My distance off the tee gives me an advantage on the LPGA Tour. My approach shots require less club, and I can go for par 5s in two, setting up easy birdies and the occasional eagle.
A key to my power: I'm able to swing very fast through the impact zone. Cardio workouts and strength training (see box at right) have paid off. Notice at the top of my backswing (1), I've made a full shoulder turn, and I'm poised to start the downswing. Don't worry that my left arm is bent. Centrifugal force will straighten it at impact, increasing my clubhead speed. As I approach impact (2), my legs drive toward the target. The muscles in my lower body are in control and create a platform for firing through the ball. My wrists unhinge so at the last second the club whips into the ball, releasing my stored energy. At impact (3), the club meets the ball squarely, my right arm is in its setup position and my feet are still gripping the ground. Past impact (4), my arms swing freely.
Lorena's fitness tip for more distance
When Lorena first asked me what else she could do to get fit, she was already in excellent shape. But I suggested she work on the gluteus medius (a muscle on the outer sides of the hips). A strong gluteus medius helps maximize rotary movement to increase power. Lorena is very strong in her hips, one reason that at 5-feet-6 and 127 pounds she hits the ball farther, pound for pound, than Tiger (she's averaging 263 yards off the tee).
To work your right gluteus medius, lie on your left side, as I'm doing here. Put your right leg slightly behind your left, your foot rotated up. Lift your leg and slowly return it to the start position. Do not arch your back, and do not let your body roll forward or backward. Reverse for the other side. Start with two sets of 8-10 reps on each side per day. When these get too easy, add ankle weights, and always maintain your form.
-- Caroline Nichols, Physical Therapist, LPGA*
Golf Digest Playing Editor Lorena Ochoa writes instruction articles only for Golf Digest. *