Editor’s Note: Lisa Vlooswyk, affectionately known in golf circles as Lisa Longball, is an eight-time Canadian Long Drive Champion. She competes at the World Long Drive Championships and will tee it up in September on the Golf Channel to vie for the World Title. A veteran in this sport, Lisa has been competing for nearly 19 years and has learned many tips and techniques that can help all golfers add distance not only to their driver, but to their whole game. In this article Lisa gives simple easy to implement tips to help you hit your ball longer, straighter and better.
SET UP FOR SUCCESS
In Photo 1, The ball is off the instep of the lead foot, the lead foot is slightly fanned to allow greater ability to turn and take pres-sure off the lead knee. The lead shoulder is slightly higher than the trail shoulder to promote hitting the ball on the upswing. The key is the relaxed arms and shoulders. Arms simply hang from the shoulders no tension in the set up. Hold the club on a scale of 1 to 10 about a 2 or a 3 — with the same pressure you would hold an open tube of toothpaste or open pop can.
KILL THE TENSION
In Photo 2 it’s the same set up but this time the grip pressure is off the charts. Often when golfers want to hit a long drive, especially on a par 5 or a prize hole for Long Drive in a corporate or charity tournament, golfers put a “death grip” on the club. It creates tension in the hands and forearms. Tension is a club head speed killer! Long drivers focus on soft supple hands. Speed cannot come from tense muscles. It also causes the shoulders to often lift and get tense which again contributes to inhibiting club head speed.
TURN, DON’T LIFT!
Eighty percent of women cannot hit the ball over 200 yards. I believe every woman can. Women tend to be arm lifters. Because women are often more flexible then men it is easier for them to get into what they think is a “proper position.” If you look at Photo 3, an average golfer might think that is a great position at the top of the back swing. The problem is the arms have simply been lifted. There is no turn. Turn is what creates coil and torque which leads to power, club head speed and distance. Arms lifting is a big reason why many women complain that their 8, 7 and 6 irons all go the same distance. In Photo 4 you can see a turn. You can see my back facing the target. You can see that my lead shoulder is directly under my chin versus my bicep in Photo 3 being under my chin. A great swing thought to promote the turn is to initiate your back swing with your lead shoulder versus your hands or arms.
Photo 5 reveals a common swing fault for all golfers. I often see a lot of people with a baseball/softball background finish their swing like this. You are losing minimum 20 yards with this swing and probably have an issue with slicing. The weight ends up com-pletely on the back foot which causes your club face to remain open, which in turn leads to a slice. It also robs you of distance and general accuracy. Meanwhile, Photo 6 shows a proper finish. All the weight is on the front side over the lead foot. If you finish properly you should be able to lift your back foot as you hold your finish. As you can see in the pho-to the entire sole of the shoe on your trail foot should be visible. Virtually no weight is on that foot. Your belt buckle should be at least at the target and ideally past the target. A great swing thought to get to this position is to swing through the ball. Accelerate! Your club head should be moving fastest after you’ve hit the ball, not at the ball. This will literally pull you to your front side. When you slow down your swing at impact or after that is a huge contributing factor to finishing in the incorrect position on the back foot.
Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She just released an instructional video and is also a teacher, speaker and golf and travel writer. Visit her at www.lisalongball.ca
Check out Donald Crawley’s tips for driving the ball straighter.