Off The Tee: Longer golf shots without sacrificing accuracy
That’s the Holy Grail.
Everyone wants to hit the ball farther. You do. I do. Arnold Palmer does. Bubba Watson does. I’m not sure if John Daly does, but no one knows what Daly wants. Not Daly. Regardless, distance is the most potent weapon in golf.
The ability to drive the ball long and hit fairways presents such an extreme advantage for those who can do it best that the U.S. Golf Association and R&A have taken steps to limit the ever-increasing lengths players are driving the ball and keep classic courses from becoming irrelevant.
Maximizing your accurate distance improves every other part of your game, allowing for shorter approach shots, more greens hit and more concise putts for birdies and pars. You need to be hitting the ball farther to take your game to the next level.
The problem, of course, is that seeking that power is an almost surefire way to lose the distance you have. In a poetically Buddhist way, the more aggressively one seeks power, the harder it becomes to find. Adding usable distance is a matter of working smarter, not harder.
First and foremost, the easiest way to add effective, useful distance to your swing has nothing to do with your swing itself. Optimizing your equipment for your unique game and investing in the latest technology and customization allows you to maximize the potential you’ve already realized. There are very real correlations between dollars spent on equipment and the distance your golf ball goes.
Obviously, there are diminishing returns the higher up the technology ladder you climb. But the simple reality is that ensuring your equipment is specifically tailored to your game is the easiest, fastest and most surefire way to add distance to your game.
Arguably just as important as technology to lengthening your drives? Stop worrying about lengthening your drives.
Most people try to add yards by swinging harder. That effort results in tension, often in your hands and arms, that spreads throughout your whole body and saps your swing of clubhead speed. Not only that, it makes your swing less repeatable and makes you less likely to hit the ball flush, further diminishing your power and sending the ball careening towards the sticks.
The key is to relax, holding the club with less grip pressure and letting your hands release freely. Let the fast-twitch muscles in your hands and wrists react reflexively and without effort, and you’ll hit the ball solidly and with more clubhead speed, driving the ball farther.
Finally, if you’re determined to make some sort of swing change in search of longer drives, work on making a fuller, more efficient turn. The key is to improve your turn while maintaining a compact, efficient arm swing, keeping your body quiet and minimizing moving parts and wasted motion throughout your swing. Your backswing should be like a coiled up spring, waiting to explode all of its potential energy through the ball.
Again, this is a difficult thing to implement on your own. The best thing to do is find a PGA teaching professional you work well with, and work hard to make your game more fundamentally sound.
There are ultimately no real shortcuts to lower scores; work hard and intelligently, with guidance from a professional, and you will see the results trickle down to every aspect of your game.