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Lag, lean and low point



In my previous article, I showed how different impact positions produce different ball flights and distances at a given speed because of dynamic loft. The reader feedback split the board, achieving both a ton of likes and shanks.There’s nothing like a bit of controversy to make people think!

impact comb

The message was not that lag and shaft lean are necessarily bad things; it was to create awareness that:

  • Launch angle plays a massive role in carry distance, especially at slower speeds. If you have a ton of shaft lean at impact with a slower swing speed (and a lot of people are trying to do this), you will hit the ball too low and will limit your carry distance.
  • Most golfers recognize that a very low trajectory is not optimal, so their subconscious mind will severely resist creating the “lag n’ lean” position they think they need. That’s why so many golfers struggle to add lag to their swing; their subconscious mind hates the associated flight!
  • It is possible to lag the club a lot and then get rid of the lag to arrive at impact with less forward shaft lean at impact. If you are going to create a lot of lag, however, you better have the ability to create the work (forces and torques) necessary to un-lag it enough to create your desired impact position (Finney, 2015).

Our Choices

From the above, we basically have a couple of choices. Either we create more lag n’ lean and deal with the lower trajectory (an option for higher speed players), or we learn to swing with slightly less shaft lean (an option for slower speed players).

One of the predominant arguments I saw in the comments section of my previous article was that you need tons of forward lean to strike the ball correctly. That’s not true, because having forward lean alone does not create a perfect strike. Golfers can still dump the club head a foot behind the ball with a ton of shaft lean, and there are a whole host of other variables contributing to strike quality. Also, there are ways of making minimal forward shaft lean work.

Swing Circle/Ellipse

The trajectory of our club head throughout the swing is circular, or elliptical in nature.

circEvery circle will have a lowest point to it, and we call it the “low point.” The lowest point of the swing arc can vary in terms of:

  1. Height: How deep or shallow it is into the ground.
  2. Position: How forward or back it is from the ball.
  3. Distance: How close or far it is from a golfer’s feet.

Let’s look at height and position.

Lag N’ Lean

With a lag and lean approach, the lowest point of the swing arc will typically be much farther forward of the ball position (more target side). This will also require the low point to be deeper into the ground in order to strike the ground in the right place (see the image below).

lag and lean

With this type of strike, the angle of attack will tend to be steeper, and the club face will tend to be more open to the path. That’s why severely closed-face players such as David Duval, Tommy Gainey and Dustin Johnson all have so much shaft lean at impact. It is their way of creating a more open face angle, as well as the desired trajectories for their swing speeds.

For these types of players, dynamic loft will also tend to be lower at impact, lowering their trajectory.

Less Lean

The other option is to have less forward shaft lean at impact, which results in more dynamic loft and a higher trajectory. For slower speed players, this can increase carry distance and stopping power dramatically. It can also help to close the face more at impact, which can help golfers who struggle with blocks and slices.

With less lean in the swing, the low point will be farther back and more level with the ball. As a result, the low point will need to be closer to the surface of the ground in order to make sure the ground is struck in a functional place, as seen below.


So we see that there is a relationship between the position of the low point of the swing and the depth, as well as where the strike with the ground is. We (almost) always desire to strike the ground where the ball is resting, but this can be done in varying ways (as seen). These different ways produce different impact conditions that will launch the ball differently.

“But all the pros lag n’ lean it. Shouldn’t I do that?”

You’re right; most tour players have a lot of lag and shaft lean in their swings. But they also swing their 6 irons at an average of 92 mph — a speed most golfers are no where near. Tour players need more lag n’ lean because they swing at this higher speed. It reduces their spin and launch, and creates a playable trajectory.

Emulating a pro without the ability to create the speed at which a pro swings often results in less-than-optimal trajectory – even if the strike is crisp.


This article is all about connecting the pieces for the individual player. Taking into consideration a player’s ability to do work (the process of de-lagging), their swing speed, their low-point position and their intended trajectory, we can figure out functional variables to achieve optimal performance. A top player will also have the ability to create more lag ‘n lean or to reduce it, depending on the shot and scenario they’re facing.

I am not recommending that any golfer get into a position where the club is leaning backwards at impact, as a low point that is behind the ball is non-functional in most cases (apart from shots that are teed up). But most golfers will probably do better if they stop their effort to create more lag, or at least stop thinking about it as the be-all, end-all of a good swing. Instead, focus on hitting the ball with a crisp strike and a playable trajectory!

Have more questions? Leave them below. And stay tuned! Next week, I will be discussing another topic relating to low point.

Editor’s Note: Adam discusses these principles and much more in his book, “The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers,” which is available on Amazon.

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Adam is a golf coach and author of the bestselling book, "The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers." He currently teaches at Twin Lakes in Santa Barbara, California. Adam has spent many years researching motor learning theory, technique, psychology and skill acquisition. He aims to combine this knowledge he has acquired in order to improve the way golf is learned and potential is achieved. Adam's website is Visit his website for more information on how to take your game to the next level with the latest research.



  1. geohogan

    Jul 29, 2020 at 11:03 am

    The most swing speed will be because of lag.
    To maximize clubhead speed and launch angle(due to COR)
    there must be lag… as long as clubhead is sweeping the
    inside quadrant of the ball…NOT hitting the back of the ball, as intent.

  2. Will

    Jun 21, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Picking the right (correct flex for your swing speed) flex shaft makes “lag” happen too.

    Its that fine line between feeling like you are overpowering the shaft to dead solid impact.

    Shaft flex doing the lag work assumes you are swinging correctly in the first place.

  3. Jeff*

    Jun 7, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    If you swing the club fast, this article should read, how to hit it higher and land it softer.

  4. stephenf

    Jun 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Just one minor point: Many players think of the swing as having a significant elliptical shape to it because they’re used to looking at swing sequences or video face-on from a camera set at the player’s head height or lower. Manuel de la Torre has correctly identified the swing as being much nearer a real circle than that, a truth that gets distorted because people aren’t looking at the shape of the motion made by the clubhead and hands from perpendicular to the approximate plane of the swing (it would require a camera a few feet above the player’s head, which has been done before).

    Having said that, though, you’re making really good points. Every player has an optimal carry-lift-and-speed equation for each club, and players who have lower speeds can’t benefit from some of the things higher-speed players do.

  5. Pete

    Jun 2, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Adam – You have missed the point about acceleration, lag and forward shaft lean given by another person. Forget about whether a clubhead striking a golf ball while it is accelerating, or coasting, or decelerating at the same speed produces the same distance. Without an ACCELERATING clubhead at impact you cannot have all the things that make a good golf swing – LAG, compression of golf ball, stable clubhead, maximum clubhead speed, passive hands ahead with forward shaft lean, descending AoA, slight delofting, balance, effortless power, etc.

    Lag is probably the most misunderstood thing in the golf swing. People think that holding the wrist cock or angle between the left forearm and clubshaft is lag. It isn’t. Lag is physics, not geometry. The principle of lag is that it keeps the club in a CONSTANT state of steady ‘acceleration’. Inertia is the resistance to motion or change. When you start the hands down the club is going to have resistance to this change of direction and motion. This is the start of lag. This start down should start casually because the golfer’s task is to keep the club in a constant state of ever-increasing acceleration through impact. To sustain this all-important lag you have to ‘accelerate’ the club against this resistance all the way through impact. It should feel as if you are accelerating the club against it’s own weight. By sustaining the lag through impact you are keeping the club in a CONSTANT STATE OF EVER-INCREASING ACCELERATION that will give the most resistance to impact deceleration caused by the clubhead hitting the ball.
    Ideally you want to sustain the lag well past impact. Properly done it should feel as if your release happens after impact. The release is the period of clubhead acceleration and what you feel as the release is actually the club settling into a state of deceleration. Over-acceleration is the nemesis of lag, which is deceleration. Acceleration against the club (LAG) should be slow and heavy, a steady-as-she-goes motion, a constant nursing of feel. If the hands reach peak speed before impact you have over-accelerated and since we’re dealing with an angular system the clubhead will over take the hands and you’ll find yourself chasing the club through impact. This is referred to as clubhead throwaway.
    Acceleration of the club’s handle (via the hands) is what passively allows the hands to lead the lagging clubhead. The greater the acceleration (ever increasing speed) the golfer is able to achieve the greater the lag, and depending on the golfer’s grip the greater the forward shaft lean. The problem that amateurs face is applying too much acceleration (over-acceleration) early in the downswing. The amateur starts out with too much acceleration and cannot keep it up through impact. When this over-acceleration happens it causes deceleration (no longer accelerating) to immediately take place and all his lag is lost and the clubhead speed immediately drops drastically – and the heavier clubhead passes his hands and there cannot be any forward shaft lean at all.

    • Joel

      Jun 4, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Very interesting read. Excellent, helpful information. Easy to do once I understood what needed to be done, and why it needs to be done. I was able to do it right and confirm it within 10 minutes with my own swing on the range. Amazing results, and so easy to do. Wish I had known this years ago!

  6. Brandon

    Jun 1, 2015 at 10:51 am


    Keep writing. You are right and a TON of lag is not always a good thing. People are misunderstanding that lag is a result or an effect not a cause. As you pointed out, Dustin Johnson essentially has a lower ball flight compared to Watson and Holmes who are considered high ball hitters. DJ has a very strong angle at impact whereas the amount of lag that Holmes and Watson have is closer to vertical. Ball position plays an important role as well. DJ, I would say, is descending with driver whereas Watson will catch more drives with an ascending blow.

    I would like to see you write more about how the arc is more elliptical than a perfect circle.

    Good article

  7. Terry

    May 31, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    You want the greatest amount of lag pressure that you are able to sustain throughout the downswing and past impact, which means you want to have a steady and even buildup of acceleration that naturally has the hands ahead of the lagging clubhead. Do not over-accelerate at any time in the downswing because you will lose the lag and will never be able to get it back in that swing. A steady and even acceleration is all that is needed to create and sustain ample lag that naturally keeps the passive right wrist bent back.

  8. Zach

    May 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Sustaining a cupped hinge angle in the right wrist throughout the downswing and beyond impact will provide both forward shaft lean and lag, both proponents necessary for a good golf swing regardless of the golfer’s swing speed.

    • Danny

      May 29, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Zach, Watching the video and reading what you said makes a whole lot more sense. I see what you are talking about in the video and it is easily confirmed by watching the swings of any tour professional. Shaft lean is required for all swings … it makes no difference what the speed of the swing is.

      • Adam Young

        Jun 1, 2015 at 4:00 pm

        Yes, shaft lean is required for all swings. The amount of shaft lean is dependent upon shot type, lie, desired trajectory, club speed etc.

        Good players will be able to do both of the above, and everything in between.

  9. Mitch

    May 28, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    With all these high speed cameras and still images of great ball strikers, the general public have this idea that they should create all this massive lag like the touring pro, when in reality great ball strikers create lag by athletically transferring their weight, rotating and releasing the stored up energy towards their target, and not by holding any angles. For myself, i was so focused on creating lag that it completely hurt my game for the first 10 years. After subtle changes, without any significant practice, I went from a high handicapper to beating guys in single digits – straight up on various occasions. My swing is far from anything that is worthy of a single digit index, but I can play functional shots and if the putter is hot, it’s anyone game.

    Unless you have the resources, time and god given talent the pro’s possess, the average golfer should focus on the basics; Grip, Posture, Alignment and most importantly general knowledge of how to focus on your target – which is NOT the ball. Understanding and Learning to skip a rock, throw a Frisbee or throwing side arm that will do you more good then trying to decide how down you should hit on a ball.

    Also the conditions these guys play dictate how much divot they take out. Watching Freddie Couples playing at an event up north, he barely disturbed the grass. For myself I take very shallow divots but on a recent trip, I had the good fortune of playing Siam Old Golf course, 1 month prior to the Honda LPGA. The course was pristine, no carts allowed on the course and the caddies fixed all your divots. Every iron shot I took beautiful pelts of grass that flew in the air like it was on TV. It literally felt like a perfectly tee-up ball, the ground was firm but yet when the club made contact with the turf it would cut right thru like butter. Point is I know wasn’t doing anything different, yet my divots were totally different from what I would normally create.

  10. bigdriver

    May 28, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Chicken or the egg? If you don’t have club speed…you can’t compress the ball and will hit too low. But, if you don’t lag the club properly…you are losing a TON of easy club speed!

    Is there anyone at a professional level that does not lag the iron and compress the ball with forward shaft lean? PGA, LPGA,…Champions Tour? Not everyone at these levels of professional golf swings a 6i at 92mph, but 99% of them still compress the ball with forward shaft lean.

  11. ChrisO

    May 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Adam, Can you explain why some tour pros pick the ball and have at most only bacon strip divots while other tour pros are diggers and have very deep low points, yet both categories have identical significant shaft lean and hit the ball the same height and distances with the same clubhead speed? Can you also explain why some tour pros release their cupped bent-back (dorsiflexion) right wrist at or even prior to ball contact while other tour pros maintain/retain/sustain their right wrist dorsiflexion angle well past ball separation? Maybe the answer to these questions will help provide the reasons tour pros have different low points and lag n’ lean requirements. Could the answer be due to their swing method and technique? If so, then your article is seriously (how do I say this kindly) flawed because you state with confidence that; “Either we create more lag n’ lean and deal with the lower trajectory (an option for higher speed players), or we learn to swing with slightly less shaft lean (an option for slower speed players).” Do you know why Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, and many other tour pros, normally hit their ball to a higher apex yet they have tremendous forward shaft lean? Do you know why Matt Kuchar hits the ball low yet he has practically no shaft lean? Will be anxiously awaiting your expert reasoning!

    • Adam Young

      May 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Hi Chriso – very nice comments and awesome questions.

      In response to your first question – “why do some pros pick it with shaft lean and some take divots while having the same shaft lean/speed/distance/height”.
      Well, the trajectory is caused by the impact dynamics (spin loft, dynamic loft, speed,smash etc), but some pros pick because they are able to divert their hand path more violently through the hitting area (moving the hands up and in through impact). This creates a dent in the bottom of the swing circle – or a flat spot. Players with more aggressive body extension and a more upwards and inward hand path can do this more, but it requires a lot of strength too.
      Nevertheless, the lowest point of the swing still needs to be farther forwards and the swing arc needs to be deeper for this to happen. So the info stands – even if the divot is not always as deep.
      Yes, different release methods will need different low point positions and arc heights. I understand this info in depth, but also I wrote this article with a 1000 word limit. I am sure you can understand that as much as I would love to go into the intricate details of impact, it may not be possible in that short a word count.
      RE differing heights with same shaft lean – I am not so sure that Kuchar has minimal shaft lean ( ) but I will try to answer your question anyway. Ultimately, dynamic loft will be largely responsible for launch (with AOA having a small contribution – 25%). Dynamic loft is not only affected by shaft lean, but also by dynamic face plane tilt – so a more open clubface, for example, (relative to the target, all else being the same) would produce more loft and more spin loft too.
      We also have to remember that looking at shaft lean in relation to a FO camera angle is only a small part of the picture. Ideally, shaft lean and low point would be relative to ‘perpendicular to the swing direction’ – so with a swing direction shifted more rightwards, the lowest point of the swing and contact point with the ground also shifts farther back from the ball. This is not mentioning problems with parallax in camera (which is why 3D capture is better.

      However, with all of the above in mind, it still stands that a low point which is farther forwards will require a lower swing arc height and vice versa. And a low point which is farther forwards would also produce more shaft lean (perpendicular to the swing direction) and present a lower dynamic loft (all else being relative). This includes bending modes of clubshafts, swing planes, different AOA etc.

      And these are just the basics. I would love to go into even more depth with you.

      Thanks for your comment.

  12. Trevor

    May 27, 2015 at 11:36 am

    These are the best kinds of articles on GolfWRX. Adam, I appreciate your insight, and I really liked your last article as well. I can personally attest to the fact that less shaft lean doesn’t have to mean less distance or less solid contact. I’ve been working on this for the past year and a half, and my ball striking is better than it’s ever been. It was nice to read an article that validated what I had been working on.

    • Adam Young

      May 29, 2015 at 12:42 am

      Thanks Trevor. As a slower speed player, I can also attest to the fact that I started to strike the ball better, launch it better, achieve better distance etc when I stopped trying to copy The look of some of the longer hitters with lower launch. I’m in between the spectrum naturally, but so is my swing speed

  13. Regis

    May 27, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I realize I’m in the minority here because I long ago switched to graphite in my irons.But different shaft options (weight,tip stiffness) can really influence the use of shaft lean and lag in achieving desired trajectory. Oh and in all candor my swing speed with a 6 iron is significantly less than 97 mph.

  14. cb

    May 26, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Great article Adam. I liked your previous one as well. Quick question, I think I recall reading somewhere awhile back that Rory actually releases the club early in the downswing (compared to others that swing as fast as he does) and thats why his divots are shallow and his irons go crazy high. any truth to this?

    • Me Nunya

      May 26, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      Standing behind Rory on the driving range I noticed he can hit it a little higher than “standard” but he didn’t seem to hit any moonballs while I watched him.
      What he did do was go high, medium, lowish, high, medium, lowish, like that.
      Divots were normal. Most good players take a minimal divot I believe.

  15. juststeve

    May 26, 2015 at 4:20 pm


    Great article like the last one. Not well received by the wrx experts, but that shouldn’t discourage you. You are right.


  16. William Gilbert

    May 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Information should always be helpful in working on one’s swing. It’s up to the individual to take what is offered and decide for themselves what is applicable and what is not. Keep on writing, thanks.

  17. shortgamegod

    May 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    That first picture is taken at the range at La Manga Resort, Spain.
    Ive been playing Ecco Tour satellite pro events there several times. Nice area, but they should really improve on their practice facilities there. Terrible.

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Shortgame god – we have recently upgraded the entire range. We now have an indoor hitting area and two studio bays with Trackman, SAM puttlab, k-vest and an indoor Huxley green. The facilities are actually one of the best in Europe now.

  18. ParHunter

    May 26, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I think this is a good example for Confirmation Bias. If you’ve believed all your golfing life in lag as the BE ALL, then you will never accept something like this, even if there is solid evidence for it.

  19. Tom Stickney

    May 26, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Good stuff Adam…too much lag is just as bad as too little lag at the average player level.

    • Mike

      May 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Too much lag = unrealized energy
      Not enough lag = wasted energy

      I’m a bit biased being a student of Chuck Evans, but the “inline impact” terminology was what stuck in my head when showing the ideal place for the shaft to be at impact.

  20. Jason

    May 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Adam, can you elaborate a little on tying this info in with your article on Apr 27 which stated that where your contact ground was single most determiner of your handicap. I have been working on that drill with the stripe line painted on ground with some success. I have always appeared to lose my ‘lag’ in any video of my swing and always appear to have the shaft almost vertical at impact regardless of how hard I try to create lag. I have struggled with fat contact and fairway bunkers are death! How does the non lagger consistently get contact with ground after the ball? I have a SS of about 80 mph with my 6 iron.

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Jason – contacting the ground in the right place is a combination of hundreds of variables which relate to height of arc and depth – as well as swing direction. Without seeing your swing on video, it would be unwise to offer solutions.

      Are you able to hit the ground farther forwards and back without a ball there? If I asked you to hit in front of the line without a ball could you do it? If I asked you to hit a deeper or a shallower divot could you do it?

      • Jason

        May 27, 2015 at 8:54 am

        Adam, thanks for your comments and for the article. Regarding the questions, tried some of this in backyard without a ball. I can move my impact well forward by pre-setting impact position at address with forward pressing hands and I can intentionally move it back by severely dropping my right shoulder in downswing. What’s weird is that I can hit forward of the line much more consistently (like in your first article) without having a ball there. I am not sure about deeper or shallower divots, I usually hit shallow ones unless I catch it very fat. Thanks again.

        • Adam Young

          May 28, 2015 at 1:56 pm

          Hi Jason
          If you are able to produce the desired divot position without a ball there, maybe the issue is not technical (as you are already seemingly able to produce the desired technique) – perhaps there is another block there. Maybe you need to work out what is happening mentally between having the ball there and not.

          It could still stem from a technical issue – if you manage to get your desired ground contact but you hit the ball with an open face, try finding ways of squaring the face up at the same time as maintaining ground strike.

          Just some thoughts. Hope they help

  21. ca1879

    May 26, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Good clarification Adam. Hard to see what the shankers are still moaning about.

  22. Butch

    May 26, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Very helpful!

  23. Andrew Cooper

    May 26, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Thanks for the article Adam. A quick look at the LPGA v PGA Trackman data on clubhead speeds and launch angles certainly supports what you say.

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      That’s right Andrew – the average tour pro launch angle for a 7 iron is 16 degrees – that’s 2 degrees lower than my most forward shaft leaned shot.

      Fine if your ball speed and spin rate is high, but you would have to be somewhere on the shaft lean/swing speed spectrum to optimize ball flight and strike.

  24. Steve in SLC

    May 26, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Many thanks Adam for your comments, they directly relate to some issues I am experiencing. I’ve always tended to have a lot of left hand forward lean through impact due to being naturally left-handed and playing right-handed, but sadly now I lack the club speed I once had, resulting in an overly low trajectory, even with well struck shots. Worse, as I’ve tried to compensate for lost rotational ability I’ve gotten into the habit of sliding laterally forward through impact in a vain attempt to generate more club head speed. So I’m working on two things. Firstly shifting my weight very slightly forward at address (thank you Martin Chuck) to encourage a stronger ‘posting up’ through impact, and secondly I’m focusing on keeping the club in front of my upper body in the back swing, which counteracts the tendency I have developed to not turn sufficiently going back (caused by tension no doubt).
    Your article affirms my efforts – Many thanks.

  25. Martin Chuck

    May 26, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Very nice article, Adam. Too bad some of the other “professionals” in the blog took some offense to your opinion. Personally, I think you are spot on. But what do I know. I’ve only been teaching 30 years;)

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 1:07 am

      Thanks Martin.

      I love your training aid btw. I use it with my pupils to self-organize the first picture. It’s great when the players have some speed and need more pop in their traj and crisper strikes.

    • Butch Harmon

      May 26, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Martin – You’ve never endorsed one of my articles! I guess I’m just one of those other “professionals” you speak of.

  26. Nick Randall

    May 25, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Thank you for your time taken to write this, really helpful. Nice concise and easy to understand guide to a controversial topic.

    Good work!

  27. Benita

    May 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the insightful articles Adam. Spent some time on Trackman yesterday; the moment I successfully increased my launch angle, added almost 18 yards (mostly carry) to my 7 iron distance. Began session averaging under 120 and ended averaging 135. Sadly, I don’t have the club head speed I did when I was younger and less orthopedically challenged, so it was a big deal using physics to overcome my lack of speed. By the way, it took only 3 attempts sense the difference in the impact alignments and even though I’m not a huge fan of video, we made sure to paint my shaft angle with purple. Gotta love purple! Thanks again.

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 12:01 am

      Lots of people are finding that Benita. If you can manage the height and position of your low point, you can hit lots of different shots and trajectories

  28. Mat

    May 25, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Wow.. way to rip off Bobby Clampett. Did you read the first chapter of his book and then write this? Wow… just wow!!!!

    • Brian

      May 25, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Is he one of the Beverly Hillbillies?

    • Large chris

      May 31, 2015 at 7:33 am

      Bobby Clampett doesn’t cover 5% of these two articles in his entire book

  29. Nolanski

    May 25, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Most posters on here all claim to “drive the ball 310 yards” so I understand all the “shanks” and “flops”. Same people who say “my new driver added 30 yards!” EVERY year…

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 1:08 am

      True Nolanski – some of the members at my club should be hitting it 600 yards now 😉

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 26, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      As the editor, I wanted to chime in about those shanks, flops, OBs, LOLs, etc. The number is very high and consistent across those four categories. To me, that indicates that a very committed group has taken it upon itself to elevate those reaction counts.

      This is highly unusual behavior, and I want to praise Adam for continuing to reply to so many comments in his stories. As he has shown, polarizing feedback should not limit our ability to have great discussions.

      I’m glad to have you writing for us, Adam, and thanks for what you’ve been doing for the readers of GolfWRX.

      • JR

        May 27, 2015 at 2:03 am

        At least Adam is acting professional, which is more than can be said for the so-called gurus who post on the instruction forum

  30. Matt

    May 25, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Well, everything stated in the article is very accurate and factual. I have know many players who have benefitted from this knowledge of how lag functions in the swing and can see how this article could be a lightbulb moment for many golfers if taken correctly and understood.

    • Adam Young

      May 26, 2015 at 12:04 am

      yes Matt – the shanks are by a group of golfers (unnamed) who specifically teach lag and tons of lean, so that is the reason for the shanks and flops.

      Luckily, there hasn’t been a comment against the info with any substance yet which shows that maybe people are going to have to start listening to this info. There are tons of golf pros already doing away with the old ‘tons of lag, tons of lean’ approach and getting great results with students.

      • Stretch

        May 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm

        I think that a strong shaft lean was from the body pivoting ahead of the arms. Flipping can be from the arms swinging ahead of the body pivot. When the body pivot and arms synch up there is maximum dynamic loft with a minimum forward shaft lean. Given proper alignment the student can maximize their power depending which of the three impact positions works for their biomechanics. Your thoughts?

  31. Jeez Utz

    May 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    none of these beat around the bush articles help as long as people have handsy facing rotating late releases

    • JE

      May 25, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      What exactly is a “handsy facing rotating late release”?

      • Brian

        May 25, 2015 at 8:24 pm

        It’s when Gollum is your swing coach and doing a Yoda impression.

      • other paul

        May 25, 2015 at 11:53 pm

        Pretty sure he is talking about when you flip at the bottom for more speed. And don’t use your rotation. That’s my guess what jeez means…

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What to look for in a golf instructor: The difference between transformative and transactional coaching



Golf instruction comes in all different styles, methods, and formats. With that said, you would think this would be a good thing due to there being so many different types of people in the world. However, it is my opinion that the lack of standardization within the industry makes it confusing for the athlete to determine what kind of golf instruction they should seek out.

Before we can discuss what may or may not be the best type of instruction for yourself, first we need to know what our options are. Whether we are taking a “broad-spectrum approach” to learning or a more personalized approach, it is important to understand that there are differences to each, and some approaches are going to take longer than others to reach goals.

Broad-Spectrum Approach

Welcome to the world of digital golf instruction, where tips from the most famous coaches in the world are a click away. The great thing about the internet and social media for a golfer is there has never been more access to the top minds in the field—and tips and drills are plentiful. With that said, with there being so many choices and differing opinions, it can be very easy to become distracted with the latest tip and can lead to a feeling of being lost.

I would describe “internet coaching”—or YouTube and Instagram surfing—as transactional coaching. You agree to pay, either a monthly fee or provide likes or follows and the professional provides very generalized tips about the golf swing. For athletes that are new to golf or golf instruction, this tends to be the first part of their process.

There are people who prefer a more transactional approach, and there are a ton of people having success working together over the internet with their coach. With that said, for someone who is looking for more of a long-term individualized approach, this may not be the best approach. This broad-spectrum approach also tends to be the slowest in terms of development due to there being a lot of trial and error due to the generalized approach and people having different body types.

Individual Transactional Coaching

Most people who are new to golf instruction will normally seek out their local pro for help. Depending on where you live in the country, what your local pro provides will vary greatly. However, due to it being local and convenient, most golfers will accept this to be the standard golf lesson.

What makes this type of instruction transactional is that there tends to be less long-term planning and it is more of a sick patient-doctor relationship. Lessons are taken when needed and there isn’t any benchmarking or periodization being done. There also tends to be less of a relationship between the coach and player in this type of coaching and it is more of a take it or leave it style to the coaching.

For most recreational or club-level players, this type of coaching works well and is widely available. Assuming that the method or philosophies of the coach align with your body type and goals athletes can have great success with this approach. However, due to less of a relationship, this form of coaching can still take quite some time to reach its goals.

Individual Transformative Coaching

Some people are very lucky, and they live close to a transformative coach, and others, less lucky, have had to search and travel to find a coach that could help them reach their goals. Essentially, when you hire a transformative coach, you are being assigned a golf partner.

Transformative coaching begins with a solid rapport that develops into an all-encompassing relationship centered around helping you become your very best. Technology alone doesn’t make a coach transformative, but it can help when it comes to creating periodization of your development. Benchmarks and goals are agreed upon by both parties and both parties share the responsibility for putting in the work.

Due to transformative coaching tending to have larger goals, the development process tends to take some time, however, the process is more about attainment than achievement. While improved performance is the goal, the periods for both performance and development are defined.

Which One is Right for You?

It really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your development. If you are looking for a quick tip and are just out enjoying the weather with your friends, then maybe finding a drill or two on Instagram to add to your practice might be the ticket. If you are looking to really see some improvement and put together a plan for long-term development, then you are going to have to start looking into what is available in your area and beyond.

Some things to consider when selecting a coach

  • Do they use technology?
  • What are their qualifications when it comes to teaching?
  • Do they make you a priority?

As a golf coach who has access to the most state-of-the-art technology in the industry, I am always going to be biased towards a data-driven approach. That doesn’t mean that you should only consider a golf coach with technology, however, I believe that by having data present, you are able to have a better conversation about the facts with less importance placed on personal preference. Technology also tends to be quite expensive in golf, so be prepared if you go looking for a more high-tech coaching experience, as it is going to cost more than the low-tech alternative.

The general assumption is that if the person you are seeking advice from is a better player than you are, then they know more about the golf swing than you do. This is not always the case, while the better player may understand their swing better than you do yours, that does not make them an expert at your golf swing. That is why it is so important that you consider the qualifications of your coach. Where did they train to coach? Do they have success with all of their players? Do their players develop over a period of time? Do their players get injured? All things to consider.

The most important trait to look for in a transformative coach is that they make you a priority. That is the biggest difference between transactional and transformative coaches, they are with you during the good and bad, and always have your best interest top of mind. Bringing in other experts isn’t that uncommon and continuing education is paramount for the transformative coach, as it is their duty to be able to meet and exceed the needs of every athlete.

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The importance of arm structure



How the arms hang at address plays a vital role in the golf swing. Often overlooked, the structure in which we place the arms can dictate one’s swing pattern. As mentioned in the article How Posture influences your swing, if you start in an efficient position, impact is much easier to find making, the golf swing more repeatable and powerful.

To start, I opt to have a player’s trail arm bent and tucked in front of them with angle in the trail wrist. While doing so, the trail shoulder can drop below the lead with a slight bend from the pelvis. This mirrors an efficient impact position.

I always prefer plays to have soft and slightly bent arms. This promotes arm speed in the golf swing. No other sports are played with straight arms, neither should golf.

From this position, it’s easier to get the clubhead traveling first, sequencing the backswing into a dynamic direction of turn.


When a player addresses the ball with straight arms, they will often tilt with their upper body in the backswing. This requires more recovery in the downswing to find their impact position with the body.

A great drill to get the feeling of a soft-bent trail arm is to practice pushing a wall with your trail arm. Start in your golf set-up, placing your trail hand against the wall. You will instinctively start with a bent trail arm.

Practice applying slight pressure to the wall to get the feeling of a pushing motion through impact?. When trying the drill with a straight trail alarm, you will notice the difference between the two? arm structures.

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What is ground force in the golf swing?



There is no doubt about it, the guys and gals on tour have found something in the ground—and that something is power and speed. I’m sure by now you have heard of “ground reaction forces”—and I’m not talking about how you “shift your weight” during the golf swing.

Ground force in the golf swing: Pressure and force are not equal

With respect to ground force in the golf swing, it’s important to understand the difference between pressure and force. Pressure is your perception of how your weight is being balanced by the structure, in this case, the human body. Your body has a center of mass which is located roughly one inch behind the belt buckle for men and about one inch lower in women. When we shift (translate and/or torque) the center of mass, we create a pressure shift as the body has to “rebalance” the mass or body. This pressure shift can help us understand some aspects of the golf swing, but when it comes to producing power, force and torque are where it’s at.

Pressure can only be expressed in relation to the mass or weight of the body. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can only create 150 pounds of pressure at one time. However, when we direct that mass at a larger object than our mass, all of a sudden that larger mass directs an opposite and equal reactionary force. So now, when a human being “pushes” their legs against the ground and “feels” 150 pounds of pressure, they now get 150 pounds of force directed back towards them from the ground, creating a total of 300 pounds of force that allows them to jump off the ground in this scenario.

If ground reaction forces don’t have anything to do with the “weight shift,” then what do they affect? Everything!

Most people use the same basic ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. However, almost everyone has chocolate chip cookies that taste slightly different. Why is that? That is because people are variable and use the ingredients in different amounts and orders. When we create a golf swing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are using the same basic ingredients as everyone else: lateral force, vertical torque, and vertical force. We use these same three forces every time we move in space, and how much and when we use each force changes the outcome quite a bit.

Welcome to the world of 3D!

Understanding how to adjust the sequencing and magnitude of these forces is critical when it comes to truly owning and understand your golf swing. The good news is that most of our adjustments come before the swing and have to do with how we set up to the ball. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time controlling low point due to having too much lateral force in the golf swing (fats and thins), then we narrow up the stance width to reduce the amount of lateral force that can be produced in the swing. If an athlete is late with their vertical force, then we can square up the lead foot to promote the lead leg straightening sooner and causing the vertical force to happen sooner.

While we all will need to use the ground differently to play our best golf, two things need to happen to use the ground effectively. The forces have to exist in the correct kinetic sequence (lateral, vertical torque, vertical force), and the peaks of those forces need to be created within the correct windows (sequencing).

  • Lateral force – Peak occurs between top-of-swing and lead arm at 45 degrees
  • Vertical torque – Peak occurs between lead arm being 45 degrees and the lead arm being parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical force – Peak occurs between lead arm being parallel to the ground the club shaft being parallel to the ground.

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember ground reaction forces are invisible and can only be measured using force plates. With that said, their tends to be apprehension about discussing how we use the ground as most people do not have access to 3D dual force plates. However, using the screening process designed by Mike Adams, Terry Rowles, and the BioSwing Dynamics team, we can determine what the primary forces used for power production are and can align the body in a way to where the athlete can access his/her full potential and deliver the club to the ball in the most effective and efficient way based off their predispositions and anatomy.

In addition to gaining speed, we can help athletes create a better motion for their anatomy. As golfers continue to swing faster, it is imperative that they do so in a manner that doesn’t break down their body and cause injury. If the body is moving how it is designed, and the forces acting on the joints of the body are in the correct sequence and magnitude, not only do we know they are getting the most out of their swing, but we know that it will hold up and not cause an unforeseen injury down the road.

I truly believe that force plates and ground reaction forces will be as common as launch monitors in the near future. Essentially, a launch monitor measures the effect and the force plates measure the cause, so I believe we need both for the full picture. The force plate technology is still very expensive, and there is an educational barrier for people seeking to start measuring ground reaction forces and understanding how to change forces, magnitudes, and sequences, but I’m expecting a paradigm shift soon.


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