A good release is a great relief. It feels tremendous, full of ease and oomph. It gives your swing grace, style and dancer-like form (see photo), which has to make you puff up a bit on the first tee. And for me, after years of wrestling with an unreliable swing and feeling like an absolute bonehead because I could barely break 90, learning to release right reminded me that it's always possible to find a swing to be proud of.
A funny and inflating thing happen the other day at the range. Like I said, I've struggled with my swing and hadn't considered it anything close to a thing of beauty. But it has gotten better in the last year since I learned to release.
Come-on or Compliment?
Anyway, I slowly worked through a bucket of balls, mindful of tempo, keeping my spine angle and releasing my hands at impact. I finished (mostly satisfied with the State of the Swing), gathered my clubs and started to walk away. Get this: When I strode past a group of four women waiting for a stall, one of them said, "I certainly enjoyed watching you swing."
Like Swing Now More Than Ever
Huh? People just don't compliment me about my swing, or at least they haven't. Sure, this could have been a come-on, but they impressed me as people learning the game later in life and, in the process, studying the variety of swings that golfers try to get away with. I thanked them and said that they made my day, which they did. But I also took it as a compliment, that I had a good swing. I can lose it, certainly, and breaking 90 is still not a tap-in by any means. But thanks to the release, I'm liking my swing now more than ever — and that's a great relief.
Learn to Release — It's Time
If you want a sweet swing, learn to release the club at impact. Golfers read and hear about the release all the time, and many tend to take it for granted; they think the release happens naturally as they follow through.
Tom Lehman explains in this video that high-handicappers mistakenly believe the release amounts to flipping the wrists as the club head strikes the ball, which, they think, generates more club head speed. But flipping is a big no-no; hands should be slightly in front of the ball so that the trailing club head can compress the ball and then take a shallow divot in front of where the ball had rested.
Not only should hands be ahead at impact, but also they should release so that the hands and forearms rotate almost 180 degrees, often creating a draw. Keep the wrists firm during this rotation; no flipping or left wrist breaking down. The leading hand starts on top of the grip and finishes on the bottom, while the bottom hand rolls to the top and helps extend the arms and generate power. Too often without the release, the left hand starts and stays on top as the result of a weak, "coming over the top" slice swing.
Lehman says the best way for right-handers to get a feel for the release is to hold a club in your left hand and then rotate the hand counter-clockwise (watch video). I found that practicing this action and then using it while swinging cured some key swing faults. I was forced to hit from the inside-out (the correct way), not outside-in; otherwise the rotating club head hooked everything left, sort of like a super-amped, topspin forehand from Roger Federer. Also, releasing right made it difficult to hang back on my rear foot. The rotating right hand and forearm naturally pulled my weight forward to the front foot and turned my torso so that I finished with my belt buckle toward the target.
So learn to release because that classic finish means more power, more control and, once in a rare while, more compliments on your swing.