Once you have learned the proper backswing and lag techniques it is time to concentrate on the release. So much has been written about the release of the golf club, yet much confusion still exists. The word release implies that one should “let go” of something. If we are talking about basketball, baseball, football and many other sports then that is what it means – to “release” or let go of the ball. When thinking about release as it relates to a golf club, that action begins with correct backswing and lag techniques. In other words, the proper backswing puts the club on plane and then during the downswing the clubhead lags behind and accelerates until it catches up with the hands and makes contact with the ball. The action of the wrists before impact and beyond is the releasing action. Of course, a lot must go right for the outcome to be positive. To be successful the left wrist needs to be flat or slightly bowed and facing the target, and the club needs to be accelerating at and through impact. If the left wrist is out of position or if it collapses upon impact then an errant shot is likely to occur.
Golfers that lack distance usually release their wrists early in the down swing. By the time impact is reached the arms are left to carry the clubhead through the ball. The arms can only travel up to 35 MPH and therefore much power is lost. If one gets the wrists timed right, but then holds off or steers the club towards the target after impact, more distance can be achieved. Albeit, not near as much distance as is possible when the clubhead continues accelerate through impact. Biomechanic studies of professionals versus average golfers consistently show that professionals continue to accelerate the clubhead through impact while average golfers stop accelerating before impact.
The challenge then is to hit the ball squarely while continuing to accelerate the club. This requires that the body has no or little tension (especially below the waist) and that the sequence of movements on the downswing is correct. This article explains the action of the wrists at impact and just beyond, but does not clearly explain how to keep the club accelerating after impact. With short arms and small wrists, it took me quite a while to figure out how to keep the clubhead accelerating. What I am about to explain is difficult to see in a full golf swing, but I firmly believe that it is the reason that a 125 pound LPGA player can hit the ball over 250 yards.
I am going to go back to the idea of releasing a ball. To propel a basketball towards a hoop, using an overhand motion, the right wrist bends back and then with the proper combination of body, arms and wrist the ball is sent on its way. The ball in not pushed towards the basket. The right wrist and hand bend back and then snap forward ending up in a pronated downward position. If you were to do this motion on a horizontal plane, it would be attune to a slapping motion. This motion is the most efficient way to throw a ball when acceleration is required. So, how do we apply this to the golf swing? There is an obvious difference that needs to be noted and then there is the issue of timing.
Holding and releasing a ball is much different from holding the grip of a club where the clubhead is far removed from the hands. The motion of snapping the wrist to throw a ball is not going to work for a golf swing. Oh I suppose it could work, but the timing would have to be perfect. Additionally since both wrists must work together, there is not going to be as much pronation of the right wrist as there is when throwing a ball. This is ok because the idea here is to keep the clubhead accelerating by striving to create a pronating motion with the right wrist. This is going to be a conscious action in the beginning and until it becomes habit.
As far as timing goes, pronation of the right wrist should not begin until impact or just after. The thought process should be to start thinking about it at impact. In actuality, pronation won’t occur until some time after impact because of the speed that the club is moving. As far as what the release feels like from the beginning of the downswing through to the end of the follow-through – you should feel no wrist or release sensation until well after impact.
Brian Manzella is well known for his release idea of pronating the right wrist. Jeffery Mann (the author of the referenced article (Hand Release Actions Through the Impact Zone) gives a critical review of this idea here. I believe that Brian Manzilla’s idea has merit. Once you have read all the information, try these ideas out to see what works best for you.