Graeme McDowell - Body Release

In this new video, I'll explain what the term "body release" means in the golf swing and how it can cause you to lose tons of clubhead speed.

  • Don't spin your body from the top of the swing down. 
  • Stall the body and release the club. 

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Thomas
Hi Chris does bowing of the left hand really have a big impact on the release speed ?, I have been doing this to some degree to de-loft the club a little & close the face on the downswing slightly to help being more square at impact, as I have developed a tendency sometimes to block shots to the right with a small fade leaving the club face slightly open at impact, not all the time but when it does happen it is frustrating especially on holes with water to the right . Been working on the release drill's recently which are amazing & effortless just sometimes my timing is not so good, been working on strengthening the left wrist for better coordination, hoping in time with enough practice of the drills I can remove the Band aid, just was really interested if it was because more strain on your left wrist impacts speed through the release ?.
September 19, 2020
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hi Thomas, thanks for the questions. Although I am not entirely certain I understand the question fully, I will do my best to give you some info. Bowing the wrist to deloft the club at impact does NOT lock out the functions of uncocking (ulnar deviation) or rotation (supination) of the lead wrist. However, it can make it harder for you to release the tension and allow the wrist to rotate fully like we advocate.
September 19, 2020
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gordon
Club release is of major interest to me right now so this video is very useful. I have the following questions on the topic: If the arm release method is preferable to body release due more distance (club head speed) and less back strain why do some players still use body release? Is body release better for distance control on shorter pitch shots where accuracy trumps length? A nutty question next (!), - is there any application for arm release on a chip shot? Last but not least which club head release method, body or arm, is recommended when making a Penetrating Wedge Shot? Thanks in advance for your replies, I much appreciate your site, best regards, Gordon.
November 20, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gordon. Some players still use the body release because it can be used for accuracy and they have done it that way the most of their life (career). You will notice a lot of the body releasers hit it straight, but lack distance. You can still win being a relatively shorter hitter. Much more to the game than length. If you have something you can repeat every time. It can make the game simpler. You will see more of a compact motion and body release for shorter pitches for the exact purpose described. Accuracy over distance. You can get a ton of spin for an arm release on a chip shot if need be. You can train to slide the blade underneath and let the ball grind up the grooves. With a penetrating wedge shot the swing will be more compact and a quieter arm release. It will tend to feel a little more body to control distance and accuracy.
November 20, 2015
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Mads
I might have the same problem as Graeme, not the axis/shoulder tilt, but getting rid of the lag in time. Despite a good amount of lag, I can't get my clubhead speed past 95-100 mph. So how do I release it earlier? I've tried feeling like I'm casting the club, but that doesn't seem to do the trick. I have extreme soft wrists, so if I relax too much in the downswing, the club is more or less vertical, when my hands reach my right hip.
November 18, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Have you worked on the 9 to 3 drill, throw the ball drill and right arm release drill? If you are not spinning your body through the hitting area and your impact alignments look good...it's time to speed up that release which is great news. Check out the videos above and see if they help you.
November 18, 2015
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Mads
In the Swing Performance Center, my all stats is 85 or better, except weight shift, which is 80, so I assume I have an ok impact alighment My release is 95. I'm clearly not missing lag, so there must be something else in my swing that prevents me from being able to increase the clubhead speed. I'll take a look at those vids. By speeding up the release, do you doing the drills at a quicker tempo?
November 18, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Even with a good performance rating, I would make sure you are releasing the club properly and are maxing speed at impact and not rotating your body while you are releasing. You can try and speed things up a bit but pay close attention to you impact alignments both face on and down the line. We have 2 videos on just that subject.
November 18, 2015
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Mads
Ok ... so do you want me to stall the body (both lower and upper), when I release the lag, and then let the momentum of the release sort of pulling the body into the followthrough/finish? If I rotate the body while releasing, I will be kind of dragging the club through impact, right, and we don't want that.
November 18, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Yes, exactly. Spinning can cause the release to be delayed and even shorten your radius.
November 18, 2015
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Mads
Ok. Great. Thanks for your help and quick response
November 18, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
My pleasure!
November 18, 2015
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Mads
Should the right arm be straight at impact? Tried the drill tonight (with an 8-iron), and I noticed that my right arm isn't fully extended at impact. My right arm looks pretty much like Scott's with the driver in the video, far from as bend as Graeme's. The drill made my contact ith the ball better, as well as my swing path, but did'nt do much in regard to my speed (80-82 mph).
November 19, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Mads, I would suggest you read the articles that go along with the impact alignments down the line and face on to help get some solid info that relates to what you are talking about. Here is the article for the down the line: https://rotaryswing.com/golf-instruction/golfbiomechanics/impact-alignments-down-the-line
November 19, 2015
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Victor
The swing of these 2 successful professional golfers negates the veracity of some of your videos in particular the right knee laser beam and left knee laser beam.
November 17, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Victor, these videos are geared to show you what some players do on tour and how to related it to your own swing. We do NOT touch base with each aspect of a players swing for multiple reasons. The drill videos you speak of are to correct faults in the golf swing. Like a reverse pivot, unstable pelvis, improper weight shift etc. We are not trying to create confusion, just trying to highlight some areas of the players swings that may help you learn the cause and effects to the swing.
November 18, 2015
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jim
Again, I see the rear heel up, off the ground at impact. Yet several of your videos want the heel on the ground at impact. Am I missing something?
November 17, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Jim, you will see some tour players with their heel off the ground with a driver swing. It can be a source of added power. We teach the heel to stay down in a stock shot format to help control the rotation of the body into the hitting area so we can release the club with speed into impact. These tour videos are designed to show certain areas of the swings and not the entire picture.
November 18, 2015

We  are here with this week's tour analysis with Graeme McDowell who just picked up his big victory at the OHL Classic in a three way playoff. Congratulations to Graeme. This week we are going to be focusing in what a body release is and how it could ultimately affect your club head speed and also potentially put your back in a position to where you could be setting yourself up for injury. If you've been battling some back pain or even possibly leaking some club head speed, you want to pay close attention to today's review. Let's go ahead and get started.

                Okay, guys. As I said in the opener, we are going to be focusing in on a body release this week. We're going to be defining what that means, and we're going to be talking about some of the ins and outs to it. Graeme is a very, very consistent and very accurate driver of the golf ball. He's always up in the top 15 year in and year out as far as accuracy is concerned, but he's not really up there in the speed department. He's generally right around between 107 and 109 miles an hour, which is a little bit on the slower side for the PGA Tour.

                But if you're going to sacrifice the speed and you're going to hit a lot of fairways that's a good trade off because in turn you're out there winning golf tournaments, you're putting it in a position to where you can make lots of putts. We're going to be talking a little bit about what the body release means, what some of those things can actually do as far as throwing the club head down and the positions that it can actually be putting your back in that could deteriorate over time.

                Let's just focus on a face on view here. I'm going to load up a down the line video of another player here so you guys can see the differences between a body release and a body that actually stalls and the club is releasing a little bit sooner. Looking at it from a face on perspective, you're going to see Graeme get into his takeaway here nice and wide, typical tour player like takeaway. Good rotation of his body here.

                You can see that he's made a good full turn, good load in that right leg and then he's going to start his downswing with a very athletic move of sitting into his lead side. Very textbook like move into the lead side here. Now you can see that his lead arm, again, this is the checkpoint here that we like to talk about as being parallel to the ground while he gets his left side over into neutral. You can see that that's a very, very good strong move. Helps with the kinetic chain here. As he starts to work down further into the hitting area, you're going to see that he does have an extreme amount of lag.

                This is where he's typically noted for having the club face a little bit on the shut side. That's the reason why he's going to delay the release and rotate his body a little bit harder. But you can notice at this particular junction of the golf swing he's created a ton of tilt to his shoulders, which in turn can start to compress the lower part of your vertebrae. Now, there's a reason why he tilts. Tilting your spine is actually going to help shallow the swing plane.

                If you were to go to the top of your swing and pause and then just lean back, you would notice that the shaft plane starts to flatten out quite a bit. Now, when you're rotating very hard, now that can cause things to move out away from you so you have a version of the club head starting to want to work out to in and then you balance it back off with secondary access tilt. You can see how there's a cause and effect, and then there's a balance and an imbalance.

                The move where he's rotating his body a little bit harder, he's going to also have to lean back to help keep things shallowed out, keep things moving down the target line. Let me show you that, actually, from a down the line perspective here so you get a good, clear understanding what I'm talking about. Here's a plane line up from the hosel of the golf club to the base of the elbow. Gets the club a little bit vertical here. Club stays outside his hands. He moves it up into the vertical plane. Really good spot at the top, typically what we would called dead on plane here.

                Then in the downward move he's going to start to rotate his entire body pretty hard, and then this is where he starts to lean his spine back. You can see that the leaning back of the spine gets the club head on top of this plane line. If he didn't have that tilt to his spine, you would see that this club head would stay way above this plane line. Okay, so you can see here that he tilts and he's rotating pretty hard, and then down in the hitting area this is where he starts to delay his release quite a bit.

                Let me show you a little bit more from the face on perspective here. You're going to see the shoulder plane continuing to steepen here down into impact. You can see that he's got quite a bit of tilt to the shoulders here, where normally we do want some secondary access tilt, but the amount of tilt right here is quite a bit. The reason being, like I said, is because he's known for being a little bit more of a body releaser. He's, in turn, keeping the club face where he's delaying his release and relying on his body to help get the club face back to square so he doesn't have the club rotating at an excessive rate.

                What I want to do now is I want to take another look at it versus another player here so you can see typically where the release happens for those players that have a little bit more club head speed. Let's go ahead and take a look at that now. Okay, guys. Here we are. I've loaded up a video of Adam Scott here on the left hand side of the screen. I know that there's a little bit of a size difference, a little bit of height difference and a little weight difference, but Adam's up around the 119, 120 department in club head speed.

                I actually wanted to use a video of Justin Thomas, but I couldn't get a good video with the right frames per second to be able to show you the differences in position. So just bear with me on the little bit of a change here. I just want to show you the differences where Adam starts his release a little bit sooner and doesn't rely on his body to spin very hard through the hitting area. Allows the club to do a lot of the work at the bottom part of the arc here.

                Let's go ahead and load him up to the top of the swing. You can see Adam gets a little bit longer up there. G-Mac is in a little bit of a shorter position. Let's go ahead and make that move left, so where his hips and knees get back to square. You can see that his hands are right about the center of the chest. Maybe one more frame here will get us into a good spot. Lead arm's parallel to the ground just like I showed you before.

                That makes a very good size move here as well. Lead arm about parallel to the ground. You see the club is in a very similar position here. What you aren't going to probably be able to see as well from this particular angle is that G-Mac has actually unwound his upper body quite a bit more, where Adam has got a little bit more rotation left to his shoulder line. Let's go ahead and look now for these next couple positions. You're going to see a little bit of a difference here as Adam gets his hands right about his trail thigh area. Trail thigh area here.

                You can see that the club head itself on G-Mac is starting to get a little bit more out in front of him. All right, this is where a lot of people start to talk about it being a little bit on the shut side. This is the reason why he's going to have to delay his release. But I want you to pay really close attention to one glaring difference here, okay? Is the amount of space between his forearms and his elbows. You see where Adam's space is starting to close up here.

                Now let's watch Adam start to work down into the hitting area here. You see that space starting to close up. He's starting to fire and release this club so he's going to be at max speed right here at the bottom of the arc. He's released that lever, that lag that we talk so much about. That's a huge source of power and club head speed in your golf swing, is being able to release that angle. I showed you from a face on perspective how much lag Graeme was pulling down into the hitting area. Because of that, it's not very easy to get rid of it in time, so you're going to rely on the body to rotate much harder.

                Now let's look at the difference here as G-Mac starts to get down into impact. Let me get through a perfect kind of frames here. You can still see at impact he's got a much bigger difference between the forearms than Adam does. Now, because he's delayed his release, he's going to rely on his body to rotate a little bit harder and he's going to create a little bit more tilt. You can actually see a little bit more tilt to the spine here, where Adam's a little bit more upright.

                Now we'll watch as G-Mac starts to release the golf club. You can see the forearms starting to come together almost in the particular position Adam's in, so you can see it's a little bit late and that he's at full extension and that he's relying on the tilt to help him hold the club out in front of his body. Now he's got a lot of side bend here, which is something we talk about in Five Minutes to a Perfect Release. We talk about that side bend and we teach you how to actually create it but, in turn, when you're starting to practice that side bend we understand that that's an uncomfortable position but we come up and out of that position so quickly in the golf swing you never feel it.

                Obviously, we want to do our best to eliminate any sort of potential harm to the body, so you're going to see a little bit of a difference here with Adam. You're going to see not as much side bend with the club extending. See how there's not as much tilt to the shoulders, where G-Mac's have almost gone completely vertical. Adam's shoulders have got less tilt to them. That's what you would typically see from a body releaser of the golf club. In turn, because you haven't released the golf club, you haven't released that lever in the proper timing, now you're kind of relying on the idea that the club head's going to more rotating at the same rate as your body through the hitting area, which is not necessarily as efficient. That's what we talk about in a lot of the release videos on the website.

                The point of this video is not to obviously bash G-Mac. We just wanted to talk to you a little bit about the potential loss of club head speed by delaying your release and trying to get too much lag. I know that's one of those areas that a lot of people want to have all this lag, but it's not going to do you any good unless you know how to get rid of it. That's really the point of today's review. Again, it's one of those things that it can be a double-edged sword, and I want you guys to have a really good release and I want you to be able to protect your body and play this game for years to come.

                If you haven't seen Five Minutes to a Perfect Release, definitely check that out. If you haven't seen Fixing Your Release, check that video out. There's also the Left Hand Release Drills. All these videos are going to be over to the right hand side of the video player on the website. You'll be able to watch those videos. It's a great way to start to refine your release. Also, the impact series that we just put out, that compounds on some of the stuff that we talk about and can also give you some good checkpoints for some of those faults that you may have been struggling with. Okay, guys. Check out those videos. Let's work on our release, especially for those of you that are stuck inside this winter. Great time to start working on getting good control of the club face, making sure that you get into a good impact position and then have a well-trained release for a lot of speed. Let's get out there and play some great golf.

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