Let me say that relaxed may not be exactly the right word. To hit any shot well, including putts, your wrists need the right level of tension.
I believe that the intent of all the advice about holding the club loosely (like holding a live bird, for instance) is aimed at letting the wrists hinge freely during the swing.
This really made a huge difference in really compressing the ball this year. Somehow I got in the habit of just kinda moving my arms but not really getting the leverage necessary that is unleashed with centrifugal force and the power it produces. Honestly, it turned my season around that quickly!
Here’s another way to look at it: When your shots start straying left and right, there’s a natural tendency to try and ‘control’ the club via your hands/wrists. When you do this it only makes the matter worse. Scientific analysis has proven that the muscles in the wrists cannot control the physical forces that build up in the club head during a full swing.
You’re never going to get the release consistently right. If you’ve ever tried to be a pitcher in baseball you’ve heard this expressed as ‘stop aiming and just throw’. Or, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, ‘Trust the force, Luke’.
In a good swing with the right wrist tension, centrifugal forces are going to close the club head correctly at impact. As long as the other parts of your swing are right you’re going to make the contact you hoped for. You’re also going to get more distance – a lot more. This free hinging and unhinging of the wrists create a tremendous whip effect which accelerates the club head through impact.
Golf Swing Lag
Lag in the golf swing means keeping the wrists hinged as long as possible before letting them release. This isn’t accomplished by keeping tension in the wrists, but rather by eliminating tension. A proper downswing is crafted to keep the wrists relaxed and, therefore, hinged as long as possible before the release freely.
The later this happens in the swing, the more power you’ll generate all other things being equal. It’s not something you do so much as something you let happen.
A good place to start building the right wrist feeling is chipping and pitching. To be good at either of these, the wrists must move smoothly which means freely and without tension.
As you lengthen your swing on a chip, feel your wrists begin to cock and release more. If you get it right, the forces built up in the club head will cause this to occur naturally. You’ll also find that you use your large trunk muscles a lot more than your arms.
A good image here is a pendulum. Once you start it moving, it moves smoothly through an arc as long as you get out of the way. Once you get your club head at the top of its arc you want the motion to occur via the large muscles with the smaller ones in your wrists and hands left to release freely.
Keep in mind that there can be a tendency (for me anyway) to become a bit “ball-bound” as you are working on this. Remember, you want your speed after the ball…just continue to focus on the entire swing, not just the ball contact part.
If you have the correct grip pressure and don’t tense your wrists you will be able to feel the club-head. If you grip tight and flex your forearms you’ll lose your touch. Once you give up trying to control the club head you’ll be surprised at how much control you have! Think about that one.