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!
Lucky for you, the longest hitters in the world are actually pretty keen on knowing and talking about what it takes to produce Hulk-like power off the tee, and they're here with a special expanded feature just for Golf Tips readers. With the help of 13 competitors, we took a few snapshots at the latest RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships in Mesquite, Nev. (where Jason Zuback won his unprecedented fifth championship with a 412-yard bomb), and let each long driver describe in his own words what his ingredients are for more pop. (Honestly, we somewhat expected to hear guys talk about hitting the gym and pumping weights, but not a single barbell was mentioned. Instead, what you'll find may surprise you.) Read on.
Golfzilla Jason Zuback
5-time RE/MAX World Long Drive Champion
If you want to add some serious power, you have to first learn how to generate effortless power. What's effortless power? It's the feeling of having the body in sync and the swing feeling simple, as if you put little effort into hitting the ball. To achieve effortless power, try keeping your hands soft throughout the swing and leaving the club at the top of your backswing for as long as possible. By soft hands, I mean keeping your muscles supple from your elbows through your fingers. Doing this helps promote a quicker, snappier release through impact. By leaving the club at the top, here's what I mean: Once you get your body set at the top of your backswing, keeping your club at the top allows you to begin the downswing not with your hands, but with your larger, more powerful trunk and leg muscles. By driving the downswing with the body and then with the hands, you can achieve some serious lag that's going to release when your clubhead meets the ball. Stick with these two swing thoughts, and you'll find that effortless swings are the secret to more distance._Ê
2005 & 2006 World Long Drive Champion, Senior Division
To get the most distance out of any club (not just the driver) you have to be flexible, and the only way to get flexible is to stretch. Ever hold your club over your shoulders and simulate the golf swing? Well, sorry to say, that's not the way to stretch. The proper way to stretch your golf muscles is to hold the arms over the shaft as I'm doing below. Trust me, you'll feel it when you rotate back and through.
2003 LDA Tour Leading Money Winner
Want a quick tip for more power? Try this. Instead of teeing the ball in your normal ball position, move it forward in your stance between four-to-six inches. This encourages you to swing down and through and fully transfer your weight down the target line. Also, since you'll be reaching farther, you'll find that you need to extend the arms to make really solid contact. The greater the extension, the more speed that follows. After a few tries, return back to your original position and notice how much more effective your weight shift and arm extension is. Oh, and by the way, check out the extra distance I just helped you get!
The Beast Sean Fister
3-Time World Champ
To hit some bombs off the tee, I concentrate on swinging around my right knee. I first do this by remembering to get my left shoulder above my right knee at the top of my backswing. Then, as I initiate my downswing, I concentrate on rotating around my right leg and allowing my right shoulder to come under my left and turn into the ball. By swinging around my right leg, I not only activate my strong side, I also encourage an upward blow into the ball by maintaining a spine angle that tilts away from it. Hey, you'll never be a long driver if your body outraces the clubhead, so make sure you swing around your right leg and let your bigger, stronger muscles fire down the target line and into the golf ball. Stay behind it and release the hands at impact!
2006 RE/MAXWLDC Quarter-Finalist
Take a deep breath and relax. My secret for longer drives doesn't come from tensing up the muscles, but instead in keeping the arms soft and the body fluid. Remember, relaxed muscles are fast muscles.
The Longest Lefty In The World
I think balance is critical for more yards, which is why I encourage folks to have a strong lower-body base to allow the upper body to release through the downswing. To achieve good balance, I make sure I shift my weight to my back foot on the backswing. Once I set my weight on my back foot, there's nowhere to go but forward and into the ball. Better balance produces better drives!
Predator Steve Monroe
Swing thought? What's that? I'm self-taught, so I don't really think about much over the ball. Instead, I just like to keep my mind clear to encourage a smooth swing. I also adjust my left hand and make sure it's strong. A weak grip will only produce weak drives. To make a strong grip, point both Vs_Ê formed by both hands behind the right shoulder. Now rip it! _Ê
Fifth at 2003 RE/MAX World Championship
A lot of instructors say the feet should be shoulder width apart for distance. Well, in my native New Zealand, we do things a little bit differently. Try situating your feet according to the width of your hips, not your shoulders. This narrower version of the stance allows your body to make a bigger, longer coil. And the bigger your coil, the more room you have to unwind and explode into the golf ball. I couldn't coil like this if I had a wide stance. That ball just got smacked!
Australian Long Drive Champion
For me, tempo and weight shift are key. Look at photo 1 (far left), and you'll see that a few inches into my backswing I've already shifted my weight to my back foot. In photo 2, I'm fully set, ready to unwind with my weight still on my back leg. In photo 3, I've cleared my hips and my weight is almost completely on my left leg. The secret is to get your weight back (photo 1) as soon as possible. By the way, better balance and tempo means you'll hit the sweet spot more often. That's an absolute must if you want to win a long drive contest!
2004 RE/MAX Junior World Champion
To hit the ball really hard, you have to understand how to get your body's energy transferred from one side of your body to the other (and hence, into the ball). To do this, simply stay behind the ball. Check out my sequence (lower left). Despite my huge swing, I don't shift my weight beyond my back knee on the backswing or beyond my forward knee on the downswing. Thus, my power is directed at the ball!
2005 Super Senior World Champion
A quick and easy way to hit it long is to concentrate on your shoulder turn. On the backswing, your left shoulder should be under your chin, and on the downswing, your right shoulder should turn and take the place of where your left shoulder was at address. Make sense? The shoulders help to initiate the necessary rotation of the body and they're also easy to visualize when it comes to improving your swing._Ê Remember, the golf swing is a turn, not a slide.
2003 World Long Drive Champion
Since I have a baseball background, I tend to flare my forward foot (as shown above) to encourage the needed weight shift and rotation toward my left side during the swing. Also, notice how my right foot isn't flared at all. This enables me to build tremendous torque at the top of my backswing, much like a spring coiled up tightly. From here I turn and let the spring loose!
2002 Long Drivers Of America Tour Championship Winner
To really hammer it, you have to leverage the upper body against the lower body. This means, as the lower body stops on the backswing, the upper body keeps moving to produce torque. That way, on the downswing, the upper body can fire into the lower body for powerful drives.
Golfers looking for an online resource devoted to hitting golf balls 400+ yards should consider www.sellingerspowergolf.com, the Website of longtime Golf Tips contributor and champion long driver, Art Sellinger. On Sellinger's Website, visitors can special order custom-assembled drivers with their choice of clubhead, shaft and grips. Also, golfers can select from an assortment of accessories and fun stuff that carry the LDA (Long Drivers of America) logo.
However, that's not the best part. Golfers can actually submit a DVD or VHS cassette of their golf swing that will be analyzed by the long driving legend himself, Art Sellinger. In addition to replying with an e-mailed critique of the golf swing, Sellinger arms each golfer with a series of drills and tips to further enhance their distance and lower their golf scores. Such customized golf instruction usually comes at a premium, but Sellinger charges less than $40, a fraction of what other high-profile instructors charge. In short, it won't cost much if you want to go long.
Take it from us, we strongly advise you act on Mr. Sellinger's offer and send in a copy of your swing. No doubt one of the longest hitters in the world can help you_Ê add a few more yards and even find the right driver too! www.sellingerspowergolf.com