By Mike Malaska
The drive is always the club that everyone wants to hit. It is the “sexy” one, which impresses the group. I’d agree, there is nothing better than a well hit drive to make you feel good about yourself.
The problem, however, is in the way most of us approach the driver when we want to hit the “long one.” Our approach almost guarantees we will not be successful.
So what helps us ensure we’ll hit our best tee shot?
I have been fortunate to work with Jack Nicklaus for the past 26 years. He has become a good friend, so we have shared some more personal ideas about the golf swing. Here’s a couple of his thoughts that you can bring into your game.
When Jack wants to hit the ball far, he says he “swings slower.” Well — that was a bit confusing to me. If you swing slower, how would you hit farther?
What he meant was, when he wanted a longer drive, he made sure he swung more softly — and by that, he meant more relaxed.
Most of us tighten up when we try to hit far. This slows us down. Tension kills speed, and consistency.
Here’s a good drill for this. Take a few swings with your favorite club. (My favorite club is my 7 iron.) Feel your tempo. Now, maintain this tempo when you go to swing the driver, and hit your longer drive.
Maintain your tempo, and you’ll be surprised how far you hit the ball.
Every one of us has made an easy swing, and been impressed with how far the shot traveled. The reason is that you square the clubface to the ball with little effort, and with almost no tension — allowing the club to do more of the work for you. That is why Jack in his mind pictured “swing easy” — as it let him keep his tempo, and deliver a solid hit.
Another common concept is that putting your body into the shot will add power and distance. Most of us misuse our body, which actually gets in the way of an efficient, solid hit.
Jack use to when he hit the ball, he felt his chest was still to the right of the ball. This allows him to deliver the club to the ball, and time the rotation of his body with the swinging of the club. Most of us unwind their shoulders and their body too soon, leaving the club behind them, with the face open — hurting both direction and distance.
Here’s a great drill to help train your body and arms to work together through the ball. This is the “Right Foot Back Drill.”
Take a look at the pictures, and you’ll see I take my normal stance, and then drop my right foot back until my right toe is in line with my left heel. As you make a swing, do not let your right heel come off the ground, until after you’ve hit the ball.