by Frank Peter
The following Golf Lesson is reprinted with permission from the "Golf Beginner Guide", a full 272 page resource for Golf Beginners. For only $29.50 you get an incredible amount of invaluable tips, lessons and advice - great value for money. Click the above link to find out more!
Many of the players I've taught over the years have shared common problems--the inability to generate power and slicing the ball. In most instances, both of these problems stem from having a poor or improper release. This lesson lists ways to help you release, or turn the club over. Whether you are getting older and want to gain a few extra yards or are just beginning and want to ingrain proper habits, put these tips to work for better all-around ball striking.
Try a Split Grip
Perhaps the best drill to emphasize proper hand release is to grip the club so that you have a few inches of space between your hands. Next, make a few swings with the club going only half way back and through. Doing this drill helps exaggerate the feeling of the right hand crossing over the left. When you do this properly, you'll see the toe of the club is facing upward both at hip height on the backswing and at hip height on the follow-through.
Don't Hold On
"Holding on" means that instead of being relaxed through impact there is a tendency to grip too tightly and hold on--not releasing the full potential of the swing. When you anticipate the hit rather than swinging through the ball, there is inevitably a tendency to tighten and hold on too much. The most fluid way to swing is as though you aren 't hitting the ball at all, but rather are swinging through it.
Improve Your Posture
Ben Hogan once said, "Ninety percent of a golf shot--good or bad--occurs before the swing." Start by standing very erect with your back flat. Flex the knees and push your behind out so that your knees are roughly above the balls of the feet. Try to maintain this position as you bend over from the waist. Think of the arms and hands being low and relaxed as though gravity is pulling them straight down. Now stand at address with a club. Make sure that an angle is established with the wrists. This angle is important because, in essence, you are lessening the moving parts of your swing by setting the wrist cock in advance. This allows for a hinging action of the wrists and makes it much easier to release the club on the follow-through. Quite often, my students reach too much for the ball, causing the wrists to roll in the swing rather than hinge and unhinge.
Relax Your Grip Pressure
Start by determining your grip pressure. How tight are you gripping the club on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being as tight as you can squeeze it and 1 being not holding on at all? Generally, the best players grip about a 6 on this scale. Any tighter and tension gets in the way, going all the way up the arms and into the upper body. Too much grip tension inhibits the lag (delayed hit) and release motions that are critical to extension and a full release of the hands and arms. After you have set a light but firm pressure, monitor the consistency of this throughout the swing. Is it the same throughout, or does it tighten or even loosen somewhere during the swing? Keeping a light pressure consistently allows you the freedom to make the correct move. Remember, the tighter you grip the club the less your hands work in unison and the more they inhibit your release.
Develop a Pre-Shot Routine
Being tight in the body and with the grip aren't the only things that affects your game and release. Your mind must also be clear and focused. Start by using a consistent pre-shot routine. This routine should allow you to relax and visualize positive results. Developing a pre-shot routine can clear the mind so you're free to go ahead and give the ball your best shot.
Drop the Right Foot Back
Dropping the right foot back as you take some swings helps you to swing along a path that allows for a full hand release. Drop the right foot back about one foot at address and try to swing across your body with easy swings. After you get the feeling of your hands being able to release, trick yourself and retain the motion while slowly moving the foot back into the normal position.
Use the Big Muscles
To generate your full power potential, you must use your trunk and midsection. Any athlete, from boxer to baseball pitcher, will agree that their power starts from the legs, trunk, and midsection. This is where the big muscles are and where you must rely for a smoother motion. Practice feeling that the belly button is facing the target at the end of the swing and that you finish the swing balanced on the right toe. To fully release the hips, the weight must get off the left foot and up onto the toe. If you make a good body release combined with the hand release, you'll wonder where all that power came from.
One of the biggest breakthroughs you will feel in golf is when your body and hands release their energy at the same time. When this is happening, the right elbow stays close to the right side--almost touching the hip as both it and the hips move or release through that poor golf ball. This is what I call efficient use of energy, and it comes only through practice.