Learning how to release the left hand properly in the downswing is truly one of the key factors that separates the 80s, 90s and 100s shooters from those who can consistently shoot in the 70s.
It is such a core fundamental that I make many of the tour pros I work with do nothing but hit balls with their left hand only for several weeks until it is properly trained. Their reward for this effort is flat, penetrating golf shots that can fly through any wind with minimal effort.
In this video, I introduce the RST Left Hand Release Drill. This drill is one that can easily be done at home or even in the office (don't lie, I know you do it!) to begin the process of training the left hand to properly release the golf club.
You don't need to start out hitting balls, just making practice swings with a club is an excellent way to train the left hand until you are ready to take it out to the range.
The left hand release drill teaches you how to dramatically increase your club head speed at the moment it matters most without adding any more muscular effort.
If you've wondered why the PGA Tour pros hit the ball so far while appearing completely effortless, then you need to read the rest of this article and watch this video. You'll finally understand how to properly release the club and begin hitting the most effortless golf shots of your life...
In the picture above I'm demonstrating how to release the club properly with the left hand. This is the final point of transferring energy that has been building during the downswing and is the final big payoff.
If this is not allowed to happen, you will have to work much harder to produce club head speed. If you feel tired after 9 holes of golf or hitting balls for a short period of time, it is very likely that you're not releasing the club properly.
There are only two options for the club to be released through impact. You can either keep turning the body through at a high rate of speed, or you can keep your hands soft and rotate the left wrist counterclockwise. Which one sounds more efficient?
The issue with rotating the body through the shot is that it feels very powerful to the golfer because they are quite literally putting a lot of muscular effort into it in order to keep the torso turning. It becomes a mental challenge to believe that they can produce as much speed by simply "stalling" their body and letting the club release past by rotating the left wrist.
The one thing that you must understand in the golf swing if you struggle to get past this mentally is that you're not trying to produce "power" in the golf swing, you're trying to produce "speed". The body doesn't need to move that fast to produce a great deal of speed and research has proven this.
On average, the typical PGA Tour professional's hips are only rotating at 6-8 mph through impact. That's quite slow when comparing it to a clubhead moving at 112 mph.
It's efficiency that allows them to hit the ball a long ways with minimal effort, and this drill will teach you how to achieve the same efficiency while saving wear and tear on your body.
Video Transcription: Golf Left Hand Release Drill
Releasing the golf club is the final payoff in all of the hard work we've put into getting ourselves in the right impact position, the right backswing, the right takeaway, the right setup.
Pushing the right shoulder: the club never releases, handle stays close to the body
That's where we finally get all the effortless speed. There's a very efficient release mechanism that happens when you swing correctly, and RST is obviously all about being as efficient as possible and using physics and biomechanics to our advantage.
One of the key drills that I'm going to give you today is what I call the Left Hand Release Drill. For a lot of golfers, because they're right handed, they've learned to just release with their right hand, or particularly the right side of their body.
What that looks like is as you come down into impact is that the right shoulder starts pushing into the ball. Now as you look at the golf club, it actually never - let me grab one that's a little bit easier to see - the golf club never releases.
The club's still up in the air here, so they tend to have a really weak, high ball flight. I'm all for a very low, flat, penetrating ball flight, or at least a ball that launches very low, because when you compress it properly and you have the right angle of attack and the right path, that's exactly how it should fly. Then the wind and conditions don't affect your ball flight.
If you struggle with a weak, high ball flight, it's pretty likely that you're pushing the right side of your body through, so the club never releases. You'll see a lot of golfers where the handle of the golf club is in close to their body while the club head is still way out away from them and hasn't turned over yet.
Feel like the hand stops, then release
This is a very inefficient way to release the golf club. You're releasing it with your body, so you're having to put a lot of muscular effort and wear and tear on your body, versus letting the golf club release with your hands.
Now I'm going to show you the drill. As I come down and get my impact alignments, now my hand is going to feel like it basically stops moving - this is a drill. My hand feels like it stops moving and I let the club release.
Now you'll see that the club head and butt of the club are in alignment, and the club is released. There's no effort, on my part, to do this. My hands are soft. I'm just letting the club take over and release at this point, while keeping my left wrist flat. I'll show you face-on in just a second.
What I want you to see is, there's a very big difference between letting the club release, keeping my right shoulder back away from the ball as long as I can, and letting my left hand rotate, versus driving my right shoulder into the ball.
You can see how much more muscular, physical effort it's taking to release the golf club. I'm having to do a lot of rotation through my spine. It's very hard on your body and it's completely unnecessary.
When we look at it face-on, I'm going to do this very slow at first. I'm coming down, I'm getting my impact alignments from the Impact Alignments Face On video. My left wrist is flat. You notice I've got the shaft leaning, and that the back of my left hand is basically on the inside of my pants seam.
The seam that your dry cleaner puts on your pants, about the middle of your thigh, that's about where your hand is going to feel like it's stopped. Then it's going to rotate. Notice that my hand's still moving a little bit, but in my feeling the hand feels like it stops and just rotates to let the club release.
A lot of you might be thinking, "That's a flip." It's not a flip. A flip would involve typically taking the right hand and flipping, breaking the left wrist down, or the club face coming in wide open and trying to slam it shut. That's not what you're trying to do here.
Left hand stops & rotates
We've already worked on squaring the club face early, coming down, so there's actually very little rotation that's happening through the downswing with the club face into impact. The club face is coming in pretty quiet.
As we get here, now we're just letting physics take over and letting the club release. If I keep my hands soft and let the club release on its own, you can see that I'm moving very little. I'm putting no effort in here but the club, right at impact, is accelerating a great deal. I'm putting nothing into it.
I'm letting physics take over, and if I just do this - keep my hand feeling like it gets to the inside of my pants seam and let the club release, keep my left wrist flat, and it's rotating through, letting the club release, letting the toe pass - now I've got the feel of a proper release.
Driving the right shoulder
It's a very different feel than taking my right shoulder and driving it through the ball. This is taking a lot of work and this hurts my back and is no fun, and this is easy.
The other benefit is, I mentioned earlier when guys drive their right shoulder through the ball they tend to have a very weak, high ball flight because you're never letting the club face deloft through impact. You're basically hitting the equivalent of a check swing in baseball, rather than releasing and rotating the club down.
When you do the Left Arm Only Release Drill, that club face is coming into impact and as it rotates through it's delofting, basically like a forehand in tennis or a forehand in ping pong, table tennis.
It's not a dramatic flip like that, but you are letting it release and keeping your hand feeling like it's no longer moving. If you keep pulling your arm this way, again, the club is not releasing. This is very inefficient. Let the club get to your impact position, get your impact alignments and then let it release.
You can hit balls like this; in fact, you should. You should start out very, very small, hitting very short chip shots because if you're used to pushing your body through or pulling your left arm too much and not letting the club release by feeling like your hand stops at your pants seam, then this is going to be hard for you to hit balls with.
Left hand only - let the club release on its own
Just start out really small, left hand only. Get into your impact alignments and just let the club release on its own and you should be able to hit nice, flat little pitch shots and slowly work into hitting longer shots. I recommend doing it with your left hand only with a short iron, just to get the feeling.
Then as you start bringing your right hand back in there to apply speed, try and hit balls at first with your right hand just barely being on there. This is not a speed drill. This is not a power drill. This is getting the impact alignments and the rotation and the release of the golf club in there, so hit short little chip shots like this. Get the release of the left hand going, and watch your ball flight come down dramatically and start really compressing the golf ball.