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Clubhead Lag -- the clubhead lagging behind the hands through impact -- is the most important fundamental in the golf swing.

All PGA Tour players use Lag to compress the ball while poor players don't.


Learn how to FEEL, CREATE and SUSTAIN the lag. Discover the benefits of the Flat Left Wrist, shaft loading and educated hands and cut your scores in half!

Hitting vs Swinging – Part 3 – Hitting

The Eye of the HitterContinuing our series on Hitting vs Swinging, let’s now review the Hitting Stroke.

The hitting action is a bit the dark side of the moon when it comes to golf instruction. It seems that a vast majority of golf instructors (with the exception of The Golfing Machine Instructors of course) are simply unaware of its existence and mainly teach golf the "Swinging way".

This is very unfortunate because it is a very efficient way to strike the golf ball and in my opinion a very interesting alternative for strong or less flexible players.

Muscular Thrust

Unlike the Swinger who manipulates centrifugal force, the pure Hitter ONLY uses his right arm to activate the Primary Lever Assembly (that is the Left Arm plus the club as a whole).
For those interested, the muscle involved here is the right triceps as it is responsible for straightening the arm. So if you are a boxer you should give the Hitting stroke a try ;-) !

The main action involved here is a muscular thrust of the right arm against the Primary Lever Assembly.
The clubhead is not thrown into orbit by the pivot; Instead, the hitter pushes radially (against the radius!) against the shaft with his right arm only.

Think of it like pushing against one spoke of a bicycle wheel to put the wheel into motion – Swinging would make you drag the rim of the wheel.

The proper action is to straighten the right arm without flattening the right wrist in a piston like action. 

Address: Impact Fix

It all starts at address – the Hitter usually sets up with his hands in a position that is called "Impact Fix":

Hitting: Starting at Impact Fix

This position, while not mandatory, allows for an easier pickup of the Primary Lever Assembly as a whole by the right arm (the right forearm takeaway). Also it establishes the proper impact alignments right away.

From this position all you have to do is to freeze your wrists into their position and move the whole thing back and forth with your right arm pretty much in a piston like motion.

A good way to feel this motion is, without a club, to hold your left wrist with your right hand and move your left arm back and forth. Simple enough? Well this is the principle of the Hitting motion.

Half Roll of the club face

Due to the way the club is moved, the clubface doesn’t open as much as the Swinging motion during the backswing and doesn’t close as much in the downstroke. Consequently, Hitting naturally produces what is called a "Half Roll" of the clubface: When you look at the clubface at both arms straight, you should see the clubface looking 45 degrees left (for righties) instead of 90 degrees left in the Swinging motion (full roll, clubface closed).

Funnily enough, this produces a no-roll feel which is very important to note as you might intuitively search to feel a roll.

This Half Roll also has a natural fade tendency. As a consequence, the Hitter tends to adopt stronger grips to counterbalance that effect and produce straight shots.

You should also take into account that the more forward the ball in your stance (Driver for example), the more the need for a closed face and a stronger grip because the more the layback of the clubface at this point.

Experience with your grip to find the correct amount of shut face to induce.

Face constantly looking at the ball

Another interesting fact is the way the clubface swivels during the swing.

Unlike the Swinger whose clubface almost immediately swivels against the plane of the swing, the Hitter doesn’t rotate the clubface but rather keep it "looking at the ball" during the backswing: The clubface stays at right angles against the face of the plane. This is the natural byproduct of the angled hinge and you must not intent to rotate it clockwise/open on the backswing or you will have to consciously rotate it back counterclockwise on the downswing for proper contact.

Establishing the Lag: Drive Loading

You will discover that the piston like action of the right arm produces a shorter backswing than the Swinger due to the position of the right elbow set to push against the shaft instead of pulling.

From there, usually the hands cannot go higher than shoulder high – which is called the Top.

But, from such a shorter backstroke, the tendency is to rush on the downstroke.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to transition from Top to Start Down and accomplish the necessary Drive Loading.

Uh? Drive Loading you said?

Let me explain: For the Hitter, an efficient way to establish the Lag is to resist the backstroke motion then perform a right arm thrust against this clubhead Lag striving to accelerate a pre stressed clubshaft from a slow startdown through impact and to both arms straight.

Here, the Pivot (Right Shoulder) must also provide the initial acceleration of the Power Package (Shoulders, Arms, Hands and Club).

But beware! From there, you only have your bent right arm to provide the Thrust. So, if the right arm begins to straighten too soon, you will have triggered the release, and you will run out of right arm before impact and product a nasty Clubhead Throwaway

Slow Start Down

As previously mentioned, for the Hitter a slow Start Down is mandatory to allow for the right arm to properly get into position.
In the transition from the Top to Start Down think very Slow and very Heavy and that should do the trick.

A word about Pivot Action

Unlike the Swinging motion, the Pivot (the body) doesn’t perform the blast of the left arm off the chest. Instead its purpose is to put the right shoulder into position (closer to the ball – down plane) as a platform to push against.

Think of a sprinter pushing against his starting-blocks.
Think also of the action of a boxer: before delivering its punch the boxer will get his right shoulder into position closer to his opponent to strike him with maximum force. In the Hitting stroke, you have to move your right shoulder down plane to get closer to the ball and deliver the right arm thrust.

One more word about the Pressure Points involved in the Hitting Procedure

Again, to find the location of the pressure points involved in the Hitting action we’ll do a little drill: grab a club, put the clubhead against something heavy and try to push this thing not by dragging with your body but rather by pushing with your right arm.

You’ll easily identify 3 pressure points:

  • Pressure point #1: The palm of your right hand against the aft section of the grip and you left thumb.
  • Pressure point #2: The last 3 fingers of your left hand.
  • Pressure point #3: The index-trigger-finger of the right hand resisting against the club wanting to stay behind.

Establish those specific pressures during you downstroke while performing the Hitting stroke to become an expert Hitter! 

In the eye of the Hitter!

The Hitter thinks of delivering a cross line blow down and out from the top of his swing. As a result he mentally constructs a "Delivery Line" going down and out to "first base".

I thought it could be interesting and fun to show what the Hitter sees in his mind. This gives a very good sense of the Hitter’s intents during the stroke.

Click on the images to display the slideshow, and then use the PREVIOUS / NEXT controls to navigate through the images.

Address: Impact Fix Start-down: Drive down and out Follow-Through: The Right Arm Thrust continues down and out BUT the clubhead moves up and in! Address: Impact Fix Start-down: Drive down and out Follow-Through: The Right Arm Thrust continues down and out BUT the clubhead moves up and in!

Summing things up

  1. Set up at Impact Fix and "freeze" your wrists alignments.
  2. Pick up the whole thing back in a "piston + fanning" like motion (a piston-only motion would make you look like starting a lawnmower which is not the motion we want).
  3. Perform what feels like a shorter backstroke as what you are used to.
  4. From the top, initiate a slow startdown by pushing against the shaft with your right arm only (pressure point #1 feel). The slow start down will give yourself enough time to get closer to the ball to deliver your blow.
  5. Drive it strongly down and out. Destroy the ground!


Swing sequence

As a reminder, here are the sequences of the Hitting Procedure. Click on the images to display the slideshow, and then use the PREVIOUS/NEXT controls to navigate through the images.

Hitting stroke video

Hitting stroke sequence

Address Startup Startup Backstroke Backstroke Backstroke Backstroke Top Drive Loading - Loading the Lag Drive Loading - Loading the Lag Downstroke - Drive loading Downstroke Impact - Flat left wrist Followtrhough - Both arms straight Finish swivel Finish swivel Finish Finish Finish Finish

146 Responses to “Hitting vs Swinging – Part 3 – Hitting”

  1. Happy New Year to everyone and good golfing!

  2. John, what non-proprietary technique allows you to draw and label on top of your photos/drawings so well? Recently, I have ghad robotics students use Google Scratch for example. Feel free to email me at cguyaok@gmail.com

    • I heavily rely on Photoshop for all my image editing.
      As I’ve said earlier, this is mainly due to the fact that I run a Web Agency and as a result I’m very comfortable with it.
      It’s very powerful and rewarding but as with every professional tool, it has its learning curve and may not be suited for beginners.

      The weak point in my digital chain for the moment would come from the videos that are often shot on the fly with the equipment at hand (smartphones or digital cameras). I’m looking to invest in a more serious equipment that could do nice slow mo video captures.
      Your video quality is pretty nice, I’m all ears if you have some tips on buying the right equipment.

  3. John, it would be very helpful to see a video of your Hitting a driver. I wonder if you stay as far left/forward in your stance as does Lynn Blake, a teacher we both admire. Also, your use of multi-media is something I would love to learn for my students’s sake. (Private email?) I had very good results again with Hitting/Swinging Aim Point practice in 40 degree weather yesterday and need a stiff shaft in my driver for the first time!

    • I see what you refer to in Lynn’s hitting motion: Indeed, I look/feel more planted in my left foot in the Hitting stroke than in the Swinging stroke where I look/feel more evenly balanced.

      This has a lot to do with the preferred setup of the hitter which favors staying close to the impact position during the entire motion: Impact fix sets you in a position where your left foot supports more weight.

      Because hitting relies only on right arm thrust, it feels natural to stay close to that impact fix position during the stroke.

      You’ve asked for it, there you go!
      I’ve uploaded a video on Youtube where I hit 2 strokes using a 3 Wood.

      Thanks for the Multimedia award! I’m running a Web Agency; that may have a bit to do with that ;-)
      If you need to PM me, feel free to drop a line at contact[at]golfgatips.com

      Best regards,

  4. Vince Vince says:

    I am a swinger and I am finally producing divots well in front of the ball! and the feel in my hands is very strong because of the force in which the blade goes down the turf. Thanks to your book! Thanks again.
    My question is about what comes next, after the end-of-the-follow-through where both arms are straight: do I swivel the left-forearm actively (to get even more power or do I interfere with the power in that case?) or do I passively allow the left-forearm to swivel because of the momentum (which is also quite hard,, because everything must be soft, to get that kind of swivel. But then why even swivel, when you have reached the end-of-the-followthrough?)
    Which brings me to the next question: all the power you can generate is then only that power (accelaration-building) in the small time what one can generate before the uncocking of the left-wrist is starting to happen?

    I hope you understand my question and I am very interested in the answer, regards Vince

    • Hi Vince,
      I’m happy to see that the book was useful!
      Great question you have here regarding the finish swivel.
      You must not actively swivel. It is more of a “let it go” move that happens naturally with the momentum.
      On short shots, you won’t even swivel because there is not enough momentum. But with full shots, the momentum is so strong that you better swivel to allow for the club to continue its travel around the body.
      The key here is to allow the left arm to fold at the end of the follow through. This can only be possible if your left arm is soft, inert, without tension. It must be extended by the extension action of the right arm (aka extensor action).
      At the end of the follow through, if your left arm is inert and that your are actively straightening the right arm, you’ll see that the swivel comes naturally (try replacing your left arm with a rope attached to your left shoulder to get a feel for that.


      (The answer to the question about power is coming in the next comment :-) )

      • Vince Vince says:

        Hello John and thanks for the answer so far…..(haha) I had in my mind that I had to keep accelerating through the end-of-followthrough……by swiveling in a continuing up-rate of acceleration….What you are saying looks like it makes life easier…..and very interested in the follow-up comment….
        regards, Vince

      • The end of the followthrough, aka the both arms straight position well past impact, is the end of acceleration because at this point you have exhausted all the sources of power available (the power accumulators in TGM jargon).
        At this point, the clubhead will overtake the hands because they are slowing down.
        And guess what: This overtaking action of the clubhead must be allowed by using the finish swivel acting as a bridge between the end of the followthrough and the finish!

    • Regarding power generation, if you are a TGM fan, you know that they are only four sources of power (aka Power Accumulators) available in the Golf stroke.

      Body rotation (aka Power Accumulator #4) – sensed through the pressure of your left biceps hugging across your chest (aka Pressure Point #4)
      The uncoking of the left writs (aka Power Accumulator #2) – sensed by the last three fingers of your left arm (aka Pressure Point #2)
      The left forearm rotation (not to be confused with the finish swivel) (aka Power Accumulator #3) – sensed by the index finger of your right hand (aka Pressure Point #3)
      The straightening of the right arm (aka Power Accumulator #1) – sensed through pressure in the palm of your right arm (aka Pressure Point #1)

      Those 4 sources of power can be employed in the golf stroke. However, as you’ve already studied in the book, the most important Power Accumulator is the #3 sensed through pressure in your index finger.
      Why is it the most important? Because it is the easiest to monitor and the LAST to be “exhausted”.
      Let me explain that: All those power accumulators must be loaded with power (generally during transition). This power is sensed through pressure in each of the associated pressure points.
      But they do not release in the exact same order. For example, a Swinger uses what is called a sequenced release of the power accumulators:

      PA#4 releases first with the rotation of the body
      then this rotational power is transfered to the arm and PA#2 releases with the uncocking of the left wrist
      then, all this power is transfered to the left wrist and PA#3 releases with the rotation of the left forearm
      impact occurs and the last remains of power stored in PA#3 leads you to the end of the followthrough where all the power (and pressures in all the pressure points) is now gone.

      So, to max out power in your golf stroke, you must learn how to load and release the power in your power accumulators by monitoring their pressure points.
      You must load that pressure at transition and sustain that pressure as long as you can.
      But as our brain is not well suited to monitor multiple things at the same time, the best thing to keep an eye on it is the most important one, the #3 Pressure Point! ;-)

      Have fun experimenting with your Power Accumulators!

      Note: Hitting and Swinging do not use the same Power Accumulators neither they release them at the same time. Be sure to read the following three posts to know what you are doing!

      Hitting vs Swinging – Part 2 – The Swing
      Hitting vs Swinging – Part 3 – Hitting
      The 4 Barrel Hit: Swinging AND Hitting

  5. Ted Ted says:

    John do you recommend moving ball positions with each club as in the Golf Machine or one position for all clubs?

    • The most important thing to keep in mind here is Low point.
      It is located opposite your left shoulder and you should reach low point regardless you are hitting a wedge or the big stick.

      Knowing that, ball position must be placed regarding the shot at hand: hitting the driver, the ball must be located at low point because of the club design. As a result it will end up somewhere inside of your left heel but you would be very wrong to take that as a good and precise reference.

      Let’s take another example with a wedge this time:
      - let’s say that the shot at hand is a standard shot. Low point is always in front of my left shoulder but underground this time because the club is designed for a ball turf contact. So, I will put the ball before low point. It can theoretically be as far back as I want provided I have the necessary power to dig a huge divot to low point!

      - let’s say now that the shot at hand is some kind of lob shot: low point is still in front of my left shoulder but at ground level – no divot here as I look for a soft high shot. As a result, ball position for this situation is at low point, exactly in the same spot as for the driver!!! And for the popular belief the ball will be in front of my left heel wich should be wrong by standard golf instruction books! Funny no?!

      - another funny example: let’s say I play the same shot as previously (a high lob shot with the wedge, no divot with the ball located at low point, exactly opposite my left shoulder) but with my feed joined together.
      The width of my shoulders will be wider than my stance, low point and the ball will be located way outside left of my left foot but the shot will still be geometrically perfect!

      The popular belief is to think of ball position relative to the left heel or the middle of the stance…
      This is very approximative in regard of thinking in terms of low point position.

      There are famous guys out there who play one legged (and under par!) who cannot think in term of ball position relative to the left heel…I’m pretty sure that they know where their low point is!

      For each shot, think of low point location, how deep it is underground (or in the air for a tee shot!) and place the ball accordingly and only then, take your stance to allow the shot to be properly executed (for example, as the club gets shorter, narrow up your stance…).

      A wide stance automatically locates the ball forward in the stance while a narrow stance locates it more back. Similarly, a wider stance locates the ball not far behind low point (opposite the left shoulder) and a narrow stance locates it well aft. This results in multiple ball locations with regards to the left shoulder. And in the end, that is all that matters.

  6. Steve Simon Steve Simon says:

    In my opinion this is simply the best “How to” compilation to be found anywhere.
    the combination of video, still photos and very well laid out text explanations have led me right to the “Hitters Path”… The ball contact this morning was superb. Most every shot with that crisp sound of compression.
    I will be pouring over the rest of the site to glean whatever other “Gems” you’ve graciously put out.
    Well done.

  7. David Leathem David Leathem says:

    Hey great post love all the information here its hard to find good information on hitters.

    I changed to a hitter last semester and transformed my game, just a couple of questions. Am I right in saying that a hitter shouldnt draw/hook the ball because of angular release?? and is the proper shot with a hitters motion a fade cause i feel when i do it i fizz it straight and falls to the right.

    Thanks :)

  8. Richard Kopcho Richard Kopcho says:

    Such an interesting discussion! Explains what happens when I start out a round of golf hitting, and as I get looser and more relaxed and start swinging the club I begin rolling my hands and hooking all my shots! What a helpful insight! Thanks John.

  9. wayoutwest wayoutwest says:

    Interesting piece on hitting v swinging. Tried the ‘hitting’ or ‘pushing’ on the range today and like the results. I feel much more connected to where the club head is facing through impact.

    I notice that in the hitting setup, the left wrist remains slightly ‘cupped’ or flexed – at least for the mid iron sample in the video. Is this the same position for metals, long irons, and wedges?

    Also, I wonder if you have any thoughts on lateral dominance (strongly right handed as opposed to ambidextrous) in addition to just physical strength in determining if hitting or swinging is likely to work better for any given individual.

  10. That’s a nice compliment Innercityteacher!

    The purpose of the hip slide starting the downstroke is to lower the right shoulder in order to set the right arm in a suitable position to deliver the punch – and most important, to guarantee having enough of right arm to extend past the ball to reach the both arms straight position.

    There is no problem to adjust the move to accommodate your shorter leg if you ensure that you won’t run out of right arm before reaching the ball.

    Setting up for the standard hitting stroke requires to do this:
    - Put yourself at impact fix condition
    - Keep everything there except the hips that are returned in their address position
    - “freeze” everything and move only the right arm!

    You could very well change this a bit like that:
    - Put yourself at impact fix condition
    - Keep everything there including the hips
    - “freeze” everything and move only the right arm!

    Have fun driving them down to China!

  11. Hi John. Very helpful combination of non-technical descriptions and visual aids. As a teacher for over 30 years, my highest compliment is to say that I would do this exactly the way you do it!

    Could a hitter simply Hula, RFT with EA, and drive the right shoulder down and through the ball, without hip slide?

    I ask because my front hip is artificial and I have a 1.75 inch shorter front leg. ////When I place my weight on my front leg to Hula, I feel really tilted!

  12. Coltsfan Coltsfan says:


    if you learn how to trace a straight plane line you wont have to worry about what your elbow is doing because you will always be on plane

  13. Bill Bill says:

    Timothy, I certainly hope your description of hitting is correct, it sums up all of what I have learned in the last year in one paragraph! Nice job

  14. Sven Sven says:

    John………This golf instruction site of yours is awesome. Thank you.
    I gather from your articles that putting the right elbow in the “slot” (Penick’s magic move) would be applicable to hitting, but not to swinging. Is this correct? I appreciate your help.

  15. Coltsfan Coltsfan says:

    Hi John,

    I have a question about tracing the plane line. I know going back we need to trace the target line or base of the plane, but on the downswing are we supposed to trace the delivery line or just try to trace the target line up to point of impact then just cross the targetline?

    I have my dowels set up along the base of the plane, should I set up a third “downswing dowel” that goes more out to first base to help w/ the downswing tracing?


  16. TimothyW TimothyW says:

    I think I’ve had an “aha” moment with my swing. I looking at the TGM concept of the accumulators between hitting and swinging. I’m a natural swinger. I started to have some problems with my ball striking because as a hitter I was rolling the left forearm across my chest during the back swing. This meant that I was loading accumulator #4 in addition to 1,2, and 3. This meant that on the downswing I had to rotate my left forearm and still fire 1,2, and 3 which caused timing issues on the downswing. After studying the backswing sequence of a hitter, I realized that I have to take the club back the club face “looking” at the ball. So, now on my back swing, I just simply turn my shoulders keeping my left arm straight without rotating it and just fold my right arm at the elbow ensuring that my hands are no more that shoulder high and that there’s a 90 deg angle between the club shaft and my right arm, so at the top PA#1 is loaded and I start down slow with the hips leading back to the target while maintaining the flying wedge established at address and firing the right arm. The ball is compressed going high and straight with a tour trajectory. Did I describe this correctly, so far I’m getting the repeatability of my swing by doing this?

  17. frank frank says:

    John, one question. I’ve tried the wet mop drill and, while it worked very well, on short pitches, it created some issues on longer ones, which faded too much. Any ideas? Thanks. F.

  18. Bill Bill says:

    John, Thanks again for your generosity with this site. Studying it and practicing it has literally dropped my scores from low nineties to low to mid 80′s. Now I have a realistic goal of breaking 80 for the first time.

    Enjoy your golfing season…


  19. Bill Bill says:

    Video of impact position: Hi John, I came across a video of impact position and wondered if you would take a look at it. This seems to explain it well, if it is correct. I was having more bend in my right wrist and starting off with the club handle in the center of my belt as opposed to the left thigh.
    Here is the video:

    • Yes, that’s it.
      Look at 4:00.
      Cocking the wrist is the same motion you would use while hammering.
      Bending the wrist is a slapping like motion.
      The left wrist cocks and uncocks only and never bends.
      The right wrist bends back but not forward and NEVER cocks or uncocks (a very common mistake).

      Combine the two wrist motions during the swing and you will find that there is no much room left for improvisation.

  20. Bill Bill says:

    I am sorry, I haven’t read the yellow book yet, just happened to run across a couple sites that talk about TGM so I am not real familiar with all the terms, thus, the term, “bend wrist back” to me meant cocking the wrist. Is bending the wrist back to mean bending it toward the body at address?

  21. Bill Bill says:

    I believe I figured out the hooking issue. I have been cocking my right wrist as far as it will go at address, instead of right wrist slightly bent st address and locking it there. Haven’t tried out the theory yet, but sounds good on paper…

    • A bit of a warning here Bill: If you want repetitive and precision shots, the right wrist NEVER EVER cocks (even slightly). It can only bend back and must stay on plane.

      To figure that out, grab a club in your right hand, bend your right wrist back and lay your right forearm + clubshaft flat on a table:
      This is the right forearm flying wedge, an ideal geometrical configuration for maximum efficiency and precision in your shots.

  22. Bill Bill says:

    I am gradually going from a nice draw to an ugly hook, especially with my driver. Any thoughts?

  23. damian damian says:

    Good to have you back.
    Silly question but how can you compress a ball on a tee?
    There’s nothing to compress it against (as opposed to when a ball’s on the ground?)


  24. Bill Bill says:

    Might as well add to the list all in one day: I used to hit a fade for a dog leg by swinging out to in, but don’t really want to have to change my new hitting form to that awful swing again. So for a hitter that wants to maintain good hitter form, what is the best way to shape a shot?
    My home course has a dog leg par 5, that bends to the right about 190 yards down the fairway. Sometimes, I just use a 7 wood and hit it straight, leaving me 230 yards to the green, but most people I play with fade around the corner and have 190-200 yards to the green.

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Aiming-Point Location Driver to Wedges

Aiming-Point: Too far forward

Aiming-Point: Bad location with the Driver

Aiming-Point: Good location with the Driver

Divot Location demonstrated with a Hitting stroke - Swing Sequence

The eye of the Hitter - 3 - Follow Through

The eye of the Hitter - 1 - Address

The eye of the Hitter - 2 - Startdown