Sunday, May 1, 2005
Drive With Control & Power
Serious advice and drills for big, big hits
Each of my students completes a pre-instruction questionnaire, indicating wants, needs and goals. Ive used this questionnaire for 20 years, and easily the most oft-noted goal is more distance with more control. Many of these golfers own sound fundamentals, solid iron swings and good short games, but nonetheless lack the skill to consistently produce pure and powerful drives. In your own attempts to improve, does it seem like the harder you try to gain distance, the worse it gets? Trust me, youre not alone. Im confident that learning from four typical driving faults and comparing those to the moves of golfers who hit it forever with a seemingly effortless flow of motion will help you do the same.
During a recent tournament telecast, the lead announcer raved for three days about the perfect swing of a particular player in the field. This golfer was cruising through one of the toughest golf courses in the world until the 11th tee on Sunday afternoon. As I watched, I said to my wife, This is going left! Sure enough, left it went and into the water. She asked how I could have predicted the mistake. No prediction necessary.
What I noticed that Sunday was that tension, for whatever reason, had crept into his left shoulder at address, causing his golf swing to totally break down and pull-hook the shot into the water. How much is tension causing you to lose power and accuracy in your swing?
Several bad thoughts will cause you to create tension:
-Thinking too mechanically about your swing technique
-Confusing power with speed
-Recalling a bad memory or experience
-Not being sure about the shot
The most common mistake is tightening up grip pressure and then trying to swing the club faster with the hands and forearms. Sports science research has tested the longest drivers on the PGA and LPGA tours and found several common tendencies, one of which was that every long-drive golfer had a lighter grip pressure than most other golfers. They set up with relaxed hands that transcend into every muscle in their body. Here are some suggestions that will help you to be more relaxed and more poised for the big drive.
-Add to your routine a starting thought of feeling relaxed by focusing on your heart. Take deep breaths with an inhale count of five and an exhale count of five. This will prepare you for taking a grip with a lighter, softer touch.
-Make mini swings in slow motion. Concentrate on your core rotation, with your hands and arms swinging freely, and the weight of the clubhead.
-Before you walk into your address position, recall the feeling of your most solid shot and how great it felt when the ball left the clubface. If you dont have any good shots to recall, then think of any good memory that makes you feel good and positive (family, pets, etc.).
Major power losses result from a faulty grip, specifically one in which the left-hand thumb (the right for left-handers) is fully extended on the top of the grip. This long-thumb position often causes a chain reaction of faults in the golf swing. For starters, it forces a too-weak left-hand grip and, eventually, a faulty wrist hinge and a shaft that swings beyond parallel at the top (which invariably results in a casting of the club early in the downswing). I find it amazing that a single thumb can influence these damaging flaws. So the question must be asked: Is your grip thumb up or down?
The best way to practice a short-thumb feeling is by using a rubber band. Point your index finger forward and pinch the gap between the thumb and index finger closed. Place the rubber band around your thumb and index finger securely, connecting the two together. Now put your hands on the golf club. In a short amount of time, you should become comfortable with the short-thumb feeling in your swing.
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