Ever watched Tiger Woods in live action? The power he puts into the golf swing looks supernatural. The trick to that massive impact is a lag in the golf swing. A subtle but precise action in the golf swing creates a lag in the movement of your golf club. The club gathers more energy due to the lag and impacts the golf ball with increased power. Sounds simple? It's not. Understanding the lag in a golf swing and employing it takes practice. In this post, we explain the mechanics of this lag, how and where to use it.
What is lag in a golf swing?
Here’s a teaser for you:
Notice how Tiger Woods’ hands speed ahead of the shaft in the downswing. Or the club shaft trails behind the movement of your hands. This called a lag in a golf swing.
His wrists come unhinged just before the impact injecting a burst of energy into the swing. You must time the release at the bottom of the swing arc while accelerating steadily through the downswing. The ball explodes forward during the impact. The buck doesn’t stop at extra power, you also get control here. This is one action that doesn’t trade off distance for control.
The science behind it?
When you lag the club behind your hand, you are converting more potential energy into kinetic energy at the impact. The longer you maintain this lag, the more power you push and the more speed you can generate in your swing. The ball goes farther with this speed upon impact through release.
The opposite of this scenario is called casting. Here you prematurely release your wrists in the downswing and spend all the power gathered there before impact. This also increases the loft of the clubface at impact. This results in a high weak shot with limited control.
Why golfers lag in leveraging the lag?
The most common problem that keeps the golfers from meeting their full potential is ending the lag too soon. They unhinge their wrists before the swing bottoms out and expend the energy before the impact. The key is to release the maximum energy at the point of impact. There could be many reasons why you aren’t a creating lag:
1. Trailing arm:
In a proper golf swing, the trailing upper arm should remain close to the body during the downswing. For a right-handed golfer, your right arm should hug the body. If the arm is extended, it pushes against the shaft of the golf club. This enhanced pressure unhinges the wrist and lends less power to the clubhead. So when your arms enter the impact zone, the club shaft is in straight line with them.
The red lines show the acceptable ranges of club shaft positions for proper lag. An amateur will open the wrists too quickly.
2. Weight Transfer:
A good golf swing involves proper movement of upper and lower body in the right sync. During backswing, the weight shifts from the neutral position to trailing leg and rear. In the downswing, the weight should transfer gradually from the trailing leg to the leading leg. In the case of the right-handed golfer below, the weight shifts from the right leg to the left in the downswing. This also involves the correct rotation of hips for an even transfer of the weight.
3. Insufficient Shoulder Rotation:
One reason why Tiger Woods’ arms are in the right position throughout the swing is the correct rotation of the shoulders. Notice how his shoulders turn a full 90° and point at the ball at the top of the swing. They swing back the same way during the downswing and complete the 90° arch in sync with the hip rotation. A less than 90° turn results in a steep swing plane
4. Chest too open at impact:
In a bid to get more power into your impact, players open up the chest too quickly in the downswing. The chest should remain pointed toward the ball at impact. The setup position dictates how your golf club and body should be aligned to the ball to hit a straight drive. The aim is to reach the same setup at impact but with the clubhead speeding toward the ball. You lose control if your chest is too open at the impact.
Drills to Feel the Lag
Since this is such a nuanced part of the golf swing, a lag may not be immediately apparent. You need to first feel the lag in a golf swing and then practise it. There are some simple drills which help you time the lag and bring the wrist release to the impact point.
- You can use a weighted swing socks or weighted ring training aid for this drill. Or simply wrap a towel around the clubhead of your golf club. Secure the weight around the clubhead tightly.
- Swing the golf club as usual a number of times. Because of the weight of the clubhead, the club automatically lags. It also discourages casting.
- Once your muscles are trained to the lag, it will be easier to create lag without any weight on the clubhead.
- Here you will swing with the leading hand alone.
- During the downswing, loop a finger from your trailing hand along the club shaft to keep the leading wrist from unhinging. This will create a feeling of lag through the downswing.
- Get your muscles trained to feeling the lag. Once you recognize the feeling, you can practice it as your normal swing.
- The 9-to-3 drill is a simple one. Have a weak grip on the golf club.
- Take a backswing to the waist height and ensure the back of your leading wrist is flat.
- With a weaker grip, you will feel the wrist unhinge naturally at the bottom of the arc.
- Follow through to waist height again.
- Weak grip at every step lets you feel the weight of the clubhead.
Creating lag in a golf swing is the secret to putting power into your swing. Apart from speed, it also gives you real control over the swing and impact. The key is to get your hands ahead of the club shaft so that it lags and picks up more energy. And to time the release of your wrist with the moment of impact. You have to first feel the lag and then practice it deliberately. Your swing speed will take a big surge.
Hope this helped you understand the concept of a lag in golf. Leave us a comment if you have any questions.