One of the biggest challenges that any golf teacher will face in their career is trying to teach someone how to correctly release the club through the hitting area. The release happens so fast – in just a fraction of a second – that it is nearly impossible for the student to feel everything that is going on during that part of the swing. The release cannot be done 'manually', because there isn't enough time for your brain to tell your hands and arms what to do. Therefore, you will need to have everything in place leading up to impact so that the release can happen naturally. A good golf teacher will understand this point, and they will work on the fundamentals of the swing prior to impact so that the student has a great chance of executing a proper release when the time comes.

Release Lesson Chart

If you haven't spent too much time thinking about your release up until this point, don't worry – you are in the same boat as most amateur golfers. There is plenty to work on in the swing, so something as complicated and difficult as the release is often pushed to the back burner. With that said, it is worth your time to work on the release because of the tremendous improvements that you could make if you are able to fine tune your technique in this area.

To strike the golf ball consistently time after time, you need some type of release at the bottom of the swing. That doesn’t mean you literally release the club and let it fly through the air, of course – rather, the release in golf refers to letting the club face square up and then close down as it moves through the ball. This is one of the trickier areas of golf instruction, here we will attempt to break it down in this article so you can gain a better understanding of what it is and how you can use a release properly in your own game.

It should be noted before we get too far into this article that the release largely happens naturally as a result of the other parts of your swing. Even if you have never before consciously thought about how to release the club, you are probably doing it already! This is because of the momentum created by the swinging action – it’s simply hard to swing down through the hitting area without letting the club release at least a little bit. Holding off the release completely is not impossible, but it’s not a natural movement, either. Most likely, you already have at least some kind of release in your game. So, you aren’t starting from scratch, but you need to know how you can modify the way your release works in order to get better results.

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.

— Why the Release is Important

We’d like to start at the beginning with this topic and discuss why it is important to make sure your release is working correctly. What does the release have to offer your swing, anyway? Let’s walk through a few basic points to help you see the big picture of why this matters to your game.

Release Golf Lesson Chart

  • Square up the club face. One of the key functions of the release is to allow you to move the club face into a square position by the time it strikes the ball. If you don’t let the club head release at the bottom, you will almost certainly hold the face open and put some left-to-right spin on the ball as a result. Most golfers who struggle with a slice have problems in their release, and we will dedicate an entire section of this article to that topic later on. If you feel like you are constantly having to battle to get the face into a square position, it might be that your release simply isn’t doing its job. With a better release, it will be easier to square up the face, and you should wind up with less sidespin on your shots as a result.
  • Unleash all of your power. If you don’t release the club properly, you will always be leaving at least a little potential swing speed in the tank. The release is the moment during the swing when everything you have done leading up to that point pays off and you launch the club into the back of the ball with maximum force. Holding off the release, as many golfers do, means you can’t tap into all of that potential power – and your shots will lack the speed they could have otherwise had. Many golfers think they need new equipment to hit longer shots, or maybe they feel that they need to hit the gym to build muscle. Those steps might be able to help but unlocking additional yardage with every club in your bag could be as simple as doing nothing more than learning how to release the club properly through the hitting area.
  • Improving your consistency. Every golfer wants to be more consistent. If you can hit the ball in the expected direction time after time, and if you can get close to hitting it the right yardage, you’ll be in good shape. One way to make a step toward better consistency is to learn how to optimize your release. A reliable release makes your swing more consistent because you will be allowing the natural forces of the swing to square the club up through the hitting area and send it through the ball and out toward the target. Players who hold off, or restrict, the release are manipulating the club and will have a tough time doing so in the same manner shot after shot. So, you might manage to produce a few good shots with your restricted release, but it’s unlikely that you will keep it up all day long. Also, it’s particularly difficult to maintain a consistent level of ball striking under pressure when you don’t have a good release. It’s one thing to repeat your hold off move through the ball when you are on the range with nothing on the line, but it’s harder to make that move work if you are a bit nervous or anxious on the course. If you have been struggling to play your best when the pressure is on, try working on your release and you might be surprised to find how much you can improve in this area.
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Simply put, you’ll be a better golfer when you allow the club to release correctly through impact. Is it going to be easy to make an improvement in this area? No – probably not. But that’s okay – nothing worth achieving ever comes easy. In the next section, we are going to talk about how the release should work and where you may be going wrong currently.

— Working Toward a Proper Release

Executing a proper release in the golf swing comes down to putting the right fundamentals in place before you even get near the hitting area. A good release is more about doing everything right leading up to the moment of impact, rather than intentionally doing something to release the club when impact does arrive. In fact, if you are consciously trying to release the club by telling your right hand to fire through the hitting area, you are doing something wrong. The bottom of the swing comes and goes much too quickly for that kind of intentional action. Instead, you should be working toward establishing excellent fundamentals everywhere else in your swing, as doing so will encourage the release to take place as it should.

If you would like to work on building the basics of your swing to support a proper release, consider focusing your attention on the following areas.

Release Golf Lesson Chart

  • A great backswing turn. So many things in your golf swing hinge on your ability to make a good turn away from the ball. If you turn fully away in the backswing, you will have plenty of room to make a powerful downswing before impact arrives. Players who don’t get this good turn often feel ‘crowded’ on the way down, as there simply isn’t much space between the end of their backswing and the ball itself. As you turn back, make sure to give yourself enough time to turn your shoulders as far back as your flexibility will allow. You don’t want to force it to the point of pushing yourself off balance, but you don’t want to cut it short, either. A good turn can help improve the quality of your release because of how much momentum you will have built up by the time you are swinging down toward impact. As your body uncoils toward the target, you will be building speed and there will be a lot of force behind your swing as impact arrives. In the end, that means you should have a release that mostly takes care of itself, and you simply have to keep turning aggressively through impact to strike the ball and hopefully send your shot toward the target.
  • A proper grip. The way you place your hands on the club at address says a lot about what you will be able to accomplish in the swing to come. Specifically, your grip says a lot about how your release will work, since an improper grip can interfere with the release even if you do everything else right in the swing. There are a couple of key points to keep in mind as you establish your grip. First, you want to maintain a relatively light grip pressure throughout the swing. This is a point that many golfers get wrong, and they struggle to release the club correctly as a result. You should be holding on to the club with enough grip pressure to maintain control throughout the swing, of course, but no more than that. If you are squeezing tightly onto the handle, it will be hard to develop any rhythm in your swing and it’s unlikely that you will release the club naturally through impact. The other key point is to find a way to connect your hands that will provide for freedom of movement throughout the swing. Two common options are the overlap and interlocking grips. With an overlapping grip, the pinky finger from the right-hand rests on top of the left hand, in the crease between the pointer and middle fingers. With an interlocking grip, you are going to take that right-hand pinky finger and slide it between the pointer and middle fingers on the left. If you don’t yet have an established preference between these two styles, experiment with them on the range and see which feels more comfortable to you.
  • The right transition. Believe it or not, it may be the transition that gives golfers more release trouble than any other specific part of the swing. If you can get through the transition and into your downswing cleanly, you’ll be in great shape to release the club through impact without any issue. The key in the transition is to keep your hands out of the action while you use the rotation of your body to start everything toward the target. Specifically, you want to use your lower body to start the downswing rotation, and the rest of your body can follow along once that gets going. Unfortunately, many golfers start their downswing by using their hands and wrists to force the club down toward the ball. Basically, this is ‘wasting’ the release action far too early in the swing. If you use your hands in the transition, your release will be gone, and you’ll be left to just drag the club through the hitting area and into the ball. There won’t be much power in this kind of swing, and you’ll probably struggle to make clean contact, as well. So, basically, the goal in the transition phase is simple – you need to keep your hands out of the equation while you use your lower body to rotate and get the downswing starter. If you can do this properly, you’ll hold onto your release and save it for the bottom of the swing when it can be used to maximum effect.

As you can see, nothing in this section talked at all about how to use your right hand to release the club through the ball. That’s because you just don’t have time to think about making that move intentionally – rather, you need to think about building the fundamentals prior to that point so the release can happen on its own. Work on mastering the three points we listed above and it’s a good bet that you’ll be on the right track in terms of the release.

— The Mental Side of the Release

There is a notable mental component to the topic of release in the golf swing, and we are going to highlight that subject in this section. If you don’t have your mind in a good place prior to making a full swing, it’s going to be difficult to execute the release and send the ball on its way to the target. This is part of the reason so many golfers have trouble going from the range to the course. On the range, they aren’t worried about anything and they swing freely. On the course, doubt creeps in and it’s hard to keep swinging the club like in practice. Let’s quickly highlight some points that might be able to help you avoid any mental struggles that could stand in the way of a proper release.

Release Golf Lesson Chart

  • Commit to a specific target. One of the best ways to commit to your swing, and to make a free release as a result, is to pick out a specific target and fully commit to that target as you make your swing. Too many players just aim toward the fairway or the green in general without getting more specific about where they are trying to hit the ball. Even if you aren’t good enough yet to be particularly accurate with your shots, you can still pick a specific target and use it to provide your swing with some focus and direction. If you put this practice into action on the course, you might be surprised at how much it can help you be decisive with your game. You’ll know exactly where you are trying to hit the ball, so there is nothing left to do but make your best swing and hope you hit the mark. Without such a specific target, it’s easier for your mind to wander, and a wandering mind can end up thinking about all sorts of negative outcomes. Get into the habit of picking out a specific target and your release on the course should improve.
  • It’s all trust. This next point plays into the last point nicely. Part of why it helps to have a specific target in mind is because you need to focus on something other than what can go wrong in your swing. Golfers who are thinking about things that might go wrong are never going to produce the kinds of shots they’d like to hit – especially under pressure. If you are going to release the club through the hitting area properly, you need to trust your swing. It’s just that simple. Where do you find that trust? On the driving range, of course. By taking some time to rehearse your swing regularly on the range, you can build up a level of comfort that will help you stay mentally strong when things get tough on the course. Give yourself a reason to trust your swing by practicing consistently and you might be able to swing through the hitting area with more belief and freedom than ever before.
  • Visualization can help. If you find that you are really struggling to release the club on the course as well as you do on the range, try visualizing your shots quickly before you hit them. As you stand behind the ball preparing to take your stance, visualize exactly the shot you would like to hit. Then, step up and try to make it happen. The addition of this quick step might be enough to help you trust in your swing and commit to the release through impact.

There are plenty of mental hurdles in the game of golf, and many of them come back to nothing more complicated than trust. If you can trust in your swing, and trust in yourself, you can achieve more on the course than you may currently believe.

— Release in the Short Game

It’s always good to check in on how any specific golf instruction topic impacts the short game, since short game shots make up such a big portion of your score overall. In this case, the release works in much the same way in the short game as it does in the long game. That is to say that you do need to release the club, but you don’t really want to be thinking about it actively. If you have the other fundamentals of your short game in place nicely, the release will take care of itself.

Release Golf Lesson Chart

One of the key points from earlier in our article is particularly important for short game shots – grip pressure. You need to maintain a relatively light grip pressure on the club when hitting almost any kind of short game shot, with exceptions for shots when you need to take the club through the sand or heavy rough. Otherwise, keep your grip pressure light so you can feel the clubhead nicely. Not only will this help you to release through the hitting area properly, but it will also help you judge the distance on your shots more accurately. Distance control is a big part of success in the short game, so don’t overlook the value of keeping your grip nice and light.

If you find that you are missing a lot of your short putts to the right of the hole, you might be struggling to release the putter through impact properly. This is common on short putts because the swing of the putter is so small that you might not feel like you have time for the release. Unfortunately, if you rush your short putting stroke, this mistake is likely to keep happening over and over again. Try to take your time during the stroke on a short putt, letting the swing of the putter develop naturally – even if it is only a few inches in either direction. It’s easy to let the pressure of the moment convince you to rush just to get it over with, but that mistake will often lead to an open putter face and a miss to the right. Take your time, make a smooth stroke, and let the putter release nicely through the ball.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the release in the golf swing. When your release is working properly, your swing will feel rather natural and the ball will hopefully be leaving the club with plenty of speed. Good luck as you work in improving the release at the bottom of your swing, and have fun!