6 ways to a longer drive
Master the links with these tips for turbo-powered tee shots. Here comes the boom
Birdies might be made on the green, but a finessed short game won’t get your opponent shaking in his spikes. Drill a 300-yard drive off the first tee, however, and you’ll make him crumble. And get a round of applause from the old boys on the club house balcony. Because even if you’re only playing for bragging rights, size always matters. Swot up on these swing adaptations and make driving big less of a long shot.
Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Rory and co might be ripping their tee-shots down the fairway but the pros aren’t as perfect as your screen makes out; during this year’s European Tour only 60% of tee-shots found the fairway. Realising a rummage in the rough isn’t the end of the world helps to remove tension from your swing, which adds distance to your drive. “When people are too worried about where the ball goes they tend to get flat footed and overly tight,” says golf coach Carl Watts. So forget the fairway – just grip it and rip it. This loosens the right side of the body, which helps to transfer weight away from your back foot and maximise power.
A sliced drive is the scourge of every amateur’s round. Seeing a sweetly hit shot carry as far right as it does forward can turn any mild-mannered man into a club-wielding Elin Nordegren. However, close the face of the club at the end of your swing and the only thing you’ll be slicing is your handicap. “Release the club head to go from open to closed throughout the swing,” says Watts. “This helps to create more power and a stronger trajectory.” Don’t try and off-set your slice by keeping your head down, this will restrict body movement and power. Follow the trajectory of the ball and relish it sailing over your pal’s.
Happy Gilmore was wrong, it’s not all in the hips. A big shoulder turn creates power, so getting the front shoulder comfortably behind the ball in your stance is a great first step. “Practice dropping the right foot back so that the toe of the right foot is in line with the heel of the left foot,” says golf coach Chris Ingham. “This opens up the hips and makes the shoulder turn easier.” World long drive champion James Sadlowski perfected this technique and now his tee-shot can terrify Tiger.
For most, a stroll on the links is a way to loosen up after a week in the office. But you could be bringing your work problems with you. Imperfect posture sat at a computer shortens the glutes and back muscles, which is turn shortens your drive. “If you’re not flexible enough your body won’t turn well,” says Watts. “It will force you to stand up in the shot, which makes transferring weight difficult and leads to a loss of power.” Hit the gym and target your glutes and lower back with foam rollers. A good session of muscle manipulation will lengthen your muscles and your tee-shot.
What’s in the bag?
For a lot of beginners getting the ball off the deck at all can feel like a small victory. But you need loftier ambitions. “If you don’t launch the ball properly then it wont carry far enough,” says Ingham. “Modern tour pros are using lofts of up to 12 degrees so grab yourself at least an 11.5 degree driver.” And while having a soft shaft might not sound too appealing, if you can’t carry at least 230 yards you don’t need a stiff driver. “Try to get away with as soft a shaft as you can. It will help you hit the ball further,” says Ingham.
There’s an app for everything these days, even your golf swing. This pocket-sized pro provides plenty of tips, bypassing the need to spend hours with a coach. The 3Bays GSA PRO slips unobtrusively into the handle of your driver and captures swing data before sending it to your iPhone. The app shows swing arc animation, tempo, face angle and much more. Now it really is time to upgrade your Nokia 3310, no matter how good you are at playing snake.