Don't need to grip the club hard to rip the ball far
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com file photo
It's easier than you think.
For some reason, we believe that there is a “secret" to distance. Yes, being tall and strong helps, but look at Gary Woodland, Rory McIlroy, Sean O'Hair and PGA Tour newcomers like Josh Teater and Steve Lebrun. All are well under 6-feet tall don’t exactly have the most intimidating of statures, but. they are all in the top 30 in driving distance average on tour.Is there a secret we don't know about that the big boys on tour do? Of course not, they just maximize the efficiency of their golf swings.
There is only one way to hit the ball farther, increase your club head speed. Naturally we swing harder and harder trying to hit it farther. Strangely enough, this is the very thing that causes loss of distance. The muscles get tense, the waggles become quick and the takeaway becomes more of a jerk off the ball rather than the smooth takeaway of McIlroy or O'Hair.
Tense muscles and a quick takeaway produces erratic and highly inconsistent shots.
So, if trying to swing faster is not the answer to increased club head speed, what is? There is a reason why you hear words like smooth, rhythm and loose grip easy swing for golf: it produces consistent shots with lots of power behind them.
It starts in the mind. The body’s first reaction to the "I want to KILL this one!" mentality is to grip the club tight. This then channels up the arms and shoulders locking down your lats and back muscles. The takeaway is way out of rhythm, causing you to jerk the club head away erratically. The arms move faster than the locked down body not allowing a proper full turn behind the ball. The club never reaches the top of the swing because the down swing is started before the backswing is finished! Impact turns into a convoluted mess of missed timing and flailing attempts at contact. In the words of Tin Cup, the swing becomes "an unfolding lawn chair!”
Here are a few key concepts to increasing your club head speed without physically swinging harder:
- Think about swinging easy: Golf is a game of opposites. You swing left, the ball goes right, hit down and the ball goes up, you swing easy and the ball is crushed! Having the mind set to swing easy promotes loose muscles rather than torturous tension.
- Loose grip, easy swing: Locking down your body with increased grip pressure and clinched muscles to hit it harder will only hinder rotation. To maximize a full swing you have to have flexibility in the body to fully rotate and that starts with an easy grip.
- Feel a pause at the top: As the upper body finishes winding up at the top of the swing, the lower body begins the down swing. The larger the separation is between these two elements equates to distance. A locked down body will never allow you to finish the backswing therefore the upper body and lower body move together on the downswing. A pitcher or a quarterback steps forward toward the target first. The last bit of movement toward the target is the ball itself. It creates a whip like movement. The same is true with the golf swing.
- If you must swing hard, listen for the post “whoosh”: Hold the club upside down in your hands and address the ball with the grip. Take a swing and you will hear a whooshing sound. If the sound is heard before impact, the timing is off. Swing the club, grip end first, so the whooshing sound is after impact. In order to produce this result, the tempo and timing of the golf swing must be smooth, rhythmic and sequential.
Try these tips on the golf course the next time out. Have a great season on the links and enjoy your time outdoors. Contact your local golf professional and have them assist you in maximizing the efficiency of your golf swing this season to smash your drives off the tee this year.
Kyle Dobbs is a former professional and University of Michigan golfer. He grew up in Ann Arbor and won the individual Big Ten title for the University of Michigan men’s golf team his senior year in 1997. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.