March 13, 2018

Timeless Driver Keys: Basics On Setting Up For Power And Accuracy

“The trick is to play the ball up but keep the shoulders square.”
Butch Harmon photographed at Rio Secco GC in Henderson NV
Photo by Dom Furore

Individuality in golf is great. My dad, Claude Harmon, who won the Masters 70 years ago, always said he wanted to help players without taking away what they did naturally. The caveat was, if any of those things hurt a player's performance, it had to go.

With the driver, let's look at a few things you need to get right. Ball position literally sets up everything. Play the ball so it's just inside the front heel (above). That allows you to turn behind the ball, then drive forward and still catch it on the upswing.

I also look at shoulder alignment. Players often reach for the ball when it's played forward and unwittingly shift their shoulders open. The trick is playing the ball up, but keeping your shoulders parallel to the target line.

After a good windup, start the downswing from the ground up. Shift your knees and hips toward the target. Notice (below) my hips are already turned open, but my chest is facing the ball. Amateurs often spin out the whole body and cut across the ball. Think: Chest to the ball at impact.

Photo by Dom Furore

Another key is keeping the back shoulder down and in on the downswing. Don't let that shoulder pop out toward the ball because you're trying to muscle it. Let the club stay inside, then straighten your arms out to the ball. That's a power key that you lose if you go hard from the top.

It's OK to have your own style with the driver. Just make sure what you're doing is setting up a powerful upswing hit. These keys are a good place to start. — With Peter Morrice

Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.


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