November 2, 2014

Hit It Longer

Pick up 25 yards or more with my new megadrive

In studying golf's longest drivers, I found that everyone from Jack Nicklaus in his heyday to Phil Mickelson on the PGA Tour to Jamie Sadlowski in world long-drive competitions all have their own methods for booming it. But then I got to thinking, what if we took the different moves long-ball hitters make to produce powerful tee shots and combine them into one swing? Presto! Introducing the Megadrive. It's like that tee shot you hit by accident every once in a while that just goes and goes. Only with the Megadrive, you'll know why you uncorked it. Assuming you want to pick up 25 or more yards, follow these three steps.

__1. SETUP

Pre-set a higher launch__

Tee the ball higher than normal. When you rest your driver on the ground, the top half of your ball should be above the top edge of the clubhead. And when you grip the club, your left hand should be rotated clockwise into a stronger position so the crease between your thumb and forefinger points at your right shoulder. Now address the ball so it's in line with the heel of your front foot, and widen your stance until you feel a noticeable tilt away from the target. These adjustments will help you square the face and sweep the ball off the tee. Think: Stand wider, and tilt the shoulders.

__2. BACKSWING

Create more torque and leverage__

As you begin to take the club back, keep your arms really extended and start to hinge your wrists. This will give you a wider swing arc to create more clubhead speed on the way down. Then let your left heel come off the ground. This will help you make a bigger turn and generate more torque. Finally, near the top, push that wrist hinge a little more, so the clubshaft points downward. This extreme wrist set will create a lot of leverage you can transfer into the ball. Think: Swing wide, let the left heel come up, then hinge more.

__3. DOWNSWING

Pour on the clubhead speed__

As you start down, first replant your left heel. This not only shifts your weight forward, it helps you use ground force to generate more leverage and energy for the hit. Then, let your right shoulder move down toward the ball. This allows you to keep your body mass behind the ball—another power generator—and create a higher launch angle. Sweeping it off the tee keeps the ball in the air longer without as much distance-robbing backspin. Think: Plant the heel, and lower the right shoulder.

Keep in mind that your swing path into the ball has to feel like it's moving to the right of your target. This move shallows the club's approach and allows you to drop that shoulder without the clubhead crashing into the ground. You really need to practice this swing, and don't get discouraged if you hit one off the map every now and then. The good ones will be worth the occasional miss.

__STILL SHORT?

Develop better timing and motion__

Here are two more tips to help: (1) Practice this swing at half speed and focus on completing each part of the Megadrive before starting the next. Swinging slower will help sync things up. (2) Swing through the ball as if it's not there. The tendency when you try to hit a bigger drive is to squeeze the club, which restricts your swing back and through. Keep your grip pressure light, and make a long and fluid swing. Then you'll start crushing it.

*Rick Smith, a Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher,

is based at the Treetops Resort and Spa in Gaylord, Mich.*