Want 25 More Yards? These Moves Will Supercharge Your Drives
Photo by J.D. Cuban
From freestyle wrestlers to power forwards to pulling guards, athletes in virtually every sport use their lower bodies to generate leverage. They in turn use that leverage to create powerful action. Golfers are no different. The muscles of the legs, hips and butt are tremendous power generators—if they're employed correctly. LRV is the acronym I want you to remember. It stands for Lateral, Rotational, Vertical. Those are the lower-body moves that will send your drives soaring. My brother, PGA Tour pro Daniel Summerhays (above), demonstrates the proper movements and sequence—sequence is key—of the lower body as he rips his driver (see below). Study them, and then use the drills he's doing to master the LRV move, and you'll put your own power ball in play. —With Ron Kaspriske
L: SHIFT YOUR PELVIS
Before I explain the lateral move, a quick reminder about setup and weight shift: At address, the top of your spine should tilt away from the target, so the lead shoulder is high and 60 percent of your weight is on the trail foot. When you swing back, feel even more weight move into that leg. That's important to set up the shift. Now, as you start your downswing, bump your pelvis toward the target so your lead hip moves over the top of the front foot (above). It's solely a lower-body move. (If your torso drifts ahead of the ball, you'll make poor contact.) Notice that as you shift, your arms drop the club on a shallower plane effortlessly. This move will enable you to sweep the ball off the tee with an upward strike for more distance. Here you see Daniel holding a shaft against his waist and making the lateral move (below). Note how the grip shifts toward the target. Practice this drill to get a feel for the first move down.
R: TURN YOUR BELT BUCKLE
Once your pelvis has shifted forward, it's time to get those hips turning. I realize a lot of you play with untucked shirts. That's cool. Just pretend you're wearing a belt and visualize that the buckle needs to go from facing the ball to facing the target. This rotation happens after you've begun the downswing. Remember, the lateral move gets things started, then comes the rotation about halfway into the downswing (above). If you don't start rotating your hips at this point, the club's path gets blocked by your body. Another thing to remember is that—like the lateral shift—this is a lower-body move only. Feel as if your shoulders haven't turned and that your head stays behind the ball's position, like Daniel is showing here. Also note how he's using the shaft drill to show how the left hip should rotate away from the ball (below). Practice this sensation to improve hip turn.
V: PUSH OFF AND UP
Now it's time to whip the clubhead through the impact zone and hit that power ball. To do that, I want you to push into the ground—hard—feeling most of the force in the ball of your front foot (above). Again using the belt-buckle visual, picture it moving upward and away from the ball as you push. This vertical movement is a tremendous power source—just don't mistake it as permission to rise out of your address posture at any point before this moment. And by "moment," I mean in the split second as your club is about to hit the ball. Here Daniel shows how this vertical push should look at impact (below). Note how the butt end of the club has moved up and away from the ball. Once you're comfortable with the third phase of LRV, try blending all three moves in sequence, using the shaft drill across your waist. Keep doing this until it feels natural and smooth. Now you're ready to grab your driver and get those extra 25 yards.
Boyd Summerhays is a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher based at McDowell Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale. He works with his brother, Daniel, and fellow PGA Tour players Tony Finau and Colt Knost.