With this lesson on “hand and wrist action”, we will have covered 3 of the 4 pillars that are the underpinning of every effective golf swing, leaving only the swing itself, which we will begin to address on the next tee. We have left the swing as the last of the Fundamentals purposefully so that when you begin to actually move through the swing you will have been equipped with all of the required tools to deliver solid contact to the golf ball.
Hand and wrist action are perhaps the most illusive of the many mysteries contained in the golf swing. The hands play a static or passive role, requiring only the strength to maintain the position of the hands on the club, except that the hands are connected to the wrists, which are anything but passive.
I believe this is the most challenging piece of the swing to understand as the main function of the hands is to simply hold onto the club.
One of the greatest examples of a player whose hand and wrist action were so beautifully tuned is Doug Sanders. In his prime, Doug Sanders, who employed a very short backswing, was one of the best ball strikers in the game. Doug’s hand and wrist action were unparalleled as shown in the video above.
The Wrists Have the Option to Move 4 Directions
- Not at All
- Roll from Right to Left
- Flip from Side to Side
- Hinge Vertically Up and Down
*If you agree that option four is the desired movement, you are on your way to greatness.
The Vertical Hinging of the Wrists
The vertical hinging or “cocking” of the wrists occurs naturally in response to the swinging of the forearms. This movement is the natural mechanism that comes from a proper grip as the forearms begin to move the club away from the ball. You need not and should not attempt to force the wrists to make any movement beyond this vertical hinging. It happens almost on its own with no additional help from your brain. In fact, you cannot prevent the correct wrist movement unless you consciously manipulate them otherwise.
Do This Drill
I’d like to suggest that you try the following drill to help you understand the hinging movement I describe. Pour a small bucket of balls out onto the range and then grip your club as if to address each one in sequence. Instead take your precise stance and grip placing the club head suspended just above the ball as you normally would do prior to address. Then, by only hinging your wrists straight up, raise the clubhead up as much as your wrists will allow. Then lower the clubhead, again only by hinging the wrists straight downward, and tap directly on the crown of each ball, one by one, as if driving the ball down into its lie. This movement will inspire the correct hinging of the wrists and help you feel the relationship between the wrists and forearms.
What this drill will help you witness is precisely how the club makes contact with the ball. Once you have mastered the feel of this drill and your wrists are properly hinging up and down, swing the club over the pile of balls without making contact, only to gain a more pronounced feeling of the relationship between the swing and the hinging of the wrists. The swing and hinging together are the two essential actions that, when combined, deliver the clubhead to the golf ball.
On the next tee, we will complete the Fundamentals and finally work through the swing itself. Until then, keep swinging the handle.