Our journey back to the ball takes place in a flash, so fast that we only sense what has happened well after the ball has started on its way. We need to pre-program into our golfing computer all the necessary mechanics for the shot, or fall foul to all sorts of conflicting forces as shown in the previous article. We wish to avoid the cast where all the power has been thrown away from the correct plane line back to the ball.
To ensure we arrive at the ball with our hands in front of the ball the clubhead has to arrive later, not faster. The clubhead follows well after the hands. It does not precede them unless we wish to hack. In the previous article we looked at definitions for lag and I liked the slowness description the best, as it gives a better clue to how to keep lag in play. In all cases, the sense of lag that we as golfers must become aware of, is that our hands feel like they are dragging the clubhead behind them, as opposed to throwing the clubhead in front of the hands at the ball. The sequence of Figures 1, 2 and 3 show a towel being dragged behind to give a quick visual of the resultant sensation all the way from the top of the swing.
The initial part of the downswing is preferably a lateral shift of the hips to give room for the right elbow to pass without colliding with the hip. This in itself sets up the last feeling of lag before the shoulder and hands drop down plane with the clubhead left behind and wanting to catch up. Funnily enough, we sense the clubhead lag mostly through our bottom finger on the grip, for most people the right index finger. The club strains against this finger and you only lose that sensation if you have cast really early or thrown the head with a bending left wrist action.
Flat Left Wrist
In our Golf Instruction forum, people frequently ask me why we have to play with a Flat Left Wrist, what makes it so important – and in fact, what is a Flat Left Wrist. Here I show you what it is and why it is critical for lag and the transmission of power. In the sequence of photos above, starting with Figure 4, I illustrate a flat left wrist with a dowel. In Figure 5 a Bent Left Wrist and in Figure 6 an Arched left wrist. Some people call Figure 4 cupped but from here on in it will be known as Bent so that there can never be confusion in terms. Note also that the wrist has no cocking or uncocking in this state, the wrist follows flat down the forearm.
Listen and Learn
In figures 7, 8 and 9 imagine you lift the dowel up in front of yourself maintaining the Flat Left Wrist and then cock it (Figure 7). Now we have created more angle between the shaft and the forearm. Now rapidly drop the arm and allow the dowel to move as fast as you can up and down cocking and uncocking. There will be a lot of whooshing noise. This is what we are after. Now try doing the same, this time using a cocked but Bent Left Wrist and then with an Arched Left Wrist. What do you not hear? The whoosh has left the building. With the Flat Left Wrist in play you will feel both the lag at the end of the dowel and its initial release sensation.
This wrist cock release has to be delivered on plane. To get this to happen just think of yourself as pointing the butt of the club at the ball, or work with the good old flashlight drills before pounding balls to get the hand routed into the right slot. You will notice that the Flat Left Wrist is not pointing down the target line yet even after the wrist hinge has come undone – it is still almost parallel to the flight line and inside it. To maintain our lag into impact, we need to uncock and then roll the left wrist and forearm (clubface) without it (left wrist) bending. If it does, the result is the dreaded flipped head and the ball being scooped and powder-puffed anywhere it feels like.
Rather than writing this as Lag Part 1, 2 and 3, with these thoughts above in mind you may want to re-read the Pitching and Clubface Control articles and consider how the lag is loaded, stored and then released for each of the types of shots within those articles.
Lag is actually your friend. Its sensation is all about turning your body into awareness of feel that mechanics produce, so that you can either produce them time and time again or register a feeling to avoid.
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