You don’t drive the ball as long as you’d like because you make some fundamental errors in your technique. First, because your ball position is faulty, you don’t swing up on the ball, which is the key to low-spin, hightrajectory shots. You also tend to lose your balance during your swing, which makes it extremely difficult to strike the ball solidly on a consistent basis. And finally, you don’t release the club through impact very well because you don’t use your right hand properly.
If you want to drive the ball longer, all you have to do is make the following three key changes to your technique. Follow my advice and you should see increased yardage in no time.
Step 1: Tee The Ball In The Right Place
This is a big one that I see done incorrectly all the time. The thing you have to keep in mind with a driver is that you must strike the ball with a slightly ascending swing. This produces shots that launch and fly higher with a lower rate of spin, which is ideal for generating maximum distance for your swing speed. The best way to guarantee an upward strike is to play the ball forward in your stance. I recommend positioning the ball off the instep of your left foot or even off your left toe.
If you look at the photos at right and below, you can quickly see why a driver needs to be played farther forward than, say, a 5-iron. Golf clubs are built with face progression, which determines where the face is located in relation to the shaft. Wedges and irons tend to have a negative face progression (that is, the face is slightly behind the shaft), while a driver actually has positive face progression (the face is in front of the shaft). Therefore, it needs to meet the ball with very little forward shaft lean, which you typically get by playing the ball back with your hand pressed forward.
Step 2: Balance Your Weight In Every Stage Of Your Swing
If you watch the pros on TV, the first thing you’ll notice is the near-perfect balance they achieve as they reach the finish. Amateur players, on the other hand, regularly fall back or to the side after they make contact, which is a sure sign that they’ve been out of balance all along. If you want to strike the ball on the sweet spot of the club and maximize your transfer of energy for the longest shots possible, you must maintain balance throughout your swing. The key to this is moving your weight over your feet properly at different stages of your motion. Follow these keys to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
When you take your stance, make sure that your weight is directly over the middle of both feet. If you put too much weight over your heels at address, you’re almost certain to fall forward (toward the ball) when you swing down to impact, causing you to make contact near the heel of the club. Conversely, if you begin your motion with too much weight over your toes, you’re likely to fall backward during your downswing, causing you to make contact near the toe of the club. To set your weight correctly, rock back over your heels and then your toes before settling into your stance.
At The Top
At this point in your motion you want to be fully loaded and coiled so you can deliver all your potential energy to the ball. Unfortunately, many amateur players get too much of their weight on their front foot in a reverse-pivot position. This mistake forces your weight to move away from the target through impact, ruining your balance and preventing you from delivering a powerful upward strike on the ball. The correct feeling is one in which the majority of your weight is over your right heel as you reach the top of your backswing. This lets you rotate your weight over your right thigh so that it’s in position to deliver the maximum amount of energy into the ball as you swing through impact. If you practice this, you’ll notice that you feel much more comfortable and balanced with your weight over your right heel, and that your tendency to fall back when you make your transition is greatly diminished.
This is where your lack of balance is probably the most noticeable. No accomplished player ever falls over or back after they strike the ball, and you shouldn’t either. To develop a solid, balanced finish position, you need to close the gap between your knees as you swing past impact by allowing your left leg to hold its position while bringing your right knee toward your left. Think about letting your knees “kiss” as you swing through the ball and you’ll have the right feeling. This move will force you to rotate your body toward the target through impact, which will make it almost impossible to fall backward.
Step 3: Apply Your Trigger Finger
There are a number of things good players do to create powerful shots, but possibly the most important is fully releasing the club through impact. What this means is that they allow the clubhead to pass their hands as it moves through the hitting zone, a move that releases all the stored power to the ball. If you’ve noticed how good players look like they’re cracking a whip when they swing, this is the reason.
A great trick for improving your release is to use your right index finger as a trigger. If you look at the photo below, you can see that I’ve separated my right index finger from the rest of my grip as I’ve settled into my address position, almost as though I’m getting ready to pull the trigger on a gun. If you copy this position, your right hand can exert more pressure on the handle when you swing, making it much easier to turn the club over (rotate it in a counterclockwise direction) as you extend your arms through the ball. You’ll know you’re doing it correctly if you feel like you’re hitting a topspin forehand in tennis, with the knuckles on your left hand pointing toward the ground.