You can call us “old guys” on the PGA Tour Champions, but there are a lot of players out here who can still move the ball (we’d be in the top half of players on the regular tour in driving distance). Credit better equipment to a degree, but a big reason a lot of us aren’t losing much yardage off the tee is efficiency. It’s all about extracting the most we can from our swings—no matter how fast the club is moving. In 2018, I averaged 292 yards off the tee. That’s 12 yards longer than my average in 1996, when I won on the PGA Tour for the first time. And I got to 292 with a swing that’s two miles per hour slower than it was in ’96. Sure, my driver is way better now. But I’ve also been working on things with my technique that squeeze every yard I can out of my body. And if you incorporate them into your game, I promise you’re going to unlock more power. And who knows, maybe you’ll move back a set of tees. —WITH MATTHEW RUDY
Approach the ball like you play other sports
If you look at the posture of a good tennis player getting ready to return a serve, or a basketball player preparing to guard the dribbler, there are similarities. They’re on the balls of their feet, knees bent, and nothing about their bodies is rigid. They’re ready to react and move in any direction necessary. If you look at a lot of golfers at address, you don’t see that same athleticism. Golf might seem like a static sport, and you might be walking into your shot with a bunch of swing thoughts and technical steps that make you tense, but I want you to act more like that tennis or basketball player—get into an athletic, responsive setup with your driver. Start with your feet just a little wider than shoulder width, and flex your legs so your thigh muscles are engaged. Now push your right hip so your lower body shifts toward the target. (That’s key, don’t just tilt your shoulders.) You’ll be in what I call a backward-K position at address (above). Now you’re ready to sole your driver and launch the ball like an athlete.
Make a better turn to store extra power
I hit my best drives when I make a legitimate turn behind the ball, and you will, too. Let’s talk about how to do that. A lot of amateurs try to make a big backswing turn, but all they really do is lift their arms up and sway away from the target with their bodies. That makes it really hard to consistently get the driver on the back of the ball in the sweet spot with any kind of speed. If you’ve got marks on the top of your driver, I’m talking to you. Instead, try this: When you make your backswing, feel your weight shift into the inside edge of your trail heel (above)—not the outside edge.
If it shifts to the edge, it means you’re swaying instead of coiling and turning. It’s the difference between giving a punching bag a shove and loading up to try to knock it off the chain. Shift your weight into that heel, turn your shoulders as far as they’ll comfortably go back (above), and you’ll be in much better position to pounce on the ball.
Leave a dent in the turf to create more speed
Once you get to the top fully wound, you’re ready to make the one key move that’s going to jack up your driving distance. When the club is coming to the end of the backswing, it’s time to shift your weight diagonally from the trail foot’s heel to the big toe of your lead foot (above). When I do that, it feels like I’m loading into that leg and then exploding up like I’m doing a high jump or contesting a shot in basketball. My foot is squashing the grass. This is where the backward-K position at address is super helpful. It lets you shift your weight toward the target while leaving your upper body behind the ball to provide more mass for the hit.
Keep in mind that I don’t want you to hold your head rigid when you swing down. Your upper body needs to be tension free to create more speed. Push off your lead foot, let everything smoothly release, and you’ll discover you can swing faster with far less effort—and the ball goes and goes.