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!
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.
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.
Sean O'Hair's coach helps you hit it long (and down the middle) every time
In early March, one of my students, Sean O’Hair, put on a master class in Total Driving at the PODS Championship. (The Tour computes Total Driving by “totaling a player’s rank in both driving distance and driving accuracy.”) For the week, Sean finished T15 in driving accuracy and 8th in driving distance, averaging 282.6 yards. Sean won that week—his second Tour victory—and earned a trip to the Masters. I couldn’t have been more proud.
How to hit draws and fades by making simple adjustments to the downswing
The hardest shot in golf is the one that flies in a straight line. It’s so difficult that even the best players in the world rarely try to hit it, mainly since this shot requires the utmost in timing and precision. Draws and fades are a lot easier to repeat, however, considering each has varying degrees from which one can produce a good result. Some fades and draws are more pronounced than others, but with the proper mechanics, any type of fade or draw can work to your benefit and can be much more repeatable than a shot that flies straight.
Add distance with long drive secrets, featuring Sean "The Beast" Fister, 5-time winner Jason Zuback and 11 more of the world's longest hitters
One element I found all long hitters have in common is that they swing around a central axis. It’s okay to move a bit off the ball in the backswing, but if you want to transfer the maximum amount of power into the ball, you can’t sway too far back or forward. Also, you must get your right side all the way through the shot. Notice how my right shoulder and hip are shooting toward the target. This is a must!
There’s at least one basic certainty in golf and that is that good, solid contact produces quality shots. Every player, even those who compete on the PGA Tour, knows this and strives to perfect the moment of impact. Unfortunately, many recreational golfers don’t make high-quality contact as often as they should, in part because they simply don’t know the key elements necessary to do so.
Sweden’s golf program has produced a number of world-class players in recent years, including Annika Sorenstam, Henrik Stenson and Jesper Parnevik. One of the players you might be less familiar with, Fredrik Jacobson, is well on his way to completing his fourth consecutive year on the PGA Tour after spending six successful years on the European PGA Tour.
Like all members of the PGA Tour, I play a lot of rounds with recreational golfers in various pro-ams and charity tournaments. If there’s one thing I notice during these rounds, it’s how inconsistent most weekend players are off the tee. Obviously, the driver is the most difficult club in the bag to hit consistently, due to its long length (most off-the-rack drivers measure about 45 inches) and low degree of loft.
You can’t fire a gun unless you pull the trigger, right? A similar concept also applies to the golf swing, which also usually requires a “trigger move” to get the body moving. Now, not everyone has a trigger, some manage to swing well from a static position to a dynamic position. But for the rest of us who often find confusion when it comes to where to start the golf swing, a trigger move can help you start swinging in a fluid and consistent manner.
So you think you’re a big hitter? Well, consider this. Today’s top long drivers don’t bunt the ball a measly 250 yards off the tee. Heck, a mediocre wallop drops somewhere around the 320-yard range. Frankly, these guys aren’t satisfied with anything under 400 yards when it comes time to winning a paycheck. Now that’s long!
I can’t tell you how many people come to my lesson tee and say, “If I could just get rid of my baseball swing, then all my problems would be solved!” My initial thought is always: I wish you had a baseball swing, because it would help you play better golf.
When you want to get some extra distance out of your drives, it’s natural to think that your right or dominant hand (for right-handed golfers) should supply the power. In reality, however, maximum power is a result of a left-hand lead.
At my power clinics and exhibitions, I often recommend to audiences that they try to develop the feeling of holding a golf club long enough at the top of their backswing for someone to hang a shirt on it—the Clothesline Effect, if you will.
Like anyone else, I have days when I’m not hitting the ball as crisply as I’d like. If I’m blocking my golf shots or hitting weak pushes, I always go back to basics and make sure I’m releasing the clubhead. Once I start releasing the clubhead properly again, I’ll regain my distance—and my accuracy.
Golfers often talk about the importance of keeping a straight left arm during the backswing. Equally important, but seldom discussed, is the value of keeping the right arm straight during the first two feet of the takeaway. I see many amateurs bend their right elbow too much at address—which causes incorrect posture—and fold their right elbow too quickly as they take the club back. These right elbow flaws create a lifting action and produce a too-narrow swing arc, robbing players of their power potential.
There’s more than one way to hit the ball long. Just look at the swings of long hitters like Tiger Woods, John Daly and Fred Couples. Each is different and each serves its purpose well. However, to hit your longest, most powerful drives, three elements must be present: You must fully release the club, swing with an even tempo and remain in balance.
One key to hitting more powerful golf shots is keeping your body behind the ball before impact. A premature lifting of the right foot during the downswing causes golfers to shift too much of their weight to the left side, resulting in a loss of power and distance.
When your driving goes south -- or when situations call for something other than the big dog -- ?don't forget your options
The well-worn cliché drive for show, putt for dough is familiar to
most golfers, but heeded by few. Hitting big drives is, in fact, often
the most desirable accomplishment in the game for many recreational
players, most of whom are less concerned with score than the bragging
rights that accompany a long drive. Players who are interested in
shooting good scores, however, know that accurate driving, or
strategically positioning the ball off the tee, is a critical part of
playing solid golf, and sometimes mandates the use of different clubs.
One of the keys to a solid golf swing is a level turn of the shoulders
and hips during the backswing. A solid rotation not only promotes
consistent ballstriking, but lays the foundation for achieving maximum
distance as well.
Im frequently approached at my power clinics and exhibitions by senior
golfers who claim theyve lost strength and suppleness, which
translates into shorter tee shots. My advice to them for regaining lost
distance is simple and direct: pre-load your power. By that I mean
seniors should make a few swing adjustments to compensate for advancing
age and a diminished ability to turn their shoulders and torque their
You cant hit big drives if your body gets stuck. Thats why I make a
point of rotating my hips completely open on the downswing. This allows
my arms to fully extend through the hitting area. Not only do my hips
clear, but they remain level, which is key. By rotating through on a
level plane, my right shoulder, arm and hip are able to continue adding
power through impact. This prevents my body from getting stuck, which
would limit the potential for clubhead speed by forcing me to hit only
with my hands.
One of the first lessons most golfers learn is to keep your eye on the
ball. Im here to offer a better suggestion: Move your eyes behind the
ball. Heresy, you say? I dont think so. Thats because when a golfer makes
his or her backswing with a full turn of the shoulders and a proper
shift of weight, the center of his or her chest, or sternum, will be
well behind the ball. (Exactly how far behind the ball depends on an
individuals suppleness and flexibility.)
There are many keys to a powerful swing, and my number-one focus is to
establish a powerful backswing coil. Notice how my left arm is parallel
to the ground while the shaft is perpendicular to it. This position
indicates a massive turn away from the ball and not a simple lifting of
the club to the top (you can see my entire body stretching and
straining to get turned). The coil is further enhanced by my left foot,
which is firmly on the ground. This limits the amount I can turn my
hips while still allowing me to rotate my shoulders as much as