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How Your Golf Grip Affects Lag in the Swing
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Published: February 15, 2014
Is Your Golf Grip Costing You Distance?
As you've no doubt seen, my golf students have been picking up some serious distance through my unique driver fittings that combine a golf lesson and fitting through technology to help golfers gain 30+ yards in one session. One of the things that gets attention during these sessions is the golf grip and how it affects that amount of lag the student has in the golf swing as well as the tension level during the transition.
In this video, I discuss some of the key points about the left hand grip and how it affects lag and tension. It is critical to understand how the biomechanics of the wrist joint and the bone structure allow you to create leverage for maximum power with minimal effort.
In the screen capture from the lag video below, you can see how it is impossible to maintain lag with an improper grip due to the makeup of the wrist joint. You simply cannot have the proper amount of lag in the golf swing with an improper grip.
Notice the Massive Change in the Lag Angle
Notice in the next photo that when a proper grip is taken, the angle between the shaft and left forearm increases dramatically, increasing lag and the potential for more clubhead speed.
Commit to these two simple fundamentals presented in this video and you should be able to add at least 5 mph of clubhead speed in one session!
How the Arms Work in the Golf Swing
One of the things that hasn’t been discussed a lot on the RotarySwing golf instruction website is the use of the arms and hands. We have focused more on the use of the big muscles in the golf swing up until this point. But that doesn’t mean the arms and hands do nothing in the golf swing, it’s just that it should feel like they do nothing in the swing, especially if you’re used to solely relying on them to power your golf swing.
But in reality, they have a very important job to do in the golf swing. What we’re going to talk about today in this golf lesson on how to hit 300 yard drives is how to use the arms properly in the golf swing and how the grip effects that amount of lag you can have in your golf swing.
Preview the Lag Viedo
With the Bomb Your Driver golf lesson series, we are trying to learn how to hit the ball as far as humanly possible with as little effort through the use of proper golf swing mechanics. The driver is the only club in your golf bag that does not have a speed limit, so when we pull the driver, we are seeking maximum distance most every time we hit it.
So, let us talk about two key components to the golf swing, the grip and the position at the top of the backswing. These two things dramatically impact your potential for club head speed. First, let us talk about the golf grip.
There is a video on the golf grip (click here) but some golfers do not understand its importance or specific details as to why you need to grip the golf club a certain way.
Typically, when I am giving a golf lesson, changing the grip in a one hour lesson is the last thing I want to do as it takes time to adjust to grip changes, but sometimes it is causing mechanical problems in the golf swing that cannot be overcome and therefore, the grip must be changed. In most cases, expect a grip change to be a one to two week long process. It helps to have a golf club lying around the house and to re-grip it several times a day to get used to the change.
But for this golf instruction video, we are going to focus on why the grip needs to be a specific way to allow you to hit the driver as far as possible.
Let us start with the higher handicap golfers. The most common problem I see is a golf grip that is too weak. What I mean by that is that both hands are rotated too far toward the target on the grip. Another way of thinking about this is that if you look at the line formed by the left thumb and forefinger for a right handed golfer, this line will point more toward the left shoulder in a weaker grip. You can also look at where the thumb rests on the grip, it will often rest to the left side of the center of the grip, often marked by the manufacturer logo.
For a proper golf grip, the left thumb needs to rest just to the right of center. This allows the pad of the left hand to apply leverage to the butt of the golf club and more securely hold the club. This is especially important in the downswing where we need this to maintain lag in the swing.
When you arrive at the point in your swing where the club is parallel to the ground and you have a weak grip, you will have a hard time controlling the golf club. But with the stronger grip, where the pad of the left hand sits on the top of the golf club more, you are in a much more powerful and leveraged position. This allows the golfer the ability maintain the lag angle much longer into the downswing without increasing any muscular effort. It is simply mechanical leverage afforded by the bone structure of the body.
If I get to this same position in the downswing with a weaker grip, I can feel that I have to tighten up my grip in order to maintain this position and control the golf club. That is why a proper grip is so important. In order to hold the club at this position with a weaker grip, I would have to cup my wrist, but this puts the club face in a wide open position. So, unless I cup my wrist with a weak grip, I am going to have to lose lag in the downswing.
Losing Lag? Check Your Grip.
So if you complain that you are losing lag in the downswing, first, check your grip! If your grip is as I demonstrate in this “How to grip the club” video lesson, you should be able to get to the point in your downswing where the club is parallel to the ground and you can hold it easily with your left hand only and maintain the lag angle.
With the weaker grip, not only will you have a hard time doing this because of the lack of leverage, but you will need to begin releasing the lag earlier in an effort to square the club face. Otherwise, with a great lag angle and a weak grip, you would hit a big slice unless you develop some other sort of compensation in your golf swing to account for the weaker golf grip.
You can see that as I roll my hand under to arch my left wrist bone, that helps close the club face. You will need to get into this extremely arched wrist position in order to square the clubface at impact. Clearly, this is an unnecessary compensation.
As a secondary consequence to this, you will lose lag by rolling your wrist like this. Biomechanically, your wrist does not have much ability to cock up and down when it is in this bowed position. You have much greater range of motion with the wrist in neutral or a slightly cupped position.
While you want this flat left wrist at impact, during the downswing it needs to remain more in neutral. As you can see me demonstrating here, with my wrist in a bowed position, I can not create anymore than a 90 degree lag angle. With my golf grip strengthened and my wrist in neutral or slightly cupped, I can dramatically increase my lag angle.
Now, the second piece of this is getting to the top of the backswing in the proper position. This is an area that I have posted on the website where you have seen my golf students pick up 7 or 8 mph of club head speed in just one swing, so pay close attention.
When you get to the top of the backswing, what you want to feel is that your hands and wrists go soft. This is called downcocking and what it does is actually increase your lag during the transition. This is something you see in all the great long hitters on the PGA Tour. Having a proper grip and soft wrists, this motion will happen naturally if you let it.
What most amateur golfers do is, rather than increase the lag angle, they start to throw the club immediately from the top in an effort to build club head speed early in the downswing. This is called casting and it is the exact opposite motion you want in the golf swing! Tension in the hands is one of the main reasons for this golf swing fault, so keeping your grip pressure light is critical.
To practice this, go to the driving range and practice exaggerating this downcocking motion. It does not matter if you miss it on the range, so really over do it a few times while you are practicing. You want to feel that during the transition of the swing, that your hands almost go completely limp so that the right wrist can bend back on itself like I am demonstrating here.
When you soften your grip, you will find that you will increase your lag angle and actually have more club head speed with less effort. So, when you couple this downcocking motion with the proper golf grip, you will increase your club head speed and have an easier time squaring the face at impact.
Checkpoints for Practice
- In a weak grip, the V of left thumb & forefinger points off to the left
- A strong grip, with the thumb over the center line of the club, helps preserve lag
- Hold a club 90° to the ground to feel the difference - it is easy to hold the angle with a strong grip - the meaty part of your hand sits on top of the club
- Allow your hands to go very soft at the top of the swing to allow for downcock, which creates lag
- It may take a few weeks to become comfortable with a new grip, but downcock plus a proper grip will increase your driver distance
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Video Transcription: Golf Grip and Lag
One of the things that we don't talk a lot about in the Rotary Swing is the use of the arms and hands. Obviously we're teaching you to use the bigger muscles in the golf swing and let the arms and hands follow, but that doesn't mean the arms and hands do nothing.
In fact, the opposite is true. It should feel like they're doing nothing, especially if you're accustomed to using your arms and hands a lot to generate power in the golf swing, but in truth they have a very important role to do.
What we're going to talk about today is actually, in this next installment of the Bomb Your Driver series, how the hands and arms can be used properly to generate speed and power. That's what we're really looking for.
With the Bomb Your Driver series, you're trying to hit the ball as far as absolutely possible with the driver. It's the only club in the bag that doesn't have a speed limit. Any time we pull this out it's for a strategy reason: to hit the ball as far as we can.
What we're going to talk about today is the grip and the hands at the top of the swing. These are two critical components that dramatically impact your potential for speed. The first thing we're going to do is simply talk about the grip.
Obviously, there's a video with the grip on the website, but a lot of people don't understand certain pieces of it, or why it's important to work on the grip. In my instruction, that's one of the last things I want to change in a one-hour lesson, because it does take time to get comfortable with the grip. It doesn't feel good right away for anyone.
In most cases, changing the grip is a two or three-week long process before you get comfortable with it, but today I'm going to explain why it's worth it, particularly for hitting the drive far.
When we talk about the grip, one of the most common problems I see for the higher handicap golfers is a grip that's too weak.
What we mean by that is, if you look at the left thumb on the grip, a lot of times it sits to the left of the center line or the left of the logo, and that puts it in a weak position where we have the V formed between the thumb and the finger pointing towards the left side of the head.
In actuality, what we want to do is get that thumb so that it sits on the right side of the center of the club. What this allows us to do is get the meat of this hand, this left palm, in a position where we can use the bones and muscles in the arm for leverage.
Why that's important is primarily in the downswing, so that when we get to the point where the club is about parallel to the ground - for many golfers that's way out here because they've released the club too early - but when we're in this position, if we have a stronger grip where this part of the hand sits on top of the club more, it allows us to keep this 90° angle much longer into the downswing, without any effort.
That's the key here, because if I weaken my grip to get my thumb over just on top of the center line, or just to the left of it, now I feel like I have to put some muscular effort into holding this club at a 90° angle, and you can see it's actually kind of difficult unless I cup my wrist, which is going to put the club face in a wide open position. That's no good.
Unless I cup my wrist, the club is going to sit open, or I'm going to lose lag. For those of you who come down into impact and you complain that you're losing a lot of lag, so you're coming into the ball like this with no lag, check your grip.
Is your left hand in a position where if you get it turned properly you can have a natural slight arch at this point in the swing? The club face is square, and this makes it where I can hold the club here with very little muscular effort.
That's what you're looking for, because unless you want to slow your swing down and try and time getting these hands and forearms tight and trying to time the release here, you want to do it with your hands being very soft.
By just standing here with the club, with my grip in the right position, I can easily hold this 90° angle which is going to allow me to maintain lag coming down into the downswing much later than it would if my hand was in a weak position because in order for me to square the club coming down with that weaker grip, I have to start to roll this left wrist bone under, in order to square the face.
You can see that as I rotate my hand and arch my wrist this way, it shuts the club face coming down. What that's going to do is cause you to lose lag in order to square the club face, because your wrist bone can't bend in that direction very much.
If my wrist is in a position where it's very flat here, I can only have so much lag. Now if I cup my wrist, you can see that I can get a lot of wrist bend here, and I can have a great deal of lag here, simply by putting my wrist in that position. But when you start to arch your wrist forward you start to lose the ability to cock that wrist up and down.
When you do that, you're throwing away lag. That's again the reason why the grip is so important. What you want to feel is that this meaty part of the hand sits on top of it. Just grab a club while you're sitting here watching this video and experiment with it.
See how little effort it takes to get your hand in that position to get this lag, this 90° angle late into the downswing position, versus having your hand in a very weak position. You'll feel right away that it's much easier for you to maintain that lag, and that's what we're looking for to get maximum speed with the driver.
The second piece of this, once we have this proper grip, is getting to the top of the swing. This is one of the things where I've literally had guys, in one swing, pick up seven or eight miles an hour of club head speed, so pay close attention to this because it's something that's super, super important and very, very simple.
When you get to the top of the swing, what you want to feel is that your hands kind of go soft and relax. As they're going back, they're going to do some work to set the club up on plane, to swing back to a proper position.
They have to do some work, but at the top what I see more often than not is guys who have their hands in such a rigid, tight fashion that the club is the first thing that starts the downswing, instead of the lower body and core.
When that happens, they don't get a little bit of drop to increase the lag - we call this downcocking - they actually start to throw the club from the top because their hands are tight, and then they're starting to release early.
They get into this position, where we're flipping it, we're getting into a chicken wing position, etc.
Go out to the range and experiment because the range is the perfect place to miss golf shots. It doesn't matter; there's no consequences. Go to the top of your swing and just focus on trying to feel that your hands just go almost completely limp, just for the first split second of the downswing.
When your hands soften up, you'll find that they'll whip through impact with a lot more speed. Couple this with a proper grip, when you get your hand in this position, just let the club relax. Let it fall. Let your hands be soft, and then release it through and you should pick up a lot of club head speed.
Couple these two things together and you should be hitting the driver farther.