‘Swing hard and don’t worry’: The swing secrets of golf’s newest bomber
LOOSE ENDS Chris Gotterup doesn’t want anything holding him back, including his glove.
"Boomer Sooner" is the fight song for the University of Oklahoma’s athletic teams, but it just as well could be the nickname for former Sooner golf standout Chris Gotterup. Last year, in eight PGA Tour starts, the 2022 Haskins Award winner (national college player of the year) averaged a whopping 326.5 yards per drive. Had he played in enough events to qualify, he would have won the distance title by more than five yards. Gotterup’s average clubhead speed also ranked among the leaders at 128 miles per hour, and that’s just his “cruising” speed. He says he can crank it up to 133 mph.
Gotterup will tell you there’s no big secret to crushing drives—“I just make as big a turn as I can and let ’er rip!”—but he does admit that the prototype for today’s long-ball hitter has changed. It’s not about hitting all of the right notes in the swing, Gotterup says. Technique be damned; it’s about mustering up as much clubhead speed as possible. That means you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and try a few things that might be opposite of what you previously learned about boosting your power. Here are a few.
First of all, you may have noticed how the Velcro strap on Gotterup’s glove is always unfastened when he plays. Gotterup has had it like this for years because he doesn’t like the “restrictive feeling” the glove gives him when it’s strapped on tight. “It’s just a personal choice,” he says. “I like it loose. Some guys like to roll their sleeves up before they hit; I peel the strap back. I find it super comfortable, like an old, warm pair of shoes you slide on and off.”
One thing Gotterup doesn’t want too loose, however, is his grip. Most amateurs are taught to grip the club lightly, like they’re holding hands with their significant other. That’s nonsense, Gotterup says. “It’s important to have loose arms but a firm grip,” he says. “How can you swing the club hard if the club is practically falling out of your hands? I’m not saying to grip the club so tight that your veins are popping out. Grip it firmly enough so that it’s not loose.”
The very best way to add speed and distance to your drives, Gotterup says, is to practice swinging as hard as you can. At Oklahoma, he and his teammates would push each other hard in the training room, seeing who could swing a heavy weighted club the fastest. “You can’t do that if you’re holding the club gently,” he says. “Grip it like you mean it, swing it hard and don’t worry about where the ball goes.”
Another common piece of advice you may have heard is keep the flex in your knees as you swing back. Well, good luck with that, Gotterup says. Straightening the trail leg on the backswing, as he and many of today’s longer hitters do, allows you to make the biggest, widest turn possible. “It’s not something I consciously do, but by keeping it fairly straight, I’m able to turn my hips and shoulders back farther,” Gotterup says. “My right hip moves straight back until I can feel my weight in my right heel. From there, it’s full speed ahead. I rip the club down hard in the other direction and try to pick up as much speed as I can.”
One other common misnomer Gotterup would like to address is that you should keep your lead foot firmly planted on the ground through impact. “I’m pushing so hard up off the ground with my lead foot that it has no place to go but up and out,” Gotterup says. “It’s practically ripping up the turf. I’m not the only player you’ll see spin out with their lead foot. Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson are a few others. It works pretty well for them—and I think it will do wonders for you, too.”