Golf Digest Schools

How to unlock power you're not using, according to one of golf's best teachers

October 18, 2022

If you’re looking to boost your driving distance, consider how you move your body and the club into impact—golf instructors call it “sequence of motion.” Many common power leaks can be corrected by syncing up the downswing so you can effectively deliver the speed you’re creating into the ball. Michael Jacobs, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers in America, demonstrates how proper sequencing can improve your contact and the dynamic position of your body—and unlock power you’re not using.

Start driving the ball longer with Jacobs’ three simple swing checkpoints and check out his series 'Science of Speed' in Golf Digest Schools.

Don’t get ahead of yourself

If your mis-hits fly low and lack the carry required to produce long drives, you might have been told it’s because you’re picking your head up. However, Jacobs says those line-drive tee shots are often an issue with the lower body.

Jacobs says that when a golfer tries too hard to clear the hips—a common piece of well-meaning advice—the hips can spin open too fast, and the golfer’s head moves up and back as a consequence. This reroutes the clubhead above the intended path so it makes contact high on the ball, resulting in a thin shot, a ground ball or even a top.

“What you want to do is train yourself to turn your belt buckle into your lead thigh,” Jacobs says.

RELATED: Four ways to boost your swing speed—without sacrificing accuracy

Start without a club and rehearse your swing at half speed, emphasizing the feeling of keeping your lead leg stable and turning your belt buckle toward it. As you get more comfortable, bring your club into the movement and ramp up your speed.

Watch Jacobs demonstrate the move below:

Jacobs says that perfecting this move will help you turn your hips, without your upper body pulling out of the shot. This will allow the club to bottom out at the right spot, resulting in consistent, center-face strikes.

Calibrate your impact position

One of the biggest keys to powerful drives is understanding how your club should track into impact. When you watch the pros drive the ball, you’ll notice that they strike it at the right point in their swing every time, with the face square and the clubhead moving on a good path. Jacobs says this allows them to harness their speed at the right moment and take full advantage of their power potential.

To be sure you’re not leaving any speed or power on the table, try calibrating your impact with Jacobs’ driver half-shot drill.

Set up like you’re going to hit your normal drive, swing to the top and start down slowly, stopping when you get to the ball. Assess what your club looks like coming into impact, Jacobs says. Then, ask yourself if you’re moving the club so it would strike the ball at the proper point with the face square.

Watch Jacobs demonstrate the move below:

From there, put a half-swing on the ball and start to ingrain that newly calibrated impact point. This will help you direct your speed and make it peak at just the right time, Jacobs says.

Learn the secret to effortless power

“When you see golfers swinging effortlessly and still hitting the ball a long way, they are letting that club move ‘out of the way’ at just the right time,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs’ research has shown that the best players in the world are impeccable at timing their energy transfer. When done correctly, this energy transfer from the body to the club will actually slow down the body motion through impact. When the body slows, the energy shoots out to the club—and into the ball.

RELATED: Butch Harmon's quick, no-practice driving tips

So how do you perfect this power move?

The first step is understanding how to transfer energy from your body outward. Jacobs’ backhand drill will help you learn how to do this—and you don’t even need a club.

Get into your driver stance, and just let your lead arm hang straight down, with the back of your hand facing the target. Tuck your trail hand behind your back or into your front pocket. Now, simulate a normal swing, stopping at your impact position.

Watch Jacobs demonstrate the move below:

To feel the proper transfer of energy, Jacobs says to imagine you’re backhanding the ball at impact. If done correctly, he says you should feel the energy moving from your body to your arm and into your lead hand. The energy is slinging outward.

Jacobs says that if you don’t transfer the energy efficiently, you’ll know because your arm will feel slow, and you won’t get that powerful backhand slap. Practice this drill to perfect your timing and tap into more power.

RELATED: Here's why most beginning golfers lack power—and here's how to fix it

Unlock more power secrets with “The Science of Speed,” from Michael Jacobs, in Golf Digest Schools. Watch this cutting-edge program today to add more punch to your tee shots using the power you’re already capable of creating. Delivering speed at the right time and making solid contact are the master keys to adding distance.

“The Science of Speed” is one of more than 150 video programs in Golf Digest Schools. Take your game to the next level with instruction from the top teachers and players. And with the new Golf Digest Schools app, you can bring it all with you anywhere you go.