Play Your Best | DrivingJune 9, 2016

How To Carry The Driver Twice Your Weight

As a freshman at Alabama five years ago, I could hit it decent with the driver, but nothing like today. In fact, even since I got on tour last year, I've amped up my distance. I don't think too much about what needs to happen to send one 300 yards—in the air—but I know having an explosive downswing has a lot to do with it. All anyone ever asks me about is why my feet are off the ground when I hit the ball, like you see here. That's a big part of how I generate speed. Keep in mind, I weigh less than 150 pounds, so I need an extra power boost from somewhere. That upward thrust sends more speed down to my clubhead through impact. But there's more to good footwork than just creating power. You need a blend of stability, balance and weight transfer, too, or you won't get all you can out of your tee shots. So if you want to hit it longer, try copying all of the ways I use the ground. —with Ron Kaspriske


GET PLANTED
When I'm not hitting the ball real solid, it's usually because I'm swaying to my right during the backswing. That happens because my feet aren't planted on the ground like they should be. You want your lower body to feel rock-solid so you can wind your upper body against it and store power for the second half of the swing.

A firm base also puts you in position to make a fast and powerful downswing without falling off balance. That balance helps you hit the ball in the sweet spot of the club, which translates your speed into distance. A good swing thought is to keep the inside of your right foot braced—especially at the heel—as you swing back.


Brace against the instep of your back foot as you swing to the top.

GET A GOOD PUSH
As I complete my upper-body turn, my feet start to get active. All that weight I've been bracing against my right foot now has to move quickly to my left side. The way I do that is to get off my right heel as fast as I can while pushing hard against the ground with my left foot and turning my hips open. The faster I go from right to left, the more downward pressure I create—and that means more upward thrust coming next.

This all happens so fast I don't even think about it. The thing to understand here is, you should shift your weight toward the target before the club starts down. Try this swing thought as a first move from the top: Push down, then swing down.


GET SOME AIR
At impact I'm practically off the ground. I reverse all of that downward pressure up through my legs, as if I were jumping. Getting up on my toes helps create speed and a better position to swing up on the ball, which you should do with the driver to maximize carry. This "push off" might look radical—you don't have to copy it to hit up on the ball—but use this visual as a reminder to accelerate the club into impact.

To summarize: Brace against your right foot going back, then start down by pushing into the ground and turning your hips open. Finally, straighten your legs, particularly your left, into impact. You'll add a burst of speed. Groove this sequence, and it's bombs away.

Justin Thomas, 23, won the CIMB Classic, his first PGA Tour victory, earlier this season.