Category Archives: hands lead the clubhead

Casting: Golf’s Killer Fault is Easy to Fix

While swing changes should be a matter between yourself and your pro, there is one change I am going to recommend to you. It is very likely one that you need to make. Stop casting.
Casting is releasing your wrist set just after you start the club back down from the top of your backswing. This is too early. If you do that, you’re giving up clubhead speed and accuracy for no reason. By correcting this common error, the difference in the way you hit the ball will be jaw-dropping.

You don’t think you cast? Let’s find out. Swing up to the top of your backswing and look over your right shoulder at the angle made by your left forearm and the club shaft. Set up again, swing the club up and then back down, stopping when your hands get hip high. Look again at the angle your left forearm and the club shaft make. Is it the same angle? If the angle has changed and the forearm and shaft make a straighter line than before, you’re casting. It’s time to get that out of your swing.


To see why, look at the two pictures. In Figure 1, the player still has his full wrist set as his hands enter the impact zone. Notice that the hands are in the same place in both pictures, but when the wrist set is maintained, the clubhead has to go over twice as far, in the same amount of time, to get to the ball. This generates extra clubhead speed with no extra effort.

Figure 1

In Figure 2, the player is casting. As the club enters the impact zone, there isn’t much of his wrist set left. His power was used up long ago and the accuracy of the strike is in question, too.

Figure 2

Casting is one thing that pros don’t do. They retain their wrist set for as long as they can. A better way to put it would be that they don’t let that angle go until the momentum of their swing naturally releases it. That’s what the release is. It’s the speed of the swing building up to the point where the wrists can no longer hold their set. They let go of the angle and the club lashes into the ball.

To learn how to hold on to the set, swing up to the top at your usual speed, and swing back down now very slowly until your hands are hip high. Concentrate on maintaining that angle between your left forearm and the club shaft. Don’t let it change one bit. Slowly swing from there back up to the top again and back down to hip level. Do this over and over so the feeling starts to take hold in your subconscious mind that your wrists don’t move. They just go for the ride. All the while, your hand, wrists, and forearms must remain relaxed so the wrists can release when it is time for them to.

After three tries at this, on the fourth try let your swing go all the way through the ball, letting your wrists release when they swing past hip level. (See also Your Wrists at Impact)

The wrong way to stop casting is to try for a “late hit” and hold onto the angle for dear life for as long as you can. What frequently happens is that the wrist set is held for too long. The clubface is still open as it reaches the ball, resulting in a tremendous slice.

There is no such thing as a late hit. Get that phrase out of your mind. Casting makes you hit early. A relaxed swing with a maintained wrist set delivers the hit on time.

While you’re practicing this, don’t get caught up in what the angle of your wrist set is. Ninety degrees would be nice, and some touring professionals have even a smaller angle. If you can’t get to ninety degrees, that’s OK. Don’t force yourself to go beyond that your flexibility allows you to do. This is a professional move, but it must be based on your physical capabilities.

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The Golf Swing Move That Changes Everything

[July 15, 2019: This is the blog’s most-read post. It has almost twice as many views as the second-ranked post. It should. It is the first mention on the blog of the most important fundamental of the golf swing, your hands lead the clubhead at impact, that for a reason I cannot figure out is rarely mentioned in golf instruction books. But every good golfer does it, and no bad golfer does it. Period.

[How to get this right is not addressed fully here, but it is in posts that followed. In the intervening seven years, I have tried many methods of getting this right. The easiest way I know of is to feel the butt end of the club moving leftward from the beginning of the forward swing to beyond the point when the ball is struck. This method is fully explained in the recent post, Your Hands Lead the Clubhead- IV]

My son is learning how to play golf. He didn’t start until he was about 30 years old.  He is fairly athletic and hits the ball a long way, but neither he nor I have any idea of where it’s going to end up much of the time.  

The reason for that, and the one thing that he is struggling to learn, involves his right (trailing) wrist.  This post is not about him, though.  It’s about over half the recreational golfers I play with who do the same thing he does.  They flip that wrist.

In an earlier post, I talked about pronation and supination.  This is one of my most-read posts, because it is something that Ben Hogan went into at length in his book, Five Lessons.  

The Hogan mystique makes many amateurs think this is the magic move that if they get figured out, will change everything.  For once, they’re right.

In practical terms it all means a backward bend in the trailing wrist MUST BE MAINTAINED through impact.  

That wrist, right wrist for right-handed golfers, left wrist for lefties, must not be straightened out, and certainly not be bent forward (flip), until after the ball is struck. (see photo, above)

This is a golf swing imperative. You cannot play good golf if you don’t do this.

How do you get it right?  Search the blog on “hands leading the clubhead”.

See this video, or this one.

If your ball flight is a guessing game, chances are that flipping is your number one problem.  

I even see guys flip when they putt and they can’t putt worth a lick.  

Put this move into your golf swing and you will be a different golfer.  Golf will become a different game.  I absolutely guarantee it.

Hitting a 9-Iron 145 Yards

[July 2021: The move that created this shot is a sharp rotation of the forearms the moment before impact. I no longer recommend this method as it is too difficult to time consistently.]

Funny you should mention that. That’s what I did just a few days ago. Surprised the heck out of me, but then, again, maybe I should have seen it coming. I took a lesson four days before that which changed everything.

If you follow this blog, you might have read, more than once, the imperative for hitting any shot when the ball is on the ground (except putts): Ball first, ground second. If you want to make anything your improvement project this year, make it that. It will pay off like you wouldn’t believe.

Most recreational golfers hit the ground behind the ball routinely. I’m not talking about laying up sod, which we all do on occasion. I’m talking about bottoming out maybe a half-inch or so behind the ball. You get a decent shot out of it, but there’s no power, no backspin, and the reverse divot is lurking.

The proper place for your divot to start is in front of the ball. I thought that if you hit the ball first, ground second, that would be the result. Silly me.

I went to the range last week and the grass tees were finally open. After I had warmed up, I put a ball on the ground, and laid two tees beside it, pointing to the front of the ball and to the back of the ball. That way I could see exactly where my divot started.

It started behind the back tee. Sometimes by a lot, sometimes by a little. Sometimes, when I hit it really solid, the divot started between the tees. I never could get it to start in front of the front tee. Not once. Not good. I could not figure out how to start the divot in front of the front tee without sliding to the left, which we all know not to do.

Since I was at a driving range, I went right into the pro shop and the pro was behind the counter. I explained the problem to him, and asked if he could teach me how to start the divot in front of the ball. Of course, he said, I signed up for a lesson the next day.

It worked. He taught me how to do it. It was so easy, but most things about golf are like that. It’s easy once you know the secret.

I won’t tell you what it is*, not because I want it to be a secret, but because it’s difficult to describe, and if you got it wrong it would be disastrous. Besides, your pro should be able to teach you what to do.

If you want to see what the move is, get Johnny Miller’s Fixing Your Swing instructional videos and watch the segment titled Slice Cure. You’ll see it at the 2:25 mark. It concerns what you do with your hands when they come into the hitting area. This video is available only at eBay as of this update (Feb 18, 2019).

Here’s the thing, and this is a big one, it’s hard to install into your swing. I’ve been hitting my 9-iron for four days and am getting reasonably consistent with the new move. I tried moving up to my 8-iron and it’s like starting the process over again. I tried the 7-iron and it was a disaster. You learn this move one club at a time.

Back to the 145-yard 9-iron. After a productive practice session with the 9-iron with plastic balls in my backyard, I took a couple of real balls into the big field only a few blocks away from where I live. I connected with the first shot and it took off fast, low, and straight. So did the next one, and yes, the divot started in front of the ball each time.

I stepped them off. Normally, I get 125 tops. I got 145 and 148. I figure they released a bit after they landed, so about 142 in the air is close enough.  I didn’t hit them that hard, either. I hit them the right way.

It’s will likely take me a few months to get this change in place through the bag reliably. After that, watch out. And I mean it.

* Yes, I will. See Covering the Golf Ball

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.

Your Wrists at Impact

I have a two-page photo spread of professional golfers at the moment impact that I saved from an old Golf Digest magazine (July 2004). I saved it because impact is the whole point of the swing — to deliver the clubhead to the ball square, on line, and with force. I wanted to have this set of of photos hanging around so I can keep looking at them and see what it is that they all do the same way.

Cut now to Ike S. Handy. Ike is a fellow who took up golf late in life (over age 50) and in a matter of a few years was a scratch player. He won senior tournaments in Texas, has many holes-in-one, and reliably shot his age even in his 80s. Why? Because he hits the ball straight. Not real far, but straight. He wrote a book called, oddly enough, How to Hit a Golf Ball Straight, in which he explains how he does it.

I got a copy of that book, and here is the message that hits you over the head in chapter after chapter, page after page. After studying the filmed swing of a dozen of the world’s best players of his day, the one thing he found that they all did the same was that their “hands passed the ball ahead of the clubhead and their wrists were cocked at the impact of clubhead and ball.”

He says this in every imaginable way throughout the book. The hands must pass the ball before the clubhead strikes it, and the wrists must still be cocked at that moment. That is, there must still be some backwards bend in the right wrist.

Back to the photo layout. These golfers pictured are: Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson, Michelle Wie, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Charles Howell III, Se Ri Pak, and Ernie Els. There are two things about them that is all the same: their right wrist is bent backwards, and their hands are ahead of the clubhead. Here’s what it looks like when Rory McIlroy does it.

Here’s a simple drill to learn how to get those wrists in the right place. Take out your sand wedge and make half swings with only your left hand on the club (right hand if you play left-handed).You will feel the proper shape of your left wrist going through impact. The practice maintaining that shape when you swing with two hands on the club.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.

Five Tune-Up Tips For Your Golf Swing

These five tips are little differences that will make a big difference literally overnight in the way you swing a golf club. One hour of practice is all you need to install them in your swing. They will give you a feeling of confidence, control, and ease, three characteristics of good golf.

There is a natural balance point for every club. This is where you hold the club and it feels light, and as if it were an extension of your hands and arms. For most clubs this will be felt when you grip down about 1″-1½” from the end of the grip. When you hold the club at this point, you will feel relaxed and at ease. Swing the club the way this feeling suggests.

Take your stance slightly open to the intended line of flight. Just a little bit. No more than 5 degrees. Being slightly open will let you get your left hip cleared better, and allow you to come into the ball with the right side a little more “underneath” the ball. The first gets the club down the target line more easily, and the second gets the ball in the air more easily.

Swing the club easily. There is no need to rush going back, and certainly no rush going down. If anything, swing more slowly than you think you need to. Make it almost like an easy practice swing. The speed that such a swing will build up is greater than you feel. Combined with the design of the club, you will hit the ball a long way. If your ball-striking gets off during a round, check the speed of your swing first. Odds are that you are swinging too fast, especially at the start of the downswing.

You might have heard the phrase, “finish your backswing.” What does that mean? For every club you swing, from driver to wedge, and even when pitching, it means to finish turning your body before you start your downswing. Get the left shoulder as close to your chin as you can, and your right shoulder turned away as far as you can, without straining. It is not necessary that your arms go to a particular place, but that your turn be full. When our mind begins to wander on the course, this turns gets shorter, and our ball-striking worsens.

One difference between the professional swing and the amateur swing is that professionals do not allow the clubhead to pass their hands until after the ball has been struck. That means when the clubhead is impacting the ball, the shaft is tilted toward the target, not vertical, or worse, tilting away from the target. You ensure this happens by maintaining the wrist set you have at the top of the backswing until your hands get back down to hip height. At that point, the momentum of your swing will release the set, but continue swinging and let the hands win the race with the clubhead to get to and past the ball.