Golf Tips for Creating Lag

By Mike Southern
The motion you make when you swat a fly is the same motion that creates lag in a golf swing
The motion you make when you swat a fly is the same motion that creates lag in a golf swing

With golf courses getting longer and longer--and the pros hitting it over 300 yards on a weekly basis--every player finds himself searching for more distance. The key to distance is creating lag, which simply means that you cock your wrists at the top of your backswing, but they do not uncock until your hands are at waist level or below. There are several things you can do to help create lag in your downswing.

Choice of Grip

The grip you use can affect your ability to create lag. Some teachers believe that an overlap or 10-finger grip is better for creating lag, because these grips allow more wrist flexibility for many players. This does not mean you must change your grip if you use the interlock grip--after all, Jack Nicklaus created plenty of lag while using it--but you should be aware that some grips may work better for you than others.

Forearm Flexibility

No matter what grip you use, you can increase your ability to create lag by increasing the flexibility of your forearms. Gentle exercises will do the job; there is no reason to risk straining your muscles. Performing some daily stretching exercises for your hands, wrists and forearms can increase your range of motion when swinging the club.

Relaxed Grip

Great teachers like the legendary Harvey Penick recommend gripping the club as lightly as you can while still maintaining control. This is not only because relaxed muscles create more wrist cock, but because they can respond more easily to the swinging action. Your wrists can uncock faster with less effort on your part, creating even more clubhead speed at impact.

Change of Direction Timing

Perhaps the biggest influence on your ability to create lag is how you change direction from backswing to downswing. If you start your hands on their way down before your wrists finish cocking, the force of the club shaft will keep your wrists from uncocking too early. Think of this move as if you were swatting a fly; your wrist does not finish cocking until you reach the “top of your backswing” and your arm is ready to start down. Some teachers refer to this change of direction as “feeling the clubhead” because the weight of the club causes your wrists to cock as you change direction, just as the weight of the flyswatter causes your wrist to cock. Your wrists then naturally uncock just in time to hit the ball, the same way your wrist naturally uncocks just before you swat that fly. Think of the ball as a pesky fly… and swat it with your big flyswatter.

Lower Body Action

The downswing is started by the lower body. This is not something you have to try to do; the laws of physics cause it to happen without any help from you. But some players consciously uncock their wrists to start the downswing instead of letting their relaxed wrists just react to their body movements. (This action is called “casting.”) The lower body should start the change of direction, not the wrists; lag will happen naturally.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

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