Holding Shaft Flex... The Holy Grail of Golf

I have always believed that to hold the flex of the shaft all the way to the ball is the most difficult thing ever asked of the human body! The hitters nirvana is to hold the flex of the shaft passed impact. Remember, when acceleration reaches zero, the shaft itself releases, even if the clubhead is well behind the hands. It’s tough to see it even on high speed video. This is why tour pros still hit bad shots. With X shafts we don’t have much room for error here. Hitting the ball with a pre stressed shaft is the meaning of sustaining the lag. Many people get confused between the angle of the shaft and the left arm, the big deep lag look, Hogan, Sergio, etc… and true lag pressure which is the physics of actually stressing the shaft. Tough stuff my friends.

To hit the ball far you only need clubhead speed, but to hit it straight everyday, you need acceleration. My goal is to have the clubhead moving faster AFTER impact. This is the intention, and this was also talked about in Ben Hogan’s Five Fundamentals,
the second part of the swing…

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Holding Shaft Flex… what we are talking here is the holy grail of golf.
Difficult and as ever elusive as the game itself… From my own swing lab, using 10K shutter camera film I do have some shots of it somewhere. I remember having seen the Iron Byron Machine do it.

When I was in top form back in the late 80’s I felt I could do it hitting but not swinging and I have some video somewhere to demonstrate it.
I’ll have to dig it up, but I did put it to the test, and was able to take home a win on the Canadian Tour, blades, persimmon, four rounds in the 60’s and 17 under, back when that actually meant something! lol… right around that time I had a round at Madera CC where I hit the pin 4 times in a round from fairways. That was telling me I was on the right track.

Physics tells us that when acceleration reaches zero, the shaft will release. Pictures of a swing might appear to have a delayed shaft angle or what most call lag, but the shaft itself may be telling a different story.

I for one am a lover of over acceleration from the top! lol… never throwing the club, but if my torso moves too fast from the top, and I put a quick flex on the shaft at the change of direction, it makes holding the flex impossible. X shafts did wonders for me on days like this, as I would still be able to hit greens and keep the ball in play, but not knocking down pins.

Mac was big on firing #1 first, but really to just get the club back down from shoulder plane to elbow plane. I personally like that move a lot, and I used to practice starting down with zero hip turn
and zero shoulder turn then once the club was at the 3rd parallel,
just rip it around with the body as fast as I could with a frozen right arm till the 4rth parallel. It’s a great way to swing if you can master it and your goal is to hit it dead straight all day. You have to really feel and develop what I called a cohesive body tension, where every muscle in the body is like one solid fiber. I used and applied that concept on tour, and it was really pressure proof as far as direction.

The right arm straightening is a tough move, and the flatter you learn to swing, if done correctly, the easier this becomes, because the right arm then doesn’t have to straighten as much, but you can get the same result…

Someone mentioned about Peter Senior and his finish… that is it … you nailed it… it may not look conventional, but the dynamics of him just ripping the shaft back up the plane, from the lowest position to the highest did nothing but keep the forces on the shaft well after impact making every humanly possible effort the have the hands moving faster than the clubhead, and in doing so seeking the impossible holy grail of holding the flex to the ball, past or beyond.

I have always viewed acceleration as increasing velocity, so would that be increasing velocity increasing exponentially?

Velocity is not something we always feel, as earth is spinning around the sun at 28,000 mph or something like that… but acceleration is something that we do feel…

since golf is a game of feel, and a golfer’s feel is his or hers lifeblood,
and acceleration creates feel at the players pressure points, I always
go back to stressing acceleration when talking about how to play good golf… or in striking a golf ball correctly.

This is why it is SO important that you start the downswing slow,
because to keep the club accelerating, the club must continually increase in velocity, and each golfer must know their own capacity to do so… if you start too fast on the downswing, and you don’t have the rotational speed with the right forearm into impact, or lack the ability to rotate the hips with great speed just after impact, or you swing into too flat a finish, all these things can cause acceleration to stop,
and when that happens, golf becomes a game of chance rather than of precision.

An unstressed clubshaft arriving at impact will offer a large variety of possible impact alignments… and perfect might be one of them, but only maybe one in 20? (I’m guessing here)

This is why most golfers who are not good players sometimes hit great shots… random acts of unstressed clubshaft impact alignments.

The golfer perceives that they did something correct or “right” when in fact they just experienced a random act of chance…

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In my search for golfing idealism, I came to the realization that the ultimate objective of the swing would be to hold the flex of the shaft all the way to the ball. This could only be accomplished through radial acceleration. Hence hitting. I believe that to reach a level of the game
where a golfer could truly become a rock solid ball striking machine, that would rarely ever miss hit a shot, this would be the best route to pursue. I think Mac O’ Grady was searching along these lines as well.

As soon as acceleration reaches zero, the lag pressure on the shaft releases, and instead of the shaft flexing back, putting pressure on all the pressure points which is the lifeline of the master ball strikers feel,
this feel is diminished and the player will not feel force coming up the shaft until the ball is actually struck. To have the ability to constantly monitor the progression of the flex of the shaft all the way down to the ball and beyond would be the ultimate situation for masterful ball striking.

Now if you say that such a pursuit is not realistic, then swinging would offer the next best solution. The logic behind swinging is that acceleration of the shaft would not be intended to hold the flex to the ball but to “time” the downward thrust of the centrifugal force created in the swing by it’s moving in a circle, and this force is to be dumped roughly at the low point of the golfer’s swing arc.

FORCE equals MASS times ACCELERATION. Therefore, the protocol that would create the most force in a golf swing would have to be hitting… for the obvious reason that as you increase acceleration, you increase force as well. Given the same rate of acceleration, you would be wiser to use a heavier club.
John Morse, who won the Australian Open in the early 90’s new this,
he has the heaviest clubs I have ever seen in a tour player’s bag.

Another advantage of striking a golf ball with more FORCE is that the more force the clubhead creates, the less the clubhead will wobble at impact with the ball, and more of the clubhead’s energy will be transfered into the ball… or as TGM would teach, “to sustain the line of compression”

The problem with hitting is that although this all sounds good, how does a golfer go about continuing to accelerate the club to the ball and beyond? It’s certainly easier to produce speed from the top of the backswing down to the ball, than it would be to produce speed from impact to the finish. The later is essentially what needs to happen.

This is why I believe that golf is the toughest, most difficult game ever invented. A golfer has no choice but to deal with this paradox.

If a golfer can figure out how to do this, actually move the peak accelerate point in the swing past the ball… you might find yourself being one of the greatest ball strikers of all time.

It’s a noble pursuit…


Loading of the shaft, a pre stressed clubshaft to impact and beyond?

Many say it can’t be done…

I know for a fact it can… I will post pics here soon to demostrate.
I have a set of junior clubs with some whippy shafts that will make it easy to show.

It is a fact that to hold the flex of the shaft all the way to the ball becomes more difficult the longer the backswing.

The problem we face as humans is that it is easier to generate clubhead speed from the top of our backswing down to impact…than it would be to start from impact fix to the finish.

In a most basic sense, it is easy to drop things down than to lift things up.

I’ll say it again… holding the flex of the shaft to the ball is the holy grail of golf. This can only be attempted by the use of radial acceleration. The swinger doesn’t even try.

It is hard to hold the flex all the way? YES
Is it impossible? NO

For me, this is all golf is…
I would be the first to admit that I love to over accelerate my torso from the top. It is much easier for me to rotate fast from the top to impact than from impact to my finish. I fight this all the time in my own game… It is very hard for me to rotate my torso from impact to finish… faster than from the top to impact… but this is what I strive to do when I play golf. Just last week I played and I could feel I was losing the flex of the shaft earlier than I should. The problem is that this doesn’t necessarily show up in photographs or video, and it’s really hard to see on tape if I am playing with X shafts. But I DO feel it. This is one of the reason’s I play with a different set of irons every round. Different shaft flexes, different swing weights, different dead weights, it forces my brain to be very keen and aware of what the shaft is doing… it’s always about acceleration, and pre stressing the shaft. If I am holding the flex, I can hit any club straight… I need only about 2 or 3 swings to find out how open the face will be… the looser the shaft, the more the face is open at impact… so I have to only adjust my release to accommodate the shaft of the day…

I have certain drills I do to work on this (holding the flex). Last week I missed 8 greens and scraped around for a 73. I took three days off to re work the acceleration feeling of the torso and my 5th accumulator, and yesterday I went out and hit 16 greens… 14 birdie putts inside 30 feet… got extremely hot with putter and converted 50% of the putts…
3 of them were kick in’s… that’s how pro’s shoot low. You go out and pepper the flag all week and wait patiently for the good putting rounds. Today a 66.

I just can’t say enough how fun golf is when you actually take control of the course and play it like a chess match against the architect.

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I took this sequence on the back deck in August of 08.
There was no ball, no divot, just pure pivot acceleration and a lot of hand firing into what would be
the impact area. In this case it shows the possibilities of holding flex all the way over to P4.
Tough stuff, but nonetheless, possible.

The point here is… is it possible? to hold the flex to the ball and beyond? YES… in fact even to parallel four as demonstrated.

Now, could I take the club back 10 inches further on the backswing and do the same thing? How about all the way to the top? Of course if I start the club down slow enough I could replicate the same action from P3 to P4… but the faster I start down, the more difficult it becomes to maintain the flex.

Of course to hold the flex all the way to P4 might be a stretch in reality…
but it still is admirable intent. It is certainly what you would want to feel
if you were in “reality” to hold the flex to the ball.

High speed cameras can tell us a lot here, but I’m still not so sure they can tell the whole story… with the stiff shafts we use, in my case tipped X100’s, it may appear that the shaft is straight and not stressed back at impact, but just because it looks that way, doesn’t mean there is not some force still on it. With a stiff shaft, you can put a fair amount of force on the shaft before it becomes visually obvious (flex).

In the photo sequence above, I used a very loose shaft to show how holding the flex can be done. Had I used stiff shafts, you might not be able to see it, even though the force is the same. (mass x velocity)

I think the easiest way to answer your question about shaft flex, and holding the flex of the shaft is that…

The speed at which the ball leaves the clubface at impact is dependent upon the speed of the clubhead itself, both prior to and after impact.
The less the clubhead slows down due to the collision occurring at impact the better.

The best way to describe the sensation is to feel as if the speed of the body, arms and hands reach their maximum velocity well after impact.

Although this is very difficult to “feel”, it is not out of the possibility of the human body to have such a sensation. It really is the “holy grail” of the golf swing. Here lies the secret.

The paradox is that although it is easier to generate velocity from the top of the backswing down to impact…… than from impact to the finish…
this is not what you want to do or feel.

In a way the swing is like a mysterious puzzle. If you can figure out a way to reach maximum velocity at the 4rth parallel (after impact)… than the 3rd parallel (before impact) you have solved the mystery.
You will soon become one of golfs great ball strikers, and have the world shivering in their boots.

Can you pull the sword from the stone?

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Lag, this is definitely my favorite thread on this forum, thusfar. Very well written!

In that sequence you posted, was that performed from a dead-stop starting at P3? Thanks, Lag!


Yes it was… dead start from P3!
You drop the head for a foot then it’s a three stage rocket firing…
hands, then pivot, then 5th accumulator.

Here’s a pic sequence of ETW in 2001…I know he’s swingger but thought the 4:30 pic is interesting and the post impact lag pressure
ETW's Post Impact Pressure.jpg

That’s a wonderful picture…


Tiger is very hitter by my definition. His irons are fairly upright, so it can look a bit more swinging but in reality it is not.

The picture of the flex is post impact, so the forces of impact will always kick the shaft back to give it that look. What we want to see is the shaft just before initial contact to see shaft flex. Also, stiffer shafts won’t appear to be flexed back as much, and also radial acceleration straightens out the shaft which can conceal the visual, but the kinetic energy or stored energy within the shaft will be very much alive. There is also an element of Toe dip the can bend the shaft downwards because the gravitational center of the sweetspot is not directly inline with the shaft… so at higher velocities, the toe can dip, and from a front on view, this can appear to be a loss of flex when it is not, because the shaft if rotating from open to square…

Best to just do it like this…!


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I have a question for clarification. In your previous post you mentioned the feeling of lag pressure in someone who would be able to create lag pressure at the moment of impact. Do you mean he feels the impact if the shaft is pressured/accelerating into the ball or do you mean he doesnt feel impact.

Is keeping lag pressure the same thing as seeing a whip keep its tension (or a ball on a string). In other words, as its whipping by the tip end lags until the moment of release ie. deceleration.

Also, did Hogan or Moe do it?

Hogan & Moe

Bit harder to see in the Moe pic because of shaft flick of focus. But it’s there
Horton Smith 2 time master winner and
Bobby locke British Open 4 times
And a great pic of a really good ball striker from England Mark james

I will let Lag explain your question. Here’s some pics to see the goal
horton smith.jpg

I agree that Tiger looks like a hitter with the irons but looks like a swinger to me @ P4 with the driver in this photo…Lag, please explain when you have a chance.
ETW' P4 2001.jpg

Jury is still out on the quality of the lens that was used to take this pic as it is a little blurry—cool shaft flex though…with Arnie and what I have previously seen i would have to give him the thumbs up that he is reaching for the holy grail with this swing

Great photo! So solid it’s hard to believe he’s in motion…

Great pic Two.

I was sitting here this evening watching the umpteenth replay of that 1997 Arnie-Tiger-DL3-Lehman 4-ball skins game for charity “golf gala”. Arnie was what… 67 when they filmed this? I was more interested in his action than the other 3 and was amazed at how strong he pivoted into p4 and then into pv5, even at 67. No wonder he was as good as he was.

Personally I like the slacks, those are money. Shirt’s gotta go though.

One of my all time Favorite players.

One of my favorites also…however, that move ain’t cuttin it in Module 2