Hit bigger drives with the help of the game's longest drivers
Hitting big drives is arguably the most satisfying, and fun, part of golf. We all want to do it more often but simply don’t know the best method for harnessing our full distance potential. In the following pages, you’ll find tips and tricks from 13 RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship competitors, all of whom know a thing or two about power. Read carefully and get ready to go deep.
Hitting bigger, more powerful drives is just a few tips away.
As an instructor, it can be a challenge to get students to work on chipping and putting—however, they would drop anything to be able to spend time at the range working on their tee shots! Driving the ball longer and straighter is the ultimate goal for most, and there’s no club they wouldn’t buy if they thought it would help them drive the ball like Tiger Woods!
How to make the most of those crucial moments before you putt.
Standing over a putt for too long (and “freezing” up) can seriously impact the fluidity of your putting stroke. To make sure you don’t get this “overanalysis paralysis,” I suggest you don’t wait too long in between your last practice stroke and your actual putt. In fact, it should take you a maximum of eight seconds! Anything longer than that, and it’s hard to retain the desired feel for the putt at hand.
On the PGA Tour, the ability to get up and down consistently from around the green is critical, and being a good pitcher of the ball makes saving pars a lot easier. The three basic shots you need to know are high, medium and low pitches. Master these three, and you’ll be able to handle just about any situation.
How to take your swing from average Joe to touring pro in no time.
When you compare an average golfer (in this case, we’ll called him “JOE”) to a Tour player (let’s call him “PRO”), you notice big differences in each golf swing. For example, the PRO can achieve certain swing positions because he’s more flexible and has stronger golf muscles than JOE. In fact, physical limitations often prevent JOE from reaching the same positions as the PRO, making it critical for him to make certain adjustments to his technique in order to still strike the ball solidly without hurting himself.
With today’s enormous drivers, it has become easier to hit the ball a long way. But if you slice the ball, you’re probably not getting the type of distance you deserve, since sliced shots not only miss the fairway, but also rob you of powerful distance.
With a quick glance, you can hardly tell the difference between the photos, right? True, both shots look close to identical, but in actuality, they’re anything but. The photo on the left is at impact with a 6-iron, and the photo on the far left is the same impact position, only this time with my hybrid.
Players like Charles Howell III, Rory Sabbatini, Jonathan Byrd, even the budding superstar Anthony Kim, all have something in common. Besides obviously being PGA Tour players, they’re all relatively small guys in both size and stature who manage to hit the ball with tremendous power. How do they do it? Each of these players, as well as a handful of other professionals, understands that true power and control come from swinging the golf club with a powerful core.
It stands to reason that if you want to learn how to do something the right way, you should learn from the best. For this reason, we’ve gathered some shotmaking tips from current PGA Tour players. Pay close attention to the techniques they describe, and practice them regularly, just like they do. Soon enough, you’ll find that these Tour-proven tips will pay dividends in terms of better shots and lower scores. In addition, we offer a swing sequence of Padraig Harrington, arguably the best player in the world at the moment. Check out Padraig’s swing and strive to copy both its simplicity and consistency. You’ll be glad you did.
The greenside bunker shot is one of the most intimidating shots for the amateur player, while at the same time being one of the easier shots for touring pros. Why? The reason is simply because professionals understand how to manage sand properly and actually use the sand to their advantage. As for amateurs? For some reason, most amateurs make matters more confusing than they ought to be.
Most players who slice only have a vague idea of why they do so. Some think it’s due to their swing path or their release, and some even blame their equipment. The angle of the clubface is an element they often overlook. However, the simple fact is that if a shot moves left to right, you can be sure the clubface is open at impact.
Simply put, when you address the golf ball—and because the ball is both on the ground and in front of you—you’ll have to lean forward to reach it. To do this effectively, adjust the upper-body lean by hinging at the hip socket, not in the back or by excessively squatting.
Golfers use two kinds of putting strokes: a square-to-square stroke that swings (and stays) square to the target line and an arcing stroke that travels inside the target line on the backstroke and follow through.
To execute a wedge shot that hits, takes a hop and stops (or spins back), the first thing you need is the right kind of ball (see the sidebar) and a high-lofted wedge with sharp grooves. Next, you need a good lie from the fairway so the ball compresses against the clubface and the grooves “bite” into it and get it spinning fast.
Understanding how different irons affect your golf swing.
In a perfect world, every shot in golf would be the same distance, and we’d only have to use one club the whole round. Instead, we have 14 clubs to choose from, mostly made up of irons of different lengths and lofts. Some instructors say that you should make the same swing with every iron, play the ball in the same spot and, lastly, expect the same results with each club. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the case.
I was hitting balls one day with my friend and fellow teaching professional, Ron Gring, when he described a way of looking at all the key shots in golf as “the nine panes of glass.” This obviously refers to the image you see above, with a fade, straight shot and draw at low, medium and high trajectories fitting into the nine slots.
Sergio’s left shoulder points down toward the ground and behind the ball late into the downswing. This serves two purposes: First, the steeper shoulder angle keeps the left arm close to the body and enables him to create his famous “lag.” Second, the closed position of the shoulders prevents the club from coming over the top.
The words “weight shift” can cause a lot of confusion. For starters, a weight shift isn’t something that you should forcibly do; rather, during the swing, your body weight should shift naturally as you make a proper turn. Any manipulation of weight from side to side is a mistake.
Casting the club from the top of the swing (arms straightening prematurely) is one of the most common power leaks for the amateur player. This move results from a downswing that’s initiated by the muscles in the arms and upper body, and makes it almost impossible to store energy during the downswing.
The best players in the world are as proficient as they are for very good reasons. Not only do they possess an incredibly high level of talent and athletic ability, but they also have sound fundamentals and outstanding overall technique. If you’re going to learn from anyone, these are the guys you want to study.
One of the absolute basics of good scoring is solid putting from short to medium range. If you’re confident from these distances, it will take pressure off all your other short-game shots and make you a better lag putter as well.
By now, you’ve probably seen footage of Tiger Woods snapping his 4-iron against a tree in the 2007 Masters. If you haven’t, it happened on the 11th hole when he found his ball at the base of a tree. Tiger had three choices: hit it backward or backhanded (two choices that would have probably led to a bogey) or advance it down the fairway. Of course, Tiger chose the latter, but to pull it off, he had to sacrifice his 4-iron.