Longer golf shots without sacrificing accuracy

Off The Tee: Longer golf shots without sacrificing accuracy

UNITAS Gold

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.

List Yer Golf Problems; Fix ‘Em And Check ‘Em Off

Off The Tee: List Your Golf Problems; Fix Them And Check ‘Em Off That List

List Yer Golf Problems; Fix ‘Em And Check ‘Em Off

Off The Tee: List Your Golf Problems; Fix Them And Check ‘Em Off That List

IT’S OK TO PLAY THE “BLAME GAME”

One way of thinking about your golf progress is to consider a “blame list.” During a series of practice sessions, the goal should NEVER be to “hit the ball better,” but instead to whittle down the list of things you can blame for your poor shots.

If you don’t know what to blame, you can’t know what to focus on. And you can’t know what to blame until you’ve made the list. Then, cross things off this list.

The set-up is 100 percent controllable since there is no motion yet. First consider the set-up factors of grip, stance, posture, clubface aim, alignment and ball position. Those could (in theory) come off your blame list naturally or perhaps with minimal work.

Nothing in golf is ever going to be perfect, so we have to accept that and know we can get closer to personal perfection by someday crossing all these common set-up factors off the list. In other words, once you have crossed the standard golf set-up off the blame list following a poor shot, you can say to yourself with confidence: “At least it’s not that.”

Then move on to what’s next.

The backswing begins the motion, and therefore, is less controllable, but still more manageable than the downswing. You and your PGA professional instructor should get together and create the backswing checklist and select what is already in good shape. Then work to isolate those that need greater attention (still on the list).

Ask yourself if you could you envision the day when you no longer get to blame any poor ball flight on the set-up or the backswing?

Downswing/impact/finish happens the fastest and therefore has the least amount of control. So, I think we’d like to get to the point of having the downswing as the last  thing on the list.

Sure, even though the downswing is least controllable, it doesn’t mean you can’t grow to understand more about this important area of the swing from your PGA Professional.

The more things you check off the list, the “mystery” of why the ball did what it did becomes clearer. Practice sessions should be based on this goal of clarity.

With clarity, the mind can give the body more defined images and a more consistent swing.

 

Add Power to Your Swing

Off The Tee: Add Power to Your Swing

Add Power to Your Swing

Off The Tee: Add Power to Your Swing, Sans a Golf Ball

Practice Your Swing Instead by Hitting an Immovable Object — Repeatedly

BECAUSE IT’S THE BALL’S FAULT!!!  

Or at least it’s the ball’s weight and small, myriad club-hitting options — and our brains keep getting in the way of a good, hard hit.

So instead of getting stuck on contemplating how easy it should be to move a small round, bouncy-yet-firm plastic object very far, here’s another way of looking at it.

Improve your swing to a powerful strike needed by focusing on moving a heavy object first then duplicate the action through muscle memory against the light golf ball.

The thing is that the golf ball reacts to the position of the club and supporting positions of the body at the moment of impact… period, a non-negotiable end to the story.

The good news is that regardless of your perceived “skill level,” you can create great impact; and it’s more natural than you may think. That’s the good news. The bad news is that golf contains many mental “blocks,” which interfere with your natural abilities if you allow yourself  to fall into these traps.

One of the largest challenges for you to understand and accept is that because the ball is so light (less than 2 ounces), there are literally thousands of ways to get the ball to move somewhere; there are literally too many options available to each golfer’s mind. It’s like trying to find a needle in the haystack.

Now imagine using your golf club to get a 20-pound bean bag to fly high into the sky and 100 yards. How many options do you have now?

When the object you’re trying to move has a great deal of resistance, your brain will put all its energy into relaying the most efficient instructions to the body. I have videotaped dozens of players striking a bean bag-type training device. At the moment of impact with the bag, it is difficult to distinguish an accomplished player from a beginner.

It’s true! Unfortunately, view these same two players striking a golf ball and wow, that same moment of impact looks very different. Why does this happen?

The poorer players at some point became content with “better” ball flights. But these shots are not their ultimate best, which is fine if just being okay is their goal.

However, be warned: You have stopped short of the most efficient swing you could create.

Accomplished players have pushed on, and did not settle for mediocrity, they are on a mission to keep improving their swing so that the powerful strike needed to move the heavy object is duplicated against the light golf ball.

So, it’s the balls fault. But making bridging the difference is up to you!