How one of golf’s greatest legends uses the driver
Golf DRIVING FOR DISTANCE
by Gary Player
Keeping in mind this American stress on the long ball, I hope my methods of adding distance will be helpful to the reader.
First, I had all of my clubs made one-half inch longer than the standard length I had been using.
Longer clubs naturally give a longer swing arc. If you have a longer arc I golf you’re automatically going to hit the ball farther.
Also, with longer clubs it is possible to shorten your grip on the shaft if a shot calls for less distance; with a short club you don’t have enough shaft to grip farther up when you need extra length.
A word of warning: the prospective club buyer who wants more length should consult his professional for advice before investing in longer shafts.
A second factor that helped me hit the ball farther was improvement of my weight shift. Like many golfers, I had a problem shifting my weight to my left foot on the downswing. I frequently fell back on my right leg, pulling away from the ball. Your weight should move slightly to the right foot on the backswing and then shift to the left foot immediately at the start of the downswing.
***The one thing I concentrate on during my swing is shifting my weight to the left foot in returning the clubhead to the ball. ***
This weight shift to the left adds distance because it helps delay the uncocking of the wrists on the downswing. This delayed hit uncocks the wrists just before impact so that the speed of the clubhead really accelerates as it meets the ball.
Too many golfers feel they add distance by swinging harder with hands and arms. They start the downswing with their hands and arms before shifting their weight to the left foot. As a result, they uncock their wrists too early, wasting clubhead speed.
***Uncocking the wrists with a delayed hit is the real secret of long drives***, but you shouldn’t be conscious of hands and arms in the golf swing. By immediately shifting your weight forward on the downswing, you will automatically delay unlocking your wrists. Your hands and arms will follow your hip turn naturally and whip the club through.
A proper weight shift brings the big muscles into play and provides a delayed uncocking of the wrists on the downswing. You will find it can do wonders in adding distance.
Paul Harney is an excellent example of a golfer who uses the proper weight shift. Paul is slight, weighing about 140 pounds. Yet, he is one of the longest hitters in golf.
Here is how I achieve my weight shift on drives:
I close my stance, which means my right foot is pulled back farther than my left from along the target line. In this stance, it is easier for me to get a full body turn on the backswing. By taking a full windup and by using big muscles of my body and legs, I add both rhythm and power to my swing.
Golfers who start the club back with their hands and arms alone have a tendency to swing at the ball with their hands and arms before the weight has shifted forward. Thus, they never fully employ the back and leg muscles that provide maximum power in the golf swing. The legs are about four times as strong as the arms: why waste this potential by swinging solely with hands and arms?
The closed stance also helps me take the club back well inside the line to the target. This prevents me from returning the clubhead to the ball from the outside, thus creating a sliced shot and consequent loss of distance.
I also help my downswing weight shift to the left by addressing the ball with my left toe slightly pointed outward, toward the target. This makes it easier for me to turn my hips ahead of my hands on the downswing.
Gary is constantly on player’s mind. He checks his grip using an imaginary club.
Several other features of my address foster this proper weight shift and resulting delayed hit.
I like to imagine my right elbow is against my side at address, although physically it isn’t. I want this elbow tucked into my side as soon as possible on the downswing so that what I’m doing at address is what I hope to duplicate at impact.
This is also true of my right leg, which I bow slightly forward at address, pointing the knee a bit toward the target. As with the right elbow, this merely advances the position I want to be in when I hit the ball.
These actions, the right elbow in tight, and kicking the right knee toward the target, help me transfer my weight to my left foot.
Being relaxed at the address position also makes it easier to shift the weight during my swing I like to take a deep breath and exhale before I start the action, as many baseball pitchers do before they throw. I then make my forward press, kick my right knee and hands a bit more toward target, and follow with the backswing.
Maintenance of good physical condition has helped me hit the ball farther. I watch my diet very closely and follow an exercise routine. Playing golf almost every day, year after year, keeping in shape both mentally and physically becomes not only important, it is essential. I really enjoy exercise. Sometimes after a bad day on the course I come home tired and discourage. But if I exercise before going to bed, I feel clean and strong again. This does wonders for me mentally, as well as physically.
A book on yoga has been a big help. It taught me the benefits of standing on my head at least tow minutes each day. This pumps blood to my brain (the most important organ in the body-even for a golfer!) and makes me more alert for the day ahead. I never sleep with a pillow. I believe a pillow only makes it more difficult for my heart to pump blood to my brain.
I refrain from sweets, pastries, and fried foods. On the course I like to eat dried fruits. Like Napoleon, I believe that an army marches on its stomach and that the fruits I eat during a round of golf help me build energy. They give the acids in my stomach something to work on.
Now that I’ve discussed things that have helped me hit the ball farther, I think I’d better point out a few dangers a golfer seeking greater distance must try to avoid.
First, you may find you are going too high on your left toe when you try a full windup on the backswing. I am somewhat guilty of this myself.
However, if you must lift your left heel high on the backswing, be certain you lower it immediately at the start of the downswing. If you don’t, your weight may remain on your right foot and you will automatically fall back, uncocking your wrists too early. You will find yourself throwing the club out with your hands as if you were casting a fly rod; instead of bringing them in close to your body in the delayed hit position.
Gary Blast from one of the mammoth traps of Australia’s Royal Melbourne Course, which he rates as one of the world’s finest.
Some people trying for extra distance have a tendency to overswing. They take the club back farther than they should. Guard against opening your left hand at the top of your backswing. You cannot overswing if this hand grips the club firmly throughout the swing. (Reverse for lefthander, of course).
In closing, I’d like to talk about hitting the ball hard. Watching me play, you might say I swing hard. This is true. Actually, I feel that I am swinging as hard as I can.A second pitfall in striving for length is a tendency to swing the shoulders on too level a plane. The left shoulder should tilt slightly on the backswing, and the right shoulder should swing well down and under on the downswing.
It’s a funny thing about golfers. Many won’t admit they swing as hard as they can, within reason. But the truth is that all the players on the pro tour hit that ball as hard as they can and still keep it in play.
But swinging hard at the ball doesn’t in itself provide distance. It is the proper weight shift and the delayed hit that gives results as I mentioned earlier.
You must also have good timing. To swing at the ball hard and still maintain good timing, take the club back from the ball slowly. Build your swing up slowly, with a full body turn, a firm grip, and then zoom into the ball. From the day I started golf, I’ve always tried to hit the ball as hard as I could; I would advise that any young boy or girl who is beginning golf do the same. It’s simple to go from a hard swing to an easier one. But, if you have been an easy swinger, it’s difficult to suddenly start hitting the ball hard. More often it goes the other way, and an easy swinger develops a lazy stroke when he gets older.
(end of Driving for Distance)
Hope you enjoyed the article above by Gary Player from his book.
Greens and fairways!
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