Let's face it, golfers who hit the ball farther have a huge advantage over those who don't. Not only do longer tee shots make your approach shots easier, the effect trickles all the way onto the green. If you hit longer drives, you'll have shorter approach shots. And if you have shorter approach shots, you'll hit the ball closer to the pin. Hit it closer to the pin, and you have shorter putts.
But how do you add power to your golf swing? Is there really a secret to more power? In most cases, no. Most long hitters, despite having different golf swings, tend to share at least a few swing characteristics that help them hit the ball a long way.
As we do every year, we spent some time with a handful of some of the longest hitters in the world as they prepared for the most recent RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship out in Mesquite, Nev. We asked them what key element of their swing helps them produce their awe-inspiring power. And by the way, if you've never watched these guys compete in person, you don't know what you're missing. The length they can hit the ball is staggering. Wanna see some 400-yard bombs? No big deal. They happen all the time.
Read on and heed the advice of these power players. Odds are you'll add some distance to your drives.
One of the more common traits of a long driver is a big coiled backswing. In the case of Zac Adams, a longer backswing doesn't just mean cocking the wrists at the top of the swing so the shaft droops down to the ground. A big backswing also means making a big, powerful rotation of the upper body. Notice in the photo how much more his arms and shoulder have rotated back, when compared to his lower body? This separation is what produces a lot of torque in the golf swing. (You'll see separation show up for a few more players as you read on.) Torque, in case you're wondering, is a fancy word for tension. And the more tension you build, the faster the body will release that tension through the impact zone. As for the hands, the extra wrist cock adds more lag and hand torque, again to build massive amounts of driving power. So try a big backswing. See if it translates into big hits.
FIRE YOUR LEGS
No matter how much you can try to bulk up your upper-body strength, you won't match the power that can be delivered from your lower body. That is, if you know how to do it. In Mike Dobbyn's case, retaining flex in the legs at the top of the swing helps to make a faster, more powerful rotation and weight shift toward the left side on the downswing.
In the photo above, check out that insane right knee action. Dobbyn is literally firing his knee into the ball, transferring the energy from his lower body into his arms. He's like a sprinter pushing off the blocks at the start of a race. A split-second before impact, his left leg is still flexed, and his upper body has all the room it needs to swing.
Kaboom! Eventually, that left leg straightens, and the clubhead swings through the impact zone. Again in Dobbyn's case, his rotation is so huge that practically his entire body is facing the target after impact. By firing his legs, he delivers unprecedented power into the back of the golf ball. Try it. You'll see–it works.
Use What You Know
Hold The Angle
Hitting big drives requires you to hold the angle formed by the shaft and your gloved arm for as long as possible. By doing this, you're building a ton of energy that will whip through impact and into the golf ball, a la Danny Luirette. It's also a good way to help hit the ball from an inside-to-out swing path, resulting in a big powerful draw.
Furthermore, the body needs to do its part too. No matter how well you hold the angle, if the body isn't rotating (see Allen McDougall), you won't have good results. Instead, be sure to allow the body to rotate open as you hold the angle with your hands. Not only does this add a lot of power, but you'll find you'll hit straighter drives, too.
LEFT ARM STRAIGHT
Some golfers get this tip confused. They think you have to always have a straight left arm, from the start of the swing, and into the finish. That may be the case with Josh Matthies' swing. But do you need a straight left arm during the whole swing?
First, check out his backswing at the top. Not only is he demonstrating an amazing amount of flexibility, but he's also keeping his left arm straight. His position at the top of his swing is Tour caliber, to say the least. When most folks make a swing this big, they simply don't have the strength and flexibility to hold such a rigid left arm in this position. Meaning, it's okay to add some elbow flex.
Halfway through the downswing, Matthies' left arm is still straight. This ensures his hands stay behind his body as he rotates his body, which again, adds speed. If there's a moment in the swing when you want a left arm that's straight, it's here.
In the last photo, this again shows Matthies' amazing power. Not only is his left arm straight, so is his right arm! This full extension is made possible by a big rotation of the lower and upper body through the hit. How can he pull this off? Well, if you look closely, his arms actually are extended out straight in front of his chest. Again, when you rotate, especially the upper body in this case, it's easier to make a full extension of the arms through the hit when your arms are protruding out from in front of your chest. It's when you stop rotating, that the arms collapse through impact and power leaks like a sieve.
MAKE ROOM TO SWING BIG
We didn't believe it either when 16-year-old long-drive rookie, Domenic Mazza told us how old he was. We even went as far as telling him he's got the goods to be the world's longest hitter if he keeps at it. His runner-up finish was incredible. That said, his main key for power is an address position that allows him to make a big, monster swing into the ball.
It starts from the ground up. His feet are spread wide apart. Second, Mazza sets up with a straight back that isn't hunched forward. His neck is also in perfect alignment with his spine, which helps him make a bigger coil.
Next, while most golfers let their arms hang freely from their shoulders at address, Mazza adds more separation by actually standing farther away from the ball. This makes the arms reach out more, creating a lot of width in the swing.
The end result is a setup position with lots of open space. And the more open space, the bigger swing you can make. And in case you were wondering what his young, powerful swing looks like, the sequence below says it all. This kid knows power. And we predict he'll be a champion soon. Very soon, actually.
Pocket Your Elbow
The onset of the downswing is one of the most critical parts of the swing. If you mess this up, you probably won't hit a lot of powerful shots. And while we hear a lot about what the left arm ought to do during the swing, what about the right arm?
A great way to remember what the right arm should do is to think of dropping your right elbow into your right pocket on the downswing. From the top of the swing to impact, as Tyler Kellett demonstrates, the elbow is moving downward and into the pocket. This helps you not only swing on plane, but also swing the club from inside-to-outside the target line. Which, as you know by now, is the key to hitting draws that fly and roll farther than fades or slices do.
Also of note, look how open Kellett's hips are at impact. That's amazing. And that right elbow? It's still in his right pocket. Do this and maybe you'll catch up to Kellett's huge drives.
WIDE TO NARROW!
Another misconception, when it comes to adding power to your swing, is to think you always need a wide swing to generate power. In reality, for many long-drive hitters, including Alex DeVilling, that's only half right. What you want is a long backswing and a tighter, more narrow forwardswing.
To do this, follow DeVilling's lead. Extend the arms on the backswing and keep the clubhead as far from your body as possible. This will add tremendous width and generate a bigger, rounder rotation of the body. That's key for what happens next.
Once you reach the top of your backswing and make a full coil (good luck emulating this monster backswing), the trick is to harness your energy and condense that wide swing into a compact downswing. By going from wide to narrow, you'll better leverage yourself against the ground and create the whip that long hitters like DeVilling have.
At impact, get wide again! Notice the extension of the arms, legs and how the shaft is stacked on top of his left leg? This is what you want, and you can't do it from a stuffed position. Practice making wide backswings and compact forwardswings and extend the body at impact. This, folks, is how you deliver massive power.
Loose Hands=Long Drives
Was possible. Now, this doesn't mean barely holding onto the club. You still want to hold the grip firm enough so the club doesn't slip out of position at any point during the swing. But conversely, you want to make sure your hands remain supple, much like a strong baseball pitcher. A good pitcher can't throw a hard fastball without adding flex to the hands and wrists, and similarly, to hit longer drives, the hands and wrists need to cock and release freely through the shot.
Practice this move as Rensburg does and keep those hands and wrists supple. You may find power you never knew you had.
RIP YOUR IRONS
Longtime top-competitor Bobby Wilson knows a thing or two about hitting long drives, so any time he dishes out some advice, it's definitely worth listening to. One of his tricks for more power is to practice hitting powerful shots with his irons. Using a shorter club not only helps ingrain a more efficient golf swing, but also is a great way to boost one's confidence. And wouldn't you know–it'll improve your iron game, as well. So next time you want to practice, grab hold of your 7-iron and get ready to start making some big swings. Concentrate on not only making solid contact, but also ramping up your swing speed through the entire swing. In other words, try to make the fastest part of your swing be the part that occurs immediately after you make contact with the ball. Using an iron will also help you stay down and keep you from overswinging and popping the body upward, which is a real power leak.
In a short while, grab your driver and give it a go. Just don't be surprised to see your ball end up an extra few yards down the fairway.
And finally, sometimes you really do have to just throw convention out the window and swing as hard as you can. Murder it, if you will. That was the case of the explosive Joe Miller, a relatively unknown competitor from the UK who dazzled at the most recent RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships and actually won the whole darn thing. And while it may have been a shock to many, his victory didn't surprise us. Miller used every ounce of his strong, muscular body to crush his drives. In the sequence below, you can see what we mean, but there's one photo that seems to stand out from the pack. Look at the difference from the very top of his swing to the onset of his downswing. In this frame, Miller's hips have already begun rotating toward the target, but his upper body has barely budged. That separation between his lower-body rotation and upper-body rotation through the downswing is downright uncanny, and clearly a reason he harbors extreme power in his golf swing. As he progresses through impact, his muscles take over and he gives the ball all he's got. And if you look at his postimpact photo, he swings so hard that his left hand has no choice but to collapse, and he chicken-wings it a bit. But really, at this point, it doesn't matter. The ball is already 400+ yards down the fairway.
Curious to learn more about hitting longer tee shots? Hop online to golftipsmag.com/videos to see many long drivers offering up their sage advice on bigger hits.