Power Builds

Use the body you have to crush it!

1. Golfer Type: Tall & Lanky

PLAYERS WITH TALL, lanky builds have the opportunity to create a wide, powerful swing arc. However, golfers often don't use their physical size to their advantage. This happens because of limitations in their technique and body composition. If you're tall and lanky and have trouble knocking it out of the park, read on and apply my tips.


Notice how far apart my arms are in the photo below? That gap, or what I refer to as a lack of connection, produces a loose off-plane swing that lacks power and consistency.

To tighten up your swing, do what I'm doing at left, tucking my left sleeve under my arm. Doing so keeps my arms more in sync with my torso, creating a proper blend of arms and body. Hugging your left upper arm against your chest is a key pressure point and helps maintain a sound backswing. With this simple tip, you'll notice fast improvements in both distance and accuracy.


To better train yourself, I've devised a couple exercises for you to practice, either by yourself or with a friend. Place an elastic band such as a jump rope or elastic exercise tubing around both your legs and have a friend pull on it tightly, as you see here. Next, make a swing, while your friend pulls on the band. Hold with your legs while you rotate your upper body. This tension between your upper body and a resistant lower body adds stability to your swing, while producing more snap through the hit.

Another exercise you can practice to promote stability is a simple medicine-ball iso-hold squat. Hold either a weighted medicine ball, light dumbbell or kettle bell close to your body and up against your sternum. Squat down so that your upper legs are parallel to the ground. Contract your core muscles for stability, keeping your chin up and upper-body posture strong. Try to hold the position for 30-60 seconds for one to three sets.


2. Golfer Type: Short & Thick

IF A GOLFER HAS too much mass, either from bulky muscles or a bulky girth, it can inhibit a free-flowing swing (not to mention create a variety of technical swing issues). If you have a set of guns or a belly that tends to get in the way, read on and start swinging with more fluidity.

In the photo below right, I'm swinging far too long and out of control. My shaft is well beyond parallel in the backswing, and this leads to a major power leak. This happens because the player tends to think that a big windup is the key to his power. He doesn't rotate very well because of his bulky frame, so to lengthen his swing, he uses his smaller muscles, loosening his hands in the backswing, even losing his grip so his clubshaft swings well out of control. I want my students to make a shorter swing that's easier to control, seeing distance as a product of a solid strike versus a Herculean lash (as shown in these photos where the club is under my chest and about __ of the way back).

To fix your lack of rotation, start your swing with your right foot back (opposite page). This encourages some rotational movement away from the target.


On the followthrough, it's imperative to better use your body to put all you've got into the hit. Take a look at my feet in the two impact photos (opposite page, bottom). In the photo at right they're dead and in the photo at left they're alive. A common trait of golfers with this build is that they find it hard to get their body moving, both back and through. Getting the back foot to wake up serves to add more power to the strike, while encouraging clean contact on all of your shots, especially those played with irons, hybrids or fairway metals directly from the turf.




CUTTING SUGAR FROM your diet is the number-one way to shed pounds. Your body is designed to have only four grams of sugar in its blood stream at any given point in time. Excess sugar raises insulin levels as a means of combating the blood's sugar toxicity. Studies show that as insulin levels rise, so does fat storage. You might think that you're doing your body good by slurping down a sports drink midround, but the fact is sports drinks and other common beverages are loaded with sugar. For example, a 20-ounce Vitamin Water is packed with a whopping 33 grams of sugar, a 24-ounce Arizona Iced Tea will practically put you in a coma with a 72-gram punch and even a seemingly healthy 16-ounce orange or apple juice will hit you with 52 grams of sugar each!

To avoid these sugar shanks, stick to water, coffee or tea, which all have 0 grams of sugar in their natural form. If you still prefer a sweet taste, you can flavor your beverage with an all-natural sweetener such as Stevia. Available at most health food stores, Stevia comes in packets that are easily storable in your golf bag.

Need more mobility? Check out the Titleist Performance Institute's website (www.mytpi.com). This free site features tons of information, including movement screens and mobility exercises.


3. Golfer Type: Women

A COMMON CHALLENGE for women golfers is how to hit it farther without overswinging and/or losing their great tempo. It's no secret that women, on average, hit the ball shorter than men. Consider that the LPGA's longest hitter, Michelle Wie, averages 275.7 yards per drive. That's a nice poke, but nowhere near PGA Tour leader Robert Garrigus who averages 315.9 yards off the tee. (Wie still outdrives about nearly 15 PGA Tour pros including Jim Furyk, Tim Clark, Paul Goydos, Mike Weir and Brian Gay.) However, scroll down the LPGA list and you'll see that the distance averages quickly drop off. The shortest LPGA driver, Song Yi Choi averages only 216.3 yards off the tee, about as far many PGA Tour pros hit their 5-irons. The good news though, ladies, is that you can still learn to hit it farther than you do now.


Many of my female students struggle with poor pivot action and poor lower-body stability (in particular a lot of ankle roll). Without a strong base–one that results in a slide as you see below left–it's virtually impossible to store and unleash any power. To remedy this, stand on two balance disks and make some swings. Because the disks are unstable, it'll force you to find stability through proper use of your trunk, glutes, quads and ankles.

Another great drill is this simple punching drill. Try it first without a club as I'm doing here (opposite page, above). Make a fist, then make a swing, really feeling your arm fly through the impact area. After doing that a few times, hold a club in your right hand and do the same thing, trying to create a swooshing sound at the impact area.


To hit it far, you need to have the right kind of attitude. That's where using an impact bag can really help you. (Hey, no one says only men can knock the stuffing out of the ball!) In fact, slamming your clubhead into the bag repeatedly can be downright fun. It also helps teach you how to feel solid contact, as striking a solid blow into any object is a product of feeling the hit in the hands, arms and correct use of the body!

4. Golfer Type: Junior

JUNIORS, AND EVEN kids on the lower end of the strength scale into their high-school years, typically have a lot of flexibility, but are limited in how much power they generate.



Golf clubs–even new, light offerings–can weigh quite a bit for juniors. This makes it hard for them to control the club. They get weighed down by the club's length and weight. If you're a junior and you struggle with the weight of your club, try swinging the club with a split grip. By separating your hands, you'll lighten the club on your takeaway and create a more on-plane action. Notice how with this drill, it's easy to get the club to stand a bit more up and down. When the head is positioned more above the handle, the club will feel very light, making it easier to work properly into the top of the backswing. During a live swing, feel the same headabove handle position. A shaft that's perfectly on plane (matching the address shaft angle), or one slightly more vertical, will keep the shaft light and easy to move.

Take a look at these two photos. In the one at right, I'm approaching the top of my backswing, and the clubface has shut because of an excessively strong grip. In the other one, it hasn't because I've adopted a grip that's set to a neutral position. Juniors like a strong grip because it helps them create a strong hit. However, problems occur when the grip gets out of the range of acceptable and shuts the clubface. An extremely closed face doesn't have much loft to launch the ball the necessary height, and the weaker player doesn't have the clubhead speed to help make up for it. Finding a more neutral grip or one that's only slightly stronger than neutral will ensure that you can easily launch the ball on the trajectory that will create the optimal balance of carry and roll.

Juniors also have a hard time maintaining their posture because they're trying to generate power in any possible way. Often, they'll kick with the lower body, releasing the back foot early and tucking their backside inward. Aside from strength training, the best way to develop the feel of stability in your posture is to set yourself up against a stand bag (or other similar object), as you see here. Then make a swing, keeping your rear end touching the bag through impact with your club across your chest. As you swing, maintain the integrity of your spine angle along with a sense of pressure between your feet and the turf.

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HERE'S A GREAT EXERCISE for juniors who want to increase their strength. Take a large physioball or use the bench in a gym and then, on one foot, lower yourself down so your rear-end touches it and then raise up again. Focus on barely touching the ball and then confidently standing tall back up on your single leg. Do one to three sets of 10 repetitions. For increased difficulty, hold a medicine ball or wear a weighted vest. Not only will this build strength in your lower body, it will show the importance of core stability and posture in creating a powerful, efficient movement.

Jeff Ritter, PGA, is director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy in Tempe, Ariz., and one of Golf Tips' senior instruction editors. He's the author of Golf by Design and Your Kid Ate a Divot!

3 thoughts on “Power Builds

  1. Jeff,

    What you are saying here is SO true. I am 5-10, about 220, and naturally bulky and muscular. To get to parallel I used to bend my left arm. In response I shortened my swing and straightened my left arm, and then I caught myself cheating by bending my left thumb and loosening my grip as I got to the top of my swing in still trying to reach parallel. I’ve quit doing both of those too, but it took me a while to figure it out. Sure wish I’d read your column a year ago.

    Chip Philbin
    Northridge Country Club
    Fair Oaks, CA

  2. As soon as I saw you thick and Bulky picture I thought was someone taking photos of me during my rounds?! This is a great article and I look forward to using your advice as well as a trained eye to improve my golf swing. Just one problem, I live in Southern Ontario, was there a way you could advise me on how to hold off the snow?

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