Sometimes it does matter how far you can drive the ball.
Doug Hammer

Scottsdale, AZ (Sports Network) -- I would assume that everyone who plays golf would love to have a little bit more distance. The last time I checked, golf courses were not getting any shorter. Just look at the yardage for the recent US Opens, not to mention that, in 10 years of teaching golf, not one person has walked onto my lesson tee and requested learning how to lose a little bit of distance on any shot. The day that happens may be the last day I teach a golf lesson!

In your search for near limitless distance, it is important to understand one simple fact: distance is the effect of club head speed correctly applied. What this means is you must create speed during the correct part of your golf swing.

Setting up for a drive
Notice how the ball is off my left shoulder, then notice how my left shoulder has rotated behind the golf ball in the backswing
Most amateurs create maximum speed before they contact the ball, causing the club head to be decelerating at impact. This happens for a variety of reasons but can be fixed fairly easily. For starters, it is important to understand that the club head reaches maximum speed when it is in alignment with the forward arm and shoulder (left arm and shoulder for a righty). In many golf swings, the club reaches this point prior to contacting the ball due to a casting movement of the golf club from the top of the backswing.

This happens mainly because of inefficiencies in the take-away. Many amateurs take the club away with their arms instead of with the shoulders and body. When the club is lifted into the backswing with the arms, the club tends to get too vertical. A vertical takeaway will generally get too long in the backswing as there is nothing in place to stop the arms and club in the proper position. Once the club gets too long in the backswing, a "casting move" results in order to get the club to catch up with the body.

This casting move will cause not only a loss of distance, but also the occasional pop-up, pulled or sliced shots. Essentially, a cast creates an over the top, or outside/in, swing path. This is the pattern we see in well over 85% of all golfers. Therefore, you are not alone in the world! Only a small consolation. I understand. You want to separate yourself from the pack. Got it. However, the good news is that fixing this problem can move you into the top 15% of all golfers. You will have a bit more work ahead of you to catch Tiger, but it is a good start.

The next time you are on the range try these simple fixes:

  • Play the ball forward in your stance with the driver to help catch the ball more on the upswing

  • Work on taking the club away with your shoulders before you lift your arms into the backswing

  • IF you do this properly, the club will swing more around you at the top, allowing your chest to get in the way and naturally shorten your backswing.

  • Try to start your downswing from the ground up, the legs can be a huge power source, but most of us use too much upper body in the downswing.

    If you are working on these things and the distance still is not coming to you, there is one last place to check for a power leak. Make sure your tension level is at a minimum. Tension can be the biggest power drain for above average players. It is okay to remain firm with your grip, but try to relax the shoulders and arms to allow them to swing freely around the body.

    If all else fails, and you cannot get rid of the tension, and the ball just isn?t flying any farther, find the nearest beverage cart! Your tension will be gone in no time! Good luck locating those few extra yards!

    Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161 * 10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf? *

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