Lesson TeeDecember 28, 2010

3 Steps To 20 More Yards

Hit longer tee shots with these shortcuts

You might be awestruck watching the longest hitters do their thing. They seem to turn so easily to the top, maintain a lot of clubhead lag on the downswing, and then sweep the ball off the tee, launching it high with minimal backspin. Sure, it takes a combination of strength, athleticism and flexibility to really bomb it, but I'll bet I can get you 20 more yards if you make three simple adjustments. Try these setup and swing tips on the range, and when they start to feel comfortable, take them to the course.

1. SET UP WELL BEHIND THE BALL

Many amateurs swing into impact on a steep angle and actually hit down on their drives, which is why they pop the ball up. If you want to sweep the ball off the tee like the big hitters do, tee it up in line with the outside of your front foot, and set the clubhead eight or 10 inches behind it. The forward ball position will shallow your path on the downswing, and setting up so far behind the ball will help you visualize the clubhead ascending as it reaches impact.

2. LIFT YOUR HEEL

Big hitters make a full turn off the ball. You might not have the flexibility to do that, but one way to compensate is to lift your left heel off the ground as you swing the club back. Not only will this help you turn farther than you're probably used to and get your body mass behind the ball, you'll also shift your weight properly into your right hip at the top of the swing. Then, as you start your downswing, plant your left heel back to the ground before you unwind your shoulders. This will help create a better sequence, with the lower body leading the downswing. It's like throwing a football or baseball.

3. LEAD WITH THE GRIP END

To increase your clubhead lag, swing down from the inside, and pull the butt of the club toward your left thigh as your shoulders and hips unwind. Pulling the grip toward your thigh rotates your left forearm and prevents you from making an early release. It also gets the driver back in front of you so you don't have to flip your hands through. The lag releases naturally just before impact, creating a powerful strike.

BIO: Co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, Calif., Phillips is ranked among Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers in America.