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How to Hit Your Drives Farther

In more than 25 years of teaching, I've noticed that expert players and not-so-experts start their lessons in different ways. Tour players begin with "Can you check my setup?" I've never had a 15-handicapper ask me that. The truth is, you can ignore most questions about swing mechanics and just rip the ball if you focus on your start and your finish—the bookends of your swing. Here's a crash course on how to nail them.

The Start: Create a driver launch pad
The term "launch pad" accurately describes the feeling you should have at address. Here are the key points to a perfect start:

  • Position your head an inch behind the ball.
  • Distribute your weight equally between your feet, and center it from your heels to your toes.
  • Hang your totally relaxed, tension-free arms straight down from your shoulders.
  • Play the ball under your left armpit.
  • Fan out both of your feet slightly to allow your hips to turn back and through with more freedom.
  • Finally, inhale and hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Does that feel like a good position to be in at the start of your swing? Of course not—you're too tense. Now take a deep breath and exhale. The moment you release that breath is a great time to start your backswing. Your shoulders, neck and arms are relaxed and ready.

    The Finish: Post-Up

    Referring to the finish as the "post-up" gives you a perfect image for how your body should look at the end of your swing. You want almost all your weight coiled over one leg—in this case, your left—as if it were a solid post. When you complete your follow-through, your right knee should touch your left, your right foot should be up on its toes, and your shoulders and hips should face the target. Your back should be fairly straight—no "reverse C" here. If you can hold this finish in balance, chances are you'll be admiring a long, straight shot.

    Hit The Books: More lessons from Tom Patri
    Like the article? Now you can buy the book! Check out The Six-Spoke Approach to Golf, by Tom Patri and Julie L. Moran ($17.95, amazon.com). You'll find more on the bookends of your swing and many other lessons.
    Teacher Tom Patri is president of T.P. Golf Services and teaches at Lely Golf Resort in Naples, Fla.

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