It has been called several names: club release, wrist uncocking and even club lag. But what is really being discussed and how can we make it work in our swing?
Club release or wrist uncocking refers to the angle made between the club shaft and the plane of the arms as they move around the axis of the spine. This is the last link in the kinetic link or the last step in generating optimum power in the golfswing.
During the downswing and into impact, the golfer’s arms drive down to the ball. Using energy created at the lower body – which passes through the core to the upper body — the arms increase in rotational speed. As the arms accelerate, the angle between the arms and the club shaft remain in a cocked position.
However, when the arms begin to decelerate, energy passes from the arms to the club, causing it to increase in rotational speed. The visual result is the angle between the club shaft and the arms begins to increase, hence the club release or wrist uncocking. If timed properly, the club accelerates to a maximum velocity through impact with the ball, advancing a large proportion of force to ball, resulting in optimal power.
Club release is easily seen with the naked eye as the increase in the angle between the club shaft and the arms when the swing nears impact with the ball. Unfortunately, until recent years we have not had the technology to objectively measure and analyse this action and numerous misconceptions have evolved while trying to explain the visual perception.
Holding the Angle
A common misconception is that the golfer can “hold the angle” or force the club to stay in a cocked position until impact. We now know that this is not possible. The action of the arms accelerating around the axis of the spine creates a cocked angle and maintains that angle during the golf swing. When the arms begin to decelerate or slow down, the club will “release” and the angle will increase into impact as the club now accelerates. Tension in the musculature of the wrists and arms caused by trying to “hold” the cocked angle will most likely result in a disruption of natural energy flow. This disruption creates a premature deceleration of the arms and consequently a premature release of the club angle as well as increased stress on the upper body and arm segments.
Throwing the Club
Another common misconception is that a golfer can force the club release by “throwing the club” from the top. Again the club only accelerates and the cocked angle only releases when the arms decelerate. Trying to force a release most often disrupts energy flow and creates tension in muscles.
Effective golf swings create and release a club angle with productive arm action. Productive arm action is a result of a combination of the following: an efficient Kinetic Link generating power using larger muscles of the lower body; efficient transfer of that energy through the core muscles to the upper body; acceleration of the arms and the culmination of energy in club release to optimum power.
The most common flaw in generating power on impact is early club release. This is caused by weakness in swing mechanics and physical limitations. Basically, early club release boils down to inefficient linking and premature arm deceleration. When the arms decelerate, initial energy is passed directly to the club, forcing it to accelerate and release from the cocking angle. This affects the golfer’s ability to make the most of the club release acceleration in the development of power. The golfer must learn to accelerate the arms effectively. Effective arm motion takes a combination of golf swing mechanics and effective Kinetic Link, strength and flexibility.