Use The Big Muscles To Launch Your Drives
Photo by Walter Iooss Jr.
You might wonder what a woman who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds can teach you about hitting big drives. Well, my average swing speed with the driver is around 99 miles per hour. The average male amateur swings it 93.4 mph, according to TrackMan. I can carry the ball 240 yards in the air. That average guy's total yardage with a driver is 219, according to Game Golf. So you might say I'm qualified. I create a lot of power for my size. Some of it comes because I spend a lot of time working on strength, power and flexibility in the gym. But I've also learned how to use every ounce of force I can create with my biggest muscles, and then coordinate that energy with the swinging of the club. In other words, I might be small, but I'm getting all I can from my body. You can, too. I'm going to show you how to use your body to generate more power with the driver and make good use of it. You'll be booming it in no time. —With Ron Kaspriske
STEP ONE: PREPARE TO LAUNCH
Before you tee off, there are some things you can do to give yourself a power boost. First, make sure your stance is wide enough that you can swing without losing your balance. That's probably going to mean standing with your feet farther apart than shoulder width. You also should feel "athletic." Pay attention to where the weight is in your feet and how much tension you feel in your hands, arms and body. You want to feel like you're ready to hit it hard, but not so tense that you can't make a fluid swing. Also note the angle of my shoulders, and then flip back to the previous two pages and look at them in the downswing and through-swing. In all three photos, the angle is very similar, right? To launch the ball high and far, the left shoulder starts in a higher position than the right, and the goal is to re-create that angle at impact. Make practice swings trying to copy that shoulder angle as the club passes through the hitting area.
STEP TWO: BUILD AN ARC
I used to let my hands control the action of the swing, especially as I took the club back. Because of that, I didn't have very good coordination between my arms and the big muscles of my body. For a long time, I didn't even want to swing the driver. That's why my average driving distance was so low last year (247 yards). I was mostly using my 3-wood. Now I feel like my chest controls the backswing. My arms stay closer to my body, and I wind up my upper body against my lower body. This helps create a really big swing arc going back. When I re-trace that arc on the way down, I hit the ball really far without swinging any harder. That's why I can outdrive guys who are a lot bigger. My swing is more efficient. If you want to improve the quality of your swings, think about creating a bigger arc going back and then retracing that arc as you swing back down. As a side benefit, you'll notice you're picking up distance and improving your consistency. It's an easier swing to repeat, especially when it comes to hitting it solid.
STEP THREE: WRAP IT UP
Two more reasons I can outdrive many male pro-am partners is because their timing is off, and they don't use their big muscles as well as they should. When I swing down, my left leg is locked and pushing hard into the ground for leverage to create more power. Also, my upper body is almost completely behind the ball's position through impact. I've shifted my weight into the left leg (that's why it's straight), but I'm putting as much body weight into the hit as I can. I'm not really swinging my fastest until the ball is struck. My swing speed is building until then. That's why the club is wrapped around me here. It's from the momentum I generated through acceleration. A lot of amateurs look like they're chopping at the ball with their hands and arms only. The driver is moving too fast too soon in the downswing and loses power before the hit. Instead, swing at a pace so your body rotation can keep up with your arm swing. If you finish completely unwound like I am here, you're really powering through it.
Belen Mozo joined the LPGA Tour in 2011. She says her average drive is 265 yards.