Hit It Farther With Less Effort
Ilustration by Michael Waraksa
You're north of six feet. You weigh 215. You used to play football, and you still lift weights four days a week. How in the world are you getting outdriven by a guy who looks like a stunt double for a child actor? It's a question that keeps you up at night and frustrates you to no end on the course. Worst part? The harder you try to send it past him (or is it her?), the more you end up staring at the back of this featherweight's head farther up the fairway. The reality? You're probably getting outdriven because you think brawn trumps skill. That might be true if you're swinging a sledgehammer, but not a driver. Your tee shots are coming up short for a variety of reasons all linked to poor technique.
Let's start with your grip. I'll bet you one protein shake you're squeezing the handle way too hard. It's a golf club, not the neck of your opponent. For you to swing properly, especially with good clubhead speed, you've got to relax your grip. And speaking of speed, slow down your backswing so you have enough time to gather some of that muscle power. Finally, I'm guessing you're chopping down on the ball like Paul Bunyan. Whenever I see a big guy who can't hit it past the 200-yard marker, it's almost always because of a slice swing path (out to in) and a steep, downward strike on the ball.
So now that you know why Tiny Tim has your number, let's change that. If you're looking for one thing to get longer off the tee, do what one of the all-time best ball-strikers used to do. I'm talking about the late Moe Norman. At address, he would set his driver on the ground about two feet behind the ball and start his swing from there.
This adjustment sets your shoulders in a closed position in relation to the target (pointing right of it for right-handers), which helps get your swing path coming from the inside. It also prompts you to make a better backswing with your body—not just snatching the club upward with your hands. You'll store more power. Finally, it helps shallow your approach into the ball, so you can sweep it off the tee and launch one over the top of Danny DeVito's ball. —With Ron Kaspriske
Rob Akins, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is located at Spring Creek Ranch in Collierville, Tenn.