How to Delay Impact

by | Mar 19, 2023 | John Hughes Golf School

For any golfer, it’s important to delay impact position. And how do you get that done? At all of the golf schools in Florida me and my team conduct, we emphasize the importance of have a strong impact position. And coaching a golfer into a stronger impact position often includes coaching the golfer into feeling what delaying at impact should feel like.

What is Delaying Impact?

Delaying impact simply means, that you’re not releasing the club earlier than needed.

Often, less skilled players tend to release the club very early in their downswing. Doing so releases the energy you need to transfer to the golf ball. If this release happens prior to the club meeting the golf ball, it means less compression on the ball, and in turn less distance the ball will travel. Making an early release in the downswing can also change the direction the club is taking to the ball. As well as where the club face might or might not be at impact. Both of which greatly influencing how the the trajectory and the direction the golf ball will travel.

Delaying impact is essential to hit the ball straighter and further. And it’s all about finding a way to hold on to the momentum the club is carrying as you swing the club to and through the golf ball.

What is the Cause of an Early Release?

There are numerous causes to releasing the club early and failing to delay your impact position. The most common is poor alignment particularly close to your target. When you’re aligning yourself close to your intended target, you’re most likely placing the ball position more forward in your stance. You’re also more likely standing up as you swing down. And the club path is moving from outside to in.

Another common reason for early release is your body’s subconscious belief your trail hand, being the most dominant, must do more than its fair share to have the ball fly as far as it can in its intended direction. Probably, your trail hand is your dominant hand. But being over dominant is what’s leading to the poor results you’re experiencing. Each hand plays a significant role was in the swing. And when the top hand allows the bottom hand to dominate it, there’s a lot of other things that can go wrong leading to impact. This is especially the case in higher handicap golfers.

How do You Delay Impact?

There are numerous different ways any golfer can find that suits them best to delay impact. What I have found over the 35 plus years of coaching golfers of all skill levels his delaying impact typically happens with the trail side of your upper body. Meaning, for the right-handed golfer, they’ll feel a delay of a right side body part, from the belt up, that allows the Golf Club to meet the ball at impact with a square club face and an efficient club path.

Depending upon how you feel your swing will determine which right side body part above your belt you have better control over. And in turn, can delay impact with.

Which Trail Side Body Part will Delay Impact the Best?

With less skilled golfers who visit our golf schools in Florida, I normally start with the bottom or trail hand. For the right-hander that’s the right hand. It’s typically at the top of their swing, the transition, where that right hand will take control in an overt way period to not only influence how far the ball will travel period but in the direction in which it will travel.

The Trail Hand

A great drill to feel this is there an impact. Not at the top of your swing. The transition happens in such a short time, you have no chance to influence that transfer if you’re not a highly skilled player. It’s best you’ll feel the trail hand somewhat in a “spanking” position at impact. Feeling this at impact will translate at the top of your swing as a less active and more efficient transition. But most importantly emphasizes where the clubface and the path will approach the ball from.

Feeling the bottom hand “spanking” the ball also places the top hand and wrist in a flatter position at impact. Which is more desirable for all great ball strikers to feel. So much has been written about the lead hand being flat. Yet we forget what the trailer bottom hand should feel like relative to the flatness of the top hand and wrist. Feeling the bottom hand delaying behind the top or lead hand creates for more forward shaft lean with shorter irons. As well as the proper forward shaft lean for longer golf clubs.

Ultimately, you’re attempting to feel a flat bottom palm against the handle at impact. Versus your bottom hand flipping at the ball to have it fly and go far. It’s the flipping of the trail hand that causes the most damage and impact in regards to distance failures and directional errors.

The Trail Elbow

For some golfers feeling the trail elbow tucked against their rib cage is a way of feeling delay at impact. This does not necessarily work for all golfers. But can have a positive and significant affect at impact.

There are many drills that allow the trail elbow to delay. The most popular drill is tucking a head cover between the elbow and the rib cage, and not allowing the head cover to drop until well past impact. If you do this drill, it’s important that the head cover drops well past impact. Why? Because the trail elbow must release from the rib cage as the club passes through the golf ball at impact. If you try to hold the head cover between the trail elbow and the rib cage through to a finish, you’re going to cause more flipping through impact than you realize currently.

The Trail Shoulder

Some of my clients have had great success feeling their trail shoulder staying behind the golf ball at impact. This is the method that I prefer golfers use and feel whenever possible.

If you think about it, if the shoulder stays behind the ball it impact then the trail elbow and the trail hand must follow suit. Bigger body parts can lead smaller ones to a better and more efficient place within the swing. When attempting to get the trail shoulder to stay behind the ball at impact, you cause both the trail elbow and the trail hand to follow.

Attempting to keep the trail shoulder delayed could cause you to dip the trail shoulder more so than needed. Lowering of the trail shoulder can backfire. Causing some of the errors you’re attempting to correct by keeping the shoulder back. It’s best to set the height of your trail shoulder at a dress. And allow the club to swing naturally through the golf ball.

Other Ways to Delay Impact

there are other drills and feelings you can experience to delay impact. Some of the easier ones a less skilled golfer would gravitate towards can also be the simple fix a more skilled player is looking for.

For example, the “Hit the Tee Drill”. This is a drill where you place a tee in front of the golf ball. The objective is to strike and knock the tee out of the ground. Versus swing at the golf ball. In order to hit the tee and create a divot in front of the ball, you must delay impact. The bottom hand cannot release early and achieve the objective. While still striking through the golf ball.

if you have a severe path issue, you can learn to delay impact by improving your club path. Particularly if you swing outside to end or what’s commonly referred to as over the top. Placing an object behind the ball position and outside of the ball position forces the club to move inside through the golf ball. This movement forces the trail side to feel delayed, particularly the trail hand. And when you feel the club swing more to the outside through the golf ball, you’ve actually achieved a delay in impact. Especially when the ball is flying straighter with less effort.

If you’re attempting to delay your trail hand and teach it what it should feel like, There are two drills I like to prescribe to my clients that provide immediate feedback of how the trail hand should operate in the swing. One of those drills is hitting balls with your trail hand only. There’s no way you can hit a great shot with just your trail hand on the handle, and not have the trail hand delay impact.

Another great drill is the trail hand covering the top hand. when the trail hand has nothing else to hold on to during a full swing other than the top hand, it must learn a new role within your golf swing. You’ll also allow your lead hand to play what you believe to be a more dominant role in your swing. What actually is happening, is your body’s learning the dichotomy of the golf swing between your trail and front side.


Delaying your impact position sounds harder than it is. But when you give this a try, and provide yourself the patients needed, you’ll surprise yourself. You’ll be surprised by not only you can delay impact. But how a delayed impact position will improve your ball striking.

It’s your job to experiment with which part of your body you want feel the delay within. You will not readily find this body part right away. It may take several practice sessions to find the one body part, or combination of body parts, That allow you to feel the best delay of impact for you. It’s our job at John Hughes Golf to guide you through that process. And we invite you to experience one of our golf schools in Florida to create a better impact position for you.

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