Even if you are new to golf, you have likely heard the term ‘releasing the golf club’ at least once or twice.

How Do You Release the Golf Club? 4 Questions and Answers

If you are an experienced player, you’ve certainly heard this term many times over the years, as it is frequently tossed around both on the driving range and out on the course. But what does it mean to release the club? And why is it important? We are going to answer those questions, and more, in this article. The process of improving your golf game includes an ongoing education with regard to the various terms and expressions that golfers use. When you are done with this article, one more small piece of your golf education will be in place.

First, let’s get this out of the way right from the start – releasing the golf club has nothing to do with actually letting the club fly out of your hands. You don’t want to do that, of course. You need to keep the club securely in your hands from the start of the swing all the way to the finish, both for your own safety and the safety of those around you. Golf is not a dangerous game when compared to most other sports, but letting the club fly out of your hands is a recipe for trouble.

When golfers talk about ‘releasing the golf club’, they are talking about the act of letting the club face rotate into a square position at the bottom of the swing. In fact, the club face actually rotates from an open position all the way into a closed position. The goal is to match up the middle of that rotation – the moment when the club face is square to the target line – with the moment when the club contacts the ball. Since the golf swing is a rotational action, the face is actually square to the target line for only a fraction of a second. The timing of the release is critical to the success of your golf swing, as releasing the club just a bit early or a bit late is going to lead to a disappointing result. Only when your release happens correctly on the way into impact will you be able to produce a shot that heads directly for your intended target.

Unfortunately, many golfers go about the release in entirely the wrong manner. Our goal in this article is to help you understand how the release should work so you can practice it correctly moving forward. It won’t be easy to correct your release technique if you’ve been doing it wrong for years, but you should be able to make steady progress with patience and hard work. Once you learn how to release the club the right way, it will become much easier to hit your targets with regularity.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

What is The Wrong Way?

What is The Wrong Way?

In the next section of this article, we are going to talk about the right way to release the club at the bottom of the swing. Before we get there, however, we want to first talk about how the release can go wrong. One of the best ways to improve your golf game is actually to think about the mistakes that you need to avoid. When you know what you shouldn’t be doing, what you should be doing actually becomes quite obvious. To put it another way, if you take all of the basic mistakes out of your swing, what you are left with should be a pretty reliable action.

The list below highlights some of the ways in which the release can go wrong.

  • Intentional action with the right hand. For most golfers, the seemingly obvious way to release the club is to force the club head into the back of the ball by firing the right hand during the downswing. The right wrist is straightened rapidly, the club accelerates, and the club head slams into the back of the ball at high speed. Perfect, right? Not so fast. Sure, if you could time up that move reliably over and over again, you could produce some impressive shots. The issue here has to do with the overall speed of the golf swing. With a driver, many golfers swing the club at over 100 miles per hour through the hitting area. Even if you don’t quite reach those speeds, you still may be in the 80s or 90s – which remains quite fast. To intentionally release the club with your right hand at just the right time to square the club face at the moment of impact would require incredible hand-eye coordination. It just isn’t going to happen. You might get it right some of the time, but you are going to get it wrong quite a bit, as well. In order to become a consistent player, you will have to use a release method that is more reliable than trying to find the precise moment to fire your right hand during the downswing.
  • Release from the top. Unfortunately, this mistake is quite common in the amateur game. Rather than holding onto the angle between their left arm and the shaft of the club for as long into the downswing as possible, many players give up that angle right from the top. Not only is this mistake going to cost you a significant amount of distance, but it is also going to put you in danger of hitting a slice. When golfers talk about swinging over the top and hitting a slice, a part of that mistake is usually a premature release. For a variety of reasons, it is important that you are able to hold off and wait to release the club until you have actually arrived at the bottom of the swing. Doing so successfully will help you produce more power, and it will help you swing down on a better path, as well.
  • Try to help the ball up. For some golfers, the release is seen as something that is done to help the ball get up off the ground. This is not the right way to think about the release, and it is almost certain to lead to trouble. When you are trying to help the ball off the ground, you are going to use too much right-hand action, and you’ll also tend to lean back away from the target. Neither of these things are going to help you strike solid shots on the center of the club face. Remember, the ball doesn’t need help getting off the ground – that’s why each of your clubs has some degree of loft built into the design of the club head. As long as you hit the ball cleanly, the ball should leave the ground without much trouble. The release is about squaring the club face and delivering maximum speed at the moment of impact. It doesn’t really have anything to do with helping the ball of the ground, so do your best to get these kinds of thoughts out of your head.

There is a good chance that you’ll be able to identify the problem in your release by reviewing the three points above. If not, think about how your swing feels at the bottom and try to figure out where you are going wrong. With any luck, you’ll be able to determine the root cause of your mistake, and you’ll be able to get to work on making the necessary fix right away. Of course, if you can’t manage to figure it out all on your own, it may be worth taking a lesson from a local golf professional. An experienced golf pro will be able to break down the various components of your swing and offer insight as to what it is that is causing your release to malfunction.

What is The Right Way?

What is The Right Way?

So far, we have talked about what can lead to release problems in your golf swing. At this point, we are going to turn things around and talk about the release from a positive perspective. What does it look like when the club is released properly? How does it feel when the club moves through the ball and into the finish with a clean release? Again in this section, we are going to use a list of points to explain this topic as clearly as possible.

  • Driven by the body. This is perhaps the hardest part of the release for most players to believe. Since it is your hands that hold onto the club during the swing, it might seem like your hands should be directly responsible for the release. They have a role to play, of course, but it is actually the core of your body that needs to do the work of moving the club through the hitting area. As you swing down toward the ball, you should be turning aggressively to the left, and you should keep on turning as the club nears impact. Many players give up on their turn at this point, but that is a big mistake. If you quit turning, you’ll have to force the club through the ball with your hands and arms only. That will make it difficult to achieve a clean strike, and it will also rob you of power. The players who tend to perform best when it comes to the release are those who use a great body turn to carry them all the way into a full finish. The rotation of your body should drive the rotation of the club. Start the downswing by using your legs and hips to turn to the left and then simply keep everything going until the ball has been sent on its way.
  • Think left hand, not right. Earlier, we warned against letting your right hand take too much of an active role in the release. You’ll need to use your right hand at some point, but intentionally trying to fire it at just the right moment is a recipe for trouble. Instead, we feel that you should be thinking about pulling your left hand down toward the ball. As you swing down, think about pulling the bottom of your left hand toward the ball as the club comes along for the ride. If you keep driving that left hand toward the ball, you should be able to hold your angle nicely while your body does the work of turning through the shot. The combination of holding your angle and turning through the ball aggressively can lead to impressive ball striking results. As the last moment, your right hand will inevitably get involved as a response to the forces involved in the swing, and you will fire the club head through impact and on to the finish.
  • Avoid the slide. One of the biggest problems that amateur golfers face with regard to the release actually comes back to a balance issue. During your downswing, you need to avoid sliding too far to the left (toward the target). The golf swing should be a rotational action and there should be very little lateral motion involved. If you do slide to the left, it’s going to be tough to release the club properly, mostly because your body rotation will have been negatively impacted. You can’t really turn and slide properly at the same time, so it has to be one or the other. Make sure you are opting to turn rather than slide so your release can remain on track.

A proper release at the bottom of the golf swing is not necessarily easy to achieve, but it can be done. And, once you get the feeling for how this part of the swing should work, you will have more and more confidence in your ability to strike quality shots moving forward.

What Are The Good Signs?

What Are The Good Signs?

As you already know, it will be necessary to work on your swing technique at the driving range if you are going to make any meaningful improvements in your game. This is true when learning the correct release, and it is true when learning just about anything else in golf. While those practice sessions aren’t always as much fun as playing out on the course, they do set the stage for great accomplishments later down the line. While you practice, be sure to keep your eye out for signs of progress and use those signs as motivation to keep working on your game.

The list below includes a few signs that may indicate the quality of your release is headed in the right direction.

  • Added distance. When you start to notice that your shots are suddenly flying farther than before, that is a great sign that your release is working correctly. With a clean release through the ball, you should notice a couple of improvements that will add up to extra distance. First, you should find the sweet spot more frequently, which means more energy from your swing will be transferred to the ball at impact. Also, your swing will have more speed through the hitting area than before since your release will be free and uninhibited. In the end, all of this adds up to longer shots, from your short clubs on up to your driver.
  • More shots headed toward the target. While it is great to add distance, the real benefit of improving your release can be found in your accuracy. When the swing is squaring up correctly at impact time after time, you are sure to see more shots heading toward your selected target. You don’t even need to be out on the course to notice your improvements in this area – you should notice on the range that you are suddenly hitting the ball on line more frequently. Once back out on the course, your improved accuracy will give you a boost of confidence, and the fairways of your favorite local course might look wider than they did previously.
  • Fewer mishits. If you currently have to deal with a relatively high percentage of thin or fat shots as part of your standard game, you should see these mistakes start to fade away as you continue to improve your release. They are never going to go away completely, of course, as all golfers hit poor shots from time to time. However, you should find that more of your shots are struck cleanly both on the range and on the course. This is great news on the course, as it tends to be those mishit shots which place you in the greatest amount of trouble and can lead to big numbers on the scorecard.

In reality, it probably isn’t going to be that hard to tell that your release is getting better. As your release improves, your play will improve overall. As the list above indicates, you will hit the ball harder, you will hit it straighter, and you will hit is cleaner. Those are all good things, and they should mean exciting results during future rounds.

How Do You Release in the Short Game?

How Do You Release in the Short Game?

Every time you work on something in your long game, it is a wise idea to think about how that same thing may impact your short game. In this case, we are of course talking about the release, so it is worth finishing up this article with some discussion of how the release should work when putting or chipping. You aren’t going to get very far in this game without a reliable short game, so overlooking this piece of the puzzle would be a mistake.

First, let’s talk about putting. Basically, there is no meaningful release that should be taking place in your putting stroke. Yes, the putter face is going to swing open and closed slightly as it moves back and then through the ball, but that rotation is a result of the fact that you are standing next to the ball and not above it. If you move the putter by rocking your shoulders – as you should – there will be a bit of face rotation, but it will be pretty subtle. Dramatic face rotation is only going to take place when you get your hands and wrists involved in the stroke, and that is what you should be trying to avoid.

Things get a little more complicated when talking about chipping and pitching the golf ball. There are a variety of different types of chip and pitch shots, so you can’t just say that one basic technique is going to apply to all of them. When it comes to the release, you can use this rule of thumb to guide your thinking – high short same shots will require an active release, while low shots will not. So, for instance, if you are trying to hit a flop shot high into the air from off the side of the green, you will need to use an aggressive release through the ball. On the other hand, if you are playing a simple bump-and-run shot with a low-lofted iron, no release is required. As you practice your various short game shots, always keep the release in the back of your mind and make sure you are only releasing the club actively when it is necessary to pull off your intended shot.

The release is a part of the golf swing that has given many players trouble over the years. Much of that struggle has been due to the fact that many players simply don’t understand how the release is supposed to work. Rather than forcing the action with your hands, let your body rotation drive the swing and allow your hands and wrists to play a supporting role. When everything comes together, a proper release can improve both your distance and your accuracy – a powerful combination, to say the least. We hope the tips in this article will help you improve your release in the near future. Good luck!