Today’s pros are driving the ball longer than ever before. How are they doing it? Certainly, better equipment, improved mechanics, and more attention to fitness (strength and flexibility) play a part. But the real key is leverage.
Rotational force is the most important fundamental of power. The more you extend your arms during the backswing and the longer they remain extended in the downswing, the farther you’ll hit the ball. Watch Tiger Woods: He does this brilliantly, creating tremendous width in the backswing to set up a powerful arm swing through the ball.
To create leverage, the angle of attack has to be elliptical — like an egg lying on its side — rather than steep (an egg standing upright). Start by extending your right arm during the backswing, giving it a wide, sweeping look. Next, concentrate on keeping the clubhead away from the ball for as long as possible on the downswing; this will create a shallow, elliptical approach angle.
The more the right arm folds during the backswing, the narrower the arc. To prevent this, key on the right shoulder and the back of your right wrist. The right shoulder initiates the swing, while the right wrist follows in unison. When this occurs, the club’s handle and the shoulder move together as a unit. This is known as swinging the handle, and it widens the swing arc going back.
As you start the club back, focus on extending your right hand away from the target, keeping the right wrist firm. This should prevent the right arm from collapsing and thereby narrowing the swing arc. This way, you create leverage on the backswing and store power for the downswing.
On the downswing, the left side becomes the dominant pulling force. Keep your left arm close to the body. If you tuck the right elbow in, as many amateurs do, the left arm runs away and the clubhead becomes trapped behind you. From there, you’ll either push the ball right or overcompensate with the hands, creating a big hook.
Push the Lifeline
To extend your right arm, push the lifeline of your right hand against your left thumb. This squeezing motion acts as a pulling force, automatically setting up a wide backswing. Maintain this pressure on the downswing to keep your right arm extended through impact.
Place the back of your left hand under the right arm, between your elbow and shoulder, and swing the club back. This helps extend the right arm, creating the preferred wide arc. It also cures a flying right elbow. As you take the club back, curl the fingers of the left hand around your right arm and push the back of the knuckles against the arm.
Most golfers throw the clubhead at the ball, which reduces leverage too soon. You want to keep the clubhead away from the ball for as long as possible. To help you accomplish this, try gripping a club as you normally would, but with about two inches of separation between the hands. Take a few swings, pulling down with the left hand on the downswing while pulling back with the fingers of your right hand. This creates the latest release possible and tremendous clubhead speed.