I remember the first time I saw a really great golfer drive off the tee, producing amazing power. He told me it was all about club head speed and creating a lag in the swing. So I started wondering….
How to create lag in your golf swing
The way to create lag in a golf swing is by having the correct contact order of the arms, wrists, and club head at impact. It’s all about kinetic energy. The order is elbows first, then hands, and then the club head through the ball.
Knowing what the lag in a golf swing is and the order of the kinetic chain is one thing. Being able to create increase swing speed and add more lag routinely is the goal. Let’s talk about lag and exercises to perform in order to train your body to create it.
What is lag in the golf swing?
Lag is the power move in a golf swing that will give you distance and striking power. It gives you club head speed and a release at the perfect time. When done correctly, the club is at its fastest when it comes into contact with the ball. It is created with a lag angle between the left forearm (of a right-handed golfer) and the shaft of the club.
A golfer with good lag looks like they have incredible rhythm in their swing. It appears to be an effortless golf swing, that is smooth compared to tight and jerky. A good lag shot will have the lead arm past the ball on the swing arc, and the stored energy from the trailing club shaft will create speed throughout the impact zone.
A lot of amateur golfers either have little to no lag, or they release too soon, and the clubhead is actually slowing down when it contacts the ball.
Ways to create lag in your swing
- Play relaxed. It seems counterintuitive, but people often tense up when they want to swing hard and fast. This is the opposite of what you need to do in your golf game. Think of a whip. A whip is loose and can crack fast enough to break the speed of sound.
- Cock your wrists. A certain amount of lag is natural in anyone’s swing. When you are swinging fast, the club will flex and give you a lag. But it’s not enough for true power. Cock your wrists and keep them cocked through the downswing of your golf shot. This will ensure lag in your swing.
- Swing on an inside out path. This will help you maintain lag and prevents the loss of power from an early release. This makes sure that you won’t release your wrists too soon.
- Set yourself up for lag. A lot of amateur golfers think that swinging with arms straight and keeping the arms and chest as one unit is key to clean ball striking. Keeping your arms straight during the Golf swing sequence makes it almost impossible to hit with lag. If you start your swing with a bent right elbow, it will promote lag.
Even though lag will happen naturally when you swing the golf club, it’s a good idea to practice these golf shots. This will ensure you create lag and get used to creating lag.
You will also see the most improvement by using a training aid made specifically for creating lag. Our favorite by far is on our Lag Shot review page.
Let the equipment do the work
Sports equipment keeps evolving. Think about how different golf clubs are now from even 5 years ago and how much more detail is included with the design. Every year there seems to be major innovations in golf equipment.
Golf clubs are made to generate more power and to increase golf head speed through the downswing and impact zone. They are designed to get the ball off the ground and into the air.
Golf club shafts are flexible so that they can generate speed and power at the point of contact. Use that flexibility by creating lag with your elbows and wrist cock. When swinging the club, you should feel the weight tugging at your hands.
The golf ball is dimpled so that when it spins at high speed, it rises in the air. The average golfer thinks they have to hit under the ball in order to get it into the air. This is the opposite of what is true.
Actually, hitting down on the ball will utilize the angle of the club face and the dimples in the ball to create loft. Trust the equipment, and when possible, look into golf instruction.
One-handed drill. If you are right-handed, use your right hand. Only grab the club in that hand and swing at the ball as if you were striking it with two hands. You will feel the clubhead lag behind your hand. Keep working up the speed of the swing. Eventually, start striking balls at the range this way.
- Use a weighted donut. Nothing will promote lag and speed like a weighted donut on the end of your club. Like MLB players in the on-deck circle swinging a heavy bat, the donut will get you used to building up speed.
- Feet together drill. Rather than your standard golf stance, address the ball with your feet together. Then take full swings. You won’t be able to use your lower body in the swing. This will force you to create lag to get any sort of power. Pretty soon, you will work up to a good amount of lag and clubhead speed.
- The Whip. Flip your club upside down and grip it. Swing like you are taking a normal swing but listen. You should hear the club cutting through the air. Pay attention to when you hear it. You want to hear it at the point of contact. That means you are getting maximum speed at impact.
The pros use tempo
Years ago, there was a bestselling golf book called Tour Tempo. The basic concept of the book was that every tour pro had one of three possible tempos. The book even came with a disc that let you practice each tempo with audible beeps. One beep to start the backswing, a beep to stop your backswing, and the final beep for contact.
The result of this tempo is really a smooth swing, with speed and lag. That’s it. That’s why they call Fred Couples “Boom Boom.” It’s a tempo that creates confidence and looseness. Think about dancing. You would never dance to a beat being stiff. Same deal here. Loosen up and get the lag.
We can see that lag is really the result of a fundamentally sound golf swing. Once we are able to put everything together, we shouldn’t even have to think about it.
Famous golfers and the secret sauce
Ben Hogan said he always led with his elbows. Sergio Garcia says that it feels like he is pulling down a rope. It’s funny how they don’t really explain lag. But we can look at PGA pros and see what they do.
Ben Hogan created an angle between his forearm and golf shaft of around 16 degrees. That’s a small angle and a ton of wrist cock. It looks exaggerated.
Many tour professionals will not even mention lag. Why? I think a major reason is that lag is a natural byproduct of a really good golf swing. After years of hitting balls with a great swing, these small things amateurs look for are just natural.
That’s the objective. To break down your swing into parts. Then put them together, so they become natural. Then it’s second nature. Great golfers will think about their shot. Think about where they are going to put the ball. However, the mechanics are so in tune with their muscles that it is second nature.
Lag is often called “the secret sauce” of the golf swing. There is nothing secret about it. The only thing is that to perfect a lag in your swing; you need to have a natural and fundamentally sound golf stroke. That takes practice, but you can get there with the drills pointed out above.
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