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Learning about lag and its importance to your game will make you a better golfer.
Learning about lag and its importance to your game will make you a better golfer. (Courtesy photo)

The secret of golf: Tips and drills to learn about lag

Chuck EvansBy Chuck Evans,
Special Contributor

"It is simple, elusive, indispensable, without substitute or compensation and always present." - Homer Kelley, The Golfing Machine

What is lag? We've all heard this term. Lag can be defined as, "trailing" or "following." Golf instruction tells us we need to have it but why?

In this article we will focus on "clubhead lag." Clubhead lag promotes even and steady acceleration assuring dependable control of distance. An example would be a tour player hitting a shot. As the player starts their pre-shot the announcer tells us that the player has 193 yards to the flag and that they are going to hit a 6 iron. A 6 iron! A lot of players would love to hit their driver that far!

In every good swing, at the moment of impact the clubshaft is leaning forward (toward the target). The hands are in front of the ball, and clubface, turning the 6 iron into a 5 or 4 iron. The average player arrives at impact with the hands behind the ball and the clubshaft either vertical or leaning backward. This adds loft and turns that 6 iron into a 7 or 8 iron! Do you play golf with someone that is always complaining that all of their irons go the same distance? These players have a backward-leaning clubshaft.

The good players use a steady acceleration, the poor players over-accelerate. The hands reach maximum speed before reaching Impact and this one move dissipates all of the "lag."

Drills to feel, establish, and maintain clubhead lag

What does "lag" feel like? It is exactly like dragging a wet heavy string mop through impact. In this drill use a towel. Wrap the towel around the hosel of your club and place the clubhead on ground just outside of your trailing foot.

Now try to use just your wrists to take the clubface to the ball. This move is difficult at best and the shaft will be leaning backward. Now replace the club but this time, rotate your right shoulder down-plane to the golf ball and toward "right field." You'll notice a distinct sensation of dragging and a heavy pressure through the ball.

For the next drill you can simply take a piece of rope and hold it like a club. Go the top of the swing and allow the rope to rest on the top of your right shoulder. As you start down "feel" like the rope stays of the shoulder as you take your hands on a direct downward line to the ball, or a spot in front of the ball. This is called a "rope handle technique" in The Golfing Machine.

As you can see, the "end" of the rope is "lagging" your hands. The majority of golfers do just the opposite. They try move the clubhead with the wrists. This produces a "quitting" motion and the club moves upward toward impact instead of downward. Important: A properly lagging clubhead produces a strong downward thrust which adds distance, trajectory, and consistency.

For another great drill use a duffel bag, pillow or impact bag. Take the club back to waist high with the clubshaft parallel to the target line and horizontal to the ground. Now simply rotate the right shoulder downplane to the golf ball and toward "right field". This will bring the hands and body to impact position and the club will be lagging!

Chuck Evans, G.S.E.D., a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, is one of only 31 golf instructors worldwide designated to hold a doctorate in golf stroke engineering. He is executive director of instruction for the Medicus Golf Institute and has served as director of schools for the PGA Tour Golf Academy, and as director of instruction for the United States Golf Institute. He is also the author of "How To Build Your Golf Swing."

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • what does lag feel like

    Paul wrote on: Aug 27, 2010

    I'm working through this right now after 20 years of casting. To me, it doesn't feel like dragging anything. If anything, it's less effort. It feels like--well--nothing! The only sensation I have is pulling my hands down close to my body.