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Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

post #1 of 126
Thread Starter 
I watched a lesson the other day where the student talked about one of the most popular tips given out in golf magazines and by "amateur professionals" these days: "release the clubhead" or "roll the clubhead/forearms over."

You've all heard it.

Thing is, you can't do that, and good players don't do this.

Get in a golf stance with a club. Swing back and then down slowly, stopping when the club's shaft is parallel on the downswing. Ideally your hands and arms are almost in front of you (with proper lag) and the club's shaft is pointing straight back.

How in the hell can you possibly release the clubhead from here? Or any point between here and impact? You can't. You can't "release the clubhead" or "roll the forearms" until both arms are straight, and that moment doesn't occur until well after impact. If you do try to "roll" the clubface closed from this position to impact, all you'll manage to do is flip the clubhead out across the line/over the plane, which will decrease power and lead to pulls, pull-slices, etc.

To put it another way, the angle between your right forearm and the club shaft is maintained through impact in good players, but in order to rotate the right wrist and hand and arm over the left, that angle has to be straightened, and that's well after impact.

Yes, you can make slow swings and roll the right arm over the left while maintaining lag, but seriously - feel what you're doing and ask yourself if that's at all a good motion to make. It's not.

"Release the clubhead" is horrible, terrible, bad advice. Don't do it. It makes no sense biomechanically and nobody good really does this. Not until the ball is long gone and both arms are extended.

P.S. Yes, for a time when you need to hit a huge draw, it may feel like you've released the clubhead more than normal - Tiger will do this - but it's still after impact. He just comes more from the inside, which helps exaggerate the "rolling look" post-impact and after both arms have extended.
post #2 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Too much information. All I know is that any little thought that helps someone hit the ball better is ok.. even if it is not exactly correct. Feelings are more important in the golf swing than "perfect" mechanics.

Imagination is way more important in the golf swing than logic.
post #3 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
"Release the clubhead" is horrible, terrible, bad advice. Don't do it. It makes no sense biomechanically and nobody good really does this. Not until the ball is long gone and both arms are extended.

.

that is very sound advice. in fact, some people can't chip well because of that wrong notion. also, releasing wrongly actively basically is casting.

but, even some magazine teachers use that phrase loosely, suggesting that the extra snap at the wrist/forearm adds power. not good.
post #4 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

I always thought release simply meant letting the club flow through the impact zone - not trying to force-hold the face square at impact, but letting it flow through and allowing it to roll over AFTER impact.
post #5 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

I hate that advice too. I like to deliberately misinterpret "release" and ask whoever says it how I'm supposed to keep the club in my hands if I release it.
post #6 of 126
Thread Starter 

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by MiniMoe View Post
Too much information.
Look, MiniMoe, you seem to have the same thing to say in every case, but what works for you may not work for everyone. Please accept that other golfers don't just hit hit one dumb guy with another dumb guy into that dumb guy so it lands out there on that dumb guy. Other golfers - for better or worse - try to listen to these little tips.

Besides, at its core, my post was a statement against using this particular swing thought. I simply explained why it was bad, again, because some people think that way. You do not - and I respect that - but some people do. The majority of golfers seem to, in fact.

Originally Posted by MiniMoe View Post
All I know is that any little thought that helps someone hit the ball better is ok.. even if it is not exactly correct.
This particular thought is unlikely to help anyone, particularly long term. It may be a quick fix for a few holes or even a few rounds, but the net overall effect is going to be negative.

Originally Posted by golfdad View Post
that is very sound advice. in fact, some people can't chip well because of that wrong notion. also, releasing wrongly actively basically is casting.
Agree with both statements. And yeah, since the only time you can really release is when your arms are straight, to "release the clubhead earlier" you have to cast and lose your lag, yeah. I remember thinking I wanted to talk about casting and then I didn't, so thanks for throwing that in there.

Originally Posted by Jay-Bird View Post
I always thought release simply meant letting the club flow through the impact zone - not trying to force-hold the face square at impact, but letting it flow through and allowing it to roll over AFTER impact.
Yeah, once the club gets to parallel or so, the hands will roll over a bit. I haven't met many people who "get" that, though - they seem to think they have to release before they get to the ball or else what's it matter what they're doing after the ball is gone? The part they're missing out on is that a feeling in the follow through can start earlier in the swing...

I think "properly releasing the club" is a function of a proper golf swing. I don't think anyone who plays good golf thinks about "releasing" the clubhead in any way, shape, or form. Tiger thinks about it with his putter sometimes... and that may be as close as it gets to that.

Lag and "release" should be natural effects of a good swing. As a general rule, I don't like any "tips" that actively address either of those points. Lag and release are effects, in my mind, not causes.
post #7 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

on having too much info, as discussed above,,,

the topic on having too much info can be a tricky one.

whereas to some having too much correct info won't hurt (too much incorrect info is another story:), to others it may interfere with natural executions.

for instance, my kids play violin and piano at pretty high level and through out the years i have been exposed to teachers or masterclasses of different levels and calibres. some encounters were just a bore, not stimulating, even though the kid was smart, the teacher brilliant, but there was no connection. the key and the lock did not fit so the flow of correct info was impeded. other times, i saw true master teachers delivering a message wrapped with a different notion. simple, light, so easy to understand, the uh ha moment. brilliant and a joy to see the instant response from the student.

back to golf, even though i have read and learnt a lot from the jargons and cliches, i can imagine some folks can be misled by teachers who are not very intuitive, who are not that capable of tailormaking the same info in a different format to each individual students, often ending up as more is less.

and concur, to dwelve on the "release" can be misleading if not paralyzing. some folks have better reaction time and may be able to appreciate what happens in less than half a second, if not less. others are better off to keep the wrists firm and let the momentum bring them to a finish. i have a bias that the left side should "lead" which theoritically can delay the release even further. but it does not, because the timing usually work out on its own as long as the body (lower) set the correct tempo into the hitting zone. and guess what? every time the lower body leads with a wrong tempo, this "release" business will pop up, sort like a compensation in timing and invariably, the ball will be struck with a funny side spin...

think of it this way: we show to beginner bikers a videotape of someone riding a bike in slow motion, trying to make a tight corner, not falling off the bike. we emphasize all the right moves he has made on the video, this gesture to balance and that. we tell newbies to follow those traits. to me, that is not necessarily a helpful illustration or exercise. the newbies's bodies are equipped with unique sets of physical attributes. once on the bike, they will figure out how to balance. there is no need to point out how to balance...
post #8 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

I never think about the concept much but I always interpreted it as what you do after impact which goes to show you how confusing golf instruction can be.
post #9 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

I had a tendency to dip my right shoulder in the downswing preventing proper release of the clubhead ie open clubhead at impact and lots of fades/slicing as a result.

An instructor had me perform swings with the ball above my feet to exaggerate the feel of releasing the clubhead. Helped a little but did not stick.

Then he had me trying to get the feel of turning my shoulders more level, again it helped during the lesson but did not stick.

Then one day I saw a short video clip of Ben Hogan from a unique angle where you could clearly see the shoulders turning level in proper sequence with the rest of his body particularly the arms. When I tried to emulate it in slow motion I immediately knew my flaw and how to fix it. This time the cure stuck.

Now I use video because for me, visual feedback lasts longer than the feel from a few swings during a lesson or practice.
post #10 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
I watched a lesson the other day where the student talked about one of the most popular tips given out in golf magazines and by "amateur professionals" these days: "release the clubhead" or "roll the clubhead/forearms over."
GD and other magazines love to give these little snippets. Releasing the clubhead occurs naturally (with a proper golf swing) at around the 25% follow through point in the swing. If the forward swing is too steep, the hips haven't cleared, the right elbow isn't tucked into the body, or the club is swinging out to in....you don't end up "releasing" the club properly. So, yes, saying "release" the club is ridiculous....it is the product of a good golf swing, not something you can do without all the other pieces already in place.

GD and others almost seemingly purposefully talk about the trees and leaves instead of giving you a description of the forest. The golf swing is dynamic and difficult to explain and depict in a two dimensional format, but you would think that if GD and others really wanted their readers to improve their full swing, they would go about it differently.
post #11 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

we all release the club face......if we didn't we'd all slice on every shot. i do think folks
tend to exaggerate how much though. isn't it supposed to be like 3 degrees open at the
moment of impact and 6 degrees closed at launch angle for a pure straight shot ?
post #12 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by tm22721 View Post
I had a tendency to dip my right shoulder in the downswing preventing proper release of the clubhead ie open clubhead at impact and lots of fades/slicing as a result.

An instructor had me perform swings with the ball above my feet to exaggerate the feel of releasing the clubhead. Helped a little but did not stick.

Then he had me trying to get the feel of turning my shoulders more level, again it helped during the lesson but did not stick.

Then one day I saw a short video clip of Ben Hogan from a unique angle where you could clearly see the shoulders turning level in proper sequence with the rest of his body particularly the arms. When I tried to emulate it in slow motion I immediately knew my flaw and how to fix it. This time the cure stuck.

Now I use video because for me, visual feedback lasts longer than the feel from a few swings during a lesson or practice.

Where can i find this video? I have been very confused about how to get my Shoulders level.
post #13 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
I watched a lesson the other day where the student talked about one of the most popular tips given out in golf magazines and by "amateur professionals" these days: "release the clubhead" or "roll the

"Release the clubhead" is horrible, terrible, bad advice. Don't do it. It makes no sense biomechanically and nobody good really does this. Not until the ball is long gone and both arms are extended.
I don't remember reading it here, but you don't teach as a profession do you?

I have two students that are extremely uncoordinated, and as luck would have it, I have them back-to-back on the same day. Just today as a matter of fact. So this topic is very fresh in my mind. My first lesson releases/rolls his hands far too much through impact. While the other does the polar opposite and just doesn't seem to want to do it at all. It is by no means horrible, terrible nor bad advice.

This release or roll is precisely what one student is missing and precisely what the other can't quite control yet. While you may not think it works for your swing, you can't discount it as a teaching aid for others. You even said it yourself "Not until the ball is long gone and both arms are extended." Maybe the instructor you listened to didn't clearly express your point of view of proper release. Or maybe you didn't catch it when he said it. I think a good instructor would be able to express the proper use of these terms.

The golf swing is about as intricate an activity that one can try to learn. Finding the right words to get the body to follow is a hard thing to do. And using the terms "releasing" or "rolling" the hands is a pretty understandable way of stating a physical act for a student to try to perfect. I try to keep my lessons simple and in plain English. Phrases the students can follow without getting involved in too much intricacy.

You may hate it, but it works.
post #14 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

I have to agree. I have never been a fan of the ol' "release the club" thing. I have always thought the squaring of the blade was a result of good grip/arm/body work. If I'm asked, I usually tell people that if your conciously having to roll your hands or forearms to square the club then you are doing something wrong.

-Beane
post #15 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Tell someone to "release" and 10 people will do it differently. Some will do it naturally after impact, some will roll over before they even hit the ball. The thing I strugggle with in this equation is the relationship between the release and lag. The club is loaded and released down on the ball through impact. Shaft going from parallell to the ground to perpendicular. Basically lag, but it can easily be confused with the release in terms of arms rolling over.
post #16 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
I watched a lesson the other day where the student talked about one of the most popular tips given out in golf magazines and by "amateur professionals" these days: "release the clubhead" or "roll the clubhead/forearms over."

You've all heard it.

Thing is, you can't do that, and good players don't do this.

Get in a golf stance with a club. Swing back and then down slowly, stopping when the club's shaft is parallel on the downswing. Ideally your hands and arms are almost in front of you (with proper lag) and the club's shaft is pointing straight back.

How in the hell can you possibly release the clubhead from here? Or any point between here and impact? You can't. You can't "release the clubhead" or "roll the forearms" until both arms are straight, and that moment doesn't occur until well after impact. If you do try to "roll" the clubface closed from this position to impact, all you'll manage to do is flip the clubhead out across the line/over the plane, which will decrease power and lead to pulls, pull-slices, etc.

To put it another way, the angle between your right forearm and the club shaft is maintained through impact in good players, but in order to rotate the right wrist and hand and arm over the left, that angle has to be straightened, and that's well after impact.

Yes, you can make slow swings and roll the right arm over the left while maintaining lag, but seriously - feel what you're doing and ask yourself if that's at all a good motion to make. It's not.

"Release the clubhead" is horrible, terrible, bad advice. Don't do it. It makes no sense biomechanically and nobody good really does this. Not until the ball is long gone and both arms are extended.

P.S. Yes, for a time when you need to hit a huge draw, it may feel like you've released the clubhead more than normal - Tiger will do this - but it's still after impact. He just comes more from the inside, which helps exaggerate the "rolling look" post-impact and after both arms have extended.
Now I realize that my handicap is not scratch, so I say this with all of the respect in the world, but you must have never had difficulties with losing the ball to the right like the majority of us. I know by my own experience that to make a swing change I would have to exaggerate the feeling for the change to take hold. I still fight the right once in a while, and so I have to exaggerate that feeling of release to get the ball back to my normal draw. I know my own tendencies and sometimes they are to hold on through impact. I don't know why I just know how to fix it when it starts to happen.
post #17 of 126
Thread Starter 

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by Ben View Post
I don't remember reading it here, but you don't teach as a profession do you?
No, but I've been quite involved in teaching this year, and I've always been a student of the swing on my own, especially since I was self-taught up until this year.

Originally Posted by Ben View Post
It is by no means horrible, terrible nor bad advice.
We'll likely have to agree to disagree. I think release, like lag, is one of the things that's an effect, not a cause. It happens if you do other things correctly, not the other way around. I think trying to "release" can work for a little while, but it never sticks.

Originally Posted by Ben View Post
Maybe the instructor you listened to didn't clearly express your point of view of proper release. Or maybe you didn't catch it when he said it.
I don't know what you mean. I watched most of the lesson. The student said "I've been trying to release the club because I read it in a magazine..." The teacher then spent the rest of the time getting a proper release to be an outcome of his swing, not something he has to try to do himself. Then the instructor and I talked about how that's horrible advice afterwards... because releasing the club before it gets to the ball will lead to casting, over-the-top moves, etc.

So again, agree to disagree, I suppose. I think it's an effect, not a cause (and I wish there was a better way to phrase that).
post #18 of 126

Re: Advice I Hate: "Release the Club"

Originally Posted by iacas View Post

So again, agree to disagree, I suppose. I think it's an effect, not a cause (and I wish there was a better way to phrase that).
I understand what you're saying. But, every move can be conceived as an effect of a move prior. The downswing is the effect of the backswing, the backswing the effect of the take-away and the take-away the effect of proper address. With that logic, you are left with a dude standing over the ball with no idea how to begin.
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