May 13, 2016

Fitness Friday: Two moves to hit the ball higher than ever

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 10:  Jason Day of Australia in action during a practise round for THE PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2016 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 10: Jason Day of Australia in action during a practise round for THE PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2016 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Whether it's improving your launch angle with the driver or trying to hold the green with a mid or long iron, increasing the trajectory of your shots is really going to help improve your scores. What makes the ball fly higher? From a swing-instruction perspective, you want to approach the ball on a shallow attack angle with your clubhead. Swing speed helps, too. But the most important element is swinging on a wide arc that creates a sweeping approach through impact, says swing coach Jeff Ritter, who teaches at Poppy Hills golf course on the Monterey Peninsula in California. "For various reasons, many golfers let their arms collapse as they approach the top of the swing," Ritter says. "They fail to maintain width throughout the backswing, and then slap down on the ball at a steep angle. The ball takes off low and usually crooked." If you're looking for the perfect model of a golfer with a wide swing arc, look at Jason Day. He hits the ball as high as anyone on the PGA Tour and can hold greens that others can't. This sequence of his driver swing was taken a few years back, but his swing is virtually the same today and really shows how he maintains width.

While the swing thought of "get wide and stay wide" might help raise your trajectory, you first have to address the underlying issue that might be causing you to hit a lot of line drives. Prolonged sitting, at a desk or in a vehicle, can promote a rounded-back posture. This C-shaped posture can eventually morph into kyphosis, a severe rounding or "hunchback" condition. But even in mild cases, C-shaped posture decreases the ability of the chest and shoulder muscles to maintain a nice and wide swing, says PGA Tour fitness trainer Dave Herman. His clients have included Gary Woodland and Trevor Immelman. Herman says you have to counter the negative impact of prolonged sitting when you play golf by really priming the shoulder and chest muscles. Carrying a looped stretching band in your bag is a smart way to prep for a round, and here Dave offers two ways to stretch things out. Click on the video to see him demonstrate.