NAPLES — In watching the pros at the ACE Group Classic at TwinEagles, there is one thing they all seem to have in their swing that the average golfer just does not have. This one thing is called clubhead lag.
We can define clubhead lag as the trailing of the clubhead behind the hands on the downswing. In other words, the wrists are staying cocked on the downswing until the very last millisecond.
Unfortunately, most amateurs are so busy working on their backswings that they never get to working on the downswing. With the golf courses getting longer, almost everyone is looking for a few more yards. The way to get those extra yards is through clubhead lag. Here are some ways to get those extra 20 to 30 yards:
(1) Make sure your hands, arms, and wrists are very soft and tension free at the start of your swing. Excessive tension makes it impossible to lag the club.
(2) Complete your backswing by turning your shoulders a full 90 degrees, cocking your wrists completely, and folding your right arm completely.
(3) Start your downswing by moving your lower body first. Move into your front leg while feeling like you are leaving the clubhead behind.
(4) Cock your wrists even more on the downswing. This is called "Lagging the load." It helps if your right elbow is coming into your right side as the first thing at the start of the downswing.
Most amateurs will lunge their shoulders forward from the top of the swing. This will release the clubhead early and you will lose the lag.
Lagging the clubhead is not any different from swinging a baseball bat. There is movement forward toward the pitcher on the forward swing while the bat is still going back. This force of inertia or resistance of the clubhead to a change in a state of motion that occurs in the transition between the backswing and downswing creates the lag. In simple terms, the more the lag the greater the distance potential. Unfortunately, most amateurs try to move the clubhead first from the top of the swing. Try moving the handle of the club first and leave the clubhead behind as much as possible. This move creates more clubhead speed and more distance. In my opinion, this was the real secret that Ben Hogan failed to talk about.
To feel the lag, take a long towel and tie a knot at the end of it. Swing the towel and let the knot in the towel hit your back at the top of your backswing. Swing down and let the towel swing naturally. The only way to swing the towel and extend it completely is to lag it. Increasing your lag on the downswing will increase your clubhead speed and add 20 to 30 yards to your drives. If you get out and watch the ACE CLASSIC this weekend watch the pros and how they lag the club on the downswing. They make a difficult movement look easy because they are lagging the clubhead.
Jim Suttie gives instruction to members and public at TwinEagles Country Club in Naples on Immokalee Road and Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill., in summer. Dr. Suttie was the 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year; is a Golf Digest 50 Best Teachers in America and a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. For instruction, and availability call 800-765-3838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is www.jimsuttie.com, www.facebook.com/jimsuttie; Twitter@docsuttie.