Justin Thomas doesn't look like he should hit it 300 yards, but the 5-foot-10, 145-pounder is consistently in the top 25 in driving distance on the PGA Tour.
That means he's getting everything out of his body, and out of his swing. And when he has a good putting day, like he did on Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, he can overpower a field. His eight-birdie 64 was good for a three-shot win over Hideki Matsuyama.
Thomas is able to hit it far and straight because of the lack of "interference" in his swing, says Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Michael Jacobs. "If you look at the picture that goes with this story, you can see how Justin's clubhead is in line with his hands," says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, New York. "When he pulls the club down in the downswing, the club isn't getting twisted off-line. That means it doesn't have to re-route to get to the ball."
Many average players get to the same point in the swing and have the clubhead "in front" of the hands, meaning more in the direction of the ball. When the player starts adding force to make the clubhead speed up on the way to the ball, the force will make club twist even more out of position--and require a big compensation to recover.
It's the compensations and recovery moves that steal speed and accuracy from your swing. Without them, you're going to come much closer to your peak performance. "The key thing to check is the relationship between the clubhead and the hands," says Jacobs. "That's the 'plane' you want to care about. Players with upright swings and flat swings can be just as efficient, as long as that clubhead-hands relationship is good. You can even see in some swings Justin makes with his driver that he starts to get some of that extra club twisting going on, so it's important to check through the bag."