Want Power? Discover Lag - Part 1

In previous articles in the Golf School section we have covered the basic requirements of what a Plane is and how to stay upon it, as well as a brief look at Clubface Control. In this article we will examine one of the critical power areas, that is lag, and what it does for us.

Loading the Bomb

I recently played a casual 9 holes around a WA public golf course with a good mate and student of mine. We lined up at the 1st tee wishing we had slipped the starter a few bucks to bump us to the front, when my student grinned and said, "That guy lost all of his lag with his fishing rod. He was cooked before he even started."

It is a common fault, players trying so hard from the top of their swing with pivots all akimbo but the loss of clubhead lag early in the swing means even, and if, they make it back to the ball, it is hit with a powder puff. If Fig 1 and or Fig 2 look familiar then read on carefully. Figure 3 is where we need to get to. So let us work backward from the ball so that we know what we have to do to have a hammer rather than cosmetics.

From previous articles we know that we must arrive at the ball with the right forearm on plane so that the shaft is best supported by our bent right wrist and the forearm can deliver the mass of our driving right shoulder most efficiently. A side on view of a golfer (Fig 3) who plays with lag even at impact shows the hands lead the clubhead until after the ball has left the building.

Many would head to the dictionary but I took a detour to a Thesaurus which held some interesting analogies for lag. "Be late, slowness and amongst others, follow." In terms of our golf swing these verbal definitions are the most visually profound. Our hands have to be in a position for the entire golf stroke to both produce, load and maintain lag. So first of all we need to work out how to produce this lag from the beginning of a swing.

So where does lag come from? First of all we need to load the club shaft, meaning we need to get some power into the clubshaft and our body machine. As we take the club away in the backswing, you will notice that some small level of force is required to shift the clubhead from its resting place. This feeling of inertia is normally dealt with by most golfers by bending the right wrist a little more to 'flick' it into motion and from there the plane is then sought, as shown in Fig 4. The feeling of inertia can also be termed as drag as illustrated in Fig 5 with a towel. In effect we wish to lift the golf shaft up plane with our right arm bending thus lifting the club up. Drag is still felt as we lift the club but it is much more gradual than the flick lift as in Fig 6.

No matter what your level of play, the further back you go in your swing the higher the likelihood is that you are developing some form of power storage. Actually you have to, because the further back you go the longer the arc back to the ball will be and that in itself is going to give you some oomph. You will notice at some point in time that your left wrist will cock, which takes the clubhead further from the ground. You are still dragging the head. Some players cock their wrist really early in a swing, others really late and most somewhere in between. We call these stages Sweep (early as in Fig 7), Random (mid as in Fig 8) and Snap (late as in Fig 9) just to give them reference names. This is loading a power source which is technically known as Power Accumulator No2. (No. 1 is the power that comes from the bent right arm). The more acute the angle produced, potentially the more lag that can be generated in the downstroke. Each player will have a maximum amount of wrist cock that can be achieved as we are all built differently.

We have now loaded the bomb with a bent right arm and a left wrist cock to whatever level we have programmed for the shot in hand. The power is loaded and stored. That stored energy has to be delivered now to the ball without leakage. Even with a chip we must make contact with clubhead lag if we wish to play good solid golf shot.

Lag comes into play when the backswing changes direction into the downswing and from this point on the clubhead will lag the hands, that is, follow the hands back down plane.

Now when you cock your left wrist it is totally, highly, recommended that the Imperative of the Flat Left Wrist is maintained, in other words, get this right and life gets sweet. Get it wrong and all sorts of body parts need to be co-ordinated on the way back to the ball.

So now we have the left wrist cocked and backswing well in motion, going up the plane loading the bomb. Our Pivot has followed, allowing our hands to arrive at our chosen destination at the top and the bomb is loaded. Have a think about your body's pivot for a moment. The hands travel further than the shoulders (shoulders lagged) and the shoulders move further than the hips (hips lagged). Your body coil is now set to unwind and unleash the bomb.

Stay tuned for part two where we learn to control the aiming and release of the bomb so that the lag can be used to its devastating best.

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