|You don't have to be 6'4 or 250 lbs to hit it long, as Jamie Sadlowski proves with his 400-yard blasts.|
Long and Strong 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.
Strength and speed are great if you have them, but any player can produce added power with proper mechanics and good balance.
My swing is unusual. Strange. Some have called it downright freakish. As out there as it may be, I didn't become five-time champ by worrying about how it looks. Instead, I concentrate on only a few things such as weight shift. A good weight shift occurs naturally without excessive sliding. In fact, sliding is a real power-killer. To prevent it, try emulating my position in the upper right-hand photo. See how my knees are flexed and pointing away from each other? This position prevents swaying and helps me harness the power of a good weight shift. Boom!
|Work on shifting and not sliding your weight. You can do this by adding some more flex in your knees.|
|Big power comes from big swing arcs. Extend those arms and you'll increase your speed and power.|
Sean the beast Fister
So you want to grip it and rip it, huh? Let me tell you what. We don't hit 400-yard drives right away. We warm up like any professional athlete would. In my case, I'm a big believer in using a heavy golf club. It loosens the larger muscles, strengthens the smaller muscles and helps with my rhythm and tempo. Once I'm warmed up, I work on making balanced swings and extending my arms through impact. Extended arms means my arc is as big as it can be for maximum clubhead speed. Think of it like this: You want to hit it deep and wide? Your arc needs to be deep and wide as well.
When it comes to the golf swing, I'm a speed fanatic. In fact, I'm a believer that you should accelerate your downswing all the way to the finish! A lot of weaker hitters tend to accelerate up until they make impact and quickly start to decelerate through the rest of their swing. Some golfers even start decelerating before impact. I'm here to tell you the key for more power comes from constant acceleration. And by acceleration, I mean a buildup of speed. Don't start fast and then go slow. Start slow and work your way to full speed all the way into the finish.
|If you want to hit the ball with maximum power, you have to keep your feet firmly on the ground|
Get down! No really, I mean it. The key to my power is two things. First, at the top of my swing, my first move is to drop my hands down, while retaining a strong left arm. Second, I trigger my weight into the ball of my right foot. This force then activates my right knee forward and drives my hip turn through the ball. By remembering to move downward from the top position, I start the chain of events that eventually helps me hit the ball by using my bigger, stronger leg muscles. Give it a try. I'll bet you hit bigger drives in no time.
|Power comes from the lower body, not the hands and arms. Activate your legs, and you'll swing faster.|
If you want to blast the ball like the '07 World Champ (aka, me), you have to be patient with your golf swing. Too often, I see golfers try to start their downswing not only too quickly, but too soon as well. This leads to a lack of power, not to mention problems with balance and so on. Instead, let your backswing do its job and let your shoulders turn as far away as they can from the ball. By staying patient, you'll harness more swing speed.
|Finish your backswing so your shoulders can fully rotate away from the target. You'll get a lot more power._Ê|
One of the common mistakes I see from people who lack distance is they flare their back foot (my right) out too far. The right foot has to be a solid foundation to build your backswing upon, and if your foot is turned out, you'll lose power. You might sway, and who knows what other ugliness might ensue. To fix yourself, set that right foot perpendicular to the target. Doing so will add a ton of torque to your backswing for more power.
|No matter what, you have to have a good grip if you want to hit the ball a long way.|
There's no excuse for anyone to have a bad grip! The grip is not only often overlooked, it's also one of the easiest things to master in the golf swing.For a powerful one, look no further than your fingers. By gripping more toward the fingers, you'll encourage a faster release of the hands through impact. See my photo? My wrists are loaded and ready to release. I couldn't be in this position if I were gripping the club in my palms.
|Use your lower body to kick-start your downswing and increase your speed.|
Look, I don't crush it because I spend all day in the gym. Well, at least that's not the only reason why I hit it far. Power also comes from knowing how to effectively transfer your weight through the golf ball. To do that, one has to learn to rotate the lower body and get off that right leg during the downswing. I practice this by holding a driver across my shoulders and firing my hips toward the target as I initiate my downswing. Remember, the downswing is led by the lower body weight transfer, not by those 20-inch biceps like Zuback has. Set, load and shift that lower body. You'll see bigger drives in no time.
|I try to get as much full extension as I can in the backswing and then plenty of lag in the downswing.|
Ryan Hixson/Military Division
One of my big keys to maximum distance is getting fully extended in the backswing. You can see how far my arms and hands are from my body—this is a great way to make your swing arc as large as possible. Once I get to the top of the swing, I then simply try to store as much power as I can in the shaft of the club by creating lag on the way down, and brace against my left quad as I approach impact. Notice my full finish with my left foot off the ground—this also is key.
|You won't be able to create power if your body is static during the swing. You have to learn to shift your weight back and forward.|
A lot of players I see don't hit the ball nearly as far as they could for the simple reason that they don't move dynamically during the swing. In the photos above, you can see a simple drill I like to do to help promote a better weight shift. Basically I put my feet together at address, then shift my weight to my back foot in the backswing and step forward with my front foot as I prepare to shift my weight forward. It's simple but it really works.
|Don't change your swing to hit it higher or lower. Just adjust your ball position.|
Hitting the long ball effectively requires more than just swinging hard. You have to know what type of drive a particular hole demands and then execute. To accomplish this, all you have to do is make small adjustments to your ball position. Want to hit it higher, move the ball forward slightly. Lower? Try moving it back a bit. To hit different shots (high, regular, low), you don't have to worry about making difficult adjustments to your swing. Instead, experiment with different ball positions and keep your swing the same for each.