Ask any top golfer and they will agree that driving long and straight may be the most important aspect of the game. Just think about Tiger Woods. The advantage he has when he smokes a drive 30 yards past his opponent and straight down the middle is almost incalculable.
For sure driving the golf ball solid is the most fun part of the game. Nothing in golf gives a player more satisfaction than consistent, long and pure drives.
Everybody can learn to hit it longer, however, not everyone can be a super long hitter. Clubhead speed determines how far we can each hit the ball everyone has their own maximum potential.
To realize your best, you must apply the fundamentals of great driving, and 2 prime factors are strength and flexibility. Obviously, you need the ability to swing the club, and I always look first at the golfer’s best attempt to swing hard, but smooth.
However, the majority of amateur players are restricted by poor flexibility. As it is now well publicised, virtually all professional players are now working out and improving their conditioning. Amateurs will benefit just as much, or more, by doing the same. I will recommend some basic stretching exercises to my students to provide addition flexibility, to allow a bigger, more powerful shoulder turn – the secret for long drives.
Next we move into the golf swing itself. We start with the power set-up. I position the golfer in an address position that is often the opposite of what they are accustomed. The stance is wide, at least shoulder width, but sometimes more. The front toe is flared out toward the target (20-30 degrees open). Weight is balanced off the insides of the feet and is 50/50. If you were standing on two separate weight scales they would be even. Your spine tilts away from the target approximately 10 degrees. Your back shoulder is lower than the front shoulder with the tilt about 15 degrees. Your chin is up off the chest and the centre of your head is 5/6 inches behind the ball (which is teed high) and is positioned off the front heel. Your grip pressure is light, never tight and the shoulders, elbows, and wrists feel relaxed.
The upper torso dominates your take away and the club is swung back with the hands, arms and shoulders in a one piece action. No quick moves. The upper body coils over a braced lower body in the backswing. You might do well to think of the body as two halves. The upper dominates the backswing, while the lower half resists, and then initiates the forward swing. The longest drivers create a large gap in the backswing, this gap being the difference between the shoulder turn and the hip turn. The shoulders far out turn the hips. The bigger the gap, the more power potential. To create this feeling you should try to hold your right knee in it’s starting position, and not let your right leg straighten on the back swing.
Another great swing thought is to create the most speed past the ball. Don’t use up all your speed prior to contact with an early throw. You must instead sequence the hitting motion. From the top of the backswing the power hitter starts with a forward shift of the lower body, driving the legs through to the target. Then the body core then unwinds, allowing the arms and hands to release the club through the impact zone and into a full and complete finish.
A good thought is to have the shaft hit your neck in the finish. This keeps your swing moving and encourages relaxed arms… both increasing your speed potential.
The key to long and straight driving is keeping your hands and arms relaxed throughout the swing – remember, they are only an extension of the club.
By incorporating these key points you will quickly see longer and straighter drives. Remember – tee it high and let it fly!
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