Don’t flip it: for longer, more consistent shots, release the club like a champion
The most important position in the golf swing is where the club, wrists and arms are through the strike. look at the way champions release the club to achieve their desired ball flight: The face is square to the target line at impact, the shaft leans a bit forward, and the left wrist and forearm are slightly bowed.
Having taught thousands of golfers for the past 53 years, I’d estimate 80 to 90 percent of amateurs flip the club at impact: The left wrist cups, and the loft of the club increases. That results in inconsistent contact and weak shots that go left or right, but rarely at the target.
Rather than tear your swing apart to try to get into textbook positions throughout, I’d rather you focus on making your impact efficient, letting your body respond.
All great swings look similar at impact. but many players don’t know how to work on good impact conditions. I’ll show you how to do that.
Inconsistent golfers flip the club through impact. This cupping of the left wrist results in too much loft and weak, uncontrolled shots.
There should be a blend of the wrists unhinging and the forearms rotating, so the clubface squares, then turns over through impact for a draw. This delofts the club while the left wrist remains stable.
LORENA OCHOA’S LEFT WRIST IS SLIGHTLY BOWED, AND THE GRIP IS JUST IN FRONT OF THE CLUBHEAD. HER LEFT ELBOW IS RELAXED, ALLOWING A CONTROLLED ROTATION OF HER FOREARMS.
4 CAUSES OF THE FLIP
Flipping is caused by the body or club getting out of position, forcing the hands and arms to compensate to square the face. This destroys consistency and robs you of distance, because instead of delofting the club through impact like champions do, you add loft, which results in a weak, less-penetrating trajectory.
I’m demonstrating four causes of the flip. Do you see yourself in one of these? We’ll fix them with drills later in the article.
FLIP 1 RIGHT HAND OVERPOWERS
The swing should be bilateral. but in an effort to synchronize the club and body, your right hand overtakes your left arm because that arm has not been trained to rotate and fold.
TIGER WOODS MIGHT BE THE BEST IRON AND SHORT-GAME PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF GOLF. WITH HIS IRONS, HIS BODY IS QUIET. HIS FOREARMS CONTROL THE SHAFT AND CLUBFACE.
BODY TOO ACTIVE most golfers are more focused on weight shift and the role of the body than on squaring the face with the hands and arms. This forces the hands to flip the clubhead to square the face. The body is doing a twist while the arms are doing a waltz.
FLIP 3 CLUB OFF PLANE
When the club is out of plane–on the backswing or the downswing–it’s hard to get the grip and clubhead in line at impact without overusing your hands. Therefore, you flip the club.
FLIP 4 BODY TOO OPEN
Opening your shoulders or hips early drags your arms through the strike. To keep the ball from going left, your arms tighten, causing the classic chicken wing and a shot to the right. Or you flip the club early and the ball goes left.
FIXING THE FLIP
To learn the Champion’s Release, practice these three drills. Why do drills? you build confidence and trust when you have a clear picture of what your club and body should be doing. That allows your arms to relax. The best way to get that picture is with drills. Rather than you telling yourself what to do, drills help you feel what to do. Drills undo bad habits and keep them from returning. Do them frequently, not just once or twice. If a drill is difficult for you, it’s probably the one you need most. So go for it!
1 RIGHT-HANDOFF DRILL
Start with shorter clubs. let your right hand come off the club just after impact. This teaches your left arm to lead the swing–to bow, rotate and fold (below), eliminating the chicken wing. See how my left forearm is rotating? you can’t see my watchface.
VIJAY SINGH’S RIGHT HAND ALMOST COMES OFF THE GRIP ON EVERY FULL SWING. THIS ALLOWS A FREE ROTATION OF THE CLUB, WITH HIS LEFT ELBOW AND FOREARM CLOSE TO HIS SIDE.
2 STABILITY DRILL
With a wedge, hit knockdowns less than 50 yards. exaggerate your finish, the clubhead low and your chest facing down, but keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. This develops your ability to stabilize the left wrist through impact.
To learn to hit a draw, start with the clubhead in front of the ball. Then, making half- and three-quarter swings, move into a through-swing position (a) feeling your left forearm rotating and the clubface closing. Swing your arms and club back (b) and through (C), hitting the ball with no cupping of the left wrist. make sure your hands and arms are swinging freely with minimal tension.
WHAT YOU SHOULD FEEL
The Champion’s Release has been used by great players past and present. The left forearm at impact should be in front of the clubhead, the left wrist slightly bowed, the right arm slightly folded and under the left. To enhance your feel for this move, keep the tension in your hands, arms and shoulders at a minimum. This allows the weight in the clubhead to unhinge your wrists and your left forearm to lead and square the clubface.
A TIP FOR STRENGTH AND ENHANCED FEEL
Ben Hogan said he wished he had three right hands. but that was after he learned to stabilize the club with his left forearm. This exercise trains you to feel the forearm rotating, and it strengthens your forearm muscles as well. hold the club with your left hand. Rotate it back and through. If you bent over, this would be your forearm rotation during the swing.
PHIL MICKELSON IS GREAT AROUND THE GREENS HITTING SPECIALTY SHOTS BECAUSE HE KNOWS HOW TO FEEL THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE GRIP AND CLUBHEAD AT IMPACT.
Hit shots at full motion but different speeds with all your clubs to develop the sensitivity to square the clubface. you should feel the face closing through impact without your left wrist breaking down (left). That’s the Champion’s Release.
BY JIM FLICK
GOLF DIGEST TEACHING PROFESSIONAL/WITH ROGER SCHIFFMAN
COPYRIGHT 2008 Conde Nast Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning