The impact Zone or the Release
Have you ever played golf with a person that seems to deny all the fundamentals that are correct and still plays a very good game? I am sure you have, as most all players at some time during their golfing life have witnessed. There are players that have either poor grips or posture or both, bad backswings with little balance and look really bad when they swing at a ball, but still manage to play pretty good golf. They are lucky or skillful enough to possess the most important ingredient of the swing, the release. Somewhere in the impact zone, maybe a little earlier for some or later for others, the toe of the club head crosses over the heel of the club head and closes the face.
The movement of the face of the clubhead at this time will create the desired ball spin. The better you are at spinning the ball as you wish means you have a higher level of skill. During many years of teaching it always amazed me that so few players understood what their wrists and forearms did during the impact zone. You can learn through mechanics or motion but the person who cannot feel the movement of the wrists can usually improve by making it happen. There are swing thought keys or triggers that enable us to turn or rotate the club face into the correct position at impact.
One of the best ways to feel wrist or forearm rotation is to swing a baseball bat. When you swing a bat with energy, it is easy to feel your wrist turning or rotating. Use that swing as a drill if you cannot feel rotation at impact or really don’t know what your wrists and forearms are doing when they meet the ball. Right handed baseball players usually foul to left field because there swing is too early and rotation takes place before the ball arrives while a left-handed hitter will more likely hit his foul balls to right field for the same reason.
One way or the other, with a full swing, wrist rotation is essential to square the clubface and create club head speed. Early rotation or the club face closes it before it contacts the ball and usually makes the ball go left of where you aim and the club face staying open to line will usually make the ball go right of where you are aiming. Aim is important, but if the club face is in the open or closed position at impact, there is a good chance the ball will not go where you intended it to.
This piece of the swing is very important and people who have been playing for many years and still do not understand it or cannot make it happen will have a more difficult time improving. I believe it is definitely part of the basics and the achievement of a higher skill level can be reached sooner when the release becomes part of your swing thoughts. Experiment on the practice tee and use a 7 or 8 iron to get the feel of what the club face is doing when it contacts the ball. Use a tee if you’re still having trouble or not getting the feel.
When that works, try to control and manipulate the club face to make the ball do what you want it to. Have fun, try some new thoughts and swings and look ahead for development and improvement. Hang in there and keep trying, becoming a better golfer is well worth it.
Lou has been a golf professional since 1953. He has worked at many clubs around the country with his longest connections on Cape Cod and Maine. He was a teaching pro at the Island Country Club in the early 80’s and the head golf pro and Director of golf at The Hideaway Beach Club on Marco Island for ten years. He is presently the teaching pro at the Links of Naples.