Senior golfers need to try and hit their drives with a combination of long carry and roll. If the ball is flying a short distance through the air, the senior will not be achieving the maximum amount of distance they could.
A short ball carry through the air could be caused by the driver which may not have enough loft or a very stiff shaft - both could cause a short carry distance. Another reason the ball may not fly very far through the air could be a lack of club head speed at impact. Club head speed is important because it creates the power needed to fire the ball into the air with enough power that the ball's dimples lift the ball skyward. Here is a way for the senior golfer to create more club head speed and carry through the air.
The air whip
One reason for losing club head speed through impact involves the early release of the wrists during the downswing, which means power is lost before the club head reaches the ball. To stop this from happening use the following drill:
1. Take a stance with the feet just outside shoulder width apart.
2. The ball should be positioned just inside the left heel.
3. The left shoulder should be higher than the right (for a right handed golfer).
4. Place more weight, about 55%, on the back foot to help strike up through the ball.
5. Once set up, take the driver and flip it round so the senior golfer is holding on to the shaft just below the club head and the grip is pointing at the ball.
6. The idea of the air whip drill is to make a 'swoosh' sound with the shaft. However, this sound must come just after the ball. If the senior golfer can accomplish this it means the wrists have stayed hinged during the downswing and only released through the ball. If they can hear the swoosh before the ball they have released the wrists too early.
Once the senior golfer has become accustomed to the swoosh occurring after the ball they can flip the club over again and try to repeat the same motion. If the wrists stay hinged for long enough and the club accelerates through impact, the ball should begin to fly further through the air as club head speed increases.
This drill can be practiced at home or incorporated into a pre-shot routine on the course before hitting actual shots.
Senior Driver Distance Fix for Short Ball Carry
All golfers want to hit the ball farther, but this desire may be strongest among the senior set. For senior players, it can be difficult to maintain distance over time due to gradually diminishing levels of strength and flexibility. However, that doesn't mean that the average senior player needs to be resigned to hitting short tee shots for the rest of his or her time on the links. By making some smart decisions – on both swing and equipment-related topics – the average senior golfer should be able to continue to send the ball well down the fairway for years to come.
In this article, we are going to look at one specific part of the distance equation off the tee – carry distance. As you likely know, carry distance is the portion of your tee shot which takes place in the air. To calculate your carry distance, you would simply measure the distance between the point where you put the tee in the ground and the point where the ball returned to earth after its flight. If you play most of your golf on soft courses, you may find that you don't get much extra distance in terms of roll out after your ball has landed. Or, if you play somewhere dry such as the desert, you may get plenty of roll to tack onto your carry. Either way, maximizing your carry distance is a great way to set up shorter approach shots hole after hole.
It is important to understand, before getting started on the instructional part of this article, that you don't have to be a long hitter in order to play good golf. There are plenty of good golfers – of all ages – who would not qualify as long hitters. With that said, the goal here should be simply to maintain enough distance to allow the other parts of your game to shine through. For instance, you may feel that the strength of your game is your putting. That's great – but you need to be on the green in a reasonable number of shots for your putting to really pay off. By working on your carry distance from the tee, you will be able to give yourself better chances to reach the green in regulation on a consistent basis. It's not about being a 'bomber' off the tee – it's simply about not letting your short carry distance hold back the rest of your game.
As you are thinking about this topic, it is also smart to consider the conditions you typically face when heading out for a round of golf. As mentioned above, the type of courses you play will have a lot to do with how much roll you get after the ball lands. Should you happen to play most of your golf in a dry location, carry distance is not going to be such an important factor – you will just want to maximize your overall driving distance. Should you live in a damp climate which often features soft courses, however, carry distance will be crucial. Wet golf courses often provide no bounce or roll after a drive lands in the fairway, meaning you are going to have to use carry for every yard you wish to cover.
All of the information 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.
The Carry Equation
You may think that all you need to do in order to carry the ball further off the tee is swing faster. After all, a faster swing speed leads to longer drives, right? Well, yes, in general that is true. However, when talking specifically about carry distance, you need to take a closer look. It will help to swing at a higher speed, but it will also help to fine tune some of the other elements of your game. Since it may be difficult to add much swing speed to your game at this point in mind, you may find that it is actually the other parts of the equation which offer the best possibility for improvement.
The points below highlight the various factors which are going to combine to determine your carry distance off the tee. Keep all of these points in mind as you work toward adding valuable yards to your carry number with the driver.
- Swing speed. Yes, we are going to start with this point because it certainly is one of the key ingredients. If you can add even just a couple of miles per hour to your average swing speed on the tee, you are going to see that increase immediately tack extra yards onto your drives. Fortunately, you don't have to head to the gym to build up your muscles in order to gain swing speed – there are plenty of ways to squeeze a bit of extra speed out of your current swing with your current body. Most amateur golfers do not have a swing which has been properly optimized for speed, so there is likely plenty of room for improvement within your technique. We will touch on this topic in greater detail later in the article.
- Launch angle. One of the big determining factors in your carry distance is going to be launch angle. As you might guess, this is the angle at which the ball leaves the club face after impact has been made. It is important to optimize your launch angle in order to achieve the greatest possible carry distance. If the ball launches too low, you will struggle to carry your shots very far down the fairway. Likewise, if the ball launches too high, it will balloon up into the sky and you will again lose distance. The ideal launch angle for every golfer is going to depend on a number of factors, including spin rate, swing speed, and more. The best way to work on your launch angle is with the help of a professional club fitter at your local course. A pro will be able to measure your current launch conditions using a computer, and recommendations on equipment changes will be offered based on those measurements.
- Spin rate. How much backspin do your put on your average drive? If you spin the ball at a high rate, you will be well-positioned to carry your drives a solid distance down the fairway. However, too much spin can wind up being a bad thing, as your drives will fly too high and distance will be lost overall. Of course, too little spin will prevent you from getting the ball up in the air, so falling on that side of the scale isn't going to work either. You need to find a spin rate which allows you to keep the ball in the air without having it balloon. Again, this is where a launch monitor session with your local pro will come in handy. He or she can measure your spin rate and then help you move it in the proper direction, if necessary. You may need to make changes to your technique to moderate your spin rate, or you need to make equipment changes such as a different shaft or a new ball.
- The driver itself. The club you use to hit your tee shots is going to play an important role in this picture as well. Of course, the way the driver interacts with both your swing and the ball is going to be included in the launch angle you achieve, as well as your spin rate. But there are other factors to think about here as well, including ball speed off the face and forgiveness on miss-hit shots. If your driver performs particularly well when you miss the sweet spot, you will see a more consistent carry distance on all of your drives. Every golfer misses the sweet spot from time to time, so it is important to consider how your shots are going to fare when you don't quite catch them perfectly.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into the carry distance you are able to produce on the course. Since this is such a complex topic, and since there are so many variables at play, it is best to turn to your local professional for help – with an assist from a launch monitor. In this day and age, there is simply no reason to ignore modern technology. You can get a ton of information about your swing and your carry distance by using a launch monitor, and these sessions are rather affordable at most facilities. Ask at your local course about a club fitting session for your driver and you will get all the information you need to move forward.
Boosting Your Swing Speed
There is nothing quite like adding to your swing speed when it comes to looking for extra yardage. Even as a senior golfer, there is no reason you can't work on your technique in order to uncover a bit of extra distance which you can use to attack long par fours and short par fives. Instead of thinking about making your body stronger – which is always a good idea, but a topic for another article – you can instead focus on your technique. With just minor technique tweaks, you can actually gain several miles per hour in swing speed, if not more.
To work on finding additional speed during your next visit to the driving range, consider the tips below.
- Open up your right foot at address. This is an extremely simple, yet incredibly effective, way to add speed to your swing. As you address the ball, turn your right foot slightly open rather than keeping it square to the target line. In other words, you are going to turn your toes out to the right by about 10*-15*. What is this going to do? Hopefully, it will help to restore some of the shoulder turn that you may have lost over the years. All of us lose flexibility as we age, and that lost flexibility has probably taken a toll on your turn. Some of the distance loss you have experienced comes from the fact that you aren't turning back as far as you used to. Fortunately, you can recover some of your turn by opening up your right foot. With your foot turned open, it will be easier to rotate to the right, and you will have more potential power in your swing. As long as you remain balanced and execute the rest of the swing properly, you will find additional power as you move through impact.
- Take a bit more time at the top. It is common for senior golfers to speed up their swings as they age. For whatever reason – and it may be related to the lost flexibility mentioned in the previous point – many senior golfers make quick swings from the takeaway on through to impact. Unfortunately, making a quick swing doesn't allow you much time to build speed. Try taking an extra moment or two at the top of the swing in order to let your body 'gather up' for the downswing. This tempo adjustment will help you stay balanced, and you might find that you can strike the ball more powerfully as a result. Not only is this a tip which can help with your power, but it can also help you strike the ball more cleanly as well.
- Let it go. One of the simple things you can do to add speed to your swing is to let the club release freely at impact. Knowing that they need to play a game which is based on control, many senior golfers 'steer' the club through the ball at the bottom of the swing. That kind of move might help you find the fairway, but it isn't going to do anything for your carry distance. Forget about this line of thinking and go ahead and turn the club loose through impact. By thinking about swinging hard and hitting long drives, you may be able to do just that.
As you can see, you don't have to make dramatic changes to your swing technique in order to pick up some speed. Things like opening your right foot at address, taking more time at the top, and committing to a free release, are simple and easy to execute. Give these tips a try on the driving range before you put them into action on the course.
Some Strategy Tips
When out on the course, you don't want to be thinking about the specifics of your golf swing mechanics. Swing mechanics should be dealt with on the driving range – and that is where they should remain. Once you head to the first tee, your only thoughts should relate to how you are going to get your ball from the tee to the green as quickly as possible.
With regard to the carry distance that you achieve with your driver, there are a few things you can do while on the course to maximize your returns. These are not points which relate directly to your swing, but rather to the way you approach the game. Keep these points in the back of your mind as you prepare for your next round of golf.
- Tee the ball higher. This seems like an obvious point, but it is one which is ignored by many golfers. By teeing the ball high up in the air, you will give yourself a chance to hit up through impact – which is a perfect way to optimize your launch angle and carry distance. Some golfers, afraid to go under the ball, will push their tee too far into the ground. By teeing the ball too low, you are making it nearly impossible to strike the sweet spot of your 460cc driver. Do yourself a favor and pick up some long tees before your next round. By teeing the ball up with the middle of the ball even with the top of your driver, you will be perfectly positioned for a high drive.
- Hit a fade. If at all possible, you should hit a fade when you want to carry your drives as far down the fairway as possible. Drives hit with a fade pattern are going to have additional backspin as compared to a draw, meaning they will stay up in the air longer. Of course, this is only a good idea in soft conditions. If the course is firm, go ahead and hit a draw and let the ball run out after it lands. It isn't easy to master, but having the ability to turn the ball both ways with your driver will give you the chance to customize your ball flight based on course conditions.
- Move the ball up in your stance. By playing the ball closer to your left foot at address, you will actually help yourself work toward both of the points above. When the ball is moved left in your stance, you will have to tee it high in order to hit it solidly. Also, you will be more likely to hit a fade because you will be contacting the ball when the club is already on its way back in toward your body (imparting left to right spin). Even moving the ball just an inch or two to the left can have a profound impact on your shot trajectory and carry distance.
The small details make a big difference in the game of golf. Teeing the ball up higher at address, for instance, can make a surprising difference in the flight you achieve with your driver. Even if you only tee the ball a quarter of an inch higher, that may be enough to move it into the path of the sweet spot. Pay attention to the details listed above to continue adding carry yards to your drives.
Getting the Most Out of a Club Fitting
We have mentioned in this article how completing a club fitting at your local golf shop can go a long way toward improving on your carry distance. But what do you need to know before you head in for a fitting? Fortunately, these sessions are pretty simple and straightforward, but the following tips will help you get the most from your visit.
- Be open-minded. One of the biggest mistakes golfers make when going for a club fitting is assuming they know all of the answers before they arrive. If you already think you know which driver and ball are right for you, why bother with the session? Instead of being stubborn, be open to new ideas and let the pro help you find a logical solution to your equipment needs.
- Don't try too hard. It is tempting to swing as hard as possible in order to impress the computer, but that approach will only lead to false results. Make the same swing you use on the course and get accurate information which can help you optimize your carry distance through the use of the right gear.
- Ask plenty of questions. While you should always defer to the experience of the club fitter in this setting, that doesn't mean you can't ask plenty of questions along the way. You want this session to be educational so you can make future decisions on your own in a logical manner. If you don't understand something along the way, ask a question and the pro should be happy to explain further.
Adding even a few yards of carry to your average drive can do wonders for your game. Instead of having the ball come down in a fairway bunker, for instance, you may now be able to carry that bunker and set up an easy approach. Every little bit of improvement helps when playing this difficult game, so don't take extra carry yardage for granted. Put the advice offered in this article to good use and you should begin to send the ball farther down the fairway in your next round. Good luck!