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Mastering the release

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By Mark Wehrman EBS Contributor

Golf is a very challenging game that’s driven by mechanics and fundamentals. Our job as golfers is to learn the proper fundamentals and train the correct mechanics to develop our own feel. In my opinion, the hardest mechanic to develop a feel for is the “release.”

Releasing the club is the return of the clubhead, hands and body to a position similar to the “address,” or starting position. In layman’s terms, it’s the rotation of the forearms through the hitting area or the squaring of the clubface at impact.

The angle of the clubface at impact controls about 80 percent of the ball flight. Although our grip is what controls the clubface, we still need to return that clubface square to impact, or our ball flight will have a certain amount of curve while in the air. That curve is either in the form of a draw or fade, or more severely a hook or slice.

Starting at waist height while on the downswing, the toe of the club should be pointing at the sky with the shaft of the club parallel to the ground. From this position (for a right-handed golfer) the right forearm will start rotating over the left forearm and the clubface will eventually square at impact. This rotation continues as we follow through toward the target, with the toe of the club eventually pointing at the sky again.

One important thing to remember is that the forearm rotation is led by the chest. You must keep rotating your torso through impact or the hands and arms will take over and you will most likely pull the ball.

The two things that will prevent you from releasing the club properly are gripping the club too tightly—creating added tension in your forearms—and/or moving your swing center ahead of impact, before the hands and arms can catch up. (Your swing center is the center of your chest.)

There is one drill that will help you learn to release the club properly: Set up to the ball normally and swing the club back to waist height, with the toe of the club pointing at the sky; from there, swing through impact while rotating your forearms and squaring the clubface.

Stop the swing half way through the follow through when the club is once again waist high. At this position, your right forearm should be turned over your left forearm, the toe of the club pointing at the sky, and the club should be in front of your chest. If you get to this position, you have properly released the club and should see a straight ball flight.

If you constantly struggle with a slice or hook, practice this drill with a short iron and you will eventually develop a feel for the proper release.

Mark Wehrman is the PGA Head Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course.

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