Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lag Pressure, Key Concept in the Golf Swing

Over at another forum a golfer asked me about 'lag pressure' in TGM and what exactly it means.

I like to talk about lag pressure quite a bit because of my perception of its performance. When I first got into reading TGM I read the '3 Imperatives' of the golf swing according to Homer Kelley.

  1. Flat Left Wrist at Impact
  2. Straight Plane Lines
  3. Clubhead Lag Pressure Point

I erroneously dismissed the importance of lag pressure in place of putting more importance on the first two imperatives, FLW at impact and straight plane lines.

I erroneously assumed at first that Homer put the clubhead lag pressure point just because theoretically somebody could swing the club slow enough and still have a FLW at impact and straight plane lines, but not hit it out of their shadow without a lag pressure point.

That's still *partly* the case, but what I eventually realized is the role that lag pressure plays in achieving those first 2 imperatives (FLW at impact and Straight Plane Lines).

Here's a very important videot that helped me understand how to hit the ball much better and without this video, I don't think I would struggle to grasp the golf swing.

So, what is lag pressure?

For one, we should understand what 'lag' is. Anything that is 'lagging' is in other words 'trailing.' In this case, from P4 to P7, the clubhead should be 'trailing' the hands.

Lag Pressure is pressure in the grip that is used to sustain that lag.

An extremely key point in the video above is when Yoda states that lag pressure is 'elusive' and 'once it's lost, you can't get it back (in the swing.'

I think one reason why many golfers who have some pretty good looking golf swings tend to struggle very badly and some golfers with very unorthodox swings hit the ball quite well is the concept of lag pressure. Many great golfers have no idea what lag pressure actually means, but subconsciously they have picked it up over time playing golf...probably from hitting enough balls and sending positive and negative feedback to their brain and then making the adjustments.

But most golfers can't just pick up something like lag pressure naturally and thus understanding what lag pressure is helps greatly in eventually executing lag pressure consistently.

As Yoda states, the lag pressure is a pressure and 'driving force' in your hands/grip. What I find is that many golfers have the textbook grip where it's relatively neutral or even a tad bit strong. And they have the grip in the proper part of the hands, but they don't bother to feel the pressure points in the grip because they don't know what they are. Pop golf instruction doesn't teach us that.

So, let's take another look at those pressure points in the hands.

#1 Pressure Point = The lifeline in the right hand where it touches either the left hand (usually near the very base knuckle of the left thumb) or where it touches the grip on the club.

#2 Pressure Point = The last 3 fingers of the left hand.

#3 Pressure Point - The *base* joint of the right index finger. Here, Jeff Evans explains the #3 PP a little more.

'Hitters' tend to use the #1 PP and/or the #3 PP. Myself, I use the primarily the #1 PP.

'Swingers' tend to use the #2 PP and they can use the #3 PP.

Again, the big key in Yoda's video is that lag pressure is a 'steady driving pressure' and 'once it's lost, you can can't get it back (in that swing).'

IMO, the main goal with lag pressure is whatever Pressure Point you chose to use in the grip, you want to maximize that pressure at impact.

However, what is also KEY to understand is that once you maximize the pressure you will lose it shortly after.

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 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.

So, how would I go about doing this?

1. Find out what pressure point(s) work best for you in the swing. Remember, #1 and #3 are usually for hitters, #2 is usually for swingers.

2. Really sense the pressure point. Sent them then try to feel different levels of pressure in the pressure point, ranging from very light to maximum pressure.

3. The follow the 'basic, acquired and total motion' curriculum.

Here's an idea of the 'basic' motion and sensing lag pressure.

You want to keep hitting those 'basic' shots (swing it back 2 feet back and 2 feet thru) until you are maximizing the pressure point(s) at impact.

Then, move to 'acquired' motion. That is a 9-3 or a 'halfway back and halfway thru' motion. Again, keep hitting that until you can consistently maximize the pressure point at impact.

If you struggle, move back to 'basic' motion and try to feel the differences between when you do it right and when you do it wrong.

Then I would move to Total Motion which is the full swing.

Another great thing to practice is to hit punch shots (full backswing, half follow thru). All legitimately good ballstrikers who do not flip can hit, at the very least, decent punch shots consistently. The guys who cannot usually are letting some of the lag pressure 'leak' and may have some flipping issues down the road.



Kevin said...

EXCELLENT tutorial on Lag Pressure!!!

Thank You,

Rich H. said...

thanks, but Yoda was the guy that made it possible. IMO, if you can finally understand lag pressure you are at the very least ahead of the game.

Dave @ Mud Ball Golf Blog said...

Interesting post - well timed as I am thinking about this area and working on increasing lag pressure in my swing. On a good shot I really feel the 3rd Pressure Point. Sometimes though I feel it too early in the downswing and lose it before impact - which is your point. Sometimes even on a really short shot I can feel the lag pressure and feel the shaft bend around impact - it feels heavy and slow/deliberate. When it's poor it feels quick and flippy... I'm not really aware of Pressure points 1 and 2 well not as much as number 3 that's for sure.

Thanks again for the informative references and explanation.

Rich H. said...

Dave -- Try to feel like the max pressure is at impact and then you sustain that pressure until P8 (till the right arm is parallel to the ground in the follow thru). I should feel like you hands are almost like clamps attached to the club but you will be better at getting the lag pressure maxed out at impact.

fearlessgolfer said...

Richie, holding the flying wedge around stable center should assist holding this lag pressure and FLW,correct?
And, thanks for the information, always.


Bradley said...

Hi Rich,

Good article from you again! It is thru your blog that I got to really understand lag pressure. keep up the good work :-) I purchased Jeff Evans' PBS and now I know what to feel and what to work on. My struggles with my swing though is that sometimes I tend to hook the ball even when using the PBS. What could be the cause? Starting to fast on the downswing?

Rich H. said...

Bradley, here's where understanding the 'new ball flight laws' can help. When you hit a hook, the path must be 'inside-to-out' in relation to the clubface at impact. I guess the big question I'm wondering is where does the initial direction of the ball go? If it starts left, then your clubface is likely closed to the target and that's what needs to be figured out. If it starts right of the target, then you probably need to work on your club path thru the ball.

Rich H. said...

Fearless - Here's my thoughts:

Proper Lag Pressure = FLW at impact.

FLW at impact does not always mean a golfer is using lag pressure properly.

So my belief is that holding the flying wedge around a stable center is more likely to create a FLW at impact than it is proper lag pressure at impact. It can *help* with both, but like I said I can have a FLW at impact and still have poor usage of lag pressure.

A FLW at impact is certainly important and IMO downright vital. But if you're not getting that and the flying wedge with the proper driving force behind it the clubhead slows down at the wrong time.