The Golf Swing Release and Why It Matters
Defined as a sequence of movements in the wrists, arms, and body while hitting the ball that begins in the downswing, when the golf club is waist-high and ends after contact, when the golf club is again waist-high, the golf swing can make or break a game. For this reason, perfecting your golf swing by learning as much as possible about it and, most importantly, by practicing, is essential. The golf swing has five phases:
- Address, when the player is thinking about how to best hit the ball
- Backswing, when they prepare to hit the ball by swinging the club back
- Downswing, when the player is on the verge of hitting the ball
- Impact, which occurs when they hit the golf ball
- Follow-through, when the player has hit the ball and is observing its trajectory
The golf swing is important because it greatly affects the accuracy and distance of the shots. More specifically, it impacts accuracy because a proper swing release keeps the clubhead on the right path for impact and distance because a correct swing release increases clubhead speed, which is crucial in the shot distance. There are two common, as well as effective, golf swing release techniques.
However, before exploring the golf swing release techniques, it is essential to talk about wrist unhinging, which is common to all golf swing release techniques. It involves straightening the wrists and their bringing into line with the forearms. This wrist "unhinging" or "uncocking" completes right before contact between the golf club's face and the golf ball. The effect of the wrists unhinging is to greatly increase the speed of the golf club's head, which determines how far the golf ball will go.
The Roll Release, Also Known as the Crossover Release
What differentiates the roll release from the other technique, the push release, is that the forearms "roll" or "crossover," and the golf club face completes a full rotation from open to closed. The following are the steps the player follows when they perform a roll release:
- The lead forearm is placed in front of the trailing forearm with respect to the position of the golf ball and body, and the golf club face is outward and away from the body
- While the golf club head comes closer and closer to the golf ball, the forearms start to "roll," as the trailing arm comes forward and over the top of the leading arm, and the golf club face begins to "close," starting to turn towards the golf ball
- During the impact with the golf ball, the forearms will be in a "V" shape and at roughly the same depth with regard to the golf ball, and the body and the golf club face will have now turned to be "square" with the golf ball
- Following impact, the trailing forearm keeps rolling over the top of the lead arm, and the golf club face continues to roll and turn toward a closed orientation
- At the end of the release motion, the lead forearm will be "under" the trailing arm with respect to the body, and the golf club face has now fully "closed," facing behind the body
Some of the pros of this golf swing release technique are that it is very popular and therefore, you can find more examples of how to perform it, it generates a higher club speed, it is suitable for intermediate and advanced players, and it does not take a heavy toll on the body. On the flip side, the cons of the roll release include that it is less consistent, more challenging to master, depends on timing, and is difficult for beginners.
The Push Release, Also Known as the Square or Straight Release
Unlike the roll release, the motion and mechanics of the push release are much simpler. These are the steps the player has to follow in order to perform a push release:
- The forearms are "stacked" in a "V" position, and the golf club face is "open," facing away from the body
- As the golf club head comes near the ball, the forearms remain stacked, and the golf club face starts to "close," beginning to turn toward the ball
- During impact with the golf ball, the forearms will remain in a "V" shape and at roughly the same depth with regard to the ball and the body, and the golf club face will have now turned to be "square" with the ball
- Following impact, the forearms stay stacked through the end of the release, and the golf club face ceases rolling and remains in its square orientation through the end of the release
This release technique has numerous pros, such as being easy for beginner players, involving simpler body mechanisms, being more popular, and being less dependent on timing. Nevertheless, it has cons, like any other technique, which include producing less club speed than the roll release and that the maximum distance of the shot will be shorter, regardless of how experienced the player is.
Tips on How to Practice Your Golf Swing Release
A good and effective way to practice your chosen golf swing release is to perform it in slow motion. This way, you will be able to observe your movements and the movements of the golf club. Furthermore, it is recommended to focus on the key actions of the swing release – for the roll release, concentrate on rotating the trailing arm over the leading arm during impact, and for the push release, concentrate on rotating the club face to contact while keeping the forearms stacked.
Other valuable tips are:
- When you practice either of these release techniques, you should also focus on unhinging your wrists before impact
- Stop at impact to verify whether your club face is square and if it is not, you have either over-rotated your forearms with the roll release or over-rotated the club face with both techniques
- After trying a slow golf swing release several times, increase the speed gradually until you are comfortable with the motion and sequence
A balanced swing allows you to have control of the golf club and deliver it straight to the ball, ensuring accuracy. Without good balance, you will not be able to achieve the game's goal. No matter which golf swing release you use, it is very important to perform it as best as possible, as this will increase your chances of winning the game. So, practice as often as you have the occasion, and do not be afraid to ask for additional tips from advanced players.