I recently came across one of the best golf instruction articles that I have ever read. Jack Nicklaus along with Jim Flick was the authors of the article. Flick has been Jack’s instructor for the later part of his career. Most golf articles need to be applied appropriately to suit your game and swing as opposed to being taken literally. This is an article that will pertain to everyone.
In the article, Nicklaus and Flick talk about how to hit the ball 10 yards further, something all golfers would love to do. To date I have not had anyone take a lesson from me wanting to hit it 10 yards shorter. Nicklaus said, “I have always contended that you can’t start releasing (unhinging the wrists and rotating the forearms) too early, as long as you actively move to your left side starting down”. This has always been a very important part of my teaching, especially since 90 percent of the golfing population slices. What Nicklaus means is that if you start your downswing from the ground up (ankles, knees, and hips) you can never be too early with the arms and hands. I first came across this idea during a Nicklaus/Flick golf school and Mike Malaska, who was Flick’s lead instructor, explained it to me.
Mike filmed me making a golf swing with my left hand only (I am right handed). On the downswing my goal was to have the back of my hand hit his flush on which he held out at my address position. In order to square up my hand flat to his, my instincts rotated my hand as soon as it was swung down and delivered into his. It was a gradual rotation as opposed to a last second violent twist. Mike then explained to me that if you think of the back of your hand as the club face this would be how you release a golf club, early in the downswing. Try this drill with a friend and you will notice how early your hands begin to instinctively rotate. Then try to mimic this motion holding a golf club.
Nicklaus has helped Flick understand that when he releases the club, he is swinging his arms freely while his shoulders are still turned. The average golfer goes wrong when they try to muscle the ball with their body. They start the downswing with the uncoiling of the shoulders and the golf club is never released. This move throws the golf club off plane with a steep angle into the ball. Moreover this out to in path creates side spin. This, in my experience, is the most common fault with amateur golfers.
I have been very fortunate to spend time around the greatest golfer to ever play the game and his coach. Most golf articles need to be read with caution and applied properly. The team of Nicklaus and Flick authored a great piece that pertains to everyone. If the first move in your downswing is from the ground up then you can never release the club too early. It is the founding principle in my teaching and I hope it will be a part of your technique.