NAPLES — One of the most violated fundamentals of all golfers is their failure to release the club just after impact. Before I go into this topic, I will give you the dictionary's definition of a release.
Release, according to Webster, means "to let go." Unfortunately, too many of us don't let go after impact. We hold on so tight that the club never releases and our arms tend to bend upward, causing them to look like a couple of chicken wings.
No wonder most of us are slicers. In golfers' terminology, the release starts at waist high in the downswing and concludes at waist high in the follow-through. The club comes down on an inside track with the toe of the club pointed up to the sky at waist high in the downswing. The club then squares up at impact and then releases to a toe-up position at waist high in the follow-through.
This is the release and is considered the heart and sole of any swing. Many players know what the release is but just don't know how to do it. Generally, this is a result of an arms-only downswing with a considerable amount of hand and arm tension through impact.
To work on your release, take an old club and throw it down the fairway. Of course, make sure there is nobody around, because you are not likely to throw it down the fairway. You will probably throw it to the left of you and behind you because of your hand and arm tension. When you can throw the club down the middle of the fairway, you have learned how to release the club.
Now put your hands on the club and just take waist-to-waist swings, just trying to release the club. The most important part of the release is when the right hand turns over the left hand on the forward part of the swing. If you are doing this correctly, you will see a slight hook.
To get good at releasing the club and hitting the desired hook, you must get rid of that excessive hand and arm tension. Golfers who try to help the ball up in the air with their arms are doomed to failure. You must allow yourself to turn your body out of the way so the club is allowed to release.
One of the best drills I know to help golfers learn the release and get out of their steering mode is the "Split Grip" drill. In doing this drill, simply split your hands three to four inches apart and take some practice swings. You will find an enhanced feeling of a natural release.
Now put your hands on the club correctly and do your waist-to-waist swing just working on your release and trying to get the toe of the club to the ball before the heel. If you are a slicer, you will be in heaven as this will make you hook.
In golf there are certain fundamentals that we all must do, and the release is one of them. And, even if you do have some physical problems, most of you are capable of using your hands and arms to release the club. Practice your release in front of the mirror. Say to yourself, left hand over right hand on the backswing and right hand over left on the forward swing.
Do this for two weeks and watch that slice disappear.
Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, is available for lessons at Suttie Golf at The Club at Twin Eagles North Naples and Cog Hill Golf Club, Lemont, Ill. Suttie is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and rated No. 15 in Golf Digest Best 50 Teachers. Suttie also is the director of golf operations for the FGCU golf program. For lessons and program information call 800-765-3838 or Jmsuttie@aol.com.