Swinging a golf club correctly is one of the most challenging tasks in all of sports. At first glance, you might not think that would be the case. The ball is stationary, and you have complete and total control over the golf club in your hand. So why can’t you hit the ball predictably every time? The truth is that although it does get much easier with time and practice when you are first learning to swing the club correctly, there is a lot to learn.
One of the critical elements of striking the ball powerfully has to do with what’s known as “hinge” or “wrist-hinge.” Power allows us to propel the golf ball, and the way we apply power in our swings can be counter-intuitive, as it has little to do with the amount of strength we apply to the club and everything to do with our technique and the way we swing. So, what is hinge in golf? And how can we benefit from it?
The Hinge Mechanism
When swinging the club correctly, you should either immediately, or at the top of your swing, cock your wrists in such a way that will allow you to unhinge your wrists as you impact the golf ball. This hinge mechanism will enable you to dramatically improve the speed with which your golf club strikes the ball.
Your pace, or “swing speed,” is the number one factor when it comes to improving distance and generating predictable yardages. Assuming that you already have a somewhat firm grasp of accuracy, which is more important for beginners, learning to increase your distance should be your top priority.
If you genuinely want to increase your distance, then understanding proper wrist hinge in golf is absolutely critical. So how can we put this into practice and unlock our maximum potential?
Grip the Club Correctly
Every golfer is unique, and as such, the specific manner in which your wrist will hinge is going to be particular to you. Still, so long as your wrist hinge adheres to a few basic principles, you should be able to produce consistent outcomes and increase your yardages out on the golf course.
The correct wrist hinge begins with having the right grip. Regardless of how you choose to grip the club, make sure that you are comfortable with your grip. You should be able to control your swing speed and the angle of the clubface through impact.
Be careful not to hold the golf club too tight, or you could produce a slice; or too loose, which will likely result in a hook. Once you’re comfortable and confident that you have an adequate grip, then we can move onto understanding how to deploy the hinge mechanism in our golf swing to increase our distance profoundly.
Proper Wrist Orientation
Regardless of which grip you choose to go with, your wrists should be correctly oriented when you start bringing the golf club downwards into the golf ball. Through impact, keep your left wrist flat and firm, and your right wrist bent back; this is the ideal wrist orientation when guiding your club in the downswing.
Although it’s important to ensure that your left wrist remains flat, it’s your right wrist that is the most crucial through impact and as you start your follow-through.
The Key to Unlocking Greater Distance
The power stored in your hinged-wrists is essentially the last chance you have to speed up the clubhead before contacting the golf ball. Now, rotation generates much of the speed in a proper golf swing. It’s your rotation that gets the club started downwards and accelerating, but you can’t rotate forever.
Once your rotation is complete, your wrists’ unhinging is the only remaining source of potential speed you have available. So, as you move the club down toward the ball, you want to delay the release of your right wrist for as long as possible.
The longer you can maintain your hinge in the swing, the more distance potential you will gain. That said, if you wait too long to unhinge your wrists, you risk miss-hitting the ball completely. Proper timing is a challenging aspect of this hinge mechanism, but with practice, you’ll get it.
Once you do, you’ll be able to train the right muscle memory, which will make it easier and more natural to execute consistently. Let’s look at a few drills that will help us better understand the proper way of hinging and unhinging our wrists throughout our swing.
A Great Check-And-Balance Drill
When it comes to executing a swing with proper wrist hinge, the most critical element is making sure that the wrists are properly set or fixed in the backswing. Now, you can choose to pre-set your wrists before bringing the club back, or you can hinge your wrists at the apex of the backswing; this is a personal choice, so try both methods and see what feels right for your swing.
For this drill, what you want to do is start your club back, and when you reach a 45-degree angle, near the top of your backswing, you want to stop and make sure that the butt end of the shaft is pointing down in-line with the golf ball.
Imagine a laser coming out from the end of the shaft; that laser should be striking the ball as you approach the top of your backswing. If the laser is aiming in front of the ball, you need to increase the degree of hinge you’re applying; conversely, if the laser aims behind the ball, you need to decrease the amount of hinge.
This very simple check-and-balance will help you get a feel for the correct amount of hinge, and if you deploy this drill in one of your practice swings, it can help you make sure that you are working your wrists correctly.
The Impact Bag Drill
For this drill, you’ll need to have an impact bag. You can find these online for under $20, and they come in handy for many great drills, including this one. If you don’t have one on hand, it’s not a big deal; you can improvise your own by filling a pillowcase with some old clothing or towels. So, you want to set the bag where your ball would usually be and then swing through like you normally would.
If you are unhinging your wrists too early, you’ll notice that your club’s bottom is contacting the bag. If you release the hinge too late, you’ll end up with your hands way out in front of the bag at impact.
The trick to this drill is to make sure that your hands line up with where the ball would usually be sitting when you make contact. If your hands are slightly ahead through impact, then depending on your swing, you might be okay, but we’re talking barely ahead.
This easy drill can help you get a feel for where your wrists should be as you strike the golf ball. Practice this for a good five or ten minutes, and then once you feel like your hands are consistently lining up with the bag at impact, you can, if you’re able to, switch the impact bag out for a golf ball. You might be amazed by the result of this short exercise.
Swinging the Shaft Drill – Wrist Hinge In Golf Drill
Another fantastic and super simple drill, which can help you get a feel for the right timing when releasing your wrists, is to swing with the shaft end of the club facing an imaginary ball. Assume that a ball is positioned normally and make your full swing with the club in the upside-down position.
Now, when you swing, you will hear a “whoosh” sound. You only hear that sound when your wrists release so, if the sound comes from behind you, then you’re unhinging too early.
If you hear it when the club is out in front of you, then you’re releasing your wrists too late. The trick to this drill is to make sure that you hear the noise right where the ball would be.
This would mean that you are unlocking your wrists through impact, generating an increase of speed as you make contact with the ball, and likely adding a ton of distance to your shot.
Training Aids for Wrist Hinge – Wrist hinge in golf
There are a few different training aids available online, likely at your local pro shop as well, which can help you set your wrists. The basic idea with these wrist aids is that they force you to grip the club correctly and generally only allow for a minute amount of wrist movement by essentially binding your wrists.
Now, You can definitely still release your wrists too early while using a wrist training aid, but you will, at the very least, be training the right hinge angle because these types of aids require that you grip them at the proper angle to hold them.
That said, use these training aids in tandem with the drills above in order to increase their effectiveness and get the most out of your practice sessions.
Remember, golf is not a game of perfect. Nobody has ever shot a perfect round, which in theory would be 18 aces, and nobody ever will. Your goal should always be to play to the best of your ability when you’re on the golf course.
By studying all of the components that go into a proper golf swing and with repeated practice, you’ll find that one day things begin to click and fall into place. Before you know it, you’ll be doing things correctly without even having to think about it and hinging and unhinging is no different.
So take your time, perform the check-and-balance drill by visualizing the laser in-line with the ball at the top of your backswing. Spend some time striking an impact bag, and get your wrists lining up correctly through impact.
Take a few swings with the club upside down, really paying attention to where the “whoosh” is happening, and making the necessary adjustments to get that sound right over the golf ball. Couple all of the drills we’ve discussed with a training aid if you really want to make sure you’re on the right track.
By doing all of these things, you’ll find that you start hitting the ball way farther than you ever have in your life, and sooner rather than later, you won’t even have to think about it.
Conclusion Understanding Wrist Hinge In Golf
We hope you enjoyed our article on understanding the wrist hinge in golf. If you did enjoy this guide we hope you check out some of our others such as our guide to understanding tournament status in golf or our guide to understanding semi-private golf courses.