More Distance on Tee Shots
I’m a good athlete, but don’t get the distance I think I should. My question: How can I hit the ball farther off the tee?
Jitterbug Gang Fan
I can’t tell you anything without seeing you, Julio, but if you’re at all like most folks, everything you do to hit the ball farther is exactly opposite of what you should do.
First, most people grip the club too tightly. And, while a firm hold on the club creates a sense of strength, all the hinging and unhinging necessary to swing freely can only occur in the company of soft hands and arms. The golfer who tries to manufacture hinging by muscling the club around is actually doing battle with himself, blocking the flow of energy, swinging much slower than his effort level would suggest.
Another swing malady golfers mistakenly fall victim to is early acceleration. As far as I can tell, any athletic motion where there is a hit (such as impact with a golf ball) or release (throwing a baseball) you only get one explosion. If you explode too early (pull hard in the early part of the downswing) you have nothing to explode with when the time is right. In other words, too many golfers spend stored energy before it’s useful.
So, if any of this sounds like you, Julio, then you’re probably making things tougher than they have to be.
It’s not that some golfers don’t have a powerful swing, it’s that they don’t have a swing at all. Rather, they have a hit. And, the later in life you pick up the game, the more likely you are to develop debilitating, hit at the ball tendencies. Let me tell you why.
When a young child first picks up a golf club, it feels quite heavy. This is true even in today’s world of custom-made junior clubs. In response to the weight of the heavy instrument, kids adopt a natural sense of swing; they have to wait on the heavy club to swing around their bodies because they’re not strong enough to maneuver the club independent of body rotation. Kids then carry this sense of swing into adulthood, and in doing so, achieve maximum club speed with what appears to be minimum effort.
The beginner adult player, however, can easily develop into a “hitter.” This is true, in large part, because the golf club feels relatively light to an adult, so it’s tempting to flail about in a manner that is in no way responsive to the turn of the body. The hitter is easy to spot; he’s the one who looks to be swinging hard, but enjoys very little in the way of results.
It’s important to understand, Julio, that it is in swinging the club, not using it to hit, that golfers get the most for their money.
If you think more distance is where improvement resides, remember this: You can whiff your tee shot, and still par any hole on the course. But, if you three-putt, you’ll almost never par.
Ask Jitterbug - Golf Advice Column by Bobby Steiner
About the Author
The following are a list of golf teaching columns generously donated to us by teaching professional and author Bobby Steiner. Bobby teaches golf at The Practice Tee in East Asheville during the summer months, and at The Westin Mission Hills Resort during the winter.
You can reach Bobby at: www.bobbysteiner.com or firstname.lastname@example.org