You understand that striking the ball with a square clubface keeps hooks and slices at bay. You also know that the faster you swing the club, the farther your drives will fly. Straight and long—that's the name of the game. The three moves at right are a great place to start. Nailing each will help you gradually build speed so that you max out at impact, not before or after. That in itself will make you a more potent driver. The kicker? Properly accelerating fuels a smoother and properly timed release, producing square contact as if by magic. It's a three-way fix that pays off in a double-whammy of more yards and a lot more fairways.
1. MAKE A DROP FROM THE TOP…
If you wait for impact to turn on the jets, you'll continue to hit weak pop-ups. Speed creation starts as soon as you reach the top. With your right arm bent and your hands and club as far away from your head as possible, make your first move a downward one. Your new speed swing thought: "Drop my hands straight down."
…AND PUT SOME EFFORT INTO IT
The initial drop move entails more than simply letting your hands "fall." From the top, big hitters exert up to nine times more force than gravity on the handle. Nine times! Drop with authority, pulling your left hand down while extending your right arm. Do it hard! It's the start of a power release that automatically shoots energy to the clubhead and squares the face.
2. TILT YOUR RIGHT SIDE
As you do with your hands, drop your right shoulder toward the ground as soon as you begin your downswing. This is yet another speed-booster. More important, it keeps you from moving your right shoulder out too early (it has to go down before it swings around). Think of it as trying to decrease the distance between your right shoulder and hip as quickly as possible once you start down.
3. HANDLE DOWN, CLUBHEAD OUT
Now's the time to release the speed you've built up in the first two steps, and to do it in a way that automatically squares the face for impact.
In addition to continuing the downward movement of the clubhead, it's critical to sling it out away from your body as you near impact. This is the key part of the release that most weekend players miss. Picture the clubhead moving "horizontally" into the ball. An easy way to make it happen is to power through impact while keeping the top of the grip close to — and pointed at — your body, so the club can work around you and get in line with your left arm for a square hit. The big mistake: "Dragging" the handle down the line. With this error, the clubhead can't accelerate into impact, nor can it square up. Good luck with that combo.