Have you ever wondered how to release the golf club correctly at impact?
Golf is one of those sports that shows there is no one way to do anything correctly. Some players can bomb it off the tee and others can hit a fraction of the distance but still win the hole. One of the many reasons that you have to love the game of golf.
There are just so many ways to get it done. Some days you’ll hit everything perfect and never miss a fairway, other days you can scrap it around but score well.
Just watch a few minutes of the PGA Tour and you can see there are tons of different swings, even among the best players in the world. Whether it’s Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Hideki Matsuyama, or Tony Finau, it’s clear there is no “one way” to do it. They all have their own unique characteristics, but all of them are consistent with what they do.
Building a consistent swing should be your number one priority as well. Perfection isn’t the goal, scoring well is always the top goal!
One of the best ways to improve your consistency is to improve your release position. Releasing properly at the impact zone is essential in creating a consistent game and improving your overall game.
You can have a different grip and backswing, but it all comes down to what the clubface is doing when you hit the ball. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the most common ways golfers do it so you can learn how to square up the face at impact.
Why Does Releasing the Golf Club Properly Matter?
With decades of endless golf material and articles, there is still very little published about releasing the golf club properly. Which is ironic because releasing it on the downswing is the most important part of the golf swing. It’s where the face meets the ball and determines the flight and spin. This split-second makes a huge difference separating good vs. great players.
Why Your Grip Matters
In addition to using the correct wrist action in the backswing, your grip has a massive role on what type of method that will work best for your game. (For a deeper discussion of the grip, head over to our primer on the grip.)
The wrong grip, with the wrong type of release can lead to very inconsistent results. For example, you have a weak-weak grip, you won’t be able to make the “slap grip” version happen very easily. Have an instructor or a scratch golfer friend check yours to learn more about your natural tendencies.
Also, grip pressure also plays a big role as well. Make sure you have enough pressure to hold it throughout but don’t have a “death grip” as this adds extra tension.
Don’t Forget Setup Either
But before getting to the golf swing release, let’s talk about setup as it plays a huge role as well. Setup is one of the basics you always need to pay attention to. As you might know from personal experience, it is almost impossible to play consistently if you aren’t square to your target. Your stance, grip, and alignment play a massive role in setting yourself for success.
To understand where you’re at right now, I suggest having a friend record you or video it yourself. This will give you a starting point to learn more about your lines at setup.
Ideally, you want your shoulders, hips, and feet square to the target. If you’re more of a draw player, you should align slightly right and if you play a fade, slightly left.
If your alignment and grip are wrong from the beginning, getting the right angles is nearly impossible. So make sure to focus on these first to set yourself up for success.
Here are the three main types methods that are most common among players:
Top 3 Ways to Release Golf Club
- Push Release
- Crossover Release
- Slap Hinge Release
1. Slap Hinge Method
The first method is known as the “slap hinge release.”
This is, in my opinion, the least effective way as your wrists are overly active when you make contact. This leads to extra rotation of the face and the mess that comes with it. But, the slap hinge is often referred to by some instructors as one of the easiest methods to perform and can be good for beginners.
Here’s how it works…
As you get into the impact position, your hands are flat and wrists are leading the clubhead. Once you’ve made contact with it, the left wrist releases up and the right hand follows underneath.
The slap hinge allows the wrists to uncock and become unhinged during the moment it counts. This usually causes the clubhead to go into a vertical plane. The loft of the face is adjusted during impact which produces a higher flight, which doesn’t carry as far.
Who the Slap Hinge Works For
The slap hinge is a good fit for players who are not able to generate a ton of club head speed naturally. This makes it a great option for beginner golfers and for senior golfers. As you add loft throughout the downswing, it is great for players who don’t have a ton of strength to get it airborne quickly.
The slap hinge also tends to work well for players with a neutral or strong grip position.
Why the Slap Hinge Isn’t Consistent
The main reason the slap hinge release doesn’t work consistently is that it depends on perfect timing.
Any swing based on timing makes it very difficult to repeat on a consistent basis, especially in pressure situations.
Even the best players in the world won’t be consistent with this type of release.
2. Crossover Method
The crossover release is usually suited for more skilled amateur players. With the crossover release, your right-hand make contact with the golf ball and works its way over the left hand.
With the crossover method, the wrists are actually rotating as you bottom out which causes the shaft to go into more of a horizontal plane. The clubhead opens at the beginning of the downswing and closes throughout the follow through.
This usually results in a draw and is great for players with neutral or even weak grips.
Why the Crossover Method Isn’t Consistent
The main reason this method doesn’t provide consistent results it because it’s based on timing at the moment the face strikes the turf. Timing is incredibly difficult to maintain day in an day out, even for the pros.
Building a game on timing is like building a house of cards. One small misstep with timing and everything falls apart. I’ve seen some great players have the crossover release playing a high, beautiful draw. But, I’ve seen those same players shoot in the 60s one day and the 80s the next day due to the timing involved.
Like the slap hinge, the crossover isn’t as consistent because it is heavily dependent on timing. As the right hand is rolling over, it can create a lot of misses left.
If you get too quick during transition and you flip the face shut, expect a lot of misses starting left and going even further left. These can be huge misses that can equate to some big numbers on the scorecard.
Remember, never build a game based on timing as it’s not dependable in the long run.
3. Push Release Method
We saved the best for the last. The “push method” is very different than the other two previously mentioned. It is much less dependent on timing, making it the most consistent way to release the club at impact.
The push method tends to work best for golfers with a stronger grip. At impact, the clubface is slightly open until impact at which your hands catch up to square up the face.
With the “push” method, the wrists are not moving.
This approach is square to square with almost no movement of the wrists. Additionally, the loft is never changing throughout your downswing. The push doesn’t add speed like the slap hinge but it does offer the greatest distance and most consistent ball flight.
So if you’re looking to hit better shots and improve your game day in and day out, strive for this method!
Who the Push Method Works For
If you’re just starting out or don’t have much swing speed, the push method won’t be the best option for you just yet.
The push produces a flatter, more boring flight which does not benefit beginning golfers. But, if you’ve played the game longer and have some experience, this is the most efficient style.
The push allows you to generate so much more power than the other two methods because of the lag effect. To illustrate “lag”, think of Sergio Garcia. His lag is tremendous and is able to compress the ball as well as anyone on the PGA Tour. He has been one of the most consistent ball strikers on tour because of the massive amount of lag produced (only if he could fix his temper he might win a lot more).
Why the Push Works Best
The push method works the best of all three styles because it eliminates timing which makes it the most consistent over the long-term. If you are trying to break 80 or play competitive golf, you need to build a solid foundation, not based on perfect timing.
As you might know from your own experiences, it’s nearly impossible to consistently low scores with a game based on timing. To release it properly, strive for the “push” style.
The Best Golf Release Drills
Releasing the club properly isn’t the easiest thing to feel which is why I always suggest practicing and repeating the movement on the range before taking it to the course. You need to get your body to understand the feelings in slow motion so you can get the sequence correct on the course when you’re at full speed.
How to Release Golf Club Drill
Luckily, this drill from Dave Marsh (iGolfTV) will help you understand how to release the club consistently.
His style is known as a “no manipulation” or “push release” swing, meaning you take the wrists out of it completely.
Watch this video and use these steps to get started:
- To release the golf club correctly, start by taping an alignment stick to a 9 iron so that the alignment club extends under your left armpit.
- Get two more alignment sticks or clubs and place one on your feet and one at the ball. They should run parallel toward your target.
- On the backswing align your club directly on top of the alignment stick at your feet. This is position number one.
- On the way up on your backswing the club should be facing toward the sky and butt-end of the club toward the ground. This is check-in point number two.
- From this position you simply unwind starting with your hips. The hips will bring along the shoulders, arms, and hands (in that order). This will get the face square, with no wrist manipulation. The less you can depend on timing, the more consistent shots that you will produce.
Golf Swing Release Drill
Another simple drill to help you feel the right feeling on your downswing is this one from Jonathan Taylor. The best part? It doesn’t require any extra gear.
You simply grip the shaft with your right hand in the middle of the shaft. This drill doesn’t require much energy but gets your forearm rotation going in the right direction. This will get your forearms down which will result in a square clubface.
Watch the full video here:
Why do I release the golf club early?
Releasing it early is an error that happens on the downswing, created by an excessive loss of angle created with the club shaft and lead arm in the downswing. Releasing the club too early often results in a huge loss of power and a less than desirable outcome. Get a lesson or use the drills above to improve your timing and accuracy.
What is flipping in the golf swing?
One of the oldest sayings in golf is, “You can talk to a fade, but you can’t talk to a draw.” Meaning, that when you shape the shot left to right (for a right-handed player), the miss isn’t as drastic as a draw or hook. Draw or hooks tend to have a lot more forward spin and thus, go farther left and also roll out.
So if you “flip” the face too much at impact, you are likely going to over rotate your wrists and send the shot screaming left.
How do I keep the wrist hinge in the downswing?
Keeping wrist hinge is crucial on the way down. This ensures that you compress it for maximum strength and power.
Here is a great video to watch about the correct wrist position from Me and My Golf’s YouTube channel.
Hopefully, you are confident on the three main ways in releasing so you can find more consistency in your golf game. Ultimately, you want to create a swing that is as consistent as possible so you don’t have wild swings in your scores.
If you build a swing that is based on timing, you are setting yourself up for some tough days. Both the slap hinge and the crossover have their benefits, but largely depend on nearly perfect timing. So if you opt for those, you better have a strong short game for extra help.
The push method is the most effective way in releasing it properly in golf. This allows the left wrist to remain flat throughout impact for the most consistent contact. There should be no horizontal hinging motion of the left wrist at impact is made.
The next time you watch a PGA Tour golf event, be sure to watch the players and how they almost never rely on timing. The overwhelming majority will use a push method to create higher swing speeds and more consistent flight paths.
But don’t forget, it’s about finding out what works best for your game, your abilities, age, and strength. Start with the first two and as you advance, try to switch to a no manipulation, push style for the best results and lowest scores. Plus, you’ll get more distance than ever before.