Todd Sones: The L’s That Destroy a Short Game

Jordan Spieth...
Around the greens, the best players on Tour have neither lateral nor lag.

Todd Sones is a Golf Digest Top 50 and Golf Magazine Top 100 Instructor who usually teaches at White Deer Run Golf Club outside Chicago. But when winter hits, he moves indoors to the Buffalo Grove Golf & Sports Center.

Todd also serves on the Golf Academy of America’s National Advisory Board and is a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach. In this week’s video (below), Todd discusses the two L’s that will destroy a short game. I always try to transcribe these tips because they only stay up for about a week. Of course, you can always gain access to this tip and more simply by becoming an Impact Golf Member at

Todd has become a big advocate of players working on their short games during the winter months. The skulled shot feels awful, costs you a lot of shots around the green, and obviously makes your score go a lot higher.

Where does the skulled shot come from? It comes from the club swinging up at impact, ascending through the golf ball instead of descending. The lowest point of your golf swing needs to be after you strike the golf ball. It can’t be before. That’s your skulled or your fat shot. You need the club to descend through impact.

Todd likes to tell people there are two things they cannot do in the short game. He calls them the two L’s: lateral and lag. It’s interesting because we actually teach them in the full swing. In the full swing, we want lateral motion and we want lag of the clubhead. What’s lateral? Lateral is when you’re at the top of your golf swing and your lower body shifts laterally to the forward leg.

That allows your upper body to tilt back and allows the club to drop down, actually increasing the lag between the clubhead and your lead hand. We want lateral and lag to strike the ball powerfully on a full swing. For finesse shots around the green, those are two things you don’t want. You don’t want lateral, and you don’t want lag.

When you look at the best players on Tour around the greens, they have neither. They make sure the club comes down without lag and gets back in front of their body. If you start (lagging the club), the club’s too far behind, and it can’t catch up. If it does, it has too much energy to hit a finesse shot. Lag is for power. Get rid of it for your finesse shots:



When you take the club up to the top, you don’t want your body to be tilted back. You want to stay on top of your lower body. On the downswing, you’ve got to make sure you start the club first so the clubhead doesn’t get caught lagging behind. That would give you too much energy. For little shots around the green, you’ve got to get the club going first so it gets back in front of you.

Once you get it in front of you, you should rotate through without any lateral motion. No lateral. No lag. The club comes down, gets right back in front of you matched up, and then you rotate around your lead leg so your chest is balanced.

Todd always tell people, “If you don’t have lateral or lag, there are two checkpoints that will prove it to you.”

“When I get finished with a good short game shot,” says Todd, “I should be able to do two things: lift my trail leg and fold my elbows and pull the club right into my lower body. Right into the center.”

When you have lateral and lag, you can’t do either. You can lift your forward leg, not your back leg, and you can’t fold your elbows and pull the club into your body. So if you can do those two things, you’ve got it. Get rid of your lateral and your lag, and you’ll be much better around the greens.

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