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! While that goal may be a bit out of reach, there's no doubt that we all can improve our driving by making relatively simple adjustments to our technique. Follow along as I take you through four distinct parts of the swing that, if optimized, will absolutely improve your driving and allow you to reach your power potential!
The Setup A proper setup is critical to giving you a chance to drive the ball with maximum power. Be sure to carefully adopt these tips, and you'll be well on your way to longer tee shots. Many amateur players, both low- and high-handicappers alike, as well as many Tour players, swing down too much with their drivers. The driver has the least loft of any club in the bag excluding the putter, yet we know that with today's golf balls they can hit the ball prodigious distances as long as the initial launch angle is adequate (at least 14 degrees). How do you accomplish this if your driver only has 9 to 10 degrees of loft? The simple answer is to swing level, or even better, slightly up on the ball with your driver! To get set up to accomplish this task, make sure the ball is positioned opposite your left heel. Adopt a relatively wide stance and tilt your upper body behind the golf ball. Tee your ball high and give yourself the feeling that you're going to try to swing up on the ball and launch it almost straight up in the air.
At The Top Now let's not undo everything we set up to accomplish! With the same goal in mind of swinging up through the ball and launching it high in the air, concentrate on getting your weight loaded up behind the ball as you reach the top of your backswing. Your hips and shoulders should turn to the top and you should feel pressure in your right heel (for a righty). Obviously, one of the most common mistakes amateur players make at the top of the swing is shifting their weight onto their front foot. You probably know this mistake best as a reverse-pivot, and it can make producing power and accuracy very difficult. A great way to combat this bad position is to keep your right knee flexed (with weight on it) at the top of the swing._Ê
Notice how my back is turned completely away from the target at the top of the swing. This move helps get my weight behind the ball.
To avoid a power -sapping reverse-pivot, make an effort to keep your right knee flexed as you reach the top of the backswing.
Unhinging your wrists at this early stage of the downswing will drain all of your power._Ê
Don't allow your upper body to follow your weight onto your left side in the downswing.
Two common mistakes that will minimize your power are an early release of the wrists in the downswing and moving your upper body onto your left side._Ê
The Downswing Now it's time to store power! Your weight should shift left with your lower body onto your left heel while your head maintains its position. This is vital to achieving the power you're looking for! As your weight shifts left and your right elbow comes into your side, you should feel you're saving energy in the clubhead and shaft that soon will be unleashed into the golf ball. There are a couple of common errors that you can look for if you continue to struggle with distance. One error is allowing your upper body to follow your lower body onto your left side. If this takes place, you'll most certainly swing down too much into impact, costing you the launch conditions you're striving for. A second common error is unhinging the wrists too early in an attempt to add power to the swing. If you want to achieve a lot of power, your wrists and right elbow must wait their turn to deliver their speed! Practice the downswing repeatedly, allowing your weight to shift left while your head remains in the same position it held at the top of the swing. Try to let your right elbow and wrists remain passive as you make your initial shift onto your left side—this will help you store even more power. It will create a different sensation than you're used to, but it's a good one.
An efficient release of the clubhead allows all the power you've stored to flow freely into the golf ball._Ê
The Release For this article's purposes, the release is defined as the straightening of the right elbow and uncocking of the wrists. Notice in the photo how my right arm is in line with the shaft of my driver. This is a full release with nothing being held back. In the downswing, my right elbow maintained its flex and my wrists remained cocked. As I reach impact, it's time to unleash the power! Notice how my head remains well back, ensuring an upward strike. When you get the angle of approach correct and unleash your stored energy, you'll have all the power you need.
GT Senior Instruction Editor Chuck Winstead teaches at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La._