Who Are They?
We are used to seeing the statistics of players on the professional tours, and the one statistic that most people look for first as a measure of a golfer's ability is driver distance.
We are all aware that this does not equate to necessarily good scoring, but similar to having the fastest lap in a motor race, there is a certain amount of credibility from being the golfer with the longest recorded drives in either a tournament or an entire season.
What They Do
The world's longest drivers do not necessarily conform to one particular stereotype of either body shape or swinging characteristics. Possibly the most famous long driver of the modern era is John Daly, nicknamed 'The Wild Thing' which is a rather apt name on three levels. He certainly has a wild golf swing, with a massive over swing at the top and a flailing unbalanced finish position, he is certainly wild off the tee at times and in more recent years, he has adopted a questionable wild dress sense.
Then there are more refined long hitters like Robert Garrigus, who although he takes a very strong grip, his balance and shorter than horizontal position at the top of his swing would not allude to the prodigious distances that he is able to hit the ball.
What Can You Learn?
One common asset of the longest hitter's golf swings is the ability to create a big X angle. This X angle describes the difference in rotated positions between the hips and the shoulders, when viewed from above.
In the address position, the hips and the shoulders are parallel to each other. During the backswing phase of the golf swing, the shoulders turn against the hips. This describes a position where the shoulders will rotate to around 90 degrees to the target line and the hips will remain more square to the target line. The world's longest hitters are often able to create a bigger than normal X angle, and some are even able to increase the X angle during the downswing by initiating their downswing with a hip turning and opening position which creates an even tighter coil to the upper body. This increases the power, lag and club head speed to the impact phase.
What Should You Avoid?
Being a big hitter takes a certain amount of natural physical flexibility. If you don't possess this, you may never become a long hitter, but instead you should focus on maximising your own potential. Try not to judge your distances by anybody else's but just work on making your own swing as efficient as possible.