What is the role of your wrists in your golf swing? Do you know how the wrist should look at the impact position and what proper wrist action can do for your game?
The truth is that most golfers have no clue about the role their wrists play in golf swings because they’ve been taught to keep their wrists out of the swing.
Sure, we want to use big muscles like legs and shoulders to play the game, but proper wrist motion in your golf swing is important. Here’s what you need to know about wrist angles in the left wrist and right wrist and how amateur golfers can capitalize on this information to go low.
Wrist action in the golf swing
The wrists move in different ways when hitting golf shots. The most important movements are wrist cupping or bowing (extension and flexion). Great golfers have more flexion than extension at the impact position.
However, getting your golf game to the point where you can feel the wrist action is consistent and the wrist hinge is timed correctly takes time.
Wrists in the golf swing
The wrist position changes from when you take your stance above the golf ball to the golf ball to when the golf club connects with the ball. To understand the different wrist movements, let’s look at the different stages of a swing motion.
At setup, you will want a grip that has your wrist in the flat wrist position or has a bit of extension (cupping). The setup position changes depending on your hand size, arm length, grip style, and physical characteristics.
For proper club face control, you need to have a consistent grip. Ensure your hands go on the club the same way each time. Some players have a slight forward press in their setup, which can change the amount of flexion or extension in the wrist. But if you can square the clubface at impact, your setup doesn’t have to be one specific angle.
Top of the backswing
The wrists then take the club back, with your position staying relatively similar to what it was at setup. The best golfers can keep their wrist angles from the address position to the top of the backswing stagnant.
PGA Tour golfers are aware of small movements in their wrists and hands that can impact ball flight. If your wrist position is cupped at the top of your swing, your club head speed and accuracy are affected. Instead, you should practice to have a flat wrist action at the top of the golf swing.
This practice can be on the driving range by taking a video of your golf swing. You can also do some golf swing drills where you swing the club back, check on hand and wrist position, and then go and take a full swing to hit a golf ball.
At impact, the goal is to lose most of the extension in your wrists and instead have the lead wrist slightly flexed (or bowed). When your lead wrist is flexed at impact (trail arm may be a little extended), you will get better ball flight, more compression, straighter shots, and more consistency.
If your wrist is too extended at impact, you will lose the ability to make a powerful golf swing and maybe make squaring the clubface nearly impossible.
After impact, with your golf ball, there is quite a bit of rotation in the wrists. The wrists turn over and allow you to finish in a balanced position with your hands held high. As good as it is to complete the rotation of your wrists through the impact position, the most important parts of the wrist in golf are at setup, during the golf backswing, at the top of the backswing, and then at impact.
What about wrists in the putting stroke?
Wrists in the putting stroke are as important as in the full swing. In fact, they may be the most important part of your putting stroke. While there’s no perfect golf backswing for putting, you must be consistent to hit great shots.
A proper grip, a good path, the right alignment, and consistent wrist action will help you make more putts. Even great players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Jack Nicklaus have variations in their wrist position throughout their strokes. But they manage to repeat those positions every time.
Why do wrists in golf matter?
Now that you have a better idea of what the wrists do in a perfect golf swing, you may be wondering why all this matters to you.
Golfers with a flat position of their wrists at the top of the backswing have an easier time adding swing speed and getting more distance. Think about it this way, if your club is not positioned correctly at the top of your swing, it takes a lot of work to square it up at impact.
When you already have a flat wrist and a square clubface, you can accelerate and go after the golf ball.
I don’t know about you, but straight shots matter to me. The wrist controls the clubface during your golf swing, so if you struggle with squaring it, it may be because of wrong wrist movement and positioning. Golf swing speed is great, but what is the point if you can’t apply it correctly and hit straight shots?
Precision and workability
The better you get at golf, the more you want to be like a professional golfer that can control the golf ball. With awareness of your wrists and their positions throughout the swing, you can work the ball. That little draw or fade shot you have been interested in hitting can be achieved by controlling the clubface.
How to work on wrists in the golf swing
If you take golf lessons and work with a golf instructor, chances are they have worked with you on wrist angles and position. Without working with a golf professional, I suggest taking a video of your golf swing and then playing it back to see how your wrists are positioned.
Here is a golf instruction video that may help you see some of my favorite drills and what wrist motion should look like in a great player.
The wrists are a common term to leave out when learning about and studying the golf swing. Remember that you want your wrist flat at the top of your swing so that you square the clubface up at impact.
There are variations in wrist angles among the best players in the game, but everyone can agree that bad wrist action leads to inconsistency in golf shots. When you learn to align your body movement and wrist action, you’ll increase the speed at impact and hit a consistent golf shot each time.