While working on my master’s thesis in biomechanics at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, I learned how one’s mind-set can impact driving performance. Of the 28 elite golfers I studied, those who emphasized distance over accuracy not only hit it longer, they hit it straighter. By free-wheeling it, they were able to improve their sequencing and increase ball speed. The message? Let it ride! What follows are four drills based on my research that are designed to boost your clubhead speed and untap your distance potential.
Let’s start with my Confident-T drill. Without a ball and club, assume your normal posture with both arms extended, forming the letter T. Allow both arms to tilt as you turn and coil your upper body back (above, left). Then as you swing forward, feel as if you’re pushing off the ground with your legs and expanding your chest (above, right). This is the feel of the proper upper-body extension through the ball, which allows you to swing from inside the target line and max out your distance. Try this drill and my others here, and watch your drives take off!
Golfers who try to steer the clubface through impact for straighter drives usually end up slicing it because they leave the face open. Instead of trying to square it up, feel as if you’re over-rotating the face by getting the toe of the club to the ball before the heel. The toe should be pointing down the fairway after impact (above). Do this, and you will create more draw spin and more roll, and you’ll gain 2 to 3 miles per hour of clubhead speed. I bet you pick up 10 to 20 yards on your drives.
Now that you know it’s better to swing full-out than try to control your drives, here’s a great way to train your body to swing faster. I call it the Fireball drill. Midway through your range session, hit five balls with your driver at maximum speed, or what I like to call “unrestricted mayhem” (above). Don’t worry about the quality of the shots, just let it loose. By doing this in the middle of your session, your ensuing swings will get faster, almost subconsciously. Eventually you will learn how to manage this energy and adapt your swing to accommodate it. Time to hit some bombs.
The idea that you should keep your lead arm straight on the backswing is bad advice for most amateurs. It creates tension in the back and restricts your swing. Focus on keeping a soft lead arm instead, even allowing for a slight bend at the elbow (above). Combine the turning of your hips with your shoulders on the backswing—not restricting the pelvis. This will loosen up your muscles and allow them to fire on the downswing when you need them the most.