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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stepping into a Longer Drive

This is the week of the World Long Drive Championship -- they start tonight -- and GC had long drive champs Joe Miller and Jaime Sadlowski on Morning Drive, The Golf Fix and Playing Lessons Monday. Obviously, they were there to talk about how you hit longer drives.

Charlie Rymer hosted Playing Lessons and he asked the two for a simple tip that weekend players could put into practice without a lot of difficulty, and their answers were the same. First of all, you want to hit the ball in the middle of the club face. And second, you don't want to swing harder, which also makes it harder to hit the ball solid..

If you want to hit the ball farther, they said, you want to swing LONGER. And they likened it to how Jack Nicklaus became one of the longest hitters of his day. Here's a video of Jack's swing, from various angles, at various speeds. Watch it, then I'll explain what Joe and Jamie said you can learn from Jack's swing.

Both long drivers pointed to how Jack let his lead heel come off the ground during his backswing. Here's how the sequence works:
  • You want the swing to be longer, so your shoulders have to turn more on the backswing.
  • For your shoulders to turn more, your hips have to turn more.
  • For your hips to turn more, your lead heel needs to come off the ground.
Note that Jack's lead knee moves back behind the ball. You may not need to lift your heel that much -- that might make it hard for you to come back down accurately -- but your lead knee should bend some when your heel comes up. This isn't a stiff movement; just relax.

Now, to start your downswing, all you have to do is place your heel back down on the ground. Please, please, PLEASE understand that you don't have to STOMP the ground with your heel! You don't want to jerk the club down from the top; that will throw you off-plane. If you just "step" back into your address position, you'll automatically shift your weight forward and start that club moving smoothly down from the top. And you'll have plenty of time to build up speed before you hit the ball.

That's the tip that two long drive champs gave. It's probably a pretty good one.

And don't forget that you can watch the semifinals of the World Long Drive Championship tonight at 8pm ET.

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