Without a doubt there can be a number of things that can contribute to effective swinging of the golf club, and for sure they can be as important to one individual as a key feeling as they are trivial to the next.
One of the significant components that elite golfers have is their awareness and mobility of the wrist action. Sometimes when good golfers hit the ball off line (pull shots) or strike it a bit heavy they complain of being too “handsy” or “wristy”. Certainly too much manipulation or compensation (conscious or otherwise) is going to lead to unreliability, and the idea that the wrists should be allowed to work naturally (unconsciously) due to rotational and other forces is definitely a nice feeling to have. But in my experience some golfers are not aware of the action they are looking for or the benefits that can be gained through leverage and speed. So what is wrist action?
The term “wrist action” is sometimes also referred to as “hand action” although in truth the movement we a talking about in golf is a blend of hand, wrist and arm movement. Other terms associated with wrist movement in the swing is “hinging” or “cocking” the wrist. One way to possibly describe or separate these terms is to use the physiological terms for these wrist movements.
A good swing has a blend of both hinging and cocking the wrist. Here’s a little drill you can do to get the feeling of this motion. Take an iron club and grip the club with one hand, make sure you have enough tension through your fingers to maintain the shape of your grip when swinging (don’t let the club come away from the contact points in your hand) but your wrist and arm should be as relaxed as you can get them. Now swing the club from side to side letting the weight of the club dictate the wrist movement and arm swinging / rotational movement. Try this with both hands.
In this illustration I’m using a shortened club that has been weighted at the head.
If your club comes away from the inside of your palm or your fingers are letting go, it is likely that your wrists are stiff and you don’t have the range of motion or you have developed compensation in your swinging motion. You can also progress this drill and try and hit a ball (use a tee peg first) but you must first learn to relax your wrist and arm. The key here is to let the natural swinging motion contact the ball.