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Learning to swing with clubhead lag

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Good golf is easy golf. Easy golf is enjoyable golf. But one cannot play good , easy, enjoyable golf if one is thinking about how to do it all the time.

However, by the same token, one can't play good, easy, enjoyable golf without thinking about it unless one knows how to do it.

Therefore one has to get the feel of what's right, and to practice that feel - ''feed it into the computer'' - so that it can be repeated every time.

But first one has to know what's right.

For mechanics I draw heavily on the only complete technical manual yet produced, Homer Kelley's ''The Golfing Machine,'' on which young Bobby Clampett cut his golfing teeth. For the feel of good golf I draw mainly on my own experiences.

Now let's look at Kelley's own ''golf secret'' - what he calls clubhead lag.

Imagine that the swing actually starts not at the address but at the top of the backswing. From the start-down through impact the clubhead lags behind the hands. One must always feel the weight of it. One must always drag that weight down toward the ball.

Step 1: Practice feeling the weight. Swing slowly to and fro paying total attention to that and that alone.

Step 2: Assess to what extent you can get the feeling of dragging the clubhead down behind your hands. Is the feeling strong or weak? Can you make it stronger?

Step 3: Note what it is that gives you the best feeling of drag. It might be a pressure point in your grip, possibly the ''trigger finger'' of the right hand (if right-handed). It could be the right thumbpad. It could be the left upper arm. Or it could even be a feeling in the legs. Or the hips. This is entirely a matter for you to decide.

Step 4: Again practice swinging a club to and fro continuously. Note how well you can acquire and control this feeling of lag.

This is golf's equivalent of the Five-finger Exercise. It's basic. Practice it often and you will find that soon you automatically establish lag every time before you swing (in your waggle or your practice swing) and then also when you swing. You'll do it the right way - without thinking.

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