Release, Timing, and Speed
By: Lynn Griffin, certified clubfitter and owner of The Golf Stop
July 26, 2010
As a result of the last article that I wrote about, “Do my old clubs fit my new swing”, the question about club head speed was brought up and how to possibly achieve more club head speed. I made a comment that went against some of the grain about rotational swings possibly being faster than the vertical PPGS swing. I think this comment was misunderstood and I will address it first.
There is a study cited in the PPGS manual about rotational swings versus the vertical swing and the amount of club head speed measured. The verdict was that the PPGS swing was as fast as or possibly a bit faster than the rotational swing but it was by far less stressful. My comment regarding the rotational swingers switching over to the vertical swing possibly noticing a reduction in distance, which I believe is due to a loss of club head speed, was not in opposition to the study and information in the manual. It is my opinion that this apparent loss is not due to the type of swing rather it is due to the lack of proper execution. A properly executed swing, regardless of type, always has continued acceleration of the club head through the impact position. How is this achieved?
The continued acceleration of the club head is imperative to achieving one’s maximum distance. The lack of acceleration can have several different causes. The most predominant cause is that the individual, in an attempt to control the club head, literally slows down the arm speed which is known as de-acceleration. This slowing down effect of de-celing is a byproduct of fear as a rule. We’re “afraid” that we’re going to hit a terrible shot and therefore we slow down to try and control the outcome. Oddly enough, the end result is usually a catastrophe.
Another reason for not gaining club head speed through impact is an improper shaft. In other words, the shaft could be late in kicking or it could have been early in kicking and the end result is that you are not getting club head acceleration as you go through impact. (See your fitter.)
The single most important aspect to continuing to have club head acceleration though impact is called release. What is release? Let’s look at an issue that I have brought up repeatedly on this blog and that would be the one about wrists and their movement at the top of the back swing as we begin the transition.
Let me say first and foremost that the premise of the PPGS that “no wrist action is good wrist action” is entirely correct. Please don’t think I’m going against that. We do not consciously make any movements with our wrists. I repeat, no conscious movements with our wrists. However, at the top of the back swing as you are nearing the completion of the lift and shoulder rotation, you begin the bump. The bump starts the arms in the free fall. But, get this, the force and momentum of the club head (weight on the end of a stick) is still moving upward as your arms begin moving downward until one force, the arms swinging down, wins and the club stops going up.
This is when the forces due to the club changing direction hits the wrists and will cause them to break. Your job is to resist this breaking by working hard to maintain the flat and firm wrists position in the transition. Because the wrists are a hinge joint, and thankfully so, they give a little and create a flex. This flex is the angle from the thumb to the forearm and this is what we want to hold for as long as possible as we start the arms racing downward.
As we approach the golf ball, both forearms must begin to rotate counter clockwise to begin the squaring of the club head as it enters the striking zone. The co-ordination of this movement is known as timing. The longer and later into the swing that we are able to hold that angle and more forceful we are able to “release” that angle the more club head speed you will be able to generate.
I have been asked what drills to do or just how can one improve this particular skill. My answer to this is a training aid called THE SWING RITE. Other than the swing aides and training aids used by the PPGS, it is the only aid that I use or endorse. It will enable you to accomplish three basic things that will help you improve your swing. Those three things are: 1. Increase arm speed 2. Improve timing 3. Hold the release longer
You can go to The Golf Stop web site and get more information on The Swing Rite.
Remember, better golf is just a fit away!
J. Lynn Griffin, Master Fitter/Builder
PPGS Certified Instructor