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The Quest for 300: How to Bomb Your Driver (Part 1)

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An interesting comment followed my last article about what we can learn from professional long drivers. The reader commented, “I would love to hit a true 300 yard drive. How would I learn to do that?”

This inspired me to write a primer for how the “average golfer” would proceed in a quest to hit a true 300-yard drive. I believe many golfers fall into this category, as a poll of avid golfers once revealed that more would rather hit long, straight drives than shoot a low score.

If you are going to truly fulfill this goal, I challenge you to hit the drive without tailwind, hard ground or slope.

You’re going to need three things to happen for you to hit a 300 yard drive:

  1. Enough club head speed
  2. Solid, square contact and optimal club delivery
  3. A well-fit driver that produces optimal ball flight.

In essence, you’re going to need to be fast and efficient.

Click here to read other articles written by Steve Pratt.

The minimum club head speed required to hit a 300-yard drive in neutral conditions is 108 mph, according to Trackman. A 250-yard drive, by comparison, (if this proves to be a more realistic goal for you) requires at least 89 mph.

A good start will be to get an accurate measurement of your club head speed as a baseline.

Given enough club head speed, you’re still going to need solid square contact. You’ll need a smash factor of 1.48 or above. Smash factor is a ratio of ball speed to club head speed. At 108 mph club head speed, this means you’ll need at least 160 mph of ball speed.

Perfect contact is only part of the picture, however. You’ll also need to catch the drive at least 5 degrees on the upswing. Most amateur golfers hit down with their drivers –- sometimes 5 degrees or more downward. At the necessary speed, this will cost you nearly 30 yards.

You will also need to groove either an inside-to-square or slight inside-to-out path. Swinging outside-in has now been confirmed to lose you distance.

Finally, you’re going to need a driver that fits both your speed and attack angle. Most golf shops aren’t equipped to measure both — so definitely seek out a fitter with a Trackman. Golfers lose up to 50 yards of distance by being equipped with an ill-fitting club — I see it all the time.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. A driver with too much loft for your swing will cause the ball to climb overly high and land too steep, which will cost you roll. A driver that doesn’t have enough loft will launch too low and cost you carry.

There is an optimal landing angle for the longest drives, which can be achieved by many combinations of launch angle and spin rate. However, your longest drives will tend to have higher launch and lower spin.

An efficient 300-yard drive might have around 12-14 degrees of launch, and 2100-2600 rpms of backspin. Of course it is possible to go 300 outside these parameters, but it might take you more club head speed than the 108.

Some of you already have the speed to reach 250 or even 300 yards off the tee right now. However, club delivery and equipment could be costing you tons of distance. We shouldn’t underestimate how efficient we need to be to hit a golf ball over 300 yards.

Trackman

Hitting a milestone drive is a lofty but satisfying goal that can really keep your interest in the sport strong.

I recommend that your first step is to find out what your current launch variables are. Only then can you assess what additional steps are necessary to bomb your first 300 yard drive.

In part 2, I will discuss how to make your club delivery more potent.

The Quest For 300: How To Bomb Your Driver (Part 2)

The Quest For 300: How To Bomb Your Driver (Part 3)

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Steve Pratt teaches full-time at Lindero Country Club in Southern California using Trackman technology. Steve teaches the Mike Austin method of swinging which, using Kinesiology, unlocks the maximum power and accuracy possible from the human body. Steve's clients include many professional long drivers who routinely hit the ball over 400 yards. You can find Steve on the web at www.hititlonger.com, and @hititlonger on Twitter.com.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Bobby

    Oct 5, 2015 at 12:59 am

    I think a lot of people either hit the range, or inflate their numbers. I can bomb it 270-280 yards, and out of everyone I’ve played golf with I only had two people hit it further in the last two years of playing. It’s a rarity to encounter anyone hitting a 300 yard drive. I disagree with the 108mph swing speed. I say you need a 115mph swing speed. Good luck rolling it out to 300 consistently. With all the divots, sprinkler holes, etc… in your way. I suppose if you were at altitude that would be plausible.

  2. jack

    Jun 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This is stupid!

  3. Slim

    May 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Driving distance is always confusing because it’s not always clear whether someone is talking about in-the-air-carry, or total distance. In this case I can tell you’re talking about total distance, including roll.

  4. Steve Pratt

    Apr 8, 2013 at 3:48 am

    It isn’t necessary to make major compensations with body position. You are correct in your assessment about geometry, but it is as simple as closing the stance about a inch to account for the upward AoA.

  5. D Sgalippa

    Apr 6, 2013 at 5:31 am

    The requirement to hit with AoA of 5 deg up is terribly misleading to the average golfer. Particularly when you have coupled that with the requirement to have an inside-out/square path.
    For a golfer that has aligned their feet, shoulders and hips parallel to the target line, all things being equal, the club will only be going inside-out until the club head arrives at the bottom of the swing’s arc. This basic geometric fact can only be altered if you make some major compensations with body position on the downswing. The corollary of that is that if you are hitting on the up, your clubhead is probably already travelling to the inside.

  6. Jack

    Apr 5, 2013 at 12:37 am

    For me I’d rather take shooting in the 70’s than driving 300. I already hit it 250-280 with the occasional 300 without swinging out of my shoes. It’s the other parts of my game that need more work!

  7. Steve Pratt

    Apr 4, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Mike,

    320 on a flat course probably puts you in the 116+ range. See the above picture.

    However, ground firmness is a highly variable condition. On fast firm fairways, you could potentially hit it 320 with just 108 mph.

  8. Peter

    Apr 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Dang, even if I’m leaving 25 yards on the table, that’s way too much.

  9. Mike

    Apr 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    So if I hit it 320 on a calm day on a flat course I am swinging in excess of 108, right?

  10. yo!

    Apr 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Every year I bought a new driver and gained 10 yards per year. Next year will be the 10th year, and with another 10 yards from technology, I’ll be in the 300 club. Just a little secret, the brand starts with a “T” and ends with an “e.”

  11. Steve Pratt

    Apr 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    @J What about 300+ in the center?

    @t Yes fast powerful hips have been proven to give distance – but don’t forget the role of a quick and complete release of the clubhead by the hands.

    @Evan If you’re at 375 now, what I will be writing about in future installments will get you over 400, and into the REMAX finals.

    @Paul, part two will be coming soon!

  12. t

    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    distance comes from the core. fast hips equals distance. work on your flexibility first, then worry about getting fit for the proper driver. guys were hitting it 300 yards long before all this technology took over. golfers who hit it 300 typically have the same specs.

    • Mike

      Apr 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      What produces more speed the hips or the arm swing? CLEARED HIPS = ability for the arms to create speed.

  13. J

    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:00 am

    You can have every 300 yard drive I’ve hit in my life if you are willing to trade me 285 in the center. Thanks!

  14. evan

    Apr 2, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    im driving about 375 right now…will this work for someone who is driving it too far?

  15. paul

    Apr 2, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Bring on part two!

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Instruction

Golf 101: 3 fundamentals to straighter shots

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Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kyla Carlson (Alaska), Hayley Mortensen (Oregon), Garret Howell (Arizona) and Seth Abrahamson (Guam), four students in New Mexico State University’s PGA Golf Management Program.

It is our belief that the majority of golfers are looking to achieve a straighter ball flight at a more normal trajectory. To accomplish this, we put together three fundamentals to help golfers improve. They are:

  1. Contact the Ball with the Center of the Club Face
  2. Contact the Ball when the Club Face is Square to the Target Line
  3. Swing the Club along the Target Line

Below, we take a step-by-step approach to helping golfers achieve these fundamentals so they can hit straighter shots.

Fundamental #1: Contact the Ball with the Center of the Club Face

In the photo above, Hayley demonstrates the circular nature of the swing as she maintains her balance.

Setup: A balanced setup is one where your weight is evenly distributed between your feet (50 percent on your right foot, and 50 percent on your left foot) and evenly distributed from heel to toe. The reason for the balanced setup is that it creates a radius between you and the ball. By maintaining your balance, you maintain the radius of the swing. Therefore, the center of the club face will return to the ball.

Swing: It is important to remain balanced throughout the swing. Be sure not to slide the weight of your body from left to right, as we want a balanced, circular rotation, not a swaying motion.

Fundamental #2: Contact the Ball when the Club Face is Square to the Target

In the photo above, Garret demonstrates holding the club with the grooves vertical. In addition, he demonstrates holding the club face “open” and “closed.” respectively.

Setup: To confirm that you’re holding the club with a square club face, stand up and hold the club out in front of you so that the shaft is parallel to the ground. From this position, the grooves of the club should be vertical.

A neutral grip gives the player the best chance to return to the point of impact with a square club face. A neutral grip is one where your palms are facing each other. In addition, the palm of the right-handed golfer will face the target. The club should be positioned behind the ball so that the club face is square to the target. Then, set your body so that you’re square with the grooves of the club face and so your club is in the center of your stance.

Grip Check: With your normal grip, stand upright with the club out in front of you and allow a friend to hold the club head with his or her index and middle fingers. Once he or she has a hold on the club head, relax your joints and lean back. This will mimic the centrifugal pull that is created by the swing. Depending on the position of your hands, the club head may twist one way or the other. If it does, adjust your hands (clockwise or counter-clockwise) until the club doesn’t twist. A neutral grip will not twist.

In the photo above, Henry does the grip check to confirm that Garret is holding the club with a neutral grip.

In the photos above, Garret and Henry also demonstrate the effects of holding the club with a “strong” and “weak” grip, respectively.

Swing: The club face should maintain its relationship to the player as it swings. The player should make no attempt to twist the club face. Holding the club face with a neutral grip will allow centrifugal force to square the club face at impact (as long as the player started the swing with the club in the middle of his stance and maintained balance throughout the swing).

Fundamental #3: Swing the Club Along the Target Line

In the photo above, Kyla demonstrates swinging the club along the target line. Notice how the shaft of the golf club tracks the target line as it swings around her body.

Setup: Set the club face so that it is perpendicular to the target line (Orange Line). The shaft of the golf club should also be perpendicular to the target line. Then set the feet and shoulders so they are parallel to the target line.

Swing: The shaft of the club should track the target line and point directly at the target just prior to 9 o’clock in the forward swing. Thinking of the shaft as a fire hose or telescope can be a helpful visualization for a player to understand this concept. A drill that may be helpful is to swing a short pool noodle along the target line, stopping before 9 o’clock to look through the hole and confirm that its pointing at the target.

By understanding and practicing these fundamentals, you will experience straighter shots and have more fun playing this wonderful game.

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Instruction

Davies: The Trail Elbow In The Downswing

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In this video, I discuss the role of the trail elbow in the downswing. I also share some great drills to help golfers deliver the trail elbow correctly, which will help improve distance and contact.

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Instruction

The 3 different levels of golf practice

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“I would have practiced as hard, but I would have made my practice more meaningful. I would have worked more on my short game and putting. I would’ve done a lot more drills to make the practice more meaningful, and I would’ve added pressure to the practice as much as possible.” — Lee Westwood

Now here’s the rub. Practice is not monolithic! I approach practice as having three different, distinctive and separate curriculum and criteria.

  • Level 1: Basic
  • Level 2: Advanced
  • Level 3: Extreme

Basic Practice (Level 1) by definition is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Basically, it’s doing the same thing over and over again to get better at it. My favorite skill that requires practice is the 76-yard “flighted wedge.” I do it, and I recommend it be done at every range practice session. Additionally, I identify and then practice as many different “skills” that are required to hit different golf shots. I have found that a non-pressurized environment is the best way to practice in a basic model.

It goes without saying that golf is not played in a pressure-free environment, so basic practice doesn’t help us play golf. The prime objective of Level 2 Practice (Advanced Training) is to take what you do in Basic Practice to the golf course.

First, create on-course situations that require you to hit the shots you have practiced. There should be rewards for demonstrations of competence, and there should be consequences for demonstrations of incompetence

“When you practice, try to find a situation to fit the shot you’re trying to practice.” — Ben Hogan

For example, a major problem is the unevenness of the lies you will encounter during play as opposed to the lies you used for your drills. From marginal to extreme, lies are difficult to replicate on the practice tee. So, play a round of golf and move the ball into the most undesirable lie that is very close to where you are.

Another example would be duplicating the creativity that is sometimes required during actual play. The prime example of that would be the sensation of “being in-between clubs.” I would suggest that you play an occasional round of golf using only half of your clubs. Take two wedges instead of four. Take only the “odd” or “even” numbered irons. Look at not taking the driver, or not taking all of your fairway clubs. I have not taken my putter, which forced me putt with my sand wedge!

A third example would be to play a round of golf and deliberately miss every green in regulation. Should your ball accidentally finish on the green in regulation just move it off into the rough, a bunker or whatever else could use the extra attention. You can create games where your opponent moves your ball off the green into something that would be advantageous to him.

Level 2 Practice is conducted on the practice ground as well as on the course. What I do and recommend is to take each of the shots, skills and drills used in Level 1 and add some accountability to the range experience. I have my students and clients use a “Practice Book” to schedule activities and to keep track of improvement.

Author Note: I will send you a sample practice book page that many of my players actually use. Request it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Please be advised that Level 2 Practice can feature games, wagering or other forms of friendly competitions because they should only activate the lesser emotions of irritation, annoyance, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, pleasure and disappointment. Dealing with these feelings in practice will help you recognize and deal with the minor stresses experienced by most recreational golfers.

Stress is the major cause of “CHOKING.”

Stress, by definition “is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can ruin our ability to perform when we experience the major emotions such as fear, anger, shame, humiliation, euphoria, ridicule, betrayal, doubt and/or disbelief.

Level 3 Practice (Extreme Preparation) is on-course training sessions best suited for very serious competitive golfers. The more a player is able to compete in a simulated or controlled environment that accurately replicates the actual “pressures” that produce the kind of stresses that can effect performance, the better the player will perform when stressed in actual tournaments or events. Please be advised that Extreme Practice DOES NOT feature games, gambling or “friendly” competitions. They don’t control the conditions of play sufficiently to replicate the type of pressure that would induce “stress.”

“Simulation, which  is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.” For many years now, the medical profession has used simulations to train doctors, the military has used simulations to prepare troops for the realities of the battlefield and aviation has used simulators to train pilots. Simulating has the added benefits of being cost and time effective while producing verifiable results.

If it’s possible for airlines to replicate every possible scenario that a pilot could experience in the cockpit by using simulations, then why isn’t it possible to replicate situations, and subsequent emotional responses, that a competitive golfer could experience on the golf course? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

“I got nervous all the time, as nervous as the next guy. It’s just that I caught myself before it became destructive.” Jack Nicklaus

Recent events at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play gives us some evidence of the destructiveness of uncontrolled emotions. Justin Thomas said that he couldn’t get the thought out of his mind of becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world should he defeat Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, which he failed to do.

“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”

Then there was Ian Poulter being told that with his win over Louis Oosthuizen he had earned a spot in this years’ Masters tournament only to be told 10 minutes before his next match that he had not actually secured the coveted invitation. With elation, joy and satisfaction jerked away and replaced with disappointment, and possibly anger, the Englishman went out and got whipped by Kevin Kisner 8 & 6!

I concede that Justin Thomas’ and Ian Poulter’s situations were so unique that simulation-based practice and preparation techniques may not have been available to them, but now they both must know that their performance was effected negatively by mental stresses. And with that knowledge they may want to get tougher mentally. Level 3 Practice does that!

Not all that long ago, I was approached by a PGA Tour veteran for some on-course, one-on-one training. He was experiencing severe “choking” in pressurized short-game situations. So I took him out on the course and we replicated the exact shots he had problems with in the past. He demonstrated that he could perform each and every shot in a stress-free environment. We went into a “low-stress” training environment and his performance began to suffer. Then, at his urging to get “real,” we went into a “high-stress” practice mode and he melted down. Without going into details, he became so angry that not only couldn’t he hit golf shots, he tried to run me down with the golf cart as he retreated to the safety of his car.

Now, that’s not the end of the story. A few hours later, after some soul searching, he apologized for his lack of self-control and acknowledged that he had recognized the early signs of stress growing internally as we worked. We went back out onto the course and got back to work.

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