How to build your most powerful swing
I wrote a blog before about the obsession with distance and returning to the game after a little break, the obsession is as big as ever. In fact, with the remarkable Bryson DeChambeau raising the bar, the focus on distance is greater than ever.
DeChambeau’s transformation from a middle of the pack player to the tour’s dominant force, has been amazing. He’s fun to watch for sure, but how relevant is what he’s doing to your game? And if you’re looking to ramp up your game, what’s the best way to do it? Can you make a similar transformation, maybe not hitting DeChambeau distances, but adding 30 or 40 yards to your drives? I believe you probably can and here is my blueprint for how to get there…
Three Key Elements
Firstly, there are three key elements to maxing out your distance, these are: 1. Technique; 2. Fitness (strength and flexibility); and 3. Equipment. Depending on where you’re starting from you can make big gains in the second and third areas. However, the focus of this blog, and where I can help you the most, is in adding power to your game through better technique.
Sadly, despite what you may see online, there is no secret move or tip that will unlock amazing new distance to your drives. If only it were that easy… Rather, it is a case of systematically piecing together a number of key technical elements, building blocks if you like, and creating a powerful and athletic motion.
The 5 key building blocks to a powerful swing:
1. Fundamentals: You can’t overlook the importance of good fundamentals. You must have a functional grip (one that will allow your hands, wrists and arms to move effectively and efficiently). You must have a balanced and athletic stance and posture. And the ball position should be appropriate for the shot you’re attempting to play; for the driver, opposite the heel of your lead foot to encourage a slight upward strike. Overall, your set-up you should feel athletic and free of tension – ready to move and create speed.
2. The backswing: As with other athletic motions, such as throwing a ball or using a baseball bat, there should be a loading of pressure into the inside of the rear leg. A big key for a powerful swing is to make sure your lead shoulder turns behind the ball-something many amateurs never achieve (often because they’re too fixated on keeping their head still). If you struggle to fully turn your back to the target, don’t worry if you want to let your lead heel come up off the ground a little – avoid any ideas you may have heard about resisting with your hips and legs, that will limit your turn and may well hurt your back.
3. Maintain width at the top of your swing: All power hitters create a big arc in their swings. To do that, aim to maintain the distance from the grip end of the club to your chest as you reach the top of your backswing. Your lead arm should be comfortably straight (but not stiff). Also, don’t worry if your rear elbow flies a little, a "flying elbow" certainly didn't hurt Jack Nicklaus's career, so forget tucking towels under your arms!
4. The (all important) transition: Pressure moves into the lead foot, the body starts to unwind, and the arms fall into their hitting position (roughly when the club shaft reaches parallel to the ground), with the wrists still loaded and ready to whip the club head through impact. That’s the basic sequence, however, given that we’re trying to create explosive speed, I don’t think it’s possible, or desirable, to talk yourself through this step-by-step. Instead, develop your feel for an athletic motion by trying to recreate how you’d move your body to pitch a ball or skip a stone across water. Unlock your inner athlete!
5. Impact and beyond: Get steps 1 to 4 right and your chances of a good impact position increase massively. The flip side of that; if something is off then impact is likely to be off too. Impact is everything in terms of what your shot does, but I don’t like golfers to obsess over it. Too much focus on impact can make you too ball bound mentally - putting all your energy and attention into simply striking the ball. That will slow you down. Instead, focus on hitting through the shot, not at the ball – keeping your speed going all the way to a full finish. A simple key is to feel your swing is at its fastest 3 to 4 feet past the ball.
So, not one secret move to a power swing, but 5 key steps that I think are achievable for all golfers, with some work and professional guidance. Combine better technique with working on your overall fitness and making sure that you’re using the best equipment for your game and you’ll be maximising your power. You may not reach DeChambeau levels of power, but it will help you unlock a lot more distance in your shots and, in turn, help you to lower your scores.