Early Extension in Golf? Beat the Band-Aids with this Swing Solution

Early extension might be one of golf’s biggest plagues. 

In the ball park description: Your hips move towards the ball pre impact and from this relatively weak position you create a face closing chaos that always puts a couple of balls out of play per round? You struggle with a two way miss and feel that your swing is completely timing based? 

Welcome to the Early Extension World.

By the way, my name is Petter Tärbe and I have a history as a decent scratch player, a golf instructor for some years, but first and foremost I’m a huge golf development nerd that loves to pass on what I know. 

I believe in two things in golf instruction - always treat root causes (never treat symptoms) and that you as a student need to understand before being able to develop.

Early Extension - First Level Thinking Solutions

You’ve probably seen all types of drills where you are supposed to hug the wall with your buttocks and stuff like this. In my opinion all of these are first level thinking solutions that actually just are band-aids to a deeper problem. Sure, it might work for a while since you are actually creating ground pressure but you have likely moved away from your key task as a golfer - to perform your clubhead release in a proper way.

In my opinion you aren’t supposed to “drill” against early extension. What’s rather needed is the understanding that your body is reacting to the task you have given your hands indirectly through your club head positioning. I’ve played with different levels of early extension for 20 years or so and it took me quite some time before I understood that my underlying assumption of my club release was the root cause for my early extension.

Most golfers, including myself, REACT to what the heck the club face is doing and also to the subconscious intention that the brain creates. You athletically swing towards your inner mental picture.

I will now describe, in my opinion, the three interlinked root problems of early extension and after that propose a solution. 

Root Problem 1 - Unclear Mental Image

The goal of my golf swing is to create a motion that supports a clubhead release in the same fashion over and over and over. Everything I do in my backswing, transition, downswing, impact and follow through is to make sure that the release is done in the best possible way.

That’s my mental picture. To perform my proper relase.

What’s yours? 

(Figure this out through understanding which technique framework you swing within. Ben Hogan did somemething different than what Dustin Johnson is doing today.)

Root Problem 2 - Too Open Too Late

Without a clear mental image to swing against it’s now hard to know how to close down the club face. Long story short: ALL PLAYERS rotate their club shaft in the backswing. Somewhere between 70-110 degrees depending on your backswing style. How do you close it down to be 0 degrees at impact? 

Early extension is the body reacting to a too open face too late in the downswing arc. Consider this: Let’s say that you have a downswing arc of 100 cm to close down the club face and that you actually use these 100 cm for a long non chaotic closing of the club face. Will you need to early extend then? Most likely not. Ok, try this one instead. Reduce your closing arc from 100 cm to 30 cm. Do you think it’s easier or harder to close down the face? 

Herein lies the early extension problem. You have created an impossible athletic task for your hands in your normal position = THEY NEED AID. The body comes in and you extend which stimulates the release of the golf club in a vertical fashion. The vertical element is pure rocket fuel for the club closing and you actually manage to solve the “impossible closing task”. The cost? Your body is now in an extended, relatively weak position.

In other words, UNDERSTAND that you need to close that face down much earlier. Or to put it like Jack Nicklaus - “I try to release as early as possible in the downswing”.

Root Problem 3 - The Wrong End of Journey

This is heavily intertwined with the mental image of your golf swing. If you lack a proper mental image odds are that you make the ball the final destination of your golf swing journey. In contrast to this, if you actually start closing your club face earlier in the downswing and continue this closing well past impact you have created a very controllable club face closing.

Some people talk about a stable club head at impact. That’s just a myth. No club faces are steady. Understand that the club head release is a closing mechanism that is meant to close but that you can do it on a longer arc.

Solution with Clarity

  • Figure out how the release works and make this your driving force of your golf swing. Now you have actually erased any need (body reaction need) for early extension and have a mental image to count on.
  • This is where the skill training steps in. The more you train, the better you become. Makes sense right?
  • I’ll propose the following. Use firstly the trail hand and then the lead hand separately and swing the golf club. Feel the movement of the club. This IS your golf swing. Put the hands together and figure out how to close down the blade well before impact. Voila, you have a fair chance of never needing to early extend again.

Read my article about the club face release here and spend your “early extension drilling time” on something fun instead!

Best of luck with your game.

Wish to Read More? 

Snöleo Golf Academy Overview Page

The Release in Golf? How it works

How Golf Swing Plane Works? Peeling the Swing Plane Layers

Consistency in Golf? The Perception of Control

The Slingshot Golf Swing - The Modern Power Swing

The Hogan Golf Swing - Ben Hogan’s Foundation Explained

The Old School Swinger Golf Swing - Nicklaus then and Scheffler now

The MORAD 86 Golf Swing - Mac O’Grady’s Legendary Swing

Terminology List

Downswing arc = the path that the clubhead will travel in the downswing. Often described in the form of an arc.