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Golf’s greatest drivers all do this…

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It comes as no surprise that great drivers of the golf ball employ certain fundamentals that help them hit long, straight tee shots. In this article, I offer several fundamentals that, in my opinion, make these players better drivers of the golf ball than others.

Editor’s Note: Mentions of “left” and “right” reference right-handed golfers.  

Alignment and balance

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  • Balance is an overlooked fundamental at address. Golfers should have their weight just over their shoelaces, which allows them to use their torso without losing their balance during the swing.
  • At address, a golfer’s body should be aimed in a way that complements the desired club path — and that’s not always parallel left of the target line. Aiming slightly right or left of the target is OK in small doses.
  • Remember, the direction of the shoulders at address influences the arms. Better drivers of the golf ball tend to error closed, not open.

Head slightly behind the ball

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  • Great drivers have the head positioned just behind the ball at address, giving them the ability to “load” at the top.
  • This head position is great for golfers who tend to fight a reverse pivot.

Full turn to the top

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.23.02 AM

  • The shoulders need to make a big enough turn to the top so golfers can create maximum club head speed through the ball, but not so much that it causes a golfer’s hips to over-rotate and a loss of balance.
  • A full turn has the shoulders and the left arm working together in harmony; too much left arm movement will cause the club to get too upright, and too much shoulder turn will cause the club to get too flat.
  • The shoulders turn over the top of a solid foundation where the feet are firmly planted and accepting the full rotation of the upper body to the top.

Related: Should you make your backswing longer or shorter.

Inside delivery

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.23.18 AM

  • The most consistent drivers of the golf ball tend to swing into the ball from the inside (as shown by the blue line).
  • We know that the starting direction of a golf ball begins mostly in the direction of the club face at impact, and its trajectory curves away from the path. Therefore, a golfer’s path must be to the right of the club face at impact so the ball will move right to left.
  • Most players create more speed when the club is swung from the inside.

Related: How to fix your slice with path and face angle.

Right forearm on plane with club shaft

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  • When examining impact, the best drivers of the golf ball have their right forearm and club shaft inline with one another during impact.
  • This inline condition helps the arms to provide the necessary support for the violent impact between club head and ball.
  • Whenever the right arm is off-plane through impact, the club shaft has a much harder time moving in the player’s preferred direction.

Head behind at impact ball with the proper low point and angle of attack

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.23.44 AM

  • Having the head behind the ball at impact helps to move the low point behind the ball (2.9 inches for this player) giving this player a positive angle of attack with his driver (2.6 degrees up).
  • Whenever these two conditions are met, it is easier to hit the proper part of the club face at impact, giving golfers the high launch (14.1 degrees) and low spin (1610 rpm) that helps them hit high, flat bombs that run when they land (notice this golfer’s 31.1 landing angle).
  • Not having a low point behind the ball and a positive angle of attack is NOT necessarily a bad thing, but it does makes certain things harder to control at impact such as spin, height, impact point on the face, launch angle, landing angle and others.
  • When the right shoulder is working from the inside, not only is a golfer’s delivery under control, but club head speed can also be maximized. This player had a swing direction of 7.0 degrees (right) and generated 110.4 mph of club head speed.

Related: What you need to know about low point

Face-to-path control

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  • Great drivers of the golf ball have a face-to-path relationship that is consistent and under control through impact.
  • Curvature (with center impact) is created when the face angle and the club path diverge at impact. The photo above shows a golfer who has a has a low face-to-path ratio (0.7 degrees) giving him a low spin axis (5.9 degrees). That creates a very straight trajectory, and tee shots that are findable around the fairway.
  • Remember, more loft means less spin axis tilt and straighter shots. Manage your spin loft and you will find more fairways.

Related: Four signs you need more loft on your driver.

Solid, balanced finish

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  • If golfers can hold their finish without falling over or wiggling around, that’s an indicator that they have made a decent golf swing.
  • Balance is mainly controlled by the efficiency of a body’s pivot. If golfers have a poor pivot or poor sequencing, they usually have poor balance as well.
  • The best drivers of the golf ball usually have great balance.
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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. JP K

    Oct 8, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Tom

    I would lead the article with who your target audience is. In this case, slower swinging players <105 mph or so who need to find more fairways would really benefit. But, higher speed swings would result in a flip/rolling mess. It's not a question of hdcp nearly as much as it is target audience. With nearly 1/3 of the readers clicking "shank" while obviously the above could help a lot people tells me your too broad brushed.

  2. AAdams

    Oct 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    balogne…. rubbish. most good ball strikers have a slight over the top movement with a slight inside to out path that exits immediately left as it should once the club has passed through the square zone. NONE of the greats flip or roll the club which is what an inside our path promotes. No great player lays off or drops inside or sling/ropes a hook out there. Sure a player like that wins occasionally but we are talking about GREATS/LEGENDS. Snead pull drew his ball. And arguably the best driver ever was CALVIN PEETE. Not a lot of inside out there at all! He square to left.

    Take a word of advice from Bubba…. “if you can’t beat me,…….then you can’t teach me.”

    • JP K

      Oct 8, 2015 at 5:22 am

      The issue with this site is that they don’t tell you who the article is intended for. For a 105mph+ swing trying to scrape a shot off their handicap this will end your career. For a 90mph weekend warrior who wants to find more fairways, it’s quite helpful. The article shouldn’t say this is for high or low handicappers it should be quite precise (e.g. speed of swing, as well as hdcp). The above is fine for nearly every golfer just not me (or you). The problem is most people are not as knowledgeable as you (or me).

  3. Jeff

    Oct 6, 2015 at 5:11 am

    How do you improve your alignment of the golf shaft and right arm? I am a 6-handicap golfer and my right forearm is well above the ball, and almos parallel to the ground. Mi believe this causes my swing to be a little shallow and susceptible to hooks.

  4. Ben

    Sep 27, 2015 at 8:17 am

    “When examining impact, the best drivers of the golf ball have their right forearm and club shaft inline with one another during impact”

    Do you mean left arm? Even in the photo below the statement, it is more the left arm that is in line, not the right. Please could you clarify?

    • JMcDonough

      Sep 28, 2015 at 1:01 am

      Check the picture again. You should be looking at a Down the Line View.

  5. Up and out!

    Sep 27, 2015 at 2:56 am

    “The most consistent drivers of the golf ball tend to swing into the ball from the inside”

    Well. Not necessarily true about the inside. With our modern, big headed drivers, it’s imperative that you get an upward motion into the hit to get maximum benefits for the dynamic loft you are attempting to attain. Therefore you’d be hard pressed to hit down on the ball from the outside on top of the ball (which is why most amateurs struggle with the big stick). You can’t be slapping down at it, so the “inside” move is how it ends up looking as you hit up on the ball at the same time that you are closing the tow (because if you don’t close the toe with that move, you’ll just bust out high pushes all day and a nice day in the trees).

  6. Roger

    Sep 27, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Tom, thanks for another step by step to Perfect Impact !
    Took me years to eventually by trial and error set up in a slightly closed stance and hit Great Shots….

  7. other paul

    Sep 27, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Well done Tom. I’m pretty sure I agree with everything here. There are a few more things you could have added to the list but they are difficult to show on Trackman and so I understand why they are not included.

  8. gvogel

    Sep 26, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Remember when Tiger used to be a great driver of the ball?

    • other paul

      Sep 30, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      That was before I played golf, so no… ????

  9. joe

    Sep 26, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Interesting numbers with your students….2nd guys driver rolled 62 yards? with 1600 spin…he needs softer shaft lol

  10. shimmy

    Sep 26, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    It’s funny how the (arguably) best current driver of the ball- Bubba- breaks so many of these principles.

    • Large chris

      Sep 26, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Not really… He’s ranked 156th in driving accuracy and 46th in total driving…

      • larrybud

        Oct 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm

        “Total driving” is a completely meaningless stat.

    • Brian

      Sep 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Longest? Most fun? Maybe. Best – no.

      • M

        Sep 28, 2015 at 11:54 am

        Strokes gained driving Bubba is #1 for 2015 .. therefore he is the best

  11. Michael

    Sep 26, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Pretty straightforward ????

    • other paul

      Sep 27, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Yeah it is. Nothing to difficult here. Heard it all before.

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