More Distance on Tee Shots

Asheville Golf Home

Dear Jitterbug,

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?

Julio Montez

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.

Mr. Vaughn:

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.

Lord Berry:

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.

Asheville Golf Home

Ask Jitterbug - Golf Advice Column by Bobby Steiner

Ask Jitterbug - Author 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: or

All the Same Distance

I hit all my clubs, seven-iron and longer, the same distance. Do you know of a cure?

Bad Rhythm

My swing rhythm gets fast when I play. Do you have any suggestions to help me slow down?

Bad Teacher

There is a young assistant golf professional at our club who plays extremely well, but could use some help as a teacher. Any suggestions that might help him?

Ball Position

Can you explain your take on ball position? Forward for longer clubs? Back for shorter clubs?

Die or Lag

Do you think it is better to be a firm putter, or to putt the ball so that it barely drops into the cup?

Fanning the Club

My tendency is to fan my hands to the inside on the takeaway. When I use a straight takeaway I can't hit the ball.

Fix is the Problem

My friend has a knack for giving me helpful tips when we play. It works for about six holes, then I totally collapse. Have you heard of this?

Get the Ball to the Hole

I have a very difficult time getting my putts to the hole. Can you help?

Golf Schools

Are golf schools worth the money?

Guide the Ball

My golf instructor tells me that I try to 'guide' the ball too much. I've never heard this term, is it a bad thing?

Hip Slide

Can you explain the proper way to pivot during the backswing?

How Many Hours

I'm currently a solid 8-handicap, but I've reached a plateau. How might I rework my practice regimen to improve steadily like I used to?

Kids Learning Curve

My thirteen-year old son and I took up golf four years ago. Now, I am still struggling to break 100 while he shoots low 80s. How do I catch up?

Length of Backswing

I've read that the putting stroke should be the same length going back as going through. What is your take on it?

Long and Slow

I have great touch, and play standard chip shots quite well, but I can't hit a soft pitch of any length to save my life.

Make Practice Swing

I have a beautiful practice swing, but it doesn't carry over to my real swing. Any Suggestions?

More Distance

I'm a good athlete, but don't get the distance I think I should. How can I hit the ball farther off the tee?

No Scoop Chips

I suffer from the chipping yips; I can't prevent my right hand from taking over and flipping under the ball. How do I avoid scooping the ball?

No Touch Short Game

I have no short game touch, and I'm a good athlete. Everything I hit feels like a jab or punch. Any help?

No Whiffing

Golf is frustrating to me because I hardly ever get the ball up in the air. Please help!

Range Brilliance

I'm a great range player, but can't get it together on the course. Do you have any advice to help me?

Sound Swing

An assistant pro refers to some swings as "sound," and others, "not sound." Can you compare and contrast the two?

Taking Lessons

I've taken golf lessons for years from many different instructors, but I never get better. Are golf lessons the biggest scam ever thought up?

Teacher a Good Player

Do you think it is important that a teaching professional be a good player?
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Getting more distance off the Tee in Golf