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Try this hands-on (and thumbs-off!) drill to get a real sense of the way encouraging ‘lag’ in your swing unlocks your potential for generating clubhead speed.

Nick Bradley


If you could distil the ingredients of great ball striking with an iron in your hand it would probably come down to two elements; lag and speed. You see, lag has the ability to produce a great angle of attack with an iron, complimented by the added bonus of increased clubhead speed. Hands up who doesn’t want to hit it better and hit it farther?

Lag is often a mystical concept in golf – many golfers have tried to create ‘lag’ or a ‘late hit’ position only to find themselves even slower through the ball than before. Lag is not a static position, in fact it’s probably the least static and slow position we can have during the swing due to its dynamic forces. The moment you try to replace ‘motion’ with ‘position’ you generally kill speed! Lag is nothing more than the increasing of the club’s swingweight through angular momentum. That sounds like a mouthful but essentially all this means is the wrists cock or flex a little more during the downswing due to the pulling weight of the club. All we do to lag the club is to allow this sense of ‘heaviness’ to happen through the pliability of the wrists – yes they must feel soft and receptive to a dynamic change of direction in which the club feels really heavy.

Heighten the sense in your fingers

This drill is going to give you that sense of weight, change of direction and speed.

The way to get this message through is to first take your regular grip; you are then going to lift both thumb pads off of the grip just as you see in this close-up picture. As you do this you will immediately gain a sense of the handle of the club increasing its weight into the fingers (which is why you should grip the handle there – i.e. low in the fingers – to begin with!). Take the time to get used to this dense heaviness, a feeling I doubt you would ever of had if you have been guilty of casting the club. Let the grip end bounce a little in your fingers as if somebody had asked you, ‘How much do you think that weighs?’ Only now will you begin to create the right feelings.

Thumbs off in motion – and repeat

The trick to this is plenty of practice swings and rehearsals! Start to make a backswing but keep the thumb pads off of the grip handle until you reach the top of your swing and initiate the change of direction. When you sense your downswing has started let the handle of the club drop back onto the thumb pads; as this happens time and time again you will start to pick up on the rhythm and the physiology needed to create lag.

Return to your set-up position, with a regular grip, and then rehearse your first move to this point, again lifting both thumbs up off the shaft as your hands reach waist high. Bounce the club a few times, then repeat

Keep the thumbs up off the shaft until you change direction and feel the club drop as lag is created

Lose control to gain control...

What do I mean by physiology? Any golfer I have ever seen in my 20-year career that has created little in the way of lag always demonstrated a tightness in the hands that severely altered the bodies ability to create lag and this extra angle into the ball. The most common example can be found with lady golfers who grip the club tightly to support its weight and motion but in doing so kill the swings ability to create leverage. The paradox is that if you want lag, speed and distance you have to ‘let go’ of control (CEO’s and CFO’s take note!) and give the club a little life of its own; let it bounce a little and have some motion! So, I want you doing this time and time again: ‘thumbs off…thumbs on’….. ’thumbs off….thumbs on’.

When you feel you have that down just clip a few half shots away trying to replicate that same softness the hands during the drill. you will be amazed at the pop the ball seems to now as it leaves the face. So, whenever there’s a lack of fizz from the ball and your strike pattern has become a little ‘uncompressed’ go back to ‘thumbs off, thumbs on’. In a short time you will enjoy that terrific feeling of natural lag in your swing and can focus on firing your iron shots start at your target.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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