There are several common faults that prevent golfers from maximizing their distance off the tee, starting with the backswing turn.
Since power is generated by the big muscles – hips, torso and shoulders – these parts must be used to their full capacity. That means a backswing where the shoulders turn 90 degrees in relation to the target line, while the hips make a 45-degree rotation.
Easier said than done, especially if you lack the flexibility of a teenager or tour pro. Even golf's best must stretch to get the most from their bodies, though, and many use the “flat-footed golf drill” to ingrain a powerful turn.
Here's how it's done:
1. Take your normal stance with the driver, making sure your feet are at least shoulder width apart.
2. As you swing, keep both feet and heels planted on the ground, but turn the shoulders as you would during a normal swing. You'll feel the back and torso stretching as you reach the top.
3. Turn until your shoulders are perpendicular to the target line, then complete the swing.
This drill can be practiced with or without hitting a ball.
Golf Drills to Hit Longer Drives
Distance in golf is a funny thing. Everyone who plays the game wants to hit the ball as far as possible – yet distance is not the most important aspect of shooting low scores. It is your score that matters at the end of the day, and the control you have over the ball is far more important than the sheer distance you can create. Nevertheless, the average golfer's obsession with distance doesn't seem likely to go away anytime soon.
So, with that in mind, this article is dedicated to one specific task – hitting your drives as far as possible. The drills you will find below are designed to help you maximize your driving distance, hopefully without taking away from any of the control you have over the ball currently. You certainly don't want to sacrifice control for the sake of a few extra yards. Ideally, you would like to simply add yards to your current ball flight, making you a better overall player in the end.
We are not going to offer fitness advice in this article, although it should be noted that your overall level of physical fitness is a key factor in the distance you can create. A physically fit golfer will be able to make a good shoulder turn going back, and likely a solid hip turn going through as well. If you can take even small steps forward with regard to your fitness you should see significant returns in the way of added yardage. Of course, if you do decide to start up a fitness program with the goal of hitting longer drives in mind, be sure to check with your doctor to get approval.
Another point which will not be covered below, but is still important to the overall distance discussion, is the matter of your equipment. No, you can't buy 300+ yard drives simply by picking out the right club, but you can help to maximize your performance by having the right equipment in your bag. Take some time to go through a club fitting process at a local golf facility to make sure the right driver is in your hands next time you arrive at the first tee.
Again, you should never become so obsessed with distance that you forget all about the importance of control in the game of golf. You can outdrive your playing partners by 20 or 30 yards all day long if you focus only on distance – but they will still beat you if they have control over their shots. Distance can certainly help to make the game easier in some circumstances, but only when it is harnessed properly. Place a premium on control above all else, and look to add distance from there.
All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
One Ball, Two Tees
The first distance drill we are going to provide is quite simple, yet it should be effective in adding at least a few yards to your drives. To complete this drill, you will need to be at the driving range, and you will need to have your driver, a couple of tees, and some golf balls to hit. You can choose to head out to the range specifically to work on just this drill, or you can easily incorporate it into a regular practice session.
To get started, you want to first pick a target for these drives. It is important to always pick a target for your shots on the range as you need to make sure you are lining up properly before the swing. Golf is a target-based game, so it would be a mistake to hit shots without having a target in mind at all times. Select a target down the range which is easy to see from your location, and watch each shot you hit all the way until it lands in order to evaluate your results.
For the setup of the drill, tee up your ball on the first tee at an appropriate height for your driver. Most amateur golfers tee the ball too low when hitting a driver, so make sure you keep the ball up off the ground high enough to give yourself room to work at impact. As a general rule of thumb, you should have approximately half of the ball above the top line of the driver at address. With the ball teed up, take the extra tee and place it into the ground a few inches in front of the ball. This second tee should be directly on the target line so it will be right in the path of your driver as you hit the shot. When looking down from address, you should see the tee in the ground to the left of the ball you will be striking.
Just like that, you will already be set up for this drill. The only thing left to do is hit the shot. Your goal with the swing is to rip both tees out of the ground. To do so, you are going to have to 'chase' the club head down the target line aggressively. Many amateur golfers pull up out of their swings when they get to impact, which would cause the club head to actually miss the second tee. Don't let that happen. Stay down through the shot, accelerate the club to the best of your ability, and focus on smashing that second tee. If you can do this successfully, there is a great chance that you will tack on a few yards to your drives.
The great thing about this drill is the fact that you can use it with a variety of clubs if you would like. Once done with your driver, try using this drill with fairway woods, hybrids, and even long irons. In addition to helping you with distance, the drill is also great for learning how to control your trajectory by sticking with the target line as long as possible. Once you see what this drill can do for the quality of your game, you are likely to come back to it time and time again.
While this drill is a great way to improve your acceleration through the ball, it can be tough to use if your driving range offers mats rather than a grass tee line. Should that be the case, try using a piece of string rather than a second tee to provide a visual aid. Cut a length of string approximately six inches long, and lay it along the ground from the tee out toward the target. As you swing, do your best to trace this line with your club head. While not quite the same as ripping a tee out of the ground with your driver, you should still be able to get the effect of added distance by performing this variation of the drill.
The Pause Drill
Great balance is one of the keys to hitting powerful drives. Golfers who lose their balance at some point during the swing will always struggle to generate speed at the bottom of the swing. You can't rotate at maximum speed if you are falling off balance, so place an emphasis on controlling your weight if you would like to hit the ball farther.
One way to improve on your power through better balance is by using the pause drill. This is another drill that you can complete at the driving range, but you can also to use this one at home if you so choose (without hitting a ball, of course). If there is any loss of balance in your current golf swing, the pause drill will do a great job of highlighting it for you immediately.
To complete this drill, follow the steps listed below. For the purposes of this explanation, we will assume you are going to do the drill at the driving range. If you choose to use the drill at home, follow a similar process while eliminating the golf ball from the equation.
- Take your driver from the bag and have a number of golf balls available to hit down the range. As was the case with the last drill, you need to have a target picked out for these shots. Unlike the last drill, you don't need anything other than a ball on a tee and your driver to get started. There will be no other setup necessary.
- To get ready to make your swing, simply find your address position and make sure you are oriented properly with the target you have selected. Once you are comfortable in your stance, go ahead and start the swing just as you would for any drive out on the course.
- Move through the takeaway and backswing as usual, but when you reach the top of the swing you are going to come to a complete stop instead of starting the downswing. With your swing stopped, hold your position for several seconds while checking on your balance. Do you feel like you are leaning in one direction or the other? If so, you will know immediately that there is a problem with your balance. Ideally, you will feel like your weight is perfectly over the center of your stance while you are holding your pose at the top of the swing.
- After you have had time to evaluate the status of your balance, go ahead and finish the swing as usual. Make sure your hips are leading the way in the downswing by moving them first from the top. With your hips turning your body quickly to the left, your upper body and the club can follow along for the ride. Even though you have paused for several seconds at the top of the swing, you should still be able to hit solid drives as long as you are on balance.
- Feel free to hit as many shots as you would like before moving on to another drill or another part of your practice routine. If you feel that your balance is getting out of control at any time in the future, revert back to this drill to get things back on track.
This drill is effective for a number of reasons. First, of course, is the emphasis it places on your balance. You will be able to add yards to your average drive simply through better balance, as your rotation will not be interrupted while you try to control the movement of your weight. Almost every pro you see on TV has excellent balance during his or her swing, and you should be trying to follow that lead. In addition to the work you will be doing on your balance, this drill will also help you improve on your transition, and you will be forced to use your hips correctly to initiate the downswing. With the combination of balance and hip action working for you, it is all but inevitable that you will begin to hit longer drives.
The final drill we are going to highlight in this article is one which will help you learn how to use your hands effectively in the swing. The previous drill should have helped you improve the way your lower body works in the downswing (along with improving your balance), so this drill will bring everything together by training your hands to release the club nicely. If you are able to follow through with working on all three of the distance training drills in this article, the end result should be extra yardage in your very next round.
For this drill, you are going to need to be at the driving range. Of course, you are again going to need to have your driver, and you will need some golf balls to hit. There is no other equipment or setup required, however, so this is another drill which is easy to use as part of your regular practice routine. To perform the drill properly, please follow the steps below.
- Once again, the best way to start the process is by picking out a target for your drives. However, these shots are only going to fly a fraction of the distance that you would hit a normal drive, so pick out a target that is only between 100 – 150 yards away from your position. Before you hit any shots in this drill, be sure you line up carefully with your selected target.
- Tee up your first golf ball and prepare to hit the shot. With an eye on the target, walk up next to the ball and take your stance as you would for any 'normal' drive. Position the ball up near the inside of your left foot, square up your feet, and put some flex in your knees.
- Before you start your swing, you are going to make one major adjustment to your stance. Take your right foot off the ground and bring it up close to your left foot. When you set your right foot back down, it should be within two or three inches of your left foot. You should still be set up square to the target, but you will now be standing with your feet extremely close together. It is from this position that you are going to hit your drives in this drill.
- Now that all of the preparations have been made, go ahead and hit your first drive. Quite obviously, you are not going to be able to make your normal swing. With your feet so close together, you will have little balance and you won't be able to make a great rotation in either direction. Due to the restrictions in your lower body, you are going to be forced to hit these shots with an arms-and-hands swing.
- Swing the club back with a little bit of shoulder turn and plenty of arm and hand action. As you swing down toward impact, use your right hand actively to release the club through the ball. Your follow through will be restricted as well, so you shouldn't plan on swinging up to any more than approximately hip height.
- Repeat this process as many times as you would like. To see how your improved hand release can help your regular drives, consider going back and forth between the feet together drill and a regular stance.
Yes, you are going to look a little 'funny' on the range while practicing this drill. Don't worry about what other people think, however – you will be busy improving on your technique one shot at a time. By incorporating an improved release with the rest of your driver swing mechanics, you should be launching the ball into the distance in the near future.
Other Driver Tips
As was mentioned early in this article, there is a lot more to the game of golf than just driving distance. It is great to hit the ball impressive distances, but your scores aren't going to fall unless you manage to pair that distance with some control. So, to finish up this article, we are going to touch on a few points which will help you control your newfound power. Pay attention to the points below, even while working on your power, to make sure you can control your long drives as effectively as possible.
- Never go all-out. This might seem like contradictory advice, as this entire article has been dedicated to the idea of maximizing your power. However, when on the course, you never want to swing as hard as you can on any shot. Swinging at maximum effort is simply not going to be worth it because of the control you sacrifice in the process. Rather than going for 100% effort, try to swing your driver at about 80% - 90% effort. You will gain a significant amount of control with this strategy, and you actually won't sacrifice any distance in the process. In fact, you might hit your drives even farther, as you will find the sweet spot more frequently.
- Aim down one side. As you continue to work on your driving ability, you will get more and more comfortable with the ball flight that is going to be your predominant shape out on the course. Knowing which way the ball is going to curve in most cases, aim down the appropriate side of the fairway to allow your shots to curve back into the middle of the short grass. So, for instance, if you consistently turn the ball over from right to left, aim down the right edge of the fairway and let your draw bring you back to the middle. Many golfers make the mistake of aiming right down the middle of the fairway on every tee shot, which effectively reduces the amount of space they have to work with.
- Club down. Sometimes, the best thing you can do with your driver is to put it back in the bag. If the hole you are playing does not set up well for your driver, but that club back in the bag and choose a fairway wood or long iron instead. This is a great strategy on short par fours, and it can even work on par fives where there is trouble lurking off the tee. A short tee shot which ends up in play is always going to be better than a long drive which finds the sand, trees, water, or some other undesirable position.
By using the advice provided above, you should be able to add yardage to your tee shots in short order. As long as you aren't trying to dramatically change your swing mechanics, it doesn't need to take weeks or months to take a few yards onto your drives. The drills we have offered are simple, easy to use, and applicable for almost every player. Good luck!