Dead Hand Release

Hey guys,
I wanted to post this for those not enrolled in the ABS program. There is a pretty good thread going on in the private forum regarding many of the teachers/experts who claim that Hogan/Snead and others used a passive, dead hand release. They claim the hands do “nothing” during the strike. Names have been left out to protect the guilty…this however should put the issue to rest!



The dead hand release is a component of a larger golf culture obsession with “effortless power”. If I ever have more time I indent to do a bit of research and see when, where, and how this concept really took off. I guess when hickory shafts were in and Bobby Jones was bringing home trophy after trophy. But even before that, Vardon talked a lot about muscular effort and the use of the hands and forearms. We heard in the Bradley’s recent ABS interview with Doug Sanders about how he would sneak away as a caddy and hit shots on the side, developing his forearm strength and how most weekend golfers could never hit it like that due to lack of forearm and hand strength. If anybody starts talking about how your hands should be “holding a dove” and how you should have constant grip pressure from address to finish, ask them why you hear about so many great golfers having “Popeye” forearms. Even if you don’t believe if maximizing the number 3 accumulator, anybody holding the least bit of wristcock through the strike will not have dead hands, I assure you.

If you are a proper hitter… dead hands are a dead topic.

LipOut - this part of your post intrigues me… I have been contemplating the meaning of firing the hands the last few days. Being a high handicap golfer, I have always believed that firing the hands was a flicking action at impact to try and generate as much speed as possible - flipping - it always led to disasterous results. Over the last 12 months, I have been practicing holding off the release of the right hand wrist cock as long as possible to get the power package to the ball with a continuous firing pivot. Due to lack of time to play, this is inconsistent to be sure, but this intent has produced my best shots. Is this the meaning of firing of the hands posters on here are referring to?

fwiw this chimes with me too, for a long time i thought the hands were supposed to do a fast kind of passive flicking/flipping motion.
The motion used in ABS hitting however is very different. It is an aggressive, late, deliberate firing of the hands, forearms & clubface from a deep open position at p3 squarely into the back of the ball. The pivot backs up the hand action, but it is hands first then pivot, rather than a case of the pivot carrying the hands through if you follow the distinction.


ps there may be errors in my understanding but others should put you straight

Thanks for the reply Tim,

it would imply that the ABS protocol would also require a lot of ball beating as it seems there is a significant timing element to it due to the late rotation of the forearms. My preference has been to keep the clubface perpendicular to the plane so as to minimise the timing element as much as possible, even though this comes at the expense of some power into the ball.

On a related topic, a question for Lag regarding doing the bag drills with not much ball beating. How does someone gain accuracy in hitting the ball on the sweetspot consistently if most of the practice is on the bag (assuming not already being a low handicap player)?

Not having to “ball beat” is actually one of the proposed benefits of being a hitter in the ABS protocol. Using the bag to ingrain the forearm rotation as a reflex helps to minimize the timing elements of the swing.

If you a really interested in what is being done here, I would encourage you to read through the old threads on the forum. There is a treasure trove of information available–the “2000 club” threads are particularly good–for someone who is interested in learning more about the ABS approach to ball striking. Personally, I’m just starting the third module, and there is much yet to be learned.

As for my own sensation of the hands in the golf swing, I don’t think I really ever felt their participation, per se, until I tried the angled-hinge motion I’m currently working on. In the other words, I generally don’t feel like my hands are doing anything particularly special until the part after impact in which, as I understand the motion in my first week trying it, I am actively fighting CF. At this point, I definitely feel the ‘active’ hands. Prior to impact at P3/430, I’m sure they are firing, I just don’t quite feel them like I do afterward.

not sure whether it is more difficult to train a late hand/forearm strike than a centrifugal swingers release, i’d think probably not, for one thing it is a shorter motion with less arm travel to deal with.
The new motion does need to be ingrained though for sure as most of us have spent a while swinging the arms & slapping at the ball one way or another, hence the emphasis on bag work, but once it’s there you are, as it were, golden :slight_smile: & good to go, without the need for regular ball beating. i’m far enough in to see that that could well be the case as those further into the course suggest.

good point about the bag, actually something i have recently modified, i now imagine a ball (not hard to do) in front of the bag & make sure i rotate hard into it

having been a pretty nasty push-fader of the ball (ugly!). i can’t yet speak as one who has seen a transformation in my long game (early days) but i am now starting to be pretty hopeful that it will come & that i am in the right place to actually give myself a good chance at quality ball striking after 9 years or so of pretty active if mis-directed effort

You will learn to let the ball get in the way of the motion…rather than…have the ball be your sole intention and desire

Unfortunately this theory doesn’t work well, because the body is rotating, and by trying to keep the face square pre impact you add a huge timing element into the swing because the clubface is not working in unison with the pivot rotation.
It’s logical, but not very functional. Essentially you are trying to time two unrelated actions.

Trying to keep the clubface square to the plane is fools gold.

Found this written by Lag for you Golden…very good stuff & hopefully pretty clear on the differences…

Students following the methodology here are training with blade irons, and often persimmon. Feedback is critical here for learning sweetspot spacial awareness. Students combine module work with hitting balls and playing also.
Modules 1 and 2 are on the bag… while 3 and 4 are not.
Later in the course students learn ball striking exercises that directly move into the art of shotmaking. Students learn to work the ball left and right in a much more sophisticated way … and much simpler than common methodologies. It’s much better to go into this with the muscles trained and familiar with proper motions than just trying to make something work that lacks detail, or the ability to troubleshoot it quickly and effectively.

The body has to learn and feel the swing… and like anything else, this takes time and training. Students also gain a great understanding of the swing in general, and “their swing” as it relates to both their ability and limitations. We are always moving forward and challenging our limitations… often seeing them several months down the road in the rear view mirror.

Smashing the bag is cool…as the ball is not the object of attention.

An old drill from yesteryear that may give some additional insight. A string was attached to the ball and the instructor would stand to the caddy view side of the striker about 3-4 feet away holding the attached string.

If the striker got flippy from the top by missing the transitional down, which is about 6 inches or so, or if there were other irregularites displayed by the striker from the top, this meant the striker has made the ball the object of intention. What’s cool about this is that if the striker makes the ball the intention, the weight is then dynamically set to the anticipated impact with the ball and some measure of residual resistance. Now if the instructor pulled the ball away when he sees those difficulties from the top…guess what? The striker have nothing to “hit”, and will lose his balance among other things.

Just like running up and kicking a moving ball in kickball. If you set to kick it, and it suddenly bounces away as you attempt to kick it, balance becomes an issue, not to mention playing havoc with the knee, because the anticpated resistance of kicking the ball is not there and your brain short circuits: WHERE’S THE IMPACT!

Forget the ball…get low from the top and then go.

If you do this at address with the leading edge, you have already made the ball the object of attention. :slight_smile:

Thanks to all for the excellent replies, much food for thought…

Lag, it was your mega thread on iseek which opened my eyes to the importance of using blades. I now play 2003 Hogan Apex irons and also have a set of Wilson Dynapower Turfriders. I also have a 6 and 8 iron Wilson Staff blades from the early 70’s exclusively for practice. That thread also got me to explore TGM, and read the book cover to cover. Being a difficult read, I allowed my mind to absorb what it could from the wealth of material in it, and your extensive comments on it were also very enlightening.

I am much clearer now on the processes involved in the ABS training modules, makes perfect sense. It is interesting that you call the face perpendicular to the plane fools gold Lag. It has been the only thing that has allowed me to get away from a slice that has afflicted me since I took up the game. Now my main error is a pull/draw if I over cook it. I can’t quite grasp how it could have a timing element involved if the face is perpendicular to the tangent of the circle which is the plane? I will add that my motion at present is a one plane rotary motion from a reverse K position at address so as to minimise any lateral hip slide.

Tim, thanks for that excerpt… I have it burnt in my mind I have read it so many times… it convinced me long ago to avoid the CF dump swinging protocol…

RR and TM, thanks for those points regarding the ball being incidental… when my mind is not focused as much as I would like, I lapse back into the hitting impulse where the ball is the object of intent - the results are not pretty…


Is the golf swing performed in two dimensions or three?

Four… Time matters…

I was trying to not be so esoteric! but point well taked!

We need to at a minimum be looking at the golf swing beyond two dimensions where planes and flat surfaces rule the landscape.

Pre-ABS days
When I used to get people at work giving me ‘tips’ that revolved around planes, or any other ‘normal’ idea, they were almost invariably poor strikers.
I always repeated my mantra that “All you need to do is accelerate through the ball. The rest of it is to look pretty.”
I realise that I know two-fifths of nothing, so I just smile at them, and tell them that “I’m just playing to get time away from home. No reason to make it hard on myself.”

Either way, all my swing has ever been about is accelerating through the ball. Learned that it was best from cricket and baseball.
In fact, what both games really taught me, was that I hit the ball furthest and straightest when I wasn’t swinging at the ball hard. I hit it best when I trusted my swing, held on the the bat as hard as I had to so it didn’t fly away (which was usually pretty hard), and got out of my own way. I’m a super technical athlete you see :nerd: :laughing:

Why is it that passive hands/wrists is a popular technique in golf, but I’ve never heard anyone recommend it for hard accurate throwing (pitching for example). Anyone a jevelin… er… chucker?

I think the idea of relax and swing easy has a seductive or enticing sound to it. Effortless sounds great especially in the age of making everything easier. Cars are practically driving themselves now.

If you are swinging… you need the wrists to be free and flexible through impact, just like hinges… but for most people, the body doesn’t want to do that… and few can really trust that kind of action especially under pressure because there are so many other things that need to be working correctly for that to happen. I think it is more natural to tighten up and strike something with muscular effort, especially under any kind of pressure.

Lag, yes in three dimensions, but that’s when its starts to get beyond my ability to conceptualise what is required…