A story about lag

This is why I can create a whole mess of lag and still square the club, why some others can…and why it’s a joke to attempt create more for more distance…because it is meaningless anyway.

This information was from 15 years ago, but I believe it makes the case that a lot of lag can only be squared while continuing to accelerate the club through impact…if you have a tremendous amount of hand strength to control it.

Whereas those without the requisite hand strength, who create it artificially, actually have to slow the club down in someway in order to square it.

There are obviously more factors than hand and forearm strength and me as a case study is an extremely small sample, but I am injecting common sense and saying this makes perfect sense and from my observations of the last 25 years of long hitters and those with lag that could control it…and those who created it artificially and couldn’t control it.

The first anecdotal evidence of my hand strength was at a bar in Miami. I had just beaten many the top long drivers in a contest and drummed the two who most fancied themselves as players in a match.

We were at a bar and they had one of those strength meters where you grip a handle and squeeze as hard as you can. The two largest in both physical size/strength and ego, decided this one the only thing they could beat me at. I agreed they probably could and humored them by playing along. I was 6-2 and about 195 pounds at the time and these two fellows were 6-4 and 6-6 and both in the 250-260 pounds of ripped muscle. Not all natural either, I suspect.

The gauge on the machine read something like…

Under 60-Weakling
71-80…Above Average
81-90…Strong Man

It didn’t say anything over 100.

The first egoman put in his quarter and while nearly popping a blood vessel in his head, pulled a 97. The other weight pumper nearly passed out pulling so hard and got 99.

“Almost Hercules baby!” and he flexed and yelled out in triumph.

One said, “Let’s see if Monte can get over 50,” and everyone laughed, including me…there were about 10-12 of us.

I walked up, put in my quarter and pulled, hoping to get at least 70 or 80. To everone’s astonishment, including my own, the gauge read 109…NOT a typo. So being the smartass I was, I put in another quarter, used my left hand, pulled 108 and said, “Anything else you guys want me to kick your ass at? How about ending sentences in prepositions?”

A few years later a team of bio-mechanical engineers came out to a Nationwide event and they were studying golfers and why they hit the ball far. Of course, they were interested in measuring me.

The 3 interesting measurements were as follows.

They had what can be described as a blood pressure bulb connected to a pressure gauge. The units of measure went up to 30. The second highest score besides mine was 23. My score was estimated at 37 as I went off the scale.

The other two measurements were taken on a shoebox sized device where your lower arm was immobilized and you pulled on a handle with palm up and palm down. Obviously you would have more leverage to pull with palm up. The handle was attached to a wire and the wire was attached to a gauge.

With palm up, I pulled 30% higher than the next best score, which did not surprise any of them after what I did on the first test. What was surprising was I pulled a higher score palm down than 50% of the guys pulled palm up.

Seeing as I was not a muscular guy, that made them all look at each other. Their preliminary theory was many people could generate lots of club speed, but only a select few could control the rotation of the face at those speeds…and being the world champion and not being as massive as many of the other long hitters, I was at the top of the food chain in this category.

Now it’s possible everything I have just said is speculative BS of extremely small sample sizes, but I find it an interesting theory and entertaining anecdotal evidence of an idea that makes some sense to me.

Your body is smarter than you and will only create the amount of lag you can control…and it will create that lag and forward shaft lean automatically with a good swing.

I still say lag is meaningless. You need some, but it has at best, an indirect affect on distance and probably a direct affect on lack of consistency.

I have been trying to get rid of someone of mine for over a year now. I don’t lose any distance, actually I gain some when I do it right as my contact is better more often with less spin…and I hit the ball straighter.

I don’t hit that one sick 360 yard bomb out of nowhere, but I also don’t hit as many of those low on the face heels that have too much spin and end up short and in the right rough.

What does that tell you about the all mighty lag? In my opinion, the more lag you have, the worse your misses are going to be…and isn’t that the opposite of the name of the game…making your misses better.

Now I wait for the same group of goobers who will say that I am promoting a cast. These lag crazies were the ones who railed on me when I first started my campaign for the gradual release from the top. Now science is proving me right. Brian Manzella and his group proved scientifically that lag is bad and are now teaching people to throw it away.

As soon as a golfer learns that the opposite of a cast is proper body rotation and not lag, they are well on their way to becoming a better golfer without even working on their swing.




  1. woody

    Brian Manzella? Monte, Monte, Monte…that stuff will absolutely rot your brain. D-plane? If that’s important, then I don’t ever want to be really good because golf won’t be fun anymore.

    Science is great, but…one of Brian’s sources…”Dr. Rob Neal, a Ph.D. in Biomechanics from the University of Queensland, Australia, is the founder of Golf BioDynamics and The Golf Athlete, consults for the Australian Institute of Sport, and is a renowned expert in 3D golf swing analysis.” And, here’s the clincher: “Works with Jim MacLean at Doral.”

    He says, http://www.golfbiodynamics.com, “In simple terms, the downswing movement of the body involves the sequential movement of the hips, upper torso, arms, and finally the club…each segment speeds up, reaches its maximum speed, and then slows down (the slowing down is important to create a whip-like action). The key to an efficient golf swing is to have the hips reach their peak speed before the upper body, which in turn must reach its maximum velocity before the arms and hands. The club should reach its peak speed at impact. This sequence of events known in golf engineering circles as the kinematic sequence is key to developing an efficient golf swing.”

    There’s some truth in it, but it’s one thing to put sensors on “hips,” and it’s another thing to know what the data means.

    To me, here’s the key to golf. Here’s Oosthuizen, and pause the video at 0:20.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64oc-Atdfvc&feature=related (Oosthuizen)

    If you paused at 0:20, the question is what happens next? How does he accelerate the club into the ball and square the club? Arms and hands? If someone can get it to work, I think that’s the hard way. Maybe like Joe Miller, 6’4″, 270. I have no friggin’ idea what he does. He’s got a wide stance like Moe Norman, but that’s where it ends.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cDabu57GaE&feature=related (Miller) 0:14

    • Monte Scheinblum

      I’m only being thesis driven and using scientific information to prove my point to those who like that stuff…but I agree.

  2. Calvin

    Impressive. I have known a couple of fellows who were “born strong” and no amount of weight training or injections can match that. It’s just different. Malcolm was one: An ex-marine came up behind him in the construction yard and got a choke hold on him from behind and said “get out of this Malcolm”. Malcolm just kept walking, reached over his shoulder with his right hand, grabbed marine by the back of his collar and slung him forward over his shoulder skidding on his butt and Malcolm never broke stride. Not that big either. You don’t have to be big if you are “born strong”.

    As it applies to golf I guess it is just a lucky accident of genetics.

    Malcolm had about 30 football scholarship offers but he was disinterested and joined the merchant marines and just kind of vanished from the scene.

  3. kbp

    I suspect the reason for your hand and forearm strength is structural…..the geometry of the insertion points of the muscles to the bone. Your anatomy provides better leverage than most in those joints. Maybe also the composition of your muscle fibers.

    Secondly, I have long suspected that arm and hand strength, whether by sheer muscle mass or by superior anatomical leverage gives some people distance, in and of itself, and almost in spite of anything else they are doing.

    Along these line, is it really about being limited by the amount of lag you can control or is it more that you personally don’t “need” much lag, (or much of anything else, for that matter) to begin with.

    Or to be more existential. What is the distilled essence, the truest truth, the simplest answer to the question, “Why do I hit the ball far?” 🙂

  4. Calvin

    And there is this. I could throw a football prodiguous distances in my youth but it never translated into distance in golf. So I would postulate that a 100 mph fastball wouldn’t tramslate to a 300 yard drive necessarily.

    • woody

      Footballers and fastballers have an advantage. Nobody tried to teach them their sport with planes, angles, and straight lines.

      • Calvin

        I don’t know. They’re busy trying to correct Tebow’s “mechanics”. Poor guy.

  5. Charlie

    Theres a million ways to get down the road & in just about all of them isn’t Lag a byproduct rather than a fundamental principle? I always worried way more about what angle of attack (and exit) really is & methods of getting the clubface square to the target for as long as possible through the zone. Any time I mess around with trying to control Lag it feels like the tail wagging the dog. My 2¢ at least..

  6. spanky


    You promote centripetal force (in videos) along with soft arms as being the key to squaring the clubface (in GM terms a swinger).

    But then you post the benefits of strong hands/forearms (in GM terms a hitters key requirement) to control the extra lag thats GENERATED by a long hitter . Where/why do you need the additional strength if your a swinger thats using centripetal force.

    Sorry but I’m really confused!

    How do I reconcile soft arms but with forearm/hand strength.

    I’m not a GMer, just aware of their philosophy, but I do believe and can use a swingers swing or a hitters swing at will. Currently working on making swinging my “way”, because it feels right for me and I like the effortless power.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Spanky, did you see the part where I said I am trying to get rid of some of the lag…and I am working on softer arms myself.

      The whole point of this post was too much lag requires too much manipulation and is not consistent. That I’d why I am trying to get rid of some of it.

    • woody

      Good point, Spanky. Here’s what Monte’s buddy Zuback says about arms soft from the elbows down:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3xBy8PVjes (3:03) Zuback

      What he says about shoulders and hips…that’s more what you see on video, not what you are doing, I’d say.

      • spanky

        “Here’s what Monte’s buddy Zuback says about arms soft from the elbows down:”
        Zuback talks about soft, tension free arms etc, and actually says “..too feel the clubhead” – great, that shows he endorses a soft grip & arms (can’t feel it otherwise), So why does he have forearms arms like Popeye if he has never had to employ them?

        That bring me back to my question:-

        “How do I reconcile soft arms but with forearm/hand strength.”

        The bit that confuses me is:- to let the clubhead square naturally you need soft hands & arms (don’t need large muscles), if you hold lag unnaturally, you need the extra muscle so you have the power to manipulate the clubhead to square at impact.

        Still confused! Thanks for the replys.

  7. spanky

    I guess what I’m asking is would/does a long hitter swinger (centripetal force) need/have large arm, forearm muscles. If the answer is yes then could you please explain why (when large lat’s, abs, glutes etc would seem to be more beneficial).

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Large muscles are not as important as efficient muscles. I don’t have #1 buy I have #2. I don’t want to get involved in CF vs. CP.

      I am making two points. Lag is nonsense, especially if you don’t have the requisite strength to control it.

      If you just have soft arms and let the club rotate out in front of you…you don’t need to be strong at all.

      You used the word “seems” when referring to what muscles are important,

      Well, the golf swing is not what it seems.

      • spanky


        CP vs CF, yeah lets not do that one :-), We all know the feeling/force we’re talking about (can’t understand when people argue the about semantics of it.)

        “..If you just have soft arms and let the club rotate out in front of you…you don’t need to be strong at all.” Thats what I needed and wanted to hear!

        So to increase distance, you need greater clubhead speed = need to rotate faster (all parts have to rotate faster together) – yes??

        “You used the word “seems” when referring to what muscles are important,..”

        Sorry Monte, I didn’t use the word seems anywhere…??

  8. spanky

    “…Lag is nonsense, especially if you don’t have the requisite strength to control it.

    If you just have soft arms and let the club rotate out in front of you…you don’t need to be strong at all.”

    These point should be printed on the front of every golf book and magazine, and hung on signs infront of every driving range bay in the world.

    Thanks Monte.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      (when large lat’s, abs, glutes etc would seem to be more beneficial)….that was the “seems” comment I was talking about.

      Glad I was able to explain it properly.

    • woody

      Zuback and big muscles…two possible ways? 1) work out, 2) ‘roids.

      Some little guys can get it out there a good ways. Anthony Kim. Charles Howell III. Haven’t heard much about Tad Fujikawa lately, but he was…like, 5’4″ and could keep up. I don’t think Rickie Fowler is big. Ian Woosnam, wee Woosie.

      I don’t know about weak, though. Most of the little guys with power were wiry. Besides Tim Herron (Lumpy), most of the Tour pros look fit. None weak like a desk jockey.

      I don’t think bulking-up helps, but lean and mean is good.

      • Wenis

        Don’t forget Chi Chi

  9. Jason

    Bulking up too much can result in a lack of flexibility. You need a combination of both. Some people are lucky and are born to nit massive drives or have great natural co-rodination for golf.
    Most people can get away with it just by applying basic fundmentals with what they do naturaly.

  10. meateater

    I think I can answer spnaky’s question about why strength is important to a TGM “swinger.” First, I don’t think TGM’s division of swinger and hitter makes a lot of sense. It’s artificial. Two, the faster you swing, the more force and the stronger you have to be to hang into the club and square it. But the apparent contradiction is you also have to be loose and relaxed. Well, monte’s 50%, ie relaxed, grip is more like a 110% grip for most of us. That’s because his maximum is so much higher. Just like Zuback can easily bench a weight that would crush you. Great tendon strength is also seen in amateur wrestlers. A great Olympian, I believe his name was Dan Gable, was reputed to be able to break a pair of pliers with his hands.


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