By Paul Myers
When it comes to hitting your driver, any small advantages you can find to sneak out a couple more yards should probably not be ignored. So beyond improving your swing speed, and making better contact in the center of the club face, is there anything you can do to find more distance?
The answer is yes, you can – it has to do with the golf swing angle of attack that you are using to strike the ball.
The Difference Between an Iron Swing and a Driver
When you are hitting an iron from the fairway, a typical PGA TOUR player will hit slightly downward into the ball. This is an effective way for them to hit their iron shots, considering that the ball is sitting down on the ground. However, when you need to hit a driver, you have the advantage of placing the ball on top of a tee. This totally changes the way you can think about your swing, and potentially how you should use the club.
Instead of hitting down on the ball, you can hit up into the ball and give it a good launch angle with lower spin rate in order to maximize your distance. This might not come naturally to you at first, especially if you have been accustomed to hitting down on all of your clubs and have never tried to hit up into your tee shots before. It is probably worth the effort, however – generally speaking, a swing that has a positive (upward) golf swing angle of attack into the ball will carry further and go longer than a similar swing with a downward attack angle.
Staying Behind the Ball
The chances are you aren’t going to be able to hit up into the ball if your head and center of gravity are past the ball at impact. If you are trying to hit up on the ball, you will probably want to stay centered during your swing and have the ball positioned up around your front foot. The swing will bottom out based on the position of your C7 vertebrae (the point where shoulders, neck and spin intersect), and start to rise again from there. So, if you can keep your center slightly behind the position of the ball, the upward impact should be more easy to achieve.
Whatever you do, you most likely don’t want to be trying to move backward during your downswing in order to make room for the club to start to move up again. If that is happening, you are conceivably likely getting out of position during your setup or backswing and having to try to make up ground on the way down. Go back through your swing and find the point where your weight is moving and correct that problem. Good balance can mean that your weight is moving such that you are in a good position to accomplish the upward hit that you want.
There may be a limit at which you could be swinging too much up into the ball and the results will not be desirable. Getting the right amount of upward hit can come fairly naturally so long as you have the ball up in your stance, the ball teed high enough, and you stay balanced during the swing. If you are leaning back during the swing to help lift the ball into the air, you may have overdone it. Once you find a slight upward angle of attack that sweeps the ball cleanly off the tee, you can be in the sweet spot that maximizes your driving distance results. Of course, working with a good club fitter and instructor can help you dial these variables in.
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