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
Many amateurs are so consumed with anxiety about the incremental parts
of the golf swing (grip, alignment, posture, setup, etc.) that they
lose sight of the overall objective, which is to strike the ball
squarely and forcefully. Let me suggest a method to alleviate this
anxiety: Focus on the finish.
For more clubhead MPH and more yards, turn to your hips
If theres an absolute truth in golf, its that the faster you can move
the clubhead, the greater the potential for extra distance. Granted,
you still need to make solid contact in the center of the face and with
the club moving on the proper plane, but all other things being equal,
more speed definitely means more yards. The big question is: Where does
speed come from? Your hands can move fairly quickly, and theres no
faster part of your body than your fingers. But where the golf swing is
concerned, a fast clubhead almost always results from fast hips moving
correctly and in the proper direction.
The three components for proper hip movement—a critical component of a fundamentally solid downswing—are weight shift, a slight lateral slide and hip whip (the explosive rotation just before impact that generates power). Good players know how to mix these components in the proper proportion to achieve both maximum power and outstanding accuracy.
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.
Like a high-performance engine that stalls when it leaks oil, water or fuel, a golf swing comes to an idling stop when the potential energy created in the backswing is emptied well before impact. Here are three tips to help keep power from leaking out of your game and also add horsepower to your motion.
If your driving suffers from inconsistency and a lack of distance, you may be tied up with too many thoughts about swing mechanics. Free your mind at address and focus on a specific target in the fairway where you want the ball to land. Then let your natural instincts take over. Swing the clubhead to that target, making an athletic move through the ball.
Golfers who possess the ability to hammer 300-yard drives like clockwork often talk about the importance of “firing the right side” through impact. That’s all well and good, but it’s also somewhat misleading. The right side doesn’t serve as an initiator in the downswing; it’s a reactor. The right side of the body doesn’t “fire” as such; it responds to a proper sequence of motion initiated by the left side.
Davis Love III is that rare breed of golfer who enters every tournament with a great chance to win. One of the reasons for this is his prowess with the driver. Last year, Love averaged 299 yards off the tee and notched a Total Driving ranking (accuracy plus distance) of 26, which fueled four wins and paychecks totaling $6 million. With such length off the tee, hitting greens in regulation—the most important scoring indicator—becomes a less daunting task.
Skilled golfers know that true power results from the upper body coiling over the resistance of the lower body, and that the key to this is establishing good footwork. Typical modern-day pros are flexible enough to get the upper body behind the ball without having to lift the left foot off the ground. Instead, they shift their weight to the inside of the right foot as the left foot rolls slightly inward, allowing the left knee to rotate behind the ball. From this position, they shift weight laterally on the downswing, pushing off the ground with the right foot.
Simple tips and drills for finding the fairway more often
The higher the handicap, the more pivotal the tee ball becomes. Driving the ball into water, rough, bunkers, trees and other hazards is what causes high-handicappers to rack up strokes. As players become more proficient, they develop skills to execute trouble shots and hit pitches from the rough and sand, putting less pressure on hitting fairways. It’s almost as if good players expect to miss every now and then, feeling confident in knowing that they have the tools to recover from an errant drive. High-handicappers, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury.
My standard response to a question I frequently field at clinics and exhibitions about the proper feeling at address is: “It’s like cement and spaghetti.” That strange combination of metaphors raises a few eyebrows until I explain what I mean.
Learn the secrets of the longest drivers in the world
Recreational golfers, top amateurs and pros have at least one thing in common—they all want to drive it long. It’s a desire all golfers have, which is why driving ranges are full of people swinging out of their shoes in the attempt to hit it higher, longer and farther.
A wrist- or hand-dominated motion can be useful in certain situations
around the green, where less-than-perfect lies mandate a conscious
manipulation of the clubhead. However, being wristy or handsy on the
tee, where the objective is to generate maximum power and distance, is
a definite no-no. With the big stick, you should strive to keep your
hands and wrists as quiet—or passive—as possible.