It’s a common maxim throughout golf that players ‘drive for show and putt for dough’ which is true in one sense and fatuous in another.
There can be no doubt that putting, and the short game in general, is an essential part of golf which has set apart champions from also-rans throughout the decades. However, many people seem to forget that those champions need to reach the green before sinking the putts. Fantastic putters from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods also have the ability to bomb the ball off the tee. It’s the combination of long, accurate driving and solid putting which makes champions.
The benefits of being able to hit longer drives are numerous and include;
1. Shorter approach shots - After smashing a driver further down the fairway the senior golfer is left with a shorter approach to the green. The shorter iron hit into the green has more loft and therefore more backspin which creates control. By hitting the ball further down the fairway, the senior golfer has more control over their next shot.
2. Reachable par 5s - By hitting further tee-shots, the senior golfer could be in a position to attack par 5 holes in two shots. This ability to reach par 5s in two is absolutely vital for top players. On the PGA tour in 2013, Tiger Woods was -5 on par 3s, +14 on par 4’s and a massive -80 on par 5’s.
3. More options - Many senior golfers stand on the tee-box of a par 4 or 5 and feel worried about not carrying over a water hazard or even rough on to the fairway. By hitting longer drives, the senior golfer has more options and can attack holes without fear.
How to hit long drives
To hit long drives the senior golfer first needs to achieve the correct set up position.
1. Take a wide stance with the feet outside shoulder width apart giving the golfer a big wide base to build power.
2. The ball is positioned just inside the left heel with the ball teed up high to encourage a sweeping action.
3. The left shoulder should be higher than the right to help the golfer clip the ball away off the top of the tee-peg.
4. When swinging away from the ball, rotate the shoulders underneath the chin so the middle of the back faces towards the target.
5. Turn through the ball with the lower body and hips keeping your head behind the ball at impact.
6. Your swing speed should be fast, but try to maintain balance whilst hitting the ball hard.