anywhere from a degree off to a few tenths of a degree off (depending on your hand-eye coordination). This kind of variability depends on your day-to-day clubface awareness and it can severely affect your ballstriking consistency.
Method 2: The “Hold-Off” Release
This method is less commonly taught but the most consistent in terms of clubface angle at impact and applied power. It is the form of release that is becoming increasingly popular among PGA Tour players. The basic form of this release is that you maintain (or hold off) the clubface angle through impact without rolling the hands. Jordan Spieth is a fantastic example of a player who employs this method and it’s one of the reasons he is so successful from week to week on tour. This video shows his release pattern. And though it looks similar to Scott’s from a static picture view, the methods are completely opposite ways to release the clubhead. Here is a picture of Spieth’s release:
The difference here is that Spieth is not consciously rotating the clubface with his hands–this can be seen by the near perfect straight line of extension from the clubhead through the arms. Spieth is instead using his body to square the clubface. The big muscles are being employed which results in fewer moving parts and a greater chance that the clubface will stay square.
An added benefit of doing this method other than having a more consistent shot pattern is better contact and more distance. Since the hands are playing a smaller role in controlling the face, the golfer has a greater chance of maintaining the “lag” throughout the downswing and through the golf ball. Maintaining the lag allows the golfer to make precise contact in the same spot more frequently and also allows for maximum power applied at impact. Another perk of using this method is that the clubface angle at address will likely be the same you see at impact–meaning less manipulation of the hands through the shot.
Getting Started with the “Hold Off” Method
To learn how to release the club like Spieth, start with the following:
- First, Practice the Move in a Mirror: You need to look into a mirror and gauge what you are feeling versus what you are really doing. Match the feel with what you see in the mirror. While you are still in front of the mirror, make a motion where you are consciously feeling no rolling of the hands in the release. A feeling similar to this exaggerated picture (try to feel finishing like Spieth if you can):
- Hit Chip Shots Feeling this Release Pattern: Using the motion of the lower body to square the face, start with short shots to build clubface awareness. This will likely be a very different feeling for you if you’ve never tried this before. Get the sensation of “no hand release” and just body squaring up the club.
- Then Hit Half Shots
- Finally Hit Full Shots: Do this gradually and monitor your dispersion pattern. Adjust the clubface angle (if required) but do this at address instead of during the swing. Remember, the idea is to use as little hand-eye coordination as possible.
Instructor Note: Constantly be aware that what you are feeling might not be what’s really happening and, also realize that you will have a tendency to fall back into old habits, so video your swing whenever possible to gauge your improvement.
Start thinking about your release today for a consistent shot pattern!
In healthy swinging,
Tom Saguto, PGA