Want another 20 yards? Then copy this move in Viktor Hovland’s swing
Imagine that you have a wedge parked under the target side of your lead foot as you take your stance. Not a golf club, rather the kind of wedge you use for a doorstop or to split firewood. As you swing your driver into the ball, use that wedge to push down and away from the target with your lead leg. That move is something Viktor Hovland does, and it’s one reason he’s among the best drivers on the PGA Tour, says Golf Digest Teaching Professional Josh Zander. Hovland, second in total driving, the tour’s stat that combines distance and accuracy, uses that push to “throw on the brakes” with his lower body, which allows his driver to zip past him and rocket the ball into orbit.
“That move will put the mass of your body behind the ball, allowing you to launch it higher with less spin,” Zander says. “If you usually hit down on the ball and/or slide toward the target, which are common faults I see in many downswings, this move is a game-changer in terms of picking up distance. You can even practice this push off with an actual wedge. You’ll start sweeping it off the tee.”
Ironically, Hovland says he’s trying to curtail the move, preferring to sacrifice a little power for accuracy.
“I need to get my shaft a little forward at impact, so I’m not leaning back quite as much,” he says. “I try to flight it down . . . almost always trying to hit a cut.”
To produce that lower, more controllable fade, Hovland sets up with a flared left foot, which helps delay the clubface from closing, Zander says. He also does a couple of other things to help keep it in the fairway: “At the top of his swing, the face is shut as a result of bowing his left wrist. If he fully released from there, he would hook it,” Zander says. “But his left arm stays a little bent coming down, like Jordan Spieth in his heyday. It’s a clubface-opening move, and that keeps it more stable through impact. Granted, it’s a power leak, not letting that arm extend, but he’s got plenty to spare.”
Hovland, 24, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and seventh on the World Golf Ranking at the end of May, averages 307 yards off the tee with a driving accuracy of 65 percent. Both are among the top 50 on tour.
“It’s still a very powerful swing,” Zander says. “Look at his torso rotation; it’s incredible. And he starts loading into that lead leg as he’s still going back. That gives him time to set up that push-off move through impact.
“Also, look at his head position. It’s well behind the ball and marks the low point of the swing. If you’re trying to hit up on the ball and launch it high with less spin, copy that.”