A Guide To Perfect Golf Swing Lag

by Steve | Last Updated: 17 December 2020

I’m always looking to ways of improving my golf swing, whether through a change in technique or doing drills.

I am currently looking at lag in the golf swing as something that would improve my game and so I thought I would share the findings of my research and I found some pretty interesting information.

So let’s first kick off by answering, what is golf swing lag?

Golf Swing lag is created by holding the angle between your forearms and your shoulder longer than what feels natural so that you get more speed, accuracy and power in your shots. A perfect golf shot will always have lag in the golf swing, whether you’re specifically aware you did it or not.

There are a range of drills you can do to ensure your golf swing doesn’t early release. Early release is what happens when your shot doesn’t have swing lag. 

I’ll explain a bit more about the mechanics of an early release and swing lag so that you get the full idea, as well as drills you can do at home, or at the driving range to improve your golf swing by perfecting your golf swing lag.

How important is lag in a golf swing?

All professional golfers have swing lag in their shots. Once you know what it looks like and the difference between a golf swing that has swing lag and one that has early release you will be able to spot it as you observe professional golfers and amateurs alike. 

The reason it’s called lag is because your arms are ahead of your club and pass over the ball before your club hits it.

Here’s a really cool video of Tiger Woods taking a shot with a Driver in slow motion which shows very clearly how his arms travel over the ball before the club catches up. 

There are a range of issues that can come up when you early release your golf swing compared to when your shot has swing lag.

Here’s what they are:

  • The club head bottoms out before the golf ball
  • You create more loft on your shot
  • You get poor contact with the ball

1. The club head bottoms out before the golf ball

In an ideal golf swing the head of the club hits the ball when the shaft is at a perfect right angle to the ground.

In a golf swing when you early release the club becomes completely vertical and then begins to tilt backwards.

This leads to poor contact with the ball because the angle is off.

2. You create more loft in your shot

Because the club bottoms out and begins to circle upwards it makes contact with the ball in essence you’re hitting the ball late and the angle of your club is tilted further up.

This makes the ball travel higher, which in turn gives you less power in your shot, and can lead to wasted energy which can tire out your arms.

3. You get poor contact with the ball

The angle of the club and where the ball makes contact with the club face makes the ball not strike exactly in the center and means your shot isn’t as powerful or accurate. 

If you keep everything else in your swing right you’ll naturally early release your shot and hit the ball more towards the top of the club face. Which gives you less power.

Contrast that with if you keep too much lag and begin rounding out your swing too late, you will have a tendency to make too much contact with the ground. Which can slow down your follow through, and reduces how far your shot can go.

So to summarise the tell tale signs that you’ve got an issue with your swing lag are:

  • Really high weak ball flight
  • Fat shot (you hit the ground first)
  • Thin shot (the ball hits the top of the clubface rather than the center)

If this happens to you often then it’s important to develop lag in your golf swing using drills to fine tune your swing. Which is the topic of the next section.

Drills to perfect your golf swing lag

Now, that you understand about the mechanics behind swing lag, there are a range of drills you can do on a regular schedule to improve your golf swing which will dramatically improve your golf game.

They are:

  • The Turn, step, unturn drill
  • The 6 finger drill

These are both provided by Golfchannel.com

Turn, step, unturn drill

This is a drill you can do without a club, and can be done anywhere. It helps to get the feel for the hips leading the shot. Which is a key part of creating the lag in your golf swing that all professional golfers have.

Starting position

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Put your left palm on the front of your right shoulder, and your right palm on the front of your left shoulder. Your forearms should be crossed and resting on top of each other.

Turn

Now turn your body like you would when winding up to take your shot and freeze your upper body in this position.

Step

Now take a step with your front leg in the direction the ball would go. For a right handed person this would be your left leg stepping towards your left side.

Unturn

Now do the motion as you would when you swing your golf club – unturning your body.

You will notice when you do this how your hips and body move differently. And gives you the feeling of a correct golf swing. That way you can remember how it feels, and remind yourself when you’re warming up, or before taking some practice shots at the golf range.

The 6 finger drill

This drill is really easy to do, and you can even take a regular shot this way. But, you can’t swing with as much power because you don’t have as good a grip on your club. And there is a risk you’ll let go of your club by mistake. So, start off slow with this one.

Starting hand position

Begin by holding the club with both hands as you normally would. If you’re right handed your left hand should be at the very end of the club, and your right hand should be directly above it. 

Now, put the little finger of your top hand – your right hand, if you’re right handed – so that it sits on top of the index finger (the finger closest to your thumb) on your other hand. 

Now lift up the pinky finger and ring finger of both hands so that you’re not using them to hold the club.

You should be holding the club with only your thumb, index and middle finger of both hands. Which is technically 4 fingers and 2 thumbs, but it’s called the 6 finger drill, regardless. 

Swinging the club

Now swing your club as you normally would. Because your hands aren’t as stable, you can’t hold the club in a rigid position, which causes the club to lag behind your swing creating the perfect shot.

Once you get the feeling, it will be easy for you to implement this in your normal shot with a full grip.

Conclusion

A golf swing that is technically sound will have what’s called golf swing lag and it’s important to have it to help you hit good golf shots.

This is where the club arrives at the ball after your arms have passed the ball. This puts the head of your club in the perfect position when it strikes the ball. 

Almost everyone who swings a golf club with their natural instincts will have an early release which causes a range of issues such as a thin shot, fat shot, or a shot that is really high and weak.

Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf