Fred Couples: Smash The Ball

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Fred Couples: Smash The Ball

November 03, 2010

MY DRIVER STRATEGY? SMASH THE BALL

By Fred CouplesDriving it a long way has always come naturally to me, but now I'm hitting it straighter than ever. Some of that's the new equipment, but I've improved my mechanics with Butch Harmon. My swing is less dependent on timing these days, and that's made the driver probably my best club.I'm also more comfortable hitting the driver at different speeds. I might bomb it on a par 5, but on a tight par 4, I'll smooth one out there at 80 percent. One thought that has helped me with the driver is, Smash it. I don't mean swing hard; I try to compress the ball with a dead-solid hit. That image works at any speed. →Age: 48 / Height: 5-feet-11 / __Driver:__Bridgestone J33R, 9.5 degrees /Ball: Bridgestone Tour B330 / __2008 Driving Distance (Rank):__300.5 Yards (17) / __Clubhead Speed (Rank):__118 MPH (19)

SWING EASY, HIT HARD

At 48, Fred Couples still makes it look effortlessBy Jaime DiazIt's hard to believe it has been 16 years since Fred Couples won his Masters, and the fact that his golf swing looks as smooth and powerful today as it did then only adds to the confusion. In a word, his action is relaxed, starting at address and remaining so all the way to his perfectly balanced finish.Working with Butch Harmon, Couples has lessened the distinctive lift in his takeaway with a lower and wider sweep back that starts the club more along the target line, rather than outside. This allows him to accomplish a deeper, fuller turn."We had him setting up with the clubhead a foot behind the ball, getting a head start on the takeaway," says Harmon. "He even played some rounds like that."Couples' improved takeaway also has reduced the amount his driver shaft goes across the line, pointing right of the target, at the top.The result of these changes is that Couples now swings down on the correct plane, with the club more in front of him, not trapped behind his right side. When Couples was prone to dropping the club behind him, he had to release his hands aggressively through the hitting area to square the clubface. That pronounced inside-out action held the threat of a hook, which he counteracted by opening his stance and playing a fade. But he still missed too many fairways.Now with a more on-plane swing, Couples clears his left hip -- a move he still executes as quickly as anyone in golf -- and he's free to fully release his body and swing the club down the line. He hits one fearless draw after another."We also watch his ball position, keeping it back, which squares his shoulders to the target," says Harmon. "From there, he can turn it over for more distance."For the guy who has always made it look ridiculously easy, it seems easier than ever.

AT ADDRESS

His action is relaxed, starting at address and remaining so all the way to his perfectly balanced finish.

THE TAKE-AWAY

His clubhead used to move outside, but this is perfect.

THE BACKSWING

Working with Butch Harmon, Couples has lessened the distinctive lift in his takeaway with a lower and wider sweep back that starts the club more along the target line, rather than outside.

AT THE TOP

Very athletic here: a huge rotation and still flat-footed.

DOWNSWING

The club's pointing at the ball – that's right on plane.

Now with a more on-plane swing, Couples clears his left hip -- a move he still executes as quickly as anyone in golf -- and he's free to fully release his body and swing the club down the line.Now with a more on-plane swing, Couples clears his left hip -- a move he still executes as quickly as anyone in golf -- and he's free to fully release his body and swing the club down the line.

FOLLOW-THROUGH

Fred's rotating the clubface closed for a power draw.

THE FINISH

So loose he looks like he could hold his finish all day.

FACE-ON VIEW

Working with Butch Harmon, Couples has lessened the distinctive lift in his takeaway with a lower and wider sweep back that starts the club more along the target line, rather than outside.

Couples' wider takeaway gets his shoulders turning.

Even at full stretch, his arms look as soft as in the setup.

The result of these changes is that Couples now swings down on the correct plane, with the club more in front of him, not trapped behind his right side.

Now with a more on-plane swing, Couples clears his left hip -- a move he still executes as quickly as anyone in golf -- and he's free to fully release his body and swing the club down the line.

For the guy who has always made it look ridiculously easy, it seems easier than ever.

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