Lag is one of those things in the golf swing that is often ignored. It’s hard to measure, even with a slow-motion video or paused image and, therefore, it’s not something that’s always front of mind.
On one hand, creating lag in the golf swing is one of the most natural and easy things to do. It’s almost impossible to have no lag in your golf swing because of how a golf club is designed and physics of the swing in general. When you swing a golf club, the head is going to lag behind the hands to some degree.
On the other hand, though, it is possible to counteract this lag by doing certain things in your swing. Fighting against lag is a losing battle and won’t help your golf swing to be successful.
So, in this article, we’re going to look at what lag is, what it does, how to capitalize on it, what to avoid, and how to improve your golf swing lag.
What is Lag in the Golf Swing?
Basically, lag is the delay, or trailing of the club head behind the hands throughout the downswing. So, once you start your downswing, your hands ought to lead the way through impact, with the club head coming through slightly behind your hands.
- Creating lag is essentially, maintaining a wrist bend throughout the downswing.
- Bent wrists will, almost, guarantee that the club will lag back behind the hands.
That may seem obvious, but many people don’t play golf this way.
Why is Lag important?
Lag is important for a couple different reasons.
- First of all, it creates more club head speed, which results in greater distance in your golf shot. It allows a snapping motion through impact, which makes impact more solid.
- It also helps to create a downward motion toward the ball. Your angle of attack will be better if you allow the club to lag behind your hands through impact.
- Finally, it’s important because it’s how every golf club is made. The designers of your golf club intentionally create flex in the golf club’s shaft, which will allow the club to lag back and snap through impact, creating distance, consistency, and solid impact.
How to Create Lag in the Golf Swing
In this section, we’re going to talk a little about how to create and maintain lag in your golf swing. Use these thoughts and techniques to improve your lag.
First, swing speed will help create lag. In theory, the faster you swing, the more the club will lag behind your hands. That being said, it’s not as simple as just swinging harder. Trying to swing faster often creates other issues. So, swing as fast as you can, while still maintaining your technique and balance.
- A simple way to start swinging faster is to relax your muscles.
- A lot of people think that swinging harder means tensing up your muscles, but that’s not true. A tense muscle doesn’t have as much flexibility or range of motion.
- In the golf swing, it’s not about tension, but range and flexibility.
If you relax a bit, you’ll actually be able to swing faster. Specifically keeping your arms loose will allow your wrists to hinge easier. So, focus on the arm muscles first.
Maintain Wrist Hinge:
Next, make sure that you maintain your wrist angle as long as you can through the downswing. Too often, amateur golfers will release their wrist angle too early because they are trying to get under the ball. I’ve talked about this in other articles, but basically, that’s working against you.
You want to maintain your wrist cock, so that the club lags behind your hands more naturally. This will create more speed through impact and a descending blow towards the ball, which gets the ball in the air.
Delay the Release / Swing Out:
When we talk about release, I mean the rotation of the hands through impact. A lot of amateur golfers tend to swing with and outside to in swing path. This, they think, helps stop a slice.
In reality, it does the exact opposite. I’ve discussed that in other articles as well. An outside-in swing path also fights against lag. It allows the club to travel slightly ahead of the hands because of the wrist rotation.
Side Note: An early release can also be caused by Early Extension. While we won’t cover that in this article, we dive into early extension here.
How to Maintain Lag in the Golf Swing
There are a couple common mistakes that amateur golfers make that make lag difficult to create and maintain. Make sure that you eliminate these flaws from your golf swing.
Casting the Club:
You’ve probably heard people talk about casting the golf club. It’s a fairly common phrase in golf, but some people don’t know what it actually means. It refers to the movement of the arms and wrist that looks like casting a fishing rod.
Casting the club in the downswing means that a golfer loses the wrist angle too early. When the wrist angle is lost, the club head tends to travel further forward, almost passing the hands.
When the club passes the hands, lag is eliminated. In the next section, I’ll give you some drills to work on to make sure you maintain that wrist angle and keep your lag.
Trying to Lift the Ball:
Next, when amateur golfers try to lift the golf ball in the air, it tends to eliminate lag in the golf swing. So, we need to talk about how a golf ball gets in the air. Getting the ball up in the air isn’t done by getting under the ball and lifting it up. Instead, it’s done by hitting down and through the golf ball.
When you strike down on a ball, you allow the golf ball design to lift it. Dimples are on the ball to create lift which gives the ball spin and rise. Make sure you hit down on the ball and, in doing so, you’ll also maintain your lag.
Golf Lag Drills
In this section, I’ll talk about some drills you can practice to make sure that your golf swing has plenty of lag.
Swing Club Up-side Down Drill:
For the first drill, all you need is your golf club.
- Simply flip the golf club over, so you are gripping it near the head and the grip is down towards the ground.
- Take some normal practice swings. You’ll notice a whooshing noise at some point in your downswing.
- Work on pinpointing the exact place in your swing where the whoosh occurs.
- The closer the whoosh is to the impact zone, the more lag and better release your swing has.
- If you hear the whoosh too early, that means you’ve lose your wrist hinge and allow the club to travel in front of the hands too early. This position of the sound means you are casting the golf club instead of maintaining a wrist hinge, and therefore, lag.
For this drill, some of you may find it a little difficult but it is well worth it.
- You’ll grip your golf club like normal, on the grip end of the golf club.
- Then, raise both of your ring fingers and pinkie fingers off the club.
- You should be gripping the club with only 6 fingers (both pointer fingers, both middle fingers, and both thumbs).
- Then take some slow swings; you can even hit some short shots like this.
- Then, the club will be forced to lag behind your hands.
- You ought to feel the whipping back and forth of the club even more than normal.
The purpose of this drill is to over emphasize the lag of the golf club. Because you don’t have as many fingers on the club, you’ll also have less control over the club. This is a picture of what happens during your swing, the club lags behind the hands to create speed.
Swing Donut Drill:
For this final drill, you’ll need a golf club donut. This is a small, weighted circle that you stick on the shaft of the club. It makes the club heavier than normal.
A lot of people use a donut to warm up, similar to a baseball bat donut. This drill uses the donut for a little bit different purpose.
- As you swing your golf club with a donut, you’ll notice, that the club will naturally lag behind your hands more than normal.
- That’s the general feeling that you want to create in your actual golf swing.
Be careful with this drill though. It’s meant to give you the feeling of lag, but you don’t want to do it too much. If you swing with a donut too much, your muscles will become used to the weight of a heavier club. Then, when you move to your actual club weight, your hands often move quicker and release the club through impact too soon. Make sure you maintain the lag feeling when you take the donut off, instead of the opposite.
There you have it, everything you need to know about creating and maintaining lag in your golf swing.
Remember, lag is important because it helps create swing speed, a descending blow to the ball, and crisp contact at impact.
If you struggle with any of those things, you may have poor lag. Try to relax, let the club delay a little bit, and hit down and through the golf ball.
Lag is fairly natural, so don’t overthink it too much. Allow the club to do what it was designed to do.