How do Tour players shoot in the 60s on the toughest courses in the world when you can't break 90 on tracks that are a thousand yards shorter? Practice plays a big part. So do the natural gifts endowed to each and every card-carrying member of the PGA Tour. But there's more to it than that. Pros possess the secrets -- the closely held keys to success -- that most everyday players never hear about. Until now. Below, you will find a step-by-step guide to driving the ball like Gary Woodland, one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour.
What It Is
The way to add swing speed using your stance and swing width. Get yards without yanks.
What It Does
Creates width at every stage of your motion, helping you store precious miles per hour instead of wasting them before impact.
How to Do It
Easy! Copy the moves you see here -- the same ones that have upped my driving distance average to more than 312 yards in 2014. It's not just me talking. It's science: The wider you make your swing, the faster the clubhead will travel.
1. WIDEN YOUR STANCE
One of the biggest mistakes I see weekend players make is that they set up with their feet too close together -- often barely shoulder-width apart. With a narrow base like that, you lose balance and fall backward through impact, especially when you try to swing fast. When I want to drive the ball really far, I take my normal stance -- which is fairly wide to begin with -- then move my right foot to the right about six inches. This adjustment gives me a more stable base for improved balance and sets me up to trace the widest arc possible. This is a good thing, because wide arcs give you more time to add speed. My timing also seems to improve with a wider stance.
2. SLOW DOWN YOUR BACKSWING
I make my most deliberate takeaway possible. It's a timing issue for me -- the slower I start, the more potential speed I can build into my swing. I think of it as a gradual building up of energy, not a quick pull to the top. Keeping it slow also helps me extend my arms so I can max out the width of my swing. When I rush my move away from the ball, I get shorter arms and a narrower arc, which limits how much speed I can release on my downswing. I also have a very hard time making a full shoulder turn or a good transition at the top when I'm rushing. Think of your backswing as a way to store energy -- don't use it all up at the start.
3. SMOOTH OUT THE TRANSITION
The transition is arguably the most important part of my swing. If I'm not solid here, I don't feel I have much chance of delivering a powerful hit on the ball. The key for me is to be as smooth as possible with minimal tension in my arms or hands. You don't want any "hit" in your transition, but rather a feeling of gradually changing direction. I want to make sure I've got all my energy moving down and forward before I put any power into my swing. I can't stress this point enough, especially when I see so many amateurs trying to hit as hard as they can from the top. When you make this mistake you're losing all your energy much too early in your swing. By the time the club gets to the ball, the energy's mostly gone and you won't be able to hit it long or straight.
4. POUND THE SWEET SPOT
Every part of your setup and swing is vital for hitting long drives, but making contact in the center of the clubface is the single most important key. If you don't strike the ball on or near the sweet spot, you'll never hit long, straight drives consistently, no matter how hard you swing or how well balanced you are.
To groove center contact with your driver, slow your swing a bit -- feel like you're trying to knock a line-drive base hit, not an upper-deck home run. Lunging at the ball with 90 percent or more of your strength is for the range, not the course. Make solid contact your priority and the homeruns will happen naturally.
5. "HIT FROM THE BOTTOM"
You've probably been told not to "hit from the top." That means not to step on the gas in your downswing the moment you complete your backswing. I agree. But the more useful phrase -- especially for weekend players -- is "hit from the bottom." Lay off the accelerator until you reach the impact zone. Trust me: If you make a slow-and-wide takeaway and refrain from pulling down too hard right at the start of your downswing, you'll have plenty of speed left for impact to drive it past your buddies. Swinging for the fences is fun, but it only pays off if you get the early parts of your swing right. You know you're swinging fast in the right spot when you can really lay into the ball without losing your balance.