early vs late release golf

Early vs Late Release: The Way to Better Ballstriking

How you release the club is a telltale sign of your handicap and overall skill level. 

Good players time their release just right to generate tons of power and improve ball speed (and clubhead speed) on the downswing. But amateurs tend to release too early and lose out on tons of power.

If you have a late or early or late release pattern, chances are your ball striking will suffer. It can lead to a lot of thin and fat shots which makes it hard to hit a lot of greens in regulation and score your best.

Not to mention make it hard to compress the golf ball and lose out on a ton of distance. Today we’ll help simplify this move in the swing so you can hit it better than ever. 

Early Release vs. Late Release in Golf Swing 

First off, what is a release in the golf swing?

It’s a term used by golf instructors to describe the move a player makes on the downswing. It’s where the hinge of the club is working down to create lag and hit the golf ball and release the ball through impact. 

Key Takeaways

  • Release in the golf swing is similar to lag and responsible for generating power and compressing the ball.
  • If you release the club too early – known as casting – you’ll likely make inconsistent contact and lose out on distance. 
  • If you release the club too late it can lead to accuracy issues and not as consistent of ball striking.
  • The goal is to release at the right time, which is through the impact area for optimal contact and power. 

Keep reading to learn best practices and drills to time your release better so you can improve your overall ball striking.

Slap Hinge Release

Early Release Explained 

An early release is a common problem among amateur golfers and commonly referred to as casting. This is when the arms straighten too early in the downswing, resulting in very little lag. If you need a quick reminder on lag and its role in ball striking, read our guide here.

Lag is one of the most sought after positions in golf.

It means the club is behind you on the downswing and allows the body to turn toward the target with the club chasing. This is how you cover or compress the ball for a solid strike and clean divot. 

An early release is when the arms straighten too soon almost from throwing the club, almost scooping it. This results in an arms only swing and makes it hard to get the hands ahead with the forward shaft lean at impact. 

Why Early Release Happens

So, why does an early release happen? A few reasons might be contributing to this move, including…

  • Weak grip. A weak grip (compared to neutral or strong grip) makes it much easier to release the club early. The left hand for right-handed golfers tends to be too under the club, which promotes an open face at impact position. If timed properly, an early release can help offset that open face which usually leads to a slice. 
  • Overswinging. A longer swing isn’t necessarily a better swing. Not all of us can swing like John Daly and make it work. Having a backswing that is too long and gets the club past parallel can make it easy to throw or cast the club on the downswing as the arm position collapses. 
  • Too much tension. If you try to force a proper release sometimes it can lead to trying to hold the position in the downswing. Which can lead to excess tension and/or a wide open face at impact position. 
how to fix early release in golf swing

How to Fix Early Release

The first way to fix the early release casting motion is to improve your lead hand grip position. You want to get more of your left hand over the golf club so you can see at least 2.5 knuckles when looking down at address. 

A neutral or strong grip will not only help with casting but also can have a big impact on distance and ball flight. Most amateur golfers tend to have a weak grip, when it’s better to err on the side of having one that is too strong. The V’s of your lead hand should point to your trail shoulder at address position. 

The second thing to do is take a shorter backswing. Try to feel like you’re hitting more of a knockdown or punch shot to minimize over swinging. A lot of times the club will still get to parallel, especially if you’re in the habit of swinging too long.

Remember, with irons and wedges you do not need to get the club to parallel position. In fact, you really shouldn’t have that long of a swing, other than with woods or a driver. Try to get the club just below parallel at the top of the backswing to stay balanced and sequence the swing properly. 

Lastly, make sure to keep plenty of movement in your hands and wrists. Do not grip the club too tight as you’ll increase tension which can limit movement patterns and slow your swing down. Keep a grip pressure of 4 or 5 out of 10 throughout your golf swing. 

Alignment Stick Drill

This early release drill from Aussie Golf Pros on YouTube will help you fix this issue sooner rather than later. Insert an alignment stick like he does in the video – slightly behind your trail foot at an angle that matches your spine.

Grab a short iron or wedge and make some normal swings without hitting the ball to get comfortable with the stick. If you swing back too much with the arms, you will hit the stick on the backswing. Swing at 60-70% speed and try to feel like your wrists are very free and unrestricted to help create motion and eliminate tension.

The alignment stick will limit your backswing so it’s only a half backswing and is focused on the proper wrist movement. This will teach you the proper sequence with your lower body for a good weight transfer and ideal release. 

Learn more ways to stop casting here

Lag Shot Swing Trainer

One of the best training aids to help fix an early release is the Lag Shot Swing Trainer. This club has an ultra whippy shaft, even more so than a ladies flex, and meant to help you improve lag to fix a casting motion. 

What’s great about this swing trainer is that you can use it at home or on the range (or simulator) hitting golf balls. It provides real time feedback to help you improve your tempo and create more lag. 

Read our full review of the Lag Shot Swing Trainer now

How to Release the Golf Club

Late Release Explained 

Most golfers suffer from an early release/casting motion and don’t store their power on the downswing. However, there is a small percentage of golfers that do the opposite and hold the release too long – known as a late or delayed release. 

We’d argue it’s a better “problem” but still doesn’t get your hands and body in the ideal position. To try and offset this late release pattern, you actually want to feel more of a casting motion on the downswing. Sometimes doing the opposite of what you’re currently doing is what your body needs to feel.

For example, if you’re hitting a big slice, a lot of coaches will recommend you hit a ton of hooks on the driving range. This will help you see and feel the movements associated with the opposite miss. The same goes for a late release – practicing a casting motion will actually help you get out a forward shaft lean and a better release.

You can also try to weaken your lead hand grip as well. Also, checking your wrist hinge with a common wrist trainer can also help out too. 

Hopefully these tips will help you learn how to properly release the golf club

FAQs About Early Release in Golf

Do you have more questions about the proper release in golf? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions and answers now. 

What does early release mean in golf?

If you release early, you cast or extend the club. This happens with many golfers and kills ball speed and total distance.

With a natural release or later release, you’ll improve clubhead speed, get your left arm in a better position, and improve swing arc.

What is late release golf?

A late release (also known as a delayed release) isn’t something a lot of golf coaches see, compared to when players release early. However, holding off the release can also cause some issues, such as a lower ball flight and other issues.

Most high handicappers have the opposite problem thanks to a more “arm swing” and lose out on tons of power.

How do you fix an early release in golf?

There are several ways to fix an early release – one of the easiest ways is to strengthen your lead hand grip. If your grip is too weak it makes it much easier to cast the club, not compress the ball, and lose out on tons of distance. 

What is early casting in golf? 

Casting is when you throw the golf club too early instead of store power on the downswing. A casting motion is the exact opposite of creating lag and is more of a flipping motion. 

Early Extension Golf Drill

Is early extension the same as early release?

No, early extension is when you move closer to the ball on the downswing, usually resulting in a thin shot. Imagine a straight line from your butt to the ground at address position – if you move toward the ball, you’ll straighten your spine angle and extend early.

While casting or early release happens at the top of your backswing as you are beginning the downswing, before getting to the impact zone.

My Experience

One thing I’ve learned in my 20+ years of playing golf is the importance of not building a swing too much on timing. When you nail your timing, your game is solid and can play well. But when your timing is off, it makes for a long day on the golf course.

I’ve struggled with casting before myself and it’s happened for two main reasons – a weak grip and too long of a backswing. Fixing a weak grip improved my takeaway, impact position, and has helped achieve a lot faster ball speeds.

While over swinging is something I’m still working on and notice it happens when I take some time off for the game. To help with this, I make sure to regularly record my swing, so I can evaluate the club at the top of the swing. 

Final Thoughts on Early Release

Releasing the club properly will help improve speed and make better contact like great players. So if you want a more consistent strike and extra distance, delaying the release is key to proper forearm rotation and solid contact.

To hit your best shots, focus on a stronger grip, good shoulder turn (not overdoing it) and proper wrist action. Less tension in your hands and wrists will help you hit it more consistently. 

You should also check out Hackmotion Golf, as it’s a great wrist analyzer and trainer. 

Picture of Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael is an avid golfer of 25 years who played in high school, college, and now competes in Arizona amateur events. He is a full-time writer, podcast host of Wicked Smart Golf, and mental golf coach.