I've posted before on the subject of lag and on various ways that have been cited to acquire it. To review for the uninitiated, the word lag is used in the full golf swing to describe how the club head SHOULD lag or trail the hands into the ball. All professional golfers have this lag to some extent, and it's responsible for powerful, compressed, penetrating shots that are associated--at least in the case of irons and wedges--with divots well ahead of the ball. This should not be confused with lagging long putts close to the hole.
Lag isn't necessarily holding wrist angles, especially in the case of the left wrist (assuming a right-handed golfer). But in TGM circles, lag is strongly associated with feeling Pressure Point #3 (PP3), which is essentially located somewhere along the side of the first-finger base knuckle of the right hand (again, assuming a right-handed player). Pressure in this side area of that first right hand finger is applied--as a pushing force--to the shaft on the downswing along with a dorsiflexed right wrist, straight through impact and beyond. This pushing force is applied by the gradual straightening of the right arm through impact (called Power Accumulator #1 or PA #1 in TGM); the right wrist doesn't really do anything except stay bent back. This is also called lag pressure, and many golfers feel that keeping a "trigger finger" helps them to feel this. Doing so automatically flattens or even bows the lead left wrist and ensures that the hands lead the club head into the ball.
I have found it easier to focus on PP3 and the right wrist position rather than trying to produce a flattened or bowed left wrist, which may be a valid way for others to teach and learn this fundamental. I will not go deeply into the differences discussed in TGM between swingers and hitters in this post, but PP3 is more associated with the hitter style (though it can be felt more passively in the swinger style). There are also other Pressure Points and TGM concepts that I'm not really going to discuss in detail here; all you need to do is Google TGM or buy Homer Kelley's complex book and you'll have an endless supply of advanced golf theory to consume.
|PP1 and PP3|
But there's an equally--if not more--important pressure point associated with the right side or hitting style (PA #1): Pressure Point #1 or PP1. The is where the lifeline of the right hand encloses the left thumb on top of the grip. The left thumb should NOT be visible to you when you apply this pressure point correctly (you should use a "short thumb"). And the kicker is, you should feel downward pressure applied to the base of the left thumb, which means the right hand may be rotated over to the left more than you may think or may have been told, even if you have a strong left hand grip. This helps secure the two hands together, helps prevent the club from moving around in the hands, and helps prevent independent movement. PP1 helps to produce lag pressure felt in PP3. You should feel PP1 through impact, as if the heel of the right hand is pushing the base of the left thumb through the ball (again, use a "short thumb" with your left hand). This pressure flattens or bows the left wrist through impact automatically, keeping the club head behind the hands where it must be. This assumes that your left wrist is kept very relaxed to allow the push force of the right hand heel to flatten or bow the left wrist.
Lag is also known by other synonyms, such forward shaft lean, delofting the club, hitting down on the ball, pinching the ball off the turf, trapping the ball against the turf, etc. Pinching, trapping, and hitting down are descriptions of feel, and many golfers get caught up the verbatim trap of trying to achieve these feels in reality. Forward shaft lean and delofting are the best synonyms of these when attempting to describe reality--what actually occurs when the hands lead the club head into impact.
The opposite of good lag into the ball is a cast or club head throwaway right from the top, followed by a flip at the bottom, where the right wrist flips forward early and the left wrist breaks down and dorsiflexes, the left-hand knuckles rising both skyward and targetward. Even a small amount of cupping through impact has a detrimental effect. This is a classic high-handicap, hacker error that adds loft to the club (e.g., turns a 7-iron into a 9-iron, depending on the degree of flip). In a sense, this mistake has the two wrists in antithetical positions at impact compared with their correct positions; in a flip, the right wrist straightens and the left wrist bends backwards in a conscious or unconscious attempt to lift the ball into the air, causing weak, uncompressed, high shots that don't fly very far and many other potential mishits like fat, thin, and sliced shots.
Since exploring and researching this topic more thoroughly, I wanted to post additional references to material on the internet that I've found helpful, especially since this seems to be a subject that isn't taught much or taught in a manner that's easy to understand. The mop drill demonstrated by many professionals goes a long way towards getting the amateur golfer familiar with the sensation of using PP1 and PP3, but I sometimes wonder if this tidbit isn't kept purposefully vague among golf teaching professionals much the way magicians are sworn never to reveal their secrets; yes, I think this fundamental of golf is that important to improving beyond the hacker stage, at least with respect to feel in the hands and arms.
Another drill that golfers may find helpful is the aiming point drill, where a point ahead of the ball becomes a target for the hands. In other words, the hands must get to that point before the club head, and where that point is will vary by the club length and the player (body type, swing speed, etc). With longer clubs the driver and woods, the aiming point moves closer to the ball or possibly even behind it.
I like Tom Watson's description of using PP3); he likes to keep everything loose on the backswing. But on the transition and downswing, he wants to feel that pressure in PP3 increase dramatically and feel that the right wrist dorsiflexes even more than it was at address. This down-cocks the wrist and produces tremendous lag without creating any tension at address or during the backswing; this creates more of a swinger style with some elements of a hitter style. It should be noted that some teachers want their students to create pressure at PP1 and PP3 right at address and carry that pressure all the way through; in other words, the grip pressure should be constant from address to finish. In this same vein, Mr. Watson also states that that a golfer should hit the ball hard with their right hand at the bottom, provided they start down from the ground up. As Mr. Watson says, "Hit it hard!" Also why Ben Hogan stated he wished he had three right hands!
You should still feel PP1 and PP3 when driving the ball. They key is to keep the ball well forward in your stance with the shaft leaning away from the target slightly at address. Even though we've been told to play the ball more back in the stance to hit a draw, using PP3 for your driver can cause you to hit down on the ball unintentionally, causing pop-ups that go nowhere. Keeping the ball more forward, especially if you don't sway off the ball, allows the club to release. In a sense (just as with the aiming point drill), you're allowing yourself time to let the right wrist straighten a bit more, square up the club face, and hit the ball more on the upswing.
And now, caution. Feeling PP1 and PP3 and pushing against the shaft with that right hand knuckle feels very powerful, but pushing too much with the right arm (without enough lower body's initiating movement) can also send the shaft outside too early, causing an over-the-top move (and thus a pull or slice). The way to counteract this potential error is to keep the butt-end of the club pointing down towards the ball for as long as possible in the downswing, while maintaining the feeling in PP1 and PP3. The end of the handle should first point out to the right of the target line (inside the ball) when coming down from the top, gradually reaching a point where it points towards the target, and then finally pointing behind the golfer's left hip when the fully rotated into the ball. If the end of the club points directly at the golfer during the downswing, that golfer is probably over the top.
Using PP3 can also be thought of as using a "trigger finger." The pressure in the right index finger can also be felt in the crook that wraps around the shaft, especially if that finger is well separated from the others. Using the finger this way increases swing awareness of not only where the clubhead is in relation to the hands (i.e., lagging or releasing) but also where the clubface is pointing at all points in the swing. During the release, the right arm and shaft should form a straight line pointing into the ground, and that trigger finger should be rotated over.
I vacillate between concentrating on PA#4/PP#4 (swinger style of pulling the club through) and PA#1/PP#3 (hitter style described in this post), but I sometimes believe that the swinger style (while still feeling PP#1 and PP#3) is more efficient and passive. For me, I need to make sure that I press that right hand knuckle into the right-side-top of the grip at address, which ironically also seats PP#1 better; then I'm free to swing using PP#4 and can forget about PP#3 and active hitting with the right hand. In other words, a solid connection with the right hand and the club is essential, regardless of the swing style. My tendency is to hold the club with no connection or a loose connection of the right hand pressure points. Now, keep in mind that you can vary the pressure with which you press this right hand knuckle into the shaft; experiment with different pressures--lighter pressures are most likely to yield right-to-left shot shapes, while tighter pressures are better suited for fades. Whatever PA/PP combination used, it's important to keep the end of the club handle pointing down-target for as long as possible to ensure an inside approach. Swingers may very well feel PP#3 but it should be passive and not active as it is for hitters.
How can this be fixed? Well, there needs to be an understanding that the clubhead will always follow whatever the other end of the club does. So, the grip actually should lead or direct the club towards the ball. Once the golf club reaches the "set" position at the top of the backswing (a right angle between the left hand and the shaft of the club) that position should stay the same until the hands and the grip of the club are about even with the golf ball. At that point the hands will begin to unhinge and release down into the golf ball.
PP#1- Right heel pad of hand against left thumb
PP#2- Last three Fingers of left hand
PP#3- Right index finger against shaft
PP#4- Left arm against chest
Golfers use different combinations of these pressure points. A golfer who is referred to as a “swinger” because they’re left side is pulling the golf club primarily use pressure points #2 and #4. Golfers referred to as a “hitter” because they’re right side is pushing the club primarily use pressure points #1 and #3.
The problem most golfers have is that they have no concept of pressure points and lag pressure and they almost inevitably maximize their lag pressure in the startdown. And because you lose lag pressure immediately after you maximize it, the golfer has lost the lag pressure once they arrive to impact. And remember, once you start to lose the lag pressure, you cannot regain it in that swing.
What usually happens when the golfer loses that lag pressure at impact is that their hands stop or slow down greatly in the downswing and they wind up using their wrists (flipping) to move the clubhead towards the golf ball. One of the main things I try to emphasize in the FLW (flat left wrist) at impact is that in order to obtain it, the golfer should avoid trying to actually keep the left wrist flat at impact. Instead, use lag pressure properly and that will get your FLW at impact.
Probably the biggest question I get in regards to TGM is about 'swingers' and 'hitters.' Before I go on explaining the difference between the two styles, I will note that according to physicist Dr. Aaron Zick, who was brought to the latest TGM Teaching Summit, there is no such thing as a 'pure hitter' or a 'pure swinger' on full golf swing shots. Instead, everybody does a little of both.
During the past two years, my thinking has become more refined and I have moved beyond the limitations of TGM thinking, which believes that the swing styles of swinging (drag-loading) and hitting (drive-loading) are mutually exclusive swing styles. I now believe that it is perfectly acceptable to mix swinging elements with hitting elements in the same swing if a golfer can successfully manage to synergistically mix the two elements in a time-coordinated and synergistically synchronous manner.
One of the most overlooked fundamentals of the golf swing is the point of pressure created by the club resting against and across the middle joint of the right-hand forefinger. This pressure point transforms that finger into the "trigger finger," meaning it plays a major role in the loading of the club on the backswing and the lagging of it on the downswing.
Where the grip falls across that finger is where we feel the lag of the club. To use this effectively, lay the handle diagonally across the middle joint of the trigger finger. During the swing, you want to feel the club's weight in that spot the entire time.
You know that the Lag is felt during the downstroke as a steady pressure in the index finger of your right hand (aka Pressure Point #3 (PP#3)). Done properly the hands and the clubhead combine as Clubhead Lag feel that can be directed, or aimed at a target.
Consequently, the Aiming Point is a target on the delivery line where you fire the pressure in your index finger (PP#3) to. The Aiming Point is very rarely at the ball. Therefore you must not consider the ball as your target. Instead, the Aiming Point replaces the ball and becomes your new target.
2. BOTTOM HAND FOREFINGER PRESSURE
HERE’S AN IMPORTANT POINT: Nearly every bad shot in golf results from the shaft coming off the bottom hand forefinger before impact. When this occurs, it’s all but impossible to control the clubhead. As you address the ball, you should feel very little pressure on your bottom hand forefinger. However, as you start your swing, the weight of the club puts pressure onto your forefinger. This pressure must be sustained throughout the downswing, with the forefinger staying in front of the clubhead. To help maintain this pressure through impact, when taking your grip extend the forefinger down the shaft.
3. BENT BOTTOM HAND WRIST
AT IMPACT, THE FORWARD leaning shaft and clubhead exert force into the ball. When the bottom wrist is bent back, pressure is applied to the lead arm and shaft as the clubhead approaches impact. If the clubhead weight passes the hands prematurely, the bottom hand wrist straightens, slowing down the clubhead. To ingrain the correct feeling of the bent bottom hand wrist, sprinkle some grass on your left thumb and take your grip. Make some short pitching-length swings. If the right wrist stays bent, force is sustained during the downswing and the grass will remain in place.
When a ball is struck with "Lag" it explodes off the clubface! Without this "lag" the sound turns into one of mush, a soft Impact instead of a driving Impact.
So we have a Clubhead Lag Pressure Point (Pressure Point #3) which is the Right Forefinger and this is always directing the club to where, the inside back quadrant of the ball.
The right hand “V” will point straight up toward the chin, and the secret is accenting the forefinger position so it looks like a “trigger finger.” Going further, be sure the first joint segment of the finger is pressing into the side of the club in a manner that slightly puts the first knuckle on top of the handle as pictured here. The trigger finger will maintain side pressure on the handle from start all the way to impact.
A trigger finger can help you better engage your golf swing. What’s a trigger finger? John Daly, for instance, as well as several other top players use some separation between their index finger and the rest of their grip as a “trigger” to help sustain proper grip pressure and assist in better hand rotation and in preventing the club from slipping too far into the palms of the hands. Give it a try and see what a trigger finger can do for your feel and overall swing.
If you are holding the club with the last three fingers of your left hand and the middle two fingers of your right hand, and if your left thumb is cradled firmly in that little pocket of your right hand, with the part of the right hand below the thumb keeping a steady pressure, then you've got it.
You may have trouble keeping the pressure on with your right hand below the thumb. But believe me, this is the right way to hold the club. Master it and you are more than halfway home as a golfer.
Power is applied to the left hand, not the club itself, using the base of the right wristbone pressing against the top of the left thumb, to help the left hand move along its arc around the shoulder fulcrum.
When your right palm exerts this slight pressure against the left thumb extending the grip away from your left shoulder, you will not need to have any tension in your left arm to help it remain straight and your left arm will have the same radius around your left shoulder from start up, through your back swing, down swing, and through impact. [This] pressure point has another function as well, it monitors the cocking and uncocking of the right elbow and sends this information to the motor cortex. It only feels this hinging motion and should never add or contribute to the actual cocking or uncocking of the right elbow.
Again, the palm of the right hand presses hard against the thumb of the left.