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Accurate, powerful golf shots come from a well-timed release.
Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images
Al Geiberger, a former PGA Tour professional, said you can only have one fast movement in your golf swing, and you should save it for the moment your club strikes the ball. Geiberger was describing a properly timed release of the golf club. In golf terms, release means unhinging your wrists and squaring the clubface to the back of the ball. By learning to time your release, you can start hitting straighter, longer golf shots.
Tempo and Timing
Tempo, the overall pace of your swing, and timing, the sequence of motion in your swing, are closely connected concepts. A rhythmic tempo aids proper timing throughout the swing, including the release. Geiberger, the first player to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour sanctioned event, wanted his swing to have a slow takeaway, to move slowly at the top, to start down slowly and accelerate through impact. His вЂњslow, slow, fastвЂќ swing thought created the timing and tempo of the swing. He kept his swing slow starting the downswing by rotating his hips toward the target. Then, he added speed at impact by rotating his forearms and releasing the hinge of his wrists to create a proper, well-timed release.
Many instructors believe that golfers should delay the release until the last possible second. They teach that you should hold onto the wrist hinge until your hands are almost at the golf ball, a concept called lag. Bobby Clampett, a former tour player and golf instructor, teaches that you should lead the downswing with your lower body and hips and delay the club moving back to the ball for as long as possible. He believes the hands should pass the golf ball before the club makes contact with the ball for every shot. Delaying the timing of your release, Clampett says, stores the maximum amount of power until you need it the most.
Tom Watson, a five-time British Open champion, believes you can't release the club early enough in your downswing as long as you begin the motion from the ground up. Watson argues that once you have transferred your weight to you front foot and started rotating your hips toward the target, you should start to unhinge your wrists and square the clubface. Because the downswing happens in a fraction of a second, precise timing is tricky. Starting the release as soon as you start down ensures you will have full arm and wrist extension at impact. Instructor Sean Foley, who coaches many PGA Tour players, says that type of release is more natural. Foley recommends trying to get your arms straight and your wrists square to the target by impact.
Release Timing Drill
The head cover drill will help you feel a properly timed release. Place six balls in a head cover that has a long neck, like a driver cover. Grip the neck of the head cover like it is a golf club and take your normal setup. Swing the head cover back and through like a golf club. The head cover should feel heaviest at the release point, when your arms and wrists are fully extended. Try to line up the release with the point where a club would reach the ball. Then, try to recreate that feeling when you swing a regular club.