Some people contend that when it comes to driving for power, you either have it or you don’t. While it’s true that some people have more natural ability to hit a golf ball than others, that doesn’t mean you can’t add distance to your drives. You may never drive the ball as far as PGA pro Scott Hend, who once averaged 318.9 yards through the Reno-Tahoe Open, but you can definitely get more out of your drives through an efficient, balanced swing. The key: seal the power leaks.
Power leaks, as I’ve written about in my golf tips, are physical flaws that inhibit the efficiency of your swing. Usually, they’re little things that make a big difference. Often, we don’t even know we’re doing them, so they go undetected. But string enough of them together in a swing and they can rob you of power and distance. And that, in turn, can affect both your game and your golf handicap. Let’s examine some common leaks and see how to can seal them off.
The Setup Becoming more efficient in your swing doesn’t mean rebuilding it, just tweaking it. And a good place to start is your setup. Among the biggest enemy’s of power in your setup, as I’ve mentioned in my golf tips, is tension. You must be loose and relaxed over the ball to generate power. And relaxing during your setup starts with your hands. If your hands are relaxed, the rest of you will be also. So grab the club loosely in your fingers and relax your hands. Let that relaxed feeling travel through your arms, your shoulders, and then the rest of your body. Now you’re ready to hit.
The takeaway is the most critical element in your swing. If you’ve eliminated the tension from your hands and arms, you’ve positioned yourself nicely for the takeaway. As you do, make sure you maintain a good spine angle. That’s another power leak. If you slouch, you’ll have to compensate during your swing. Keep the spine angle set while swinging. It’s your axis of power around which everything else turns. It helps generate the torque you need for extra distance. Also, try keeping about 60 percent of your weight on your toes.
Another power leak is your right elbow (right-handers). It’s the first joint to hinge in your backswing. Keep it relaxed and relatively close to your body. As you take the club back, your right elbow folds, allowing the club to start on plane. Don’t fight it when the elbow folds and the club works up and to the inside. That’s all part of a good backswing. When you reach the top of your swing, feel the coil in your right knee, uniting it to your right hip. Don’t straighten out your right knee. That creates a huge power leak. And position the ball inside the left toe. That ensures that you’ll strike the ball on the upswing, helping produce the right launch angle.
The Swing The most common power leak among weekend golfers is the hip slide. Instead of supporting the turning of the body and upper body, the right knee stiffens and the right hip slides laterally away from the target, creating a huge power leak. The club is out of position now. The golfer throws the club out and down from the top, creating a steep angle of descent and a downward blow. The result: a dead pull or a weak slice.
As for the downswing, the less interference from the body the better off you are. If you take the club back properly, the body stores that power, creating torque. And it wants to release that power in the downswing. If you hinder that release of power with your body, you inhibit your power, creating another leak. Instead, maintain your spine angle and stay behind the ball. Focus on keep the club extending down the target line after striking the ball. When you finish, check the balance in your swing. It’s a great indicator of just how efficient your swing was.
One other thing on power leaks. The body itself can be a huge power leak. Flexibility and core strength are the keys. Try keeping the body flexible and strong through workouts. If you have a better range of muscle movements, you’ll be in a better position to swing the club throughout the golf swing. So work on flexibility and core strength when you can. And don’t forget to do some stretching before your start a round.
Not all of us can hit the ball as far as a PGA pro, like Scott Hend. That doesn’t mean we can’t generate more power from our swings. We just need to seal off the power leaks by creating a balanced, more efficient swing. Do that and you’ll be creating the conditions necessary to improve your golf handicap.
Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse