I came into the 2016 U.S. Open a wide-eyed amateur ranked 571st in the world. Now look at me: a PGA Tour winner with 10 other top 10s. Oh, and I’ve also jumped 566 spots in the OWGR. Credit goes to my driving. For me, power is easy. My secret? Put the big muscles to work. Let me show you how.
PRELOAD YOUR POST
Adjust your stance to turn an everyday backswing into a power turn
If you’ve seen me on TV (my favorite telecast is the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, my first PGA Tour win!), you know that I like to hit fades off the tee. And since I don’t like to think about technique during play, I lean on my setup to produce the fade for me. My No. 1 key is to concentrate at least 60 percent of my weight in my right leg. But I don’t tilt to the right to set my weight, like some weekend players do. I really get into it. I like to feel like I’m sitting into my right glute, not so much my leg. If you do it right, you’ll feel your right hip tighten. That’s a big “go” signal— it means your right side is “preloaded,” so you can turn against it. Your backswing is now a power coil.
“Once you’re over the ball, shuffle your stance just the slightest bit left of the target. You’ll feel more comfortable.”
To really make it work, make sure you’re aimed a little left of your final target. If you’re like me, when you aim straight, it feels like you’re set up too far to the right. Adios, confidence. Once you’re over the ball, shuffle your stance just the slightest bit left of the target. You’ll feel more comfortable, which will improve your downswing turn. I know it does for me.
THINK “WIDE LOAD”
Let your big muscles do the heavy lifting on your way to the top
My teacher in Spain used to tell me to let my big muscles do the work. That’s why my backswing turn is powered mostly by my back and shoulders. I never think about moving my hands. Any time I think about purposely moving them, I forget to move my body. That’s when my power goes kaput.
A lot of people talk about the excessive bowing of my left wrist at the top. That’s just the way my hands work. (I often overdo the bow, so in reality I’m actually trying to cup it.) The point is, you can’t think too much. Let your hands move how they want to, just like I do. If you’re hitting bad shots, focus on corrections you can make with your big muscles to get everything in sync.
“Sway is not your friend. Feel as though you’re turning around a stable back leg.”
This will help: Think less about your hands in your backswing and more about your “center.” The last thing you want is any lateral movement on your backswing. Sway is not your friend. Feel as though you’re turning around a stable back leg. You’ve done it right if, at the top, you feel pressure in the inside of your right thigh.
SPIN YOUR CORE
Swing with your abs and keep the club in front of you.
From the top of my backswing, my first move is to fire my hips as far and as hard to the left as I can while shifting them slightly toward the target. If you do this—instead of first swinging your hands and arms down from the top—the quality of your drives will immediately skyrocket. I also pressure the ground with my feet during this segment of the swing, so my left hip moves up as well as to the left. It’s the secret to increasing clubhead speed (I’m in the 117- to 120-mph range) and also helps you to catch the ball on the upswing.
“My only concern is to keep my hands and arms in front of my body—not ahead, but in front—as my “engine” does its thing.”
After that, I focus on firing my glutes, abs and quads—speed comes from the area between your knees and your chest. (Big biceps might be nice to look at, but they don’t help you much off the tee.). As in the backswing, my hands and arms remain passive. My only concern is to keep them in front of my body—not ahead, but in front— as my “engine” does its thing. This helps me maintain my posture through impact and into my release. Maintaining your spine angle is the difference between “good” and “great.”
Rotation is power. If you’re not turning, you’re not winning.
My backswing is shorter than what most Tour pros use. That’s fine with me. If you follow my advice and preload your right side and swing against that resistance, you’ll create plenty of power. (I’m averaging 306.9 yards off the tee so far this year.) In the sidebar below, you can see how resisting and sequencing your downswing with a shorter backswing can pay huge dividends. The final key to power? Rotation. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use your big muscles to unwind from the top and through impact. Picture a pole through the middle of your body’s center. Rotate around it from the top to the finish. The ball won’t know what hit it.