If I’ve learned anything over the past thirty five years or so playing this great game is that golfers everywhere want to hit their tee-shots longer. We see the remarkable distances that the tour pros are hitting their drivers today, and we dream of doing the same.
Imagine being able to hit your tee-shots twenty yards further? Is it possible? You bet it is, and in this article I will explain exactly how I have helped many students at my golf school to significantly increase their distance from the tee with three simple adjustments to their set-up routine.
Firstly, keep in mind that there are two main factors that need to take place for your golf ball to travel further.
1. The golf ball needs less backspin as it departs from the club face
2. The golf ball needs a higher launch angle to stay in the air for longer
In this article I’ll share with you the three steps that you should incorporate into your existing golf swing technique to decrease backspin and increase the launch angle on your driver shots.
Whenever a dialogue is started about increasing driver distance it seems in the direction of changing equipment or changing your golf swing. Now there’s no doubt that getting a driver fitted to you correctly will make a big difference, as will improving a flaw in your golf swing technique.
However, sometimes the simplest thing you can do to improve the distance you hit your driver is to change the factors that decrease your driving distance into the factors that increase your driving distance. PGA tour professionals have increased their average driving distance (without increasing their club head speed) by learning how to modify their set up to the ball, so they can keep the ball in the air for longer with less backspin.
Did you know that the men and women of the PGA and LPGA tour’s who hit the longest drives do so because of the advanced golf club fitting technology available to them at every tour stop? The data from testing tells them that long drives are a product of a launch angle of between eight and ten degrees, and a backspin spin rate of approximately 2500 to 3000 revolutions (RPM’s) per minute.
Major equipment companies like Ping, Callaway, Taylor Made and Titleist are constantly collecting data on average golfers so they can develop equipment that makes hitting longer drives easier. They recommend that the launch angle of many golfers falls either side of the numbers produced by the pros. In other words, they either launch the ball on too low an angle off the club face, or too high. Also their backspin rate is too high, somewhere in the vicinity of 4000 to 5000 RPM’s.
So the key to longer drives is to develop a higher ball flight with lower backspin, and the best way to do this without trying to completely change your golf swing is to adjust three elements that will alter the way your driver works, leading to higher launch angle with lower backspin on your tee-shots.
Long Drive Golf Swing-Ball Position
So let’s start with the ball position. For the ball to launch off your club face at the correct launch angle, the ball must be struck at the right time in the down swing. The position of the ball in your stance should be right under your left shoulder joint, or just opposite the left instep of your golf shoe.
The reason the ball is positioned here is so the golf club strikes the ball as its travelling level to very slightly upwards in relation to the ground. If you currently have your ball position placed further back than this you will be hitting down too much on your driver shot which will significantly increase the backspin on the golf ball and make it travel too low.
Long Drive Golf Swing-Spine and Elbow Angle
Next, you need to tilt your upper spine away from the target until the centre of your shoulders is in-line with your right knee. To check this, simply suspend your driver from the centre of your chest and it should touch the target side of your right knee. This is the ideal amount of spine angle for launching your golf ball on a higher trajectory with lower backspin.
Also make sure that your right shoulder is quite a bit lower than your left shoulder, enough that an angle is formed between your right and left elbow in the address position. Your right elbow should have an angle of forty to forty five degrees. This helps your shoulders to rotate into the back swing on a flatter angle which will help your swing path to travel from inside to square to inside.
Long Drive Golf Swing-Grip Pressure
Finally, your connection to the golf club is critical when increasing your driver distance. It’s been my experience, and research backs this up, that amateur golfers have simply too much grip pressure in the address position, and also in the back swing, transition and downswing phases of their golf swing.
Excess grip pressure will kill your golf swing! Increasing club head speed requires mobility and flexibility in the hands, which means a fluid wrist cock of ninety degrees or more at the top of the backswing. Pay particular attention to your right hand as it is the closest hand to the club head and tends to cause most of the deceleration problems in golf swings.
My rule of thumb is that you should be able to feel the weight of your driver throughout the back swing phase. Your wrists should cock in response to the weight of the club as it changes direction from horizontal motion to vertical motion in the back swing. A note of caution is to make sure that you do not let go of the grip through applying too light a grip pressure. Remember; light enough to swing the golf club, and tight enough to control it.
So apply these three simple steps into your driver set-up and you’ll soon discover that you can hit the ball higher into the air, with less backspin, leading to high flying and longer drives.
Also do yourself a favour and visit a golf club fitting centre to get your driver checked out. Sometimes a change in your golf shaft flex, and shaft make, can make all the difference, and that difference may be all it takes for you to add valuable yards to your next drive.
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