Wristy Business
By Erika Larkin on 9/26/12
The wrists have a lot of range of motion. Learning to control them properly is the key to better ball striking and a good first step to eliminating inconsistencies.

There are three main ways to move your wrists during the golf swing:
  1. Scooping: the risky wristy business. Hold your arms straight out in front of you with your thumbs pointing up , move your wrists right and left like a fishtail would move-this is scooping. This motion on its own can add too much loft , cause pulls, fat and thin shots. Combined with poor weight transfer or posture changes during the swing you could see bladed wedges and even worse, the dreaded shanks.

    Scooping is not to be confusing with the following which are good wrist mechanics.

  2. Hinge like a hammer. Grip the golf club, without lifting your arms or bending your elbows, bend your wrists up and down in front of your body like a hammering motion- this is hinging and it is responsible for much of the speed and whip and power of a swing (or lack thereof). It’s important to try and achieve a full wrist hinge on the backswing ( about a ninety degree angle between your lead arm and the club shaft), and then on the downswing try to unhinge as late as possible so that the moment of impact receives the power instead of it being thrown away before impact if the wrists unhinge too soon (which can also cause a fat shot).

  3. Roll over Rover. Grip the club and hold your arms straight out in front of you, then using your forearms roll your hands to the right and left and you will see the toe of club move from very open to very closed. Typically this motion or lack thereof is at the mercy of grip pressure and the timing of when the hands roll over during the swing directly relates to the clubface position at impact. The goal is to make the clubface square at impact but if the rollover happens too late it would result in an open clubface and a slicing ball flight vs. an early roll causes a closed face an a hooking ball flight.

Putting it together

Assuming you have a neutral grip, square clubface and a good wrist hinge on the backswing, on the downswing you should strive to hold your full wrist hinge until you arms fall and your hands are about to pass in front of your right leg. You can then start to unhinge to impact and simultaneously roll your knuckles and forearms down and over so that by impact the shaft is still leaning slightly forward and the clubface is square. Just past impact you will be fully unhinged in a straight wrist position as the roll over completes. Finally the wrists will re-hinge up as the arms fly up and over your shoulder when the momentum of the swing carries them through.

I hope this clears up some of your thoughts about what the wrists should or should not do during the swing. It’s tricky but performing some slow motion practice swings working through the positions described may help you start to make changes for the better in your swing. Good luck!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She will be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

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