Releasing the club

From Jack’s book, ‘Golf My Way’:

The other point I want to make brings us back to that deathless subject of golfing debate, “method.” Although I wish it weren’t the case, it is probably inevitable that some of the material in this book will be used in attempts to prove or disprove theoretical points about the golf swing–particularly, unless I miss my guess, in the “body vs. hands” debate.

Well, as the foregoing must conclusively prove, the emphasis in my game is on body action. In fact, if it were on hand action I have the feeling I’d still be selling insurance and beating it around Scioto for two-dollar Nassaus Saturday mornings. I don’t mean to say that my hands play no part in hitting a golf ball. They most certainly do. But in my case, unlike that of the predominantly “hands” player, the hands function as a result, not as a detriment, of body action.

This was another interesting point that arose in the discussion with British teaching ace John Jacobs that I mentioned some chapters earlier. John finds that many golfers who have read instructional books and/or studied swing sequence photographs, tend to overemphasize body action at the expense of hand or arm action. He blames this overemphasis on two factors. First, he says, modern playing professionals who write about their games nearly all emphasize body action because their hands and arms work automatically. Second, he feels the stop-action camera’s depiction of the good golfer’s super delayed hand or wrist release on the forward swing makes it look like the hands and arms are being deliberately restrained during the downswing.

Jacobs claims these two factors cause a lot of club golfers to try to take their hands and wrists out of the swing entirely. In his words to me: “Many golfers try to force themselves into the ‘late hit’ position shown in sequence pictures of people like you, Jack, by deliberately restraining the release of the club head on the way down–by holding back with their hands, wrists, and arms”

To effect a cure, Jacobs finds that he has to accent a free, fast arm-swing–or even, in the worst cases, a temporary feeling by the pupil that he’s “throwing” the club head into the ball from the top.

Well, John asked me for an opinion on this matter, and what I told him was this. In my view, it is impossible to “release” too early with the hands, wrists, and arms so long as the legs and hips have worked ahead of them and the left hand holds onto the club firmly. I think I actually said the following: “When I move my legs and left side correctly starting down, I can hit as hard as I like from the top of the swing–really throw the club head into the ball with everything I’ve got. So long as my left hand stays in control of the club, I’ll hit good shots. In fact, that’s just how I hit my biggest drives.”

I bring this point up in closing the section on full-swing mechanics, because I’d like you to keep it in mind if you ever decide to give the Nicklaus-type swing a serious trial. Remember, please, that the trick is not consciously to hold back with your hands, wrists, and arms–ever. The trick is to use your body to make those components work in the right direction at the right time. But work they certainly must, unless you’ll be content to play your approach shots before everyone else the rest of your golfing days.

Interesting thread going on over at Manzella titled, …‘The release…w/Mike Jacobs…’ Tom Watson, others talk about releasing the angles as fast and as hard as you can from the top, providing your pivot gives you the room…it’s not a flip.

Here is Jacobs’ latest vid on this subject…one key takeaway is clubhead moves away momentarily from the target at the start of the downswing; which means you would want to have a bit of bend in your left arm at the top, so it could straighten. Just thought I’d post for discussion’s sake…

thanks for the post…

Like most things in the golf swing… it depends

How you slot the club… how effective you are post impact with the pivot thrust, ground pressures etc.
What kind of release are you using? Hitting? Swinging?
How your gear is set up is going to affect things also.

Nothing new there…cracked me up when the Jacobs guy said that the lengthwise pull from the top is revolutionary and will change the golfing world…or something like that. Who is he kidding :laughing:

Back in the old days we called it pulling an arrow out of its quiver. Hell…even the infamous Dalton McCrary advocated such an approach years ago. If that’s what floats Jacob’s boat fine, but throw me a life ring quickly. :slight_smile:

Paul, I prefer your avatar’s look… you may not know where that ball is going to land… but you certainly know where it isn’t going to land!! That is the art of golf.

interesting post Paul, i can definitely relate to the above & i think a lot of similarly poor ball strikers to myself learn to play to a modest level by generating some power with a pivot stall and an arms & body slap at the ball & never really learning to release the club at all. No doubt modern gear helps us get away with this enough to be able to get it around the course.

I have learned that taking the ‘no release arms slap’ move to ABS & trying to do it from a p3 start down leaves you with next to nothing power-wise, as the result is only half a slap instead of a full one :neutral_face: , so learning to generate power with the forearms & wrists & releasing the angles becomes imperative. Maybe others have found it the same ?

Agree, Tim. I like this excerpt from Jack’s book. For me, it really goes to the heart of acceleration…something Hogan talks about…Swinging hard with muscles fully extended creates more uniformity in the swing. If it does nothing but free up my thinking, it’s good. The Johnny Miller film footage in the Vault proves it.