(I revisit this post every so often, as it has been my most popular and has helped the most people along with the Plane and Release by Feel Video (LINK))
(As you will see, my ideas haven’t changed a lot in the two and a half years since I wrote this. I have just learned more and have tried to learn to communicate my ideas better.)
IMO, the most important thing in this article is the last paragraph.
Is the following the way to win the Remax World Long Drive Championship? Not by a long shot. (Wait, actually I changed my mind. This is how I did it…along with hitting lots of balls.)
Is it the way the most golfers can achieve their maximum average distance of drives while not sacrificing driving accuracy or score? ABSOLUTELY!
I am sorry, but it is this long driver’s opinion that every “swing system” ever devised will not make you hit the ball farther or play better. No system is going to work for more than a very small percentage of people…if it actually works for anyone at all. You know how I know? I tried most of them.
There is also no such thing as adding 30 yards instantly by the change of equipment or change of swing from one day to the next. If you are an experienced golfer and you take advantage of everything you can, you might be able to add 10-15 yards over several months. The very few exceptions not withstanding.
If you are an inexperienced golfer, distance improvement can be much greater, but it still takes time. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES IN GOLF. Any one that tries to sell you that, might as well throw in some beach front property in Florida and part of the Brooklyn Bridge. Improvement in golf is small and it takes hundreds or even thousands of repetitions for it to become part of your muscle memory. Anything else is just a band aid that ends up being a bad habit.
Experienced or inexperienced, the object of making changes in your golf game is not about shooting one low round tomorrow or hitting one 300 yard drive. It is about your handicap being lower 6 months from now and all of your drives having the best combo of distance and accuracy.
So here are some things that will make you longer and better 6 months from now. Don’t try to do everything at once. One step at a time. If you don’t understand something or disagree…immediately disregard it.
1. A driver that fits you. To get maximum yardage from a driver, you must have the proper loft and shaft flex.
2. Increase your flexibility. Stretching every morning before you go play for 15-30 minutes (I do), will add more yardage to your game than weight lifting or equipment changes. Lower back, hamstrings and shoulders/rotator cuffs are the ones I concentrate on.
3. Rotational exercises. Any kind of motion that will help you increase how well your torso rotates. I take a small (ladies size) 6 lb. medicine ball and swing it like a golf club while engaging the core muscles in my stomach. The smaller the ball, the better. I don’t like the use of weighted clubs. It ruins your feel and can cause tears in your wrists, elbows and shoulders.
4. Balance. You can swing as hard as you want as long as it is in balance. This “swing easy” nonsense is just a band aid to avoid being in balance and having good rhythm. I wrote about this in a previous post (LINK).
5. Proper rhythm. If you allow the club to set at the top of your swing, you will be able to generate more speed coming into the ball. That does not mean a really slow back swing. There is nothing worse for club head speed than a deathly slow back swing that ends in a quick transition at the top. The speed of your back swing only needs to be slow enough for the club to set. Think of the 1-2 count of a grandfather clock pendulum.
6. Constant, medium grip pressure. You don’t want it too light or you won’t be able to help but increase it during the swing. You definitely don’t want to death grip it.
7. A proper release. Here is where a lot of people have been misinformed. Everyone knows that throwing or casting the club makes you lose power and speed. A large section of the golf public has been brainwashed into believing that adding lag on the way down or delaying the release increases speed and distance. WRONG! I understand what the physics but lagging the club artificially doesn’t work. This method has worked for an extremely small percentage of golfers, but the vast majority have been ruined by this. If you increase lag on the way down (delay the release), you bury it to the inside (get stuck underneath the plane) and the club face is also open. A strong grip is a bandaid for this as you are still stuck under the plane with an open club face. If you combat this with a stronger grip, you are now flipping at it with even more force and going to hit it even farther left when you flip it to avoid the block to the right.
In addition, adding unnatural lag narrows your arc, which reduces club head speed and can increase spin because the angle is steeper. Sorry to get technical, but way too many people have been sold this bill of goods. A proper release is a constant rotation of the club face from the top of the swing all the way to the finish. Some people will be afraid this causes a hook. Actually, starting the release too late is what causes the big hooks, as a flip is necessary at the bottom to avoid a block when the face is open. Proper lower body and shoulder rotation will keep a proper release from going left.
The proper amount of lag will be a result of a good golf swing. Trying to do it on purpose with your hands will isolate your hands and they will take over the swing.
I know…a lot of info and none of it is necessary to know. I just needed to go into technobabble to inform those who have been told to over lag the club.
Jack Nicklaus said you can’t release the club too early. Need I say more?
To sum up the above mess, the release should start as soon as the down swing starts in sync with the turn of the body. These two rotations will counteract and produce a square club, as both actions will happen naturally if you allow them. Watch the video in this LINK
As you can see in this video, a release and a cast are two completely different physical movements and unrelated. Also, new ball flight laws suggest releasing too soon down the line will produce a pull, not the myth that it crates a hook.
8. Use centrifugal force (CF) to your advantage. If it’s good enough for NASA, it should be good enough for you. If you take a bucket of water and spin around, CF is what pushes the water to the bottom of the bucket and keeps it from flying out. CF will speed the club up and get your arms to full extension if you don’t counteract it. Examples of counteracting CF: adding lag, burying the club to the inside, swinging inside/out, throwing/casting the club, diving at it with your head, “swinging easy,” or grabbing it with your hands and pulling it into your body. CF will also help you square the club if you don’t counteract it.
OK, I have changed this to IDIOT force as I was told my 1980’s physics is antiquated. Basically, there is a force that will square the club if you are not an idiot and prevent it from happening.
9. Don’t try to increase your arc on the back swing. You want to keep the width of your arc constant. Another way of saying keeping your hands the same distance from your chest that they are at address. “Low and slow” or trying too hard to get full extension going back will get the club behind you and possibly pull your head down. Numbers 4-8 on this list go out the window when that happens. In addition, widening the arc purposely on the way back almost always leads to narrowing on the way down, which will give you a feeling of being stuck and having no room to hit the ball.
Trust me…you don’t want that.
10. Last, but not least, know what “completing your back swing” means. “Complete your back swing,” “low and slow,” and forced lagging of the club are in a dead heat for things people try to hit it farther and end up ruining their game. Golfers trying to “complete their back swing” or “make a full turn” almost 100% of the time end up making a back swing that is way too long. It ends up being a huge arm swing after their shoulder turn is finished and once your arm swing takes over for your shoulder turn…turn out the lights.
Put a shaft across your chest touching your shoulders and hold it there with both hands. Turn you shoulders as far as they will go. Then without moving, grip the club normally and extend your hands away from your body to where they would be after taking a back swing. That is a full back swing for you individually and anything longer than that is bad. More than 90% of all golfers aren’t flexible enough to take it to parallel. Almost 100% strive for parallel. Exactly 100% of all golfers who are trying to “complete their back swing” go well past their maximum shoulder turn with their arms.
If someone tells you your swing is too long and you respond, “I am trying to complete my back swing.” Guess what?
I have eight letters for you. JB Holmes. One of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, with the shortest back swing…and not to be rude, but none of you are as flexible, hit as many balls or as talented as Fred Couples, Bubba Watson or John Daly, so don’t take the club back that far. Some of you may drink as much as Daly, but that doesn’t count.
You might think this is semantics, but it isn’t. Golf is not about forcing yourself to do what is right. It is about avoiding things that are wrong and allowing what is right to happen automatically. You have your own personal best swing. Keeping things basic will allow you to find it and actually have fun doing it.