I often get asked during my clinics after convincing my audience of the need to Load and Lag the club, “Bobby, just how do I increase Lag?” It helps tremendously to exercise the art of visualization because increasing Lag on the downswing is only possible when one has a clear mental image of having fully Loaded the club on the backswing and visualization of delaying the release of this Load on the downswing.
But first, let me describe what Clubhead Lag is. From a purely descriptive point of view, Lag describes the condition of the clubhead continually trailing the body, arms, and hands, and of course, the club shaft, right up to impact and through The Impact Zone, where we want to apply all of our swing’s power and energy into the ball. So that’s a kind of moving or kinesthetic description of Lag looks like.
We can also measure Lag and further define (and see) it as the size of the angle created between left arm, wrist, and hands and the club shaft. The narrower that angle, the more Lag our swing will have at that point during the motion. Lag also involves the stress or bend we place on the club shaft at the start of the downswing. In fact, this very change of direction from the top of the backswing to the start of the downswing adds more Load in the club than that which we created in it with our wrist cock during the backswing. In other words, very shortly after we start down toward the Impact Zone, we have more stored power in our club than we had when we reached the top of our swing.
When we successfully create Lag in our downswing, we certainly feel that clubhead trailing and retaining its stress or Load. So Lag is both this quality of the clubhead trailing and the quantities of the angle between the left arm and the club shaft and the amount of stress or bend we create in that shaft.
Now that we know what lag is, let’s focus on how to deliver it into the ball. The pivot is the workhorse of our swing, and we’ve already gotten some of the work we need out of it when it completed our backswing for us. Now is when we really need to drive our steed across the finish line. By this I mean that we want the pivoting motion of the downswing to relieve our hands of any tendency they may have to become too active, because only by remaining soft and quiet on the club can our left wrist increase its cocking action (i.e., increase the club’s Lag) all the way through the Impact Zone.
Since we’re building our swing incrementally from the short shots to the long ones that on the full swing, it stands to reason that the hips will work even more authoritatively in the full swing to move our body and club through the Impact Zone. Indeed, the number one key that sustains our Lag from the top of our full swing all the way through the Impact Zone is a sound downswing pivot driven and led by the hips, with the shoulders arms and, finally, the club trailing throughout the motion. We said that Lag describes the condition of the club trailing, and that means something has to be leading. Well, what leads are our hips.