For Longer Drives, Forget What Feels Powerful
TEACHES: Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Natalie Gulbis, Jimmy Walker
2011 RANK: 1
Being the undisputed king of golf instruction has its perks: fame, fortune and players at every level fawning over you. But the expectations are high—and the stakes can be, too. "I tell people, 'Hey, I can handle anything you've got. I took two players to No. 1 in the world, and they both fired me,' " jokes Butch Harmon, who has occupied the top spot in the ranking since 2003. It's true Harmon taught Greg Norman and Tiger Woods when they reached No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking. Which all makes sense with Harmon, who grew up watching his father, Claude, practice and play with Ben Hogan. Does Harmon have another No. 1 in his future? As a teacher, he seems far from giving up that spot.
The instinct to try to pound the ball off the tee gets a lot of golfers into trouble. Instead of letting the body unwind on the downswing, they tend to throw their arms and club down at the ball—commonly called "hitting from the top." This is a power killer because it disrupts the natural sequence of motion of the downswing. It might feel powerful, but it's anything but.
The first move down should be a lateral bump of the lower body toward the target. This gets your weight to your front side and causes your hands and arms to drop to an inside position, where they can deliver the clubhead out to the ball. From there, the speed takes you all the way through to a balanced finish.
If you can't hold your finish, you're swinging at a speed your body can't support. Try going at 70 or 80 percent of your max—and get that downswing sequence right. That'll give you more distance for sure.