Wrist Hinge In The Golf Swing Explained

PGA pro Katie Dawkins discusses wrist hinge in the golf swing and how it can help golfers generate more power

Wrist hinge in the golf swing
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

If you lack power and struggle to get the ball in the air, there is a chance your wrists aren’t behaving. But what is wrist hinge in the golf swing and why is it important? 

When you hear TV commentators talk about “cracking the whip” or releasing the club through the ball, they are referring to something that just isn’t possible without first getting the club into position on the way back. Setting your wrists in the backswing is key to loading power.

Watch the video below to hear more about the importance of wrist hinge from PGA pro Katie Dawkins...

To make it simple, imagine you’re skimming a stone; you’ve got a flat mill pond in front of you, a smooth pebble in hand and you want to skip it across the water like you used to as a kid. 

Now imagine trying to achieve that without using your wrist. Where are you going to generate power from? Unless you want the pebble to fall at the first hurdle, you need to set your wrist to be able to release it with enough fizz.

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Similarly, if you don’t hinge your wrists in the golf swing you could be throwing away loads of clubhead speed and delivering your irons with less of a descending angle of attack than is ideal.

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Wrist hinge in the golf swing

If you don't create enough wrist hinge in the golf swing, your angle of attack will suffer
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

If this sounds like something you struggle with, you’ll probably have noticed that heaving the ball down the fairway feels a lot like hard work.

In the backswing, the body and arms should take the club away smoothly as one unit, while the wrists start to set. Once your lead arm is parallel to the ground, the club should be pointing towards the sky, roughly forming a right angle.

From here, you need only turn as much as your mobility allows to wind up to the top. For some, this results in a Jon Rahm-esque compact motion, and for others with oodles of flexibility, the club will get close to, or even beyond, parallel to the ground. 

Whatever the case, the fact that the wrists have done their job early on means they are way more likely to unhinge at the right time on the downswing. This should create a nice amount of lag and stored up power that can now be released through impact.

Alternatively, if the wrists haven’t hinged, there is less angle to unload and therefore generating power becomes a mission. Some players - like Bryson DeChambeau for example - still manage it, but for the club golfer it’s a big ask. 

It’s much easier to encourage the wrists to hinge early to benefit from the power that angle can give us later on.

We’ve all played against a golfer in their later years who still gets it out there from what appears, to the naked eye, like a half-swing. That is what an efficient use of one's wrists looks like and is something that can also take a load of pressure off a tired back.

Katie Dawkins
Advanced PGA Professional and freelance contributor

Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.

Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple. Katie is now based at the stunning Hamptworth Golf Club on the edge of the New Forest. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF during lockdown and as well as coaching at Hamptworth she freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve. 

She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game. 

Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.