A hammered drive, caught dead center on the club, has a way of staying with you. More than any shot in golf, the long, straight tee ball is the one we tend to watch with pride, even re-live after the round. Good driving also makes the rest of the game a lot easier-shorter approach shots, more greens in regulation, birdie putts. But some features of the driver swing are hard to see from ordinary camera angles, so this month we’re taking things up a notch. In the following overhead views, I’ll point out the movements and positions you should copy. Practice them, and you’ll hit more tee shots worth admiring.
SET THE CLUB ONLINE AT THE TOP
Point the shaft at the target to complete the backswing. If you can extend your left arm fully, you’ll maximize the width of your swing and produce more power. But don’t lock that left arm-a feeling of softness is important. As for the right arm, you don’t need to keep it glued to your side. Let it move away, but keep the elbow pointing at the ground.
MAKE A GOOD TURN BEHIND THE BALL
For a full, fearless backswing, try to rotate your upper body to the point where your shoulders are just about lined up with your right instep. Feel like you’re turning behind the ball, rather than staying on top of it. That’s how you set up for a slightly upward hit at impact and unleash every bit of the power you’ve generated.
FREE-WHEEL THE HIT FOR MAXIMUM SPEED
Your shoulders will naturally be a little open at impact like you see in this photo. But if they’re too open, which is common among high-handicappers, it means you’ve dragged the club down with your body turn alone and haven’t released with your hands and wrists. Keep your head behind the ball, and feel your arms swinging past your body through the hitting area.
TAKE AN INSIDE TRACK BACK TO THE BALL
To hit a powerful draw, think of keeping your right arm tucked close to your body through impact. If you’re slicing, your right arm typically flails outside your left arm as part of a nasty over-the-top move. Another slice cure: Try to get the clubhead to the ball sooner. That’ll speed up your release and help square the clubface.
GET TO A FULL POSE AT THE FINISH
Another good power image is to swing with enough speed that the shaft ends up tapping the back of your neck. It takes a little recklessness, but that kind of freedom is a great speed producer. Also, check your grip at the finish. Still holding the club securely? If so, you have the control to give it plenty of speed.
FEEL A SLIGHT BACKWARD BEND
I like to see a tiny bow, or backward curve, in a player’s body at the finish. Your hips should be closer to the target than your feet or your chest. It’s a sign that you’ve kept your upper body behind the ball and swung the club down the target line. One final thought: Finish with your back foot vertical, on its toes. That indicates good balance and a full, uninhibited swing.