What is lag in the golf swing

Creting lag is the hidden move in the golf swing that all powerful hitters have, turning a seemingly smooth and rhythmic movement into impressive distance.

It all stems from the angle between the shaft and the left forearm in the downswing. The longer your wrists can maintain this angle, the better the lag will be.

Just before impact, you’ll notice that my body has almost rotated back to square. However, the club shaft is still behind me.

As your wrists release this angle in the final ‘hitting’ motion, you create an injection of clubhead speed just when you need it most.

The idea behind this instruction piece is to help you maintain that angle between the club shaft and your left forearm for a little longer in the downswing, so that when you release the club you also release genuine speed, creating vital extra yardage.

Set the angle

When I was junior, I remember having problems creating enough lag. To help, my coach gave me a drill to groove the right motion.

Instead of setting the angle in the wrists in the backswing, and trying to maintain it until the final second before impact, he got me to point the clubhead straight up at the sky at the top of the backswing – without any angle in my wrists.

From here, the only way to hit the ball with any force at all is to create that angle, that lag, in the downswing.

Try this move yourself – you don’t have to hit a ball, just feel that you’re setting the angle in your wrists on the downswing. It’s a great way to develop a feel for how lag works.


If you’ve seen the swing sequence pictures of the world’s best players in this magazine, you’ll have noticed how the shaft bends around the player’s body halfway through the downswing.

As the angle in the wrists is released, this flex or whip generates clubhead speed. A common problem for amateurs is casting.

This is where you let the angle in the wrists go too soon – usually at the top of the backswing. The shaft ‘kicks’ at the wrong moment, releasing the power that was previously stored by your wrist angle.

Try swinging an alignment stick and listen out for the ‘swoosh’ – it should come after the impact area and never before it!

Leave the club behind

As I’ve already mentioned, the feeling that you want to create is one of leaving the club behind you during the downswing.

Here’s a good drill that illustrates exactly what I mean. Take a narrow stance and set the ball just inside your left heel.

Swing to the top as normal and then, as you start down, let your left foot step towards the target, as shown below.

This will get your weight shifting towards the target, leaving your hands and the club shaft behind you for that powerful release closer to impact.

Read more golf swing tips

Separate the hands

If you’re still having trouble maintaining the angle between your left forearm and the club shaft on the way down, make some split-handed swings.

Place your left hand on the club as normal, but move your right halfway down the shaft. As you start the downswing, keep your right elbow close to your side.

Repeat this move a number of times. This demonstrates what the right angle is, and how you can maintain it.

When you come to making a real swing, try to retain this feeling and you’ll create a more powerful move.