How to Soften Arms to Create a Lag in the Downswing

By M.L. Rose
Tiger Woods' club head lags well behind his hands during the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Tiger Woods' club head lags well behind his hands during the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

It’s important that the club head lags behind your hands on the downswing. This hand position allows the clubhead to compress the ball, according to golf instructor Rob Akins. He recommends that golfers focus on keeping their hands in front of the club head through and past the impact zone. Many golfers use soft arms to achieve lag, letting the arms drop from the top of the downswing rather than gripping the club tightly and powering the arms through the point of impact.

Soft Arms Defined

Long drive champion Monte Scheinblum says he begins his downswing with lower body movement. He shifts his weight forward and rotates his hips, but he keeps his hands soft, which he defines as “allowing the hands to drop with gravity.” Scheinblum says this method of achieving club head lag is beneficial for any golfer, regardless of the player’s swing speed.

Arm Slot

Teaching professional Shawn Clement agrees that the player’s arms should drop to begin the downswing, but he says they must drop into the right position. Clement advises players to focus on dropping their arms in front of the body, while keeping their hands on the proper swing plane. This motion forces the player’s hips to clear naturally. The club will lag behind, but it will follow your hands through the hitting zone.

Hogan's Method

Legendary golfer Ben Hogan produced lag by letting his arms drop passively, according to golf swing analyst Jeff Mann. Hogan simply maintained his arms as a unified structure, with the left arm remaining straight and the right arm bent sharply at the elbow. As Hogan’s hips rotated during the downswing, he did “nothing actively with his hands/arms/club,” Mann says, but let his arms drop naturally to waist level.

Soft Hands

PGA pro Ted Eleftheriou advises golfers to use a soft grip to ensure that the club head lags behind the hands. To get used to a softer grip, Eleftheriou says to grasp a middle iron with less grip pressure than you’d typically employ -- about 3 or 4 on a scale or 10. Address the ball and take a half backswing, with your hands reaching about waist-high. Swing through and hit the ball, then follow through about halfway, while maintaining the loose grip throughout your swing. Notice how the club head whips through the hitting zone, in spite of your loose grip.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • David Cannon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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