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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

How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location

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One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:

Observations

  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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Instruction

Master your takeaway with force and torques

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Most golf swings last less than 2 seconds, so it’s difficult to recover from any errors in the takeaway. Time is obviously limited. What most golfers fail to realize is that the force and torque they apply to the club in the initial stages of the swing can have major effects on how they are able to leverage the club with their arms and wrists.

Our research has shown that it is best to see the golfer as a series of connected links with the most consistent golfers transferring motion smoothly from one link to another and finally to the club. Approximately 19-25 percent of all the energy created in a golf swing actually makes its way into the motion of the club. That means the remaining 75-80 percent is used up in moving the body segments. This emphasizes the fact that a smooth takeaway is your best chance sequence the body links and become more efficient with your energy transfers.

In the video above, I give a very important lesson on how the forces and torques applied by the golfer in the takeaway shape the rest of the swing. There will be more to come on the subject in future articles.

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Instruction

Learn from the Legends: Introduction

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There is a better way to swing the golf club. I’d prefer to write that there is a correct way to swing the club, but I know that really freaks people out. People love to talk about how everyone’s swing is different. “There are lots of ways to get it done,” they say. “Look at Jim Furyk’s swing – it’s not what you’d teach, but it works for him.”

To some extent, they’re right. Elite swings do have different looks. Some take it back inside (Ray Floyd). Some cross the line (Tom Watson). Some swings are long (Bubba Watson). Some are short (young Tiger). But these differences are superficial and largely irrelevant. When it comes to the engine – the core of the swing – the greatest players throughout the history of the game are all very similar.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you. In this series of articles, I will do my best to show you – with pictures and videos and data – that the legends all move a specific way. Focusing on these elements (while ignoring others) and practicing a certain way is the surest path to improving your golf swing and lowering your scores.

So, let’s get into it. There are a number of important elements that all the legends have, but the biggest and most important of these elements is rotation. Every great player throughout the history of the game has had elite rotation. It’s the most important thing they do, and it’s easy to see. When you’re looking down the line at all the great players at impact, you’ll see hips and torso open.

This is what the legends look like at impact:

1Hips open
2Torso open
3Both butt cheeks visible
4Left leg extended and visible

And here’s what some very good players with less good rotation look like at impact:

These are very successful players (one of them is a major champion!), but they don’t move like the legends of the game.
1Hips and shoulders not open
2Left leg not totally visible
3Can’t see both butt cheeks

Now, there are plenty of nuances to how great players rotate. They do it while keeping spine flexion, for example, and they do it with very little (or no) lateral movement toward the target (lateral movement impedes rotation). I will discuss these things in detail. My hope is that at the end of this series you will have a much better understanding of what separates the legends from the very good… and from the rest of us.

You will understand their “engine,” and hopefully this understanding will help you begin to create your own legendary swing!

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