So you are on that long par 5 and you want to hit your best drive of the day. You want to create power and distance and this drill will help you achieve this by creating more lag on the downswing.
Lag is the angle between the right forearm and the golf club shaft angle. This is mainly created by the angle of the right wrist on the downswing. In creating more lag, we will be able to create more power and distance so that next time you are on that golf course and you are on the longest hole, you can hit your furthest drive.
Problem - A lack of distance off the tee with the driver, as a result of an early release of the wrist hinge before impacting the golf ball. This causes the maximum club head speed to be applied before impact, then results in a lack of club head speed at the crucial moment of impact.
Fix - A great drill to learn how to hold more lag in the wrist angle on the way down is the split grip drill. Take hold of a mid iron and take hold of the club as normal. Split the hands so that the top hand is still on top, however move the bottom hand all the way down to the bottom of the grip so that there is a space between the hands. Now this will feel weird at first as you will feel disconnected to the golf club. Practice your swing and notice how you hold your wrist angle on the way down, therefore creating more angle between the forearm and the golf club's shaft angle. Move on to hitting gentle shots still with the split grip drill. You may find this difficult at first so take small steps and only do half swings. Build the swing up until you are hitting at full power. Concentrate on holding the angle of the wrist on the way down for as long as possible. If you hold the angle until impact you will start to create more power and more distance. You can practice this drill with the driver too, however do rehearse the drill with the irons first.
Once you feel comfortable with holding the wrist angle, move back to your normal grip and work on holding the lag angle on the way down to create more power and distance.
Top tip - Practice this drill with a mid iron first then move onto a longer club once you have perfected the drill.
How to Create Lag with the Golf Driver
You could walk up and down the driving range at your local golf course all day long and never find a player who wouldn't sign up for more distance with their driver. Hitting the ball farther is something that is always on the mind of every player – both amateur and professional. Assuming you can control the flight of your ball in the air, longer distance will lead to shorter approach shots, and hopefully lower scores. Unlocking the power that is hidden away within your swing is one of the most important things you can do in your journey to becoming a better overall player.
Of course, it is easy to say that you want to hit the ball farther off of the tee. Actually doing it? That is another story altogether. In order to get the additional distance that you are looking for, you will need to improve your swing in a way that doesn't take away from other things that you are already doing well. For example, many players search for extra yards by making their backswings longer, but that will likely lead to a loss in balance. Alternatively, some other players will make adjustments to their grip in order to move the club faster through the hitting area. This type of change may help you find a few extra yards, but it will also change the way you feel the position of the club face at impact. You need to be very careful when choosing how to look for extra yards as you don't want to take a step forward only to take two steps back.
The best way to work on adding distance to your drives is by focusing on the lag of the club in the downswing. Lag is at the heart of all powerful golf shots, so understanding and applying this key fundamental is vital to your success. Anytime you see a pro golfer on Tour launch a 300+ yard drive down the middle of the fairway, you can be sure they lagged the club beautifully into impact. The concept of lag is something that is foreign to a large number of amateur golfers, which explains why most players hit the ball rather short off of the tee. You don't need to have incredible flexibility or big muscles to hit long drives – if you can lag the club correctly, you can generate plenty of speed with the driver.
One of the nice things about working on lag in your swing is that you shouldn't have to change much about your overall swing technique in order to start lagging the club properly. You may have to make one or two minor tweaks to the rest of your swing in order to maximize the efficiency of your lag, but your swing can remain largely the same as it is today. This makes the transition easier, and it means that you should be able to start hitting quality drives after just a couple of short practice sessions.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
What is Lag?
It stands to reason that you need to accurately understand what lag is before you can work on putting it into your swing. In reality, your swing already has some degree of lag – you are just going to work on increasing it in order to gain speed in your swing. Distance is all about swing speed, so if you can move the club faster through the hitting area, you will hit the ball farther. Remember, swing speed only matters at the bottom of the swing, so you can take your time to build speed throughout the swinging motion. It does you no good to swing fast at the top if your club is slowing down by the time it reaches the ball.
Lag is defined in golf as the distance between your hands and the club head during the downswing. In a swing that has great lag, the hands will arrive over the top of the ball while the club head is still 'lagging' well behind. Once the hands get down to the ball, that lag will be released and the club head will accelerate rapidly into impact. When done correctly, the effect is like that of a whip. When you are swinging a driver, the shaft of the club should be bent slightly during the lag phase as you drive down powerfully toward the ball. In the final moments prior to impact, your lag will be released as the club shaft straightens back out, and the ball will be launched into the air. This dynamic action all happens very quickly, as it takes just a fraction of a second for the club to be lagged and then unloaded properly. Since everything happens so fast, you can't really see it taking place as you are making the swing – the only real way to watch your lag is to record your swing on video and watch it back in slow motion.
If you do take the time to record your swing on video in order to learn more about your technique, try taking the video from a 'face on' perspective. That means that the person holding the recording device should be standing in a place where you would be looking right at them if you looked up from your address position. If you are hitting actual shots while they record your swing, you obviously need to make sure they are standing a safe distance away in case of an errant shot. Once you watch the video back for yourself, try to pause the recording just as your hands are coming down in front of your torso. At this point, where is the club? If the club is making a 90* (or so) angle with your left arm, you are lagging the club nicely. However, if the angle between the shaft of the club and your left arm is something less than 90*, you may be losing potential power by failing the lag the club properly.
For many golfers, the act of lagging the club head behind the hands feels unnatural. It feels like the club should be the first thing that moves down toward the ball, rather than the last. Because of this uncomfortable sensation, a large number of amateur players force the club down to the ball prematurely, wasting any potential power they had built up in the backswing. If you are making a nice full turn on top of a balance lower body in your backswing, you will want to take full advantage of that turn by holding your lag for as long as possible. It might take some practice to make this move feel natural and comfortable to you, but investing the time in that kind of practice is exactly what you need to do in order to find more distance.
The good news when it comes to working on lag is that this lesson will apply with every club that you use around the course. All of your full swings should include a good amount of lag, from your sand wedge all the way up to your driver. While this article is focused on using lag to build power while swinging the driver, rest assured that any improvement in lag that you are able to make will translate nicely to the shots you hit with your irons and fairway woods. Adding lag will make you a longer hitter of the ball, no matter which club happens to be in your hands.
The Basics of Creating Lag
Now that you know what lag is, you need to understand clearly how you should go about creating it in your own swing. As mentioned earlier, you shouldn't have to dramatically change the way you swing the club in order to develop plenty of lag in your downswing. As long as your swing is currently in decent shape from a mechanical perspective, you should only need to tweak a couple of things to get started improving your lag with the driver (and other clubs). Of course, if you have other major technical flaws in your swing, those should be addressed first before you spend too much time working on your lag.
In order to lag the club nicely in the downswing, work on the following three points –
- Relaxed grip pressure. This is one of the key 'ingredients' to achieve a large lag in your downswing. When your grip is relaxed, the club will be free to hang back while your arms swing down toward the ball. Most golfers hold the club far too tightly, which restricts the movement of the club and demands that it keeps up with the hands and arms on the way down. Specifically, it is the grip pressure in your right hand that can go a long way toward damaging your swing. Make sure your right hand remains relaxed throughout the swing and you will find it easier to lag the club. If your left hand needs to be tight on the grip for you to feel in control of the club, that's okay – as long as your right hand is relaxed.
- Pull down with your left hand. Once the backswing has been completed, you should feel like you are pulling the butt end of the club down toward impact with the back of your left hand. In fact, thinking about pointing the butt of the club toward the ball for as long as possible in the downswing is a good mental picture to use. As long as you are moving the butt end of the club toward the ball, you will know that you haven't lost your lag. Obviously, you will have to release that angle at some point in order to actually hit the ball, but you want to delay that release for as long as possible in order to maximize your swing speed.
- Leg drive. In order to get the maximum effect from your lag, you need to be moving your lower body aggressively through the shot on the way down. As soon as the backswing turns into a downswing, you should be rotating your lower body hard toward the target. This is the point of the swing when you should be holding nothing back – you should be turning as quickly as you can while remaining on balance. As your lower body turns toward the target, your upper body should simply be coming along for the ride. The rotation of your legs will carry over into your torso and out into your arms, and the club will whip through the hitting area as a result. As long as you don't interfere with this process by forcing the club to release early, you should be able to use a great leg drive to carry your lag all the way down into the ball.
As you can see, none of these three points are particularly complicated or even that difficult to execute within the swing. However, very few amateur golfers hit on all three of these points correctly swing after swing. Take a look at the current state of your swing and decide how you are going on each of these techniques. Most likely, you are doing well on one or two of them, but not all three. During your upcoming practice sessions, work on each of these points individually until you can consistently incorporate all of them into your swinging action. With all these of these tips in place, you should find that you are lagging the club better than ever before – and you should be hitting the ball farther as a result.
The Right Mindset
Believe it or not, your mindset prior to making a swing has a lot to do with how successfully you will lag the club. When you stand over the ball, you need to be in the right frame of mind to execute a good swing. If you are not focused on the right things prior to starting the swing, you will lose track of your mechanics and your overall swing quality will be diminished.
The first key to your mindset prior to hitting a drive is that you are relaxed and confident. A player who is stressed out about the shot that they are about to hit is likely to rush through the swing – and it is nearly impossible to lag the club correctly when you rush through your motion. Pressure does many bad things to your swing, but the damage that it does to your tempo is probably the costliest. If you are going to make consistent swings with plenty of lag, you have to be in a relaxed and peaceful frame of mind. Even if there are hazards surrounding the fairway, or if you are at a particularly important point in your match, you still need to keep your mental approach under control. By staying calm, you will make it far more likely that you can execute your swing mechanics flawlessly.
Another important aspect to your mindset is the ability to focus on one single swing element. Most golfers use one swing thought to get them through each shot, and you should try the same approach. So, for example, you could decide that your swing thought with the driver will be focused on completing your backswing. As you stand over the ball, the only thought in your head is 'make a full backswing'. This mental technique allows you to do two things. First, it will help you to perform well in an area of the swing that may give you trouble otherwise. Figure out which part of the swing gives you the most trouble on the range, and then make sure your swing thought relates back to that issue. This is a great way to keep track of your weakness so that it doesn't hurt you on the course.
The other way this mental technique will benefit your game is through its ability to distract you from other thoughts. If you are solely focused on completing your backswing (in this example), you won't be so worried about the pressure you are feeling or the hazards that are guarding the fairway. You can almost 'trick' yourself into being confident by forcing everything else out of your head other than the one swing thought you have selected. No only will this mental game trick help you on the tee, it will also help you on the rest of your shots around the course.
So what does all of this have to do with lag? Well, if you have spent time on the driving range learning how to lag the club properly, you want to make sure that lag goes with you onto the course. Unfortunately, if you get distracted by other thoughts and nerves, you may not execute the swing you have practiced to the best of your ability. By thinking clearly and keeping your mind focused in a positive direction, you will give yourself the best chance to execute a great swing with plenty of powerful lag.
Many golfers have successfully added lag to their swings – but many others have failed because they ran into problems early in the process. It is common to hit some early roadblocks when it comes to learning how to lag the club, so you should be aware of some of the frequently seen issues in the quest to add lag. If you run into any of the problems below, use the relevant advice to get yourself on track quickly.
- Hitting a quick hook. Some players, when they first start to focus on lag, will begin to hit quick hooks to the left of the target. When that happens, there is a good chance that your lower body isn't doing its job all the way through the shot. Work on making your legs more active in the downswing – specifically, early in the downswing so that your body can get in position for a proper strike at impact. If you are still hitting a hook after working on your lower body action, consider moving the ball up slightly in your stance to make contact at a better point in the swing arc.
- Hitting the ball fat. When you start to dig the club into the ground before you ever reach the ball, you will need to make an adjustment as soon as possible. Most likely, that adjustment should be to flatten out the shape of your backswing slightly. A steep backswing combined with a large amount of lag can lead to fat shots, so work on turning the club around your body a little more in the backswing. With your left arm going across your chest at the top of the swing – instead of having it pointing up to the sky – you should be in a better position to swing down aggressively without hitting the ball fat.
- Pushing the ball to the right. If you are making good swings and making good contact, only to see the ball sailing to the right of your target, you might be dealing with an equipment issue. As your swing speed increases due to the added lag, you may need to pick up a stiffer shaft to keep up with your new and improved swing. A soft shaft will fall too far behind in the downswing, and your club face will be wide open at impact as a result. Test out a stiffer driver shaft to correct this problem.
Lag is one of the most powerful forces in the game of golf, yet very few players truly understand what it does and how it is achieved. Now that you have a clearer picture of the importance of lag in your downswing, you can get to work on adding those valuable yards to the end of your drives. With extra lag and sound swing fundamentals, lower scores should be just around the corner.