Learning to release the club properly is essential. But it’s not a fundamental most golfers practice or think about. In fact, most golfers think about other phases of the swing without ever thinking about the release. But releasing the club correctly does two things: It improves consistency and ballstriking—both of which can help you chop strokes off your golf handicap.
We often focus on getting students to release the club properly when working with them on their short games. Short game shots—like putting, chipping, and pitching—are much less forgiving than tee shots or approach shots. So you want to develop as much consistency with these shots as you can.
Below are some golf tips on executing the proper release for putting, chipping, and pitching as well as drills to improve your release. Master releasing the club properly and you’ll take your short game to another level.
The Putting Release
Releasing the putterhead correctly promotes consistency. But many golfers don’t realize they need to release the putterhead lie any other club. Because of the stroke’s circular path, the putterhead swings behind your hands on the backstroke and in front of your hands after impact.
Adding wrist action the release, like some players in our golf lessons do, leads to inconsistency. When it comes to releasing the putterhead, the less wrist action the better.
This drill helps you eliminate wrist action: Grip the putter in your left-hand (right-hand for left-handed golfers) so the handle fits firmly under your thumb pad. Make sure it forms a straight line with your wrist. Slip a flat stick or a tee between your thumb pad and the grip. Now putt some balls. If the stick or tee falls out, you’re too wristy with your putting.
The Chipping Release
Too much wrist action in the chipping release leads to inconsistency. You want to move the clubhead behind your hands on the backstroke just like you do when putting. But then rotation or your trunk and arms open the clubface. This creates a toe-up position. The rotation of your trunk and arms then rotate the face so that it’s toe-up again at the finish. It’s like the putting release except the chipping release adds arms and body rotation.
This drill tells you if you’re releasing the club correctly when chipping. Start with a narrow slightly open stance. Swing the club back and hold it. The without moving the club, turn around 90 degrees. Sole the club. The clubface should be square. Setup again. Hit a chip. Hold the club at the finish. Turn around 90 degrees. Sole the club. The clubface should be square to the target line.
The Pitching Release
The backstroke in the pitching release resembles that of the putting and chipping releases. But in this case the hands get above the waist and the elbow needs to bend going back. This causes the left wrist to hinge on the through swing. You also want to rotate the clubhead more in both directions. The longer the pitch, the longer the backstroke and through-strike must be.
The Right Hand Drill
The release of the right hand (left hand for lefties) is critical when pitching. This drill creates the feel of the proper pitching release. Take your stance with a pitching wedge. Now make a swing like you normally would but hold the finish. Take the club out of your hand. Now check your right palm. It should be pointing down and away from you. If it is, you’ve released the club correctly. Keep practicing this drill until you’ve ingrained the palm down feeling.
Releasing the club correctly is critical to making solid contact. But many golfers—even those who have been taking golf lessons for some time—don’t think about how they release the club.
But it’s an integral part of the swing—especially in short game shots. Ingrain the feeling of releasing the club correctly and you’ll increase consistency while chopping strokes off your golf handicap.