Most golfers are trying to add yards to their drives… and why not? I’d much rather have a 7 iron into a par four than a 5 iron… or even have a better chance of reaching a par 5 in two. In this post, I will describe the most common ways players lose distance and also suggest drills and tips to help fix these faults.
Flipping the Wrists / Early Release
I’m sure most of you have done it once or twice before… your in a situation where you need to get the ball in the air in a hurry… and instead of hitting down on it, you flip your wrists at impact to try and help the ball get up. The result is a chunk, or a weak flying shot that leaks to the right. This is caused by an early wrists release.
For many of you, this fault is not simply an occasional occurrence, but a routine. Unfortunately ‘the flips’ can be very similar to ‘the yips’, in that it’s a mental manipulation of the arms and hands at the last second before impact. Practicing the proper technique should help you to rid your swing of it.
At impact your clubhead should be behind your wrists and hands… this position shows you are releasing your lag properly. A flipper’s hands and wrists are behind the club at impact. To reinforce the proper positioning of the club and wrists into impact, try swinging into an impact bag or bunch of wet towels. When you reach impact, be sure your wrists are ahead of the club, as shown. With some practice you should be able to incorporate this into your real swing.
Chances are, most of you are holding the club too tightly. This limits your ability to create lag, swing fluidly and release the club through impact… all of which are important to power and distance. Tension in the golf swing is usually created when a player wants to hit the ball further, manipulate his/her clubface to straighten their slice/hook, or from seeing obstacles and hazards they wish to avoid. Tightening the grip stiffens the wrists and arms, leading to a jerky, quick and uncontrolled swing.
The best way to relieve tension in the golf swing is to perform a waggle. The truth is a waggle is a not useless pre-swing motion; better players use it to relax, and loosen the muscles in their arms, wrists and hands. In terms of grip tension, the best mental image is that of gripping an un-capped tube of toothpaste. You need to grip just firm enough so you have a hold and no toothpaste is leaking out.
Extra Lower Body Movement
This fault encompasses everything from sliding hips, to bouncing knees and even the reverse-weight shift. Consistency in needed in your base of support to enable you to hit the ball a long way. Your lower body is just as important as your upper when it comes to storing and releasing power. For example, a reverse-weight shift occurs when your weight shifts to your front foot on the backswing, and back foot on the follow-through. This move is completely negates your lower body drive and turns your swing into an arms-only motion.
The first move down from the top of your backswing should be your body-weight starting to shift to your front foot, then the arms begin to drop down. Biomechanically, the power stored in your bigger, slower muscles (legs, torso, stomach) is being transferred to your smaller, quicker muscles (arms, wrists) as you reach impact. The whole swing motion is designed to expel all you power at this point. Incorrect movements, expel this energy early and rob you of the power you created.
First, make sure your weight shift is correct, you can check out the Two-Step Drill for this one. As for other lower body mistakes, one of the best drills is to hit 7-irons out of a fairway bunker to a flag 150 yards away. You will find out quickly that hitting out of fairway bunker solidly requires you to keep your lower-body very quiet. If you’re still struggling, get two golf shafts and stick them on either sides of your feet as shown in the image at right. Hit balls while concentrating on rotating your hips. Try this drill with all your clubs, including woods… remember some horizontal movement is okay, but if you start hitting the shaft quite hard on your backswing or follow-through, you’re lower body is too active.
Coming Over The Top
Probably the fault that affects most players is the dreaded over-the-top move. This move robs you of distance by forcing you to un-cock your wrists prematurely in the backswing… couple this with a glancing blow to the ball and it’s no wonder the ball goes nowhere. This swing path is characterized by the classic pull slice ball flight. So if this sounds like you, listen up.
The over-the-top swing, travels along an out to in swing path, but it also is very steep. This is why there is a difference in distance between a simple pull and over-the-top pull slice. The steepness of your swing forces you to un-cock your wrists early, just to simply make contact with the ball.
I have plenty of drills to help fix this fault, but there is a very effective one that has not been getting much attention and I feel it would help a lot of your guys out. Copy the setup in the picture to the right the next time you’re on the range. The idea is to hit both the ball and the tee during your swing. Your target line should be straight ahead, the tee should be positioned to the right. The point of this drill is to force you to push/block the ball… turning your over-the-top move into an in to out swing path. With practice you should begin to regain your lost distance and get away from this swing fault.
Give these suggestions a try guys and get those yards back!