It's Your Year To Drive It Great
Our secrets for improving distance and accuracy
The PGA Tour likes to keep statistics. You can find out what percentage of putts a player makes between five and six feet or how close he hits his approach shots from the rough--left or right. Recently, the tour added a stat called total driving efficiency. We're excited about this one, because it brings attention to perhaps the best part of Keegan's game: how well he transfers the energy of his swing to his shots.
The stat compares a player's clubhead speed with the driver to his carry distance off the tee. In short, it recognizes the guys who get the most bang for their buck. Last year Keegan ranked fourth in total driving efficiency.
Now, we know what you're thinking: That's great for Keegan Bradley, but what does it mean for me? Well, it can mean a lot. Because if you take some of our advice--we're both going to chime in here--you can increase your driving distance without giving up any accuracy. We're going to make that driver of yours sing again.
BRADLEY: My stance is pretty narrow compared with other long hitters. That's just comfortable for me. I'm more interested in hitting it flush than bombing it 350 yards.
MCLEAN: Here's something you should copy in Keegan's setup: Form a triangle with your arms and body directly in front of your chest. Your goal will be to preserve that triangle for as long as you can going back.
2. HALFWAY BACK
BRADLEY: I'm trying to push the clubhead as far away from my body as possible. The feel for me is that the clubhead stays more to the outside than my hands.
MCLEAN: If you keep the triangle intact, your swing will be more repeatable. A handsy takeaway can get quick under pressure.
3. TOP OF SWING
BRADLEY: Although I'm not usually thinking about it, I don't want to rush the club back. I want everything to move in sync. This position might look a little rigid, but there's no tension. My key is to keep my arms relaxed.
MCLEAN: That slight bend in Keegan's left arm shows how relaxed he is. Also, check out the huge shoulder turn he makes over a very braced lower body. Serious power to come.
BRADLEY: My first move down is to let my lower body shift toward the target. My arms are actually still completing the backswing, so it sets up a snap-like action later in the downswing. That creates a lot of speed for me.
MCLEAN: You might not be able to produce the same snap as Keegan, but if your swing thought is to leave the club at the top as you shift your weight into a flexed front knee, you'll generate as much speed as you can.
BRADLEY: It's a simple thought, but if you focus on making contact with the center of the face, the ball's going to rocket off the club.
MCLEAN: Keegan does a great job of keeping his head well behind the ball. He's applying his body mass to the hit. If your head drifts forward, you'll have a hard time swinging on a good path and putting power into the hit.
BRADLEY: Even though the ball is gone, I don't try to halt the momentum of my swing. Like I said, I want to keep tension out of my arms. So I just let the swing run out.
MCLEAN: I love how soft his right leg looks and how it's releasing to the target. His head is turning forward, too. We've worked on that: He used to keep his head down, which amateurs try to do. You can hurt yourself like that.
BRADLEY: A balanced finish is the result of not overswinging, just trying to make good, center-face contact. Even when I hit one 350, it's not because I was trying to hit it 350.
MCLEAN: Keegan's tall finish is textbook and takes the stress off his lower back. Think about getting to a big finish and holding it for a beat or two. You'll swing more freely, which is another key to hitting great tee shots.
KEEGAN BRADLEY was 15th in the World Golf Ranking as of early March. Golf Digest Teaching Professional JIM McLEAN is based at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami.