How A Late Release Can Ruin Your Golf Swing (Video)
How A Late Release Can Ruin Your Golf Swing (Video)

So during this next little mini-series of videos, we are going to investigate the issues with the late release and how that can cause problems with your golf swing. And yes you heard me correctly there, the issues with the late release. Now this is the reason I stress that point is that it’s a lot less common to late release than it is to early release. The number of times I give a golf lesson that involves this concept to somebody fishing for the golf ball and early releasing.

So the early release would be too much hand and arm action here, and then scooping the golf ball and getting a poor contact to the back of the ball here. So that’s the early release, the late release is the opposite. So we have this loading of the angle this way, bringing the golf club down. Now we want to release this golf club in this lag angle at a point where we strike the golf ball with a relatively straight arm, hands should be maybe a couple of degrees ahead, just to make sure we take ball turf and get a really nice contact. But the concept of a late release or a release that is too late is someone that hangs on to this angle for too long and hits the golf ball without fully extending and fully releasing the golf club. Now there is a number of key issues here that are going to be at play. Now one of the issues is going to be loss of distance because that club head isn't fully releasing and fully extending, it’s not fully speeding up, it’s kind of holding back some trapped energy. So potential energy that’s not been released and therefore you might find someone with a late release, not hitting the ball quite as far as they should. You can understand the concept that if the hands are too far in front of the club head impact, they haven’t fully released, the club head doesn’t have enough loft on it. So it’s actually going to be quit a low ball flight, so a lower and shorter than average ball flight. Well more concept might be that the club face doesn’t actually come back square to the golf ball. So if the club face is effectively in an open position, here it’s pointing to the right for the right handed golfer, but then we hold, hold, hold, hold, hold, at this point of impact, the club face pointed too far to the right. So we’ve got short shots, lower shots, and slightly to the rightward shots. Now if that sounds like your game maybe you could be somebody that’s suffering from a release that is too late. So hopefully these next few videos will help explain how and why that’s a problem and how you can correct it.
2016-04-18

The release might be the most misunderstood part of the golf swing.

How a Late Release Can Ruin Your Golf Swing

If you ask a collection of average golfers how the release is supposed to work, you are sure to get a wide variety of responses in return. There is plenty of doubt in the mind of the typical golfer when this topic comes up, and very little in the way of clarity. With this article, we’d like to help you gain a better understanding of the release, and why a late release can mean big trouble for your swing.

First, a definition – when we talk about the ‘release’ in the golf swing, we are talking about the action of rotating the face of the club through the hitting area. As the club swings down toward impact, it is naturally in an open position. From that open position, it is going to need to rotate into a (roughly) square position for impact, and then continue on into a closed position as you swing into the follow through. You are said to be releasing the club when you let it rotate through the ball and into the finish. Of course, this does not mean that you actually let go of the club – rather, you just rotate your hands through the hitting area, the club face turns along with your hands, and the ball is sent on its way.

So, you might be thinking at this point, that the release sounds pretty simple. Well, if the golf swing happened in slow motion, it would be extremely simple. But that’s not how it works. Instead, the swing moves incredibly quickly, especially at the bottom of the swing when the club is ripping through the ball. Trying to consciously time the release is an exercise in futility. The swing happens far too quickly for you to intentionally release the club with any kind of consistency. You might manage to hit one or two good shots this way during the course of a round, but the rest of your results would be pretty ugly.

Ultimately, the task is to build a swing which produces a natural release at just the right time through the ball. When most professional golfers swing the club, they aren’t thinking at all about the release. They are making sure some of their other key fundamentals are in place, as those fundamentals will permit the release to happen naturally. You want to build a quality swing apart from the release, in the hopes that your release will then fall in line.

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.

Not Too Early, Not Too Late

Not Too Early, Not Too Late

There really isn’t much margin for error when it comes to the release in your golf swing. A little bit early is just as much trouble as a little bit late, so you have no choice but to do your best to dial in this part of your swing just right. Of course, golf is an extremely hard game, so you should never expect perfection from yourself at any point during practice or on the course. You are always going to hit bad shots from time to time – that’s just how it works. Even the pros get the timing of their release wrong on occasion, so don’t be too hard on yourself when it does go wrong. Stick with it and keep working to raise your performance to higher and higher levels.

Before you can get to work on fixing your release, you need to be sure that your release is actually a problem in the first place. Fortunately, there are some signs you can watch for which will indicate that you are having trouble within the timing of your release. Review the points below for more information.

  • The push pattern. When you consistently push the ball out to the right of the target, there is a good chance that your release is late. Quite simply, not releasing the club in time is going to leave the face open to the target line, and that open position is going to result in a push. It is important to note that a push to the right is not the same thing as a slice. A slice is a shot which usually starts to the left of the target line before quickly turning to the right and curving dramatically in the air. On the other hand, a push is a shot that flies mostly in a straight line, but it starts to the right and stays there. The good news is that you will usually get a more playable result from a push than a slice, so at least you don’t have to deal with the nasty outcomes typically offered by a sliced shot. Nevertheless, you’ll still want to do what you can to fix the push, so you can hit your targets more frequently on the course.
  • Lacking speed through the ball. Does it seem like your shots are always lacking a little bit of speed when they come off the face of the club? This could be due to your late release, as you won’t quite be getting everything out of your swing in time to send the ball a considerable distance down the fairway. Of course, you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to top professionals when it comes to distance, as it’s unlikely that you are going to live up to the standard. A better way to judge how far you should – or could – be hitting the ball is to pay attention to the distance produced by the others in your group. If there is another player in your group of a similar age to you, and they play at a similar level, that player can serve as a good comparison. If you are consistently outdriven by big margins, something may be wrong with your release.
  • Low ball flight. Finally, you may also have an indication that something is wrong with your release when you are consistently hitting the ball rather low. You don’t necessarily need to hit the ball sky high to play good golf, but you will benefit from being able to get the ball up at least a modest distance off the turf. Holding off on your release is likely to flatten out your ball to some degree, and you may also end up with a modest spin rate (which is another factor that will keep your ball down). Find a way to make your release happen a bit earlier and you should see your average ball flight move a bit higher into the sky.

Once you have determined that you are struggling with a late release, there is only one logical next step – get down to work on fixing the issue. That isn’t going to be easy, of course, but you can do it with consistent effort and attention to detail. We hope the content in the rest of this article will point you in the right direction.

Likely Causes of a Late Release

Likely Causes of a Late Release

You can’t fix a problem that you don’t understand. It’s one thing to say that you are going to correct your late release, but what does that mean? How are you going to fix it if you don’t know why it is happening in the first place? To get started on this journey, you need to make sure to take some time to get to the bottom of this problem. By understanding what it is in your swing that is causing a late release, you will have a specific point to attack when you start to work on improvements.

As we’ve never seen you swing the club, we can’t tell you for sure what it is that’s leading to a late release in your game. However, we can offer a list of likely causes for you to consider. Think about the points below in reference to your game and decide if any of these issues are at the heart of your release struggles.

  • Lack of confidence. Believe it or not, the leading cause of a late release actually has nothing to do with your physical technique. Rather, the issue here is a lack of confidence in your ability to hit a good shot. When you doubt yourself during the swing, you will be likely to ‘hold on’ to the swing as the club approaches the ball. That means you are going to restrict the release in an effort to guide the club through impact in a square position. Countless players steer the club through the ball in this way, and it rarely works out in a positive manner. You’ll end up holding the club face open to the target line, the ball will sail out to the right, and you will lose swing speed at the same time. Quite obviously, the only way to get over this issue is to find some confidence that you can turn to while making your swings. Usually, confidence is built on the practice range and then carried over onto the golf course. Spend some time hitting easy shots on the range where you can see success and feel good about yourself as a golfer. With any luck, those good feelings will encourage you to trust your swing a bit more, and you’ll start to let the release happen naturally through the hitting area.
  • Slide instead of turn. As far as mechanical issues go, this next point on our list is a big one. Ideally, the golf swing will be a rotational action, with your body turning back away from the target, and then through toward the target. When done correctly, it’s rather simple and incredibly powerful. However, many amateur golfers fall into the trap of sliding from side to side, rather than turning through their shots. If you slide toward the target in the downswing, it will be hard to release the club in a timely manner. Your body will be resisting the rotational release that should be taking place, and the club will likely hang open as a result. Players who rotate correctly have a much easier time creating a full release, since their bodies are actively working to encourage the club to turn over from right to left. The lateral slide also causes a number of other issues beyond release problems, so work to eliminate this mistake from your game right away.
  • Poor grip. The grip is a fundamental part of the game of golf, yet many players manage to overlook its importance. You need to have your hands in a good position on the club in order to execute the release properly through the hitting area. If your grip is fighting against your swing, it will always be hard to put the club face in the right spot at the moment of contact. As it relates specifically to a late release, you will want to check to make sure your grip is not too weak. What does that mean? A weak grip is one where the left hand is turned well to the left on the handle of the club (as you look down from above). If you can’t seem to get the club to release on time despite having the rest of your technique in good condition, try turning your left hand just a bit to the right. Of course, you’ll also need to adjust the position of your right hand to match. Now that you have a slightly stronger grip, you may find that the club releases much more easily through the hitting area.

There is a good chance that one of the three issues above is leading to your late release, although it is possible that something else is actually at the heart of the matter. Take some time to think about the way your swing is working as you attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery. Also, you may find it helpful to record your swing on video, so you can watch for yourself from an outside perspective. For many players, the diagnosis of the issue will actually be the biggest hurdle that needs to be cleared. Once the cause of the problem is understood, getting it corrected could be easier than you expect.

Watching for Progress

Watching for Progress

The way you decide to work on improving your release is going to depend on what you figured out while working through the previous section. For instance, if it was your grip that was giving you trouble, making a change there is the obvious next step. Or, if your body rotation in the swing was lacking, working on an improved turn should lead to a better – and timelier – release.

As you practice your new and improved technique, whatever that may look like, it’s a good idea to pay close attention and look for signs that you are making progress. Keep an eye out for the points listed below –

  • Turning the ball over. If you start to see draw ball flights on some of your shots during a practice session, that is an excellent sign. You aren’t going to be able to hit a draw if you are holding onto the release, so a nice right-to-left flight is a sure indication that your release is starting to work properly. Of course, if that draw starts to turn into a hook, you may be going too far. Ideally, you’ll see a relatively straight ball flight, with just a hint of a draw on the end.
  • Hitting the ball farther. This is another great indication that you’ve gotten your release in a better place. A properly timed release will help you maximize the swing speed that you achieve through the hitting area, so you may be able to regain some of the distance that you had lost while releasing the club too late. You shouldn’t put too much stock in the distances that you achieve on the driving range, since range balls don’t behave in exactly the same way that your golf ball will when playing on the course. So, this is an observation that is best to make when you are actually playing a round of golf.
  • A better feeling at impact. Sometimes, you need nothing more than the feeling that comes up through your hands at impact to tell you that your swing has improved. When impact feels solid and the ball jumps off the club face, you can feel good about the overall quality of your swing. Most of the time, swings where the release happens late will not offer this kind of solid feeling.

It really isn’t all that hard to notice when your release starts to work better. Your ball flight will improve, your distance will improve, and the feeling that you receive at impact will improve, as well. With any luck, you’ll notice signs of progress relatively soon, and that progress will only encourage you to work even harder.

Putting It Out of Your Head

Putting It Out of Your Head

There are two hurdles you need to clear in order to correct your late release and move on with your game. First, you need to correct whatever mechanical error was leading to the late release in the first place (if there was one). Then, with that work complete, you will need to get over the mental side of this issue. If your late release has led you to hit plenty of poor shots out on the course during recent rounds, there will be a big confidence issue that you need to address. Only when you trust your swing and believe in your abilities can you actually produce great shots on the links.

The first step toward putting this issue out of your head is to spend plenty of time practicing. That might be an obvious point, but it needs to be said. As you accumulate more and more good swings on the range, those poor swings with a late release will move farther and farther back into history. Simply by replacing the bad with the good, you’ll gradually come to believe in your abilities. Too many golfers expect to make meaningful progress without actually doing any work. That’s just a fantasy, and you don’t want to put yourself in that camp. Understand that improvement in this game takes effort.

Once you have a nice base of practice behind you, the next step is to learn how to focus your mind properly on the course. The key is that you shouldn’t be thinking about the release at all – that’s what practice was for. Now that you have worked on your skills and have a swing in place that you can trust, you should be focused on other things when on the golf course. Specifically, you should be planning each shot carefully and focusing on the targets that you select for those shots. By immersing yourself in the process of hitting targets, you may find that you don’t even have time to worry about your release.

Remember, this is golf, so you shouldn’t expect perfection out of yourself at any point. There will still be times when your mind switches back to thinking about the release. When that happens, do your best to refocus on the shot at hand, pay attention to details like distance, wind, club selection, ball flight, and more. With so much to think about, you should be able to successfully move any concerns about releasing the club right out of your mind.

The release in the golf swing is probably not talked about as often as it should be. This is an important piece of the overall puzzle, and a proper release can really help move your game to a higher level. If you are currently fighting a late release in your swing, we hope the ideas presented in this article will help you move in the right direction. Good luck!

So during this next little mini-series of videos, we are going to investigate the issues with the late release and how that can cause problems with your golf swing. And yes you heard me correctly there, the issues with the late release. Now this is the reason I stress that point is that it’s a lot less common to late release than it is to early release. The number of times I give a golf lesson that involves this concept to somebody fishing for the golf ball and early releasing.

So the early release would be too much hand and arm action here, and then scooping the golf ball and getting a poor contact to the back of the ball here. So that’s the early release, the late release is the opposite. So we have this loading of the angle this way, bringing the golf club down. Now we want to release this golf club in this lag angle at a point where we strike the golf ball with a relatively straight arm, hands should be maybe a couple of degrees ahead, just to make sure we take ball turf and get a really nice contact. But the concept of a late release or a release that is too late is someone that hangs on to this angle for too long and hits the golf ball without fully extending and fully releasing the golf club. Now there is a number of key issues here that are going to be at play. Now one of the issues is going to be loss of distance because that club head isn't fully releasing and fully extending, it’s not fully speeding up, it’s kind of holding back some trapped energy. So potential energy that’s not been released and therefore you might find someone with a late release, not hitting the ball quite as far as they should. You can understand the concept that if the hands are too far in front of the club head impact, they haven’t fully released, the club head doesn’t have enough loft on it. So it’s actually going to be quit a low ball flight, so a lower and shorter than average ball flight. Well more concept might be that the club face doesn’t actually come back square to the golf ball. So if the club face is effectively in an open position, here it’s pointing to the right for the right handed golfer, but then we hold, hold, hold, hold, hold, at this point of impact, the club face pointed too far to the right. So we’ve got short shots, lower shots, and slightly to the rightward shots. Now if that sounds like your game maybe you could be somebody that’s suffering from a release that is too late. So hopefully these next few videos will help explain how and why that’s a problem and how you can correct it.