Man Skills pt 2: How to hit a perfect drive

20 02 2011

Visited the driving range today which went pretty well. I’ve been to 3 golf days at work so far which amounts to 54 holes or on average 216 shots; about a quarter of which were remotely passable… I’m getting better though and I think I’m ready to upgrade from the Victorian era driver I’ve been using (they’re literally made out of wood). I don’t think I’m ready for a £300 driver but there are some excellent mid range clubs available for great prices. But before I complete my purchase, I thought I’d review the fundamentals of a solid drive.

Step 1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself

A solid stance is essential. You can have all the potential in the world, but without a good stance you may as well try to carry our brain surgery with a Sainsbury’s bag for life on your head. It’s important to feel relaxed as a lot of the force you generate will come through your stance, so you need to stay loose. If you’re a right handed golfer, your left hand should be above the right hand and your pinkey on your right should be interlocked with your left index (see image). Keep your knees slightly bent with your body weight shifted to the balls of your feet. You should be standing a shoulder width apart and as you’re driving, the ball should be to the left of centre; closer to the front foot.

It’s pretty common for amateur golfers to feel nervous at the tee and a result of this is often a tight grip on the handle, with tense wrists. It’s easier said than done but if you loosen your grip slightly you will achieve a more natural swing.

2. Low and slow… that’s the tempo.

One of the little bits of advice I’ve received from the other guys I’ve golfed with is that if the full swing seems a bridge too far and it keeps going wrong, pull the club back around three quarters of what you usually would whilst focusing on engaging your shoulder turn and core into the swing. It’s common for beginners to think that the swing is all about a fast movement of the arms, but as with swimming, rowing etc your power starts from the core and finishes with your arms, like a crack of a wip. Just start out slow.

3. Core… engage

Power comes from the amount of turn you generate from the bottom of your stance up. A “fake turn” comes from just using your arms and wrists to generate your swing. By keeping your left arm straight, it will add a consistent arc to your swing and force your core to turn as opposed to just your arms.

4. The downswing

So you’ve just done everything right and are ready to smash the ball into next week. You don’t want to put all that power to waste so make sure you keep that left arm straight, think about it like the template which ensures your swings wont be different every time.  Make sure your downswing is relaxed and in an identical rhythm to your upswing. The weighting of the club will naturally accelerate the swing so just focus on maintaining your stance. If you get overexcited and rush this part, you’ll chop down and ruin all your good work!

5. Swing through

I once read an interview with Ricky Hatton where he advised that when he punches, he doesn’t think about hitting the face, but hitting through to the back of the head… delightful! However, I think there’s something in that as when you bring the club down, the ball is just an obstacle getting in the way of the swing that you need to hit through. Your hips swing as well as the club and your grip will maintain loose.

6. And nail the dismount!

Just before the ball has been struck, your finishing stance has already been decided. If you’ve come down at maximum speed and screwed up the shot, the club will come round wildly and you will lose your balance. If you come down at 80% speed in a controlled manner, your end stance will be a good indicator of form with the speed of the clubhead letting you achieve a nice, high finish.

So there you have it. Next week, I’ll be reviewing potential new drivers!




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