Power tips FROM 23 pros: Top tour players share their secrets – golfing tips

John Hawkins

Think of the practice range at a tour event as a museum of the modern golf swing. Dozens of players, all different in shape and size, use a variety of techniques to reach the same objective: hit the ball long and straight. More than ever, today’s tour demands a power game. Even shorter hitters such as Justin Leonard and Lee Janzen now average 270 yards or longer off the tee.

There are lots of ways to generate extra distance, the least reliable of which may be swinging harder. According to the best players in the world, balance and rhythm are two key ingredients to adding 10 yards to your drives, to reaching more par 5s in two and putting yourself in scoring position more often on par 4s.

You may not possess Tiger Woods’ strength, Davis Love’s tempo or Jesper Parnevik’s flexibility, but on the following pages, you’re almost certain to find a tip you can execute–and add to your game.


Use more legs and a stronger grip

Most amateurs need to use their legs more, as I’m doing here. Tiger’s right hip almost shoots at the ball. When you hang back, you can’t create enough clubhead speed to hit the ball a long way.

Most amateurs also need a stronger grip (opposite page).

Finally, find the correct shaft for your swing–the right shaft is worth 20 yards to me, easily. A PGA teaching professional can help you find what’s right for you.


Start with more weight on the right side

When I plan to go all out with the driver, I spread my feet even wider than normal. That gives me a firmer base so I won’t lose my balance. A wider stance also helps me station most of my weight on my right side. One of the keys to distance is keeping the upper body to the right of the ball on the downswing, and a wider stance helps me do that.

3. John Cook

Stretch your backswing

Creating speed means getting the clubhead moving faster–it doesn’t mean swinging harder. I try to stretch my backswing while maintaining my balance. Take the club back as far away from you as possible without swaying or losing your knee flex or weight distribution. If you can do that and match your arms with your body, you can swing as hard as you want.

4. Paul Goydos

Save your clubhead speed

Rhythm is the key. You lose power when your body parts don’t move in sync. Amateurs tend to move the wrong parts too fast. A consistent rhythm helps your body and arms work in harmony and lets you find the sweet spot consistently–a key for distance.

Slow your trunk rotation. People tend to use their arms too much when they swing hard. Hal Sutton said the greatest thing I’ve ever heard–he tries to get all his clubhead speed about two inches from the ball. You need to have your speed in the right place. Everything else is wasted energy.

5. Billy Andrade

Feel that you’re swinging slower

When I’m hitting the ball far, I’m swinging slower–that’s a proven fact. When I get on the launch monitor, the slower I feel I’m swinging, the better ball speed I get. I can reach a ball speed in the low 160s (the tour average is 155 mph). When I’m shortening my backswing, that’s when I’m usually driving it my best. Just try to relax and not let your swing get too long.


Extend the left side at impact

I turn my hips hard through impact, while I keep my head way behind the ball. This means my whole left side is stretched and extended at impact. All power hitters are in this position.


Take it away slow

The first thing I try to do to hit it farther is to turn the ball over–that is, draw it (inset). I also try to maintain a good rhythm, particularly the first foot or two away from the ball (left). If I’m slow moving away from the ball, that sets the timing for the rest of my swing, and my transition from backswing to downswing is going to be good. Even though I’m going to take a good, hard swing, I’ll still have good rhythm and balance.


Clear your lower body

On the downswing, get on your left side and clear your lower body really hard. It’s all a marriage. Don’t let your lower body get overactive (that’s why I keep my right foot down, as opposed to a player who wants a more active lower body). If your knees move too much before your arms, you’re dead.

9. Brandel Chamblee

Take it back ‘syrupy’

Tee it up a little higher, widen your stance, grip the club all the way at the end and take it back as slow and syrupy as you can. Imagine trying to imitate a slow, smooth swinger like Fred Couples. Either that or make a bogey on the previous hole–that’s usually good for an extra 15 or 20 yards.

10. Brad Faxon

Move the right foot back

Pull the right foot back about half the length of your shoe at address. You can also flare the right foot out a bit so you can make a bigger hip turn. A fuller hip turn would help most amateur players get more distance.


Load the right side

To hit it farther, load all your weight on the right side at the top of the swing, as I’m doing here. Too many amateurs stay on their left side all the way through the backswing, or start on their left side going back and reverse to the right through impact. Also turn your left knee properly. Don’t let it sway back too far or point too far behind the ball.

12. Se Ri Pak

Complete your backswing

I try not to rush my swing. I take the time to really complete my backswing and save my clubhead speed for when I really need it–at impact. I also try to keep my lower body passive on the backswing. My legs are active only coming into impact.


Swing your arms faster

To get the clubhead moving faster through impact, I try to get the sensation of swinging my arms faster instead of my body. I get in trouble when I swing my body too fast.

14. Tommy tolles

Move the ball forward

Move the ball up in your stance and create a higher launch angle, which takes some of the spin off the ball and allows you to maintain clubhead speed. And spread your feet a little more to help you keep your balance as you swing back and through.

15. Frank Lickliter

Maintain your spine angle

I try to keep my chest pointed at the golf ball at impact. I want to keep my spine angle intact–my tendency is to come out of the shot (that is, to raise up at impact). Stay on plane and keep your arms moving through the shot.


Turn the right shoulder fully

Make a big turn with your right shoulder. In other words, get wider going back and fuller at the top of your swing. The key isn’t necessarily a slower takeaway, but a smoother takeaway.


Keep your head back

Move your head back–away from the target–at address. This allows you to get behind the ball easier, create more space and catch the ball on the upswing. Also, grip the club a little stronger and turn all the way through to the target.


Exploit the conditions

Use the conditions to your advantage. If the fairways are running, move the ball back in your stance, set up so you’re aligned farther right and “let it eat”–that is, hook it. Get the ball on the ground as soon as possible when the ground is firm.


Limit your knee turn

Most amateurs don’t get enough coil or torque to create clubhead speed. I think today’s modern swing involves rotating your upper body as much as you can while keeping your lower body quiet, as I’m doing here. The more of that tension you can create, the more wind-up you get. Limit your knee turn. Less turn through the knees generates more torque and leverage.

20. Jay Williamson

Brace your right instep

To have the right support and balance and stay behind the ball, I brace myself with my right instep and keep my right knee inside that instep throughout the backswing.

21. Mark O’Meara

Push the handle away from chest

Widen your stance a little bit to force you to make a better turn and get more coil. When Tiger wants to really rip one, he gets a little wider. Norman did the same thing in his prime. I also try to create a wider arc by moving the handle of the club farther from my chest with my hands and arms on the takeaway. A wide backswing creates room for the downswing to generate more clubhead speed.

22. Notah Begay III

Get mad

Think of somebody who makes you mad. Seriously. Maybe it’s your boss. Otherwise, try to gradually pick up your speed in the first half of your downswing. Exercise control on the way back, then try to generate all your speed on the way down.


Work on setup, balance, posture

Usually when amateurs try to hit the ball farther, they develop a lot of tension–they grip the club too tightly, tense up and lose their rhythm. That’s going to make them shorter. So do the opposite of what your body tells you: Stay loose and relaxed. Too many players also get out of their flexibility range–they come out of their posture and lose all their torque. The guys who swing really well on tour are the ones with a great setup, balance and posture. People don’t realize how much we work on those things.

COPYRIGHT 2001 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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