To hit the ball further and straighter here is a great exercise.
There are two factors to consider to hit further, straighter shots:
1. The golf ball can be hit further by increasing the speed of the club head through the ball.
2. The golf ball can be hit straight by making sure that the face of the golf club (where the golf ball is contacted on the golf club) is turning through the hitting area so that at the moment of impact with the ball, the club face points directly at the chosen target.
These two factors can both be achieved by performing the correct swing ‘release’ through the golf ball. To 'release' the golf club through the ball can be a confusing phrase that golfers and coaches often use. The 'release' is the term used to define when the golf club head is travelling at it's fastest in the swing and is the point where it overtakes the hands through the impact area. It is termed the 'release' as it can feel that there is a loss of control, or letting go, of the golf club at the moment when the golfer perhaps wants to tighten up or control the club more. A correct 'release' of the golf club benefits the golfer in two ways. Firstly, it creates more speed as the club head travels much faster than the golfer as it overtakes the hands. Secondly, it helps the golfer to hit the ball straighter as the club face turns or 'closes' through the impact area.
What tends to happen in most golf swings is that the dominant side (right for right handed golfers and left for left handed golfers) pushes the golf club through the ball. This causes a breakdown in the arms as they bend at the elbows at impact with the ball and is nicknamed 'the chicken wing'. This action can stop the club accelerating through the ball as the pushing action is determined by the strength of the golfer’s arms. A particularly strong armed golfer may be able to ‘push’ the ball a fair distance but others with less upper body strength may struggle for length. The ‘pushing’ action also restricts the rotation of the club face through the ball which can lead to it being held 'open' (to the right for right handed golfers and left for left handed golfers) through the shot often causing a slice or a fade.
To 'release' the golf club correctly through the ball follow these guidelines:
Set up for a practice swing and while swinging, focus on turning the shoulders and the hips through the impact area while keeping the arms straight and extending them out to the target in the follow through position. When the club head approaches where the ball would be, let the forearms cross over each other (right crossing over left for right handed players and vice versa for left handed players) making sure that the inside of the forearms are almost touching together as they cross. If a glove is worn, the gloved hand should be underneath the bare hand in the follow through position.
One of the biggest problems that prevents golfers from letting the club release is gripping the club too tightly. With tight grip pressure, the forearms cannot rotate as the wrists tighten and stop the forearms from moving. Make sure with each practice swing that the hands relax a little more on the golf club allowing the wrists to relax and work. This exercise is a little easier if it is performed in a baseball position with the golfer standing straight up and swinging the golf club at waist height. Take two or three practice swings and then try a shot with a golf ball feeling whether the hands were relaxed or not and whether the forearms crossed over through impact with the golf ball.
Keep working at this exercise to gain easy distance and to control the direction of the ball.