13 Ways to Fix Your Game: Driving

Friday March 2nd, 2007

Fix Your Distance

A loose left heel leaks power

If your left heel comes off the ground on the tee, you're almost guaranteed to make a reverse weight shift (a huge power leak). Plus, planting that foot means you have one less moving part to worry about in your downswing.

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Keeping your left heel flat allows you to tightly coil your shoulders around your hips. An elevated left heel destroys coil and will prevent you from building up power.

Keep it down!

You've heard about the need to create coil and resistance in your backswing, and the only way to do that is to keep your left foot on the ground while you swing back. At the top of your swing, feel the tension build in your left hip —- that's potential energy that can be unleashed into the ball.


Be like Beem

Although Rich Beem is still looking for the magic that fueled consecutive victories in 2002 (including a win at the PGA Championship), he picked up a massive increase in distance off the tee this year.

"I'm driving the ball farther, really, without changing my swing. At the start of the year, [Callaway Golf Director of Tour Operations] Joey Sprayberry shortened the length of my driver shaft from 45 inches to 441.4 inches. Just that small change in length gave me more control, and now I'm making contact in the sweet spot more often, which always means max distance."
-Rich Beem


PGA Tour Most Improved Driving Distance
Player 2005 Avg/Rank 2006 Avg/Rank Improvement/Rank
Len Mattiace 278 yards/178th 291.4/86th +13.40/+47
Rich Beem 288 yards/106th 296.7/46th +8.70/+60
Brent Geilberger 281.1 yards/162nd 289/103th +7.90/+71
Stewart Cink 285.5 yards/126th 293/76th +7.5/+77
PGA Tour Average: 289.1 yards
Fix Your Accuracy

Use the whole fairway

Most players plan to hit a perfectly straight shot from every tee, but most players don't hit the ball straight with much consistency. If you typically slice your drives, tee your ball up on the right side of the tee box and aim for the left edge of the fairway. If your ball slices, you're in the middle; if it flies straight, you're still well in play. Conversely, if you tend to hook the ball, tee up on the left side of the tee box and aim for the right edge of the fairway. Either way, you'll miss the short grass only if you hit your least common bad shot.



Take a pointer from Padraig

Even a third-consecutive million-dollar-plus year and a Ryder Cup cap can't match the gains that Padraig Harrington made in the driving accuracy. In 2006, he hit an amazing 11% more fairways, previously a weak point in his game. In fact, 2006 was only the third time Harrington hit fairways at a clip greater than the PGA Tour average. His career driving accuracy average is 62.5%.

"I tend to hit under the ball a little bit, so I've been trying to keep my right shoulder higher through the ball. It's really helped."
-Padraig Harrington


PGA Tour Most Improved Driving Accuracy
(percent of fairways hit)
Player 2005 Avg/Rank 2006 Avg/Rank Improvement (% Rank)
Padraig Harrington 54.6%/188th 66.3%/50th +11.7%/+138
Steve Stricker 52.3%/197th 63.2%/91st +10.9%/+106
Ian Poulter 62.3%/105th 70.7%/17th +8.4%/+88
Scott Gutschewski 57.9%/165th 65.8%/56th +7.9%/+109
PGA Tour Average: 63.4%
Success Story

Top 100 Teacher Dana Rader, director of golf at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, N.C.

Three easy fixes for 20 extra yards

I had a student named Hugh whose goal was to add 20 yards to his drives. I noticed that he had a hole in the palm of his left-hand glove, a sign that he held the club too much in his palm and too tightly, and that his right hand was too much on top of the club. This created a huge power leak. He also slouched over the ball, which kept him from turning and creating any power.

Step One was to place was to place the handle of the club more in the fingers of his left hand. This fix added clubhead speed (and kept Hugh from tearing his glove). We also strengthened his right hand by rotating it to the right. He was immediately able to produce a square clubface at impact.

Step Two was to fix his posture. He learned to stop bending from his waist and to start bending from his hips (you can feel this by putting your hand on your belt buckle and pushing in). Suddenly, he could make a strong backswing pivot with his shoulders and swing the club with much more power.

Step Three was softening his shaft from an S to an R flex and adding a few degrees of loft to his driver. First swing —- BAM! Just recently his regular caddie came to me and reported he had never seen Hugh hit such long drives. Hugh had found his 20 extra yards to good.

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