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The Quest for 300: How to Bomb Your Driver (Part 2)

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In my first installment, I talked about the minimum prerequisites to drive a ball 300 yards under neutral conditions Let’s recap.

You will need to have at least 108 mph of club head speed and 160 mph of ball speed. Furthermore, you will need proper club delivery into the ball, with square and solid contact. Finally, 300-yard drives are unlikely to happen without a really well-fit driver.

So why should you aim to hit the ball 300 yards or more (assuming we are straight)? Some of you feel that 285 yards is plenty, and on some holes it is. But in my experience, completely overpowering a golf course is not only fun, but a great way to dominate (and intimidate) the competition. You can hit over trees, carry fairway bunkers and cut doglegs. It’s a huge help to take it really low.

At 285 yards, chances are you’re still hitting a hybrid (or more) into a par 5. And you aren’t scaring any par 4s. But when you can hit a mid or short iron into par 5s and knock it pin high on short 4s, you’re tapping in for birdie a few times per round.

For many of you, who may be after 250 yards (89 mph club head speed), this is the difference between reaching all the holes in regulation on your course or not. And that is a big difference in strokes. These tips will work just as well for you, or even a 200 yard hitter.

Click here to read other articles written by Steve Pratt.

So today I want to discuss club delivery. How you deliver the driver head through space into the back of the ball makes a giant difference.

Most golfers hit down and across. This means contact is made with a downward strike, and then a low, left exit. Most slicers swing this way.

Additionally, better golfers who rely on video analysis with plane lines swing this way. However, if your club shaft is tracking the line, you are cheating yourself out of 25 straight yards. This could be the difference between 285 and 310. Or 225 to 250!

If your teacher recommends you have each club on the plane line, he is not accounting for what golf Doppler radar systems like FlightScope and Trackman have shown us about club delivery and ball flight.

Those devices prove that the most efficient way to deliver the strike with a driver is from under, up and out. The club head reaches the bottom of its arc a few inches before impact, approaching well from the inside. The strike is upward, and the club head actually crosses the target line early in the follow through.

On video, the shaft will appear under the plane line. But because of the D-plane adjustments, this will not be a push — nor will you be stuck. In fact, the club path will be dead on target — zero degrees!

With a proper release, ball flight will be high and penetrating. It has been proven that we will gain more than 25 yards from this “track” into the ball.

Delivering the club in this manner takes three adjustments. We will move the ball more forward in our stance, from front heel to big toe. Also, we must allow the right hip and shoulder to achieve a “low” position via a large lateral shift. Finally, we will release the club head freely, and earlier.

In part 3, I will talk more about finding the right driver to match your swing and aid in your quest to hit a 300 yard drive.

The Quest For 300: How To Bomb Your Driver (Part 1)

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.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Pingback: Technology is here to stay in televised sports | Girl With A Notebook

  2. William

    Jun 11, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Great article Steve. With the principles that Steve teaches extra distance is a bonus. His swing methods produce a very repeatable swing that is very accurate. I recently took some lesson from Steve and I am convinced that he is the best instructor on the planet. The Yoda of the golf swing.

  3. shane

    May 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Can anyone explain further the under plane approach not being stuck?? I look at my swing on video and my clubshaft is slightly under the original shaft plane line and was always told that this cause a push/hook. Can you explain witht he D plane why its not stuck and will hit straight shots? Also hanging back while not great for accuracy or your back seems essential to hitting up on the ball. correct?

  4. Finn

    May 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Great article, all 3 parts. It is rewarding to see that I have found something correct by just hitting the ball and seeing what works. I am 52 years and will soon (on July 4th) have been playing golf for 7 years. I have a Tailormade (version 2) driver with stiff shaft and 9.5 loft but the actual loft is closer to 14.5 so I have roughly 5 degrees of AoA. I vary my drives from standing straight (for sharper draws) and tilting my upper torso (for maximum height or fades). 300 yards (270 meters) only happens a few times a year but 255-280 yards (230-250 meters) every round.

  5. Aaron Davis

    May 15, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Great article Steve, glad to see you on here!

  6. tmk

    May 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Great article and looking forward to the other stories. One quick question — it seems like most of the big hitters have a relatively upright swing with high hands. I’ve been working on this and it does seem to give me a bit more clubhead speed. At times, however, it also seems to make it harder for me to hit from the inside. I’m not sure if this really is the case or if it just feels that way to me because I’m starting my downswing from a place that is not as far to the inside. Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks again for the article.

  7. Steve Pratt

    May 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    @Emmanuel – Now that you’re becoming a teacher, you’ll be able to teach slicers this skill!

    @JoeGolfer – I make a full release without the toe passing the heel, making hooks virtually impossible. Injuries are always tough, and we must work with what we’ve got at the end of the day.

  8. Emmanuel Vizcaya

    May 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I for one enjoyed this write up and can attest to the benefits of striking up from the inside. The added distance was one of the reasons I passed my PAT.
    That being said, not everyone possesses the skill to do this. If a slicer doesn’t possess enough skill to correct a slice this hitting motion would be extremely difficult for him to achieve.

  9. Steve Pratt

    May 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    @MarkY – I’m sorry you find the article uninspiring. And you’re missing the point. 300 is just an ultimate destination, a journey. For some golfers the target might be 200 yards, but the principles apply just the same.

    We’re not talking about effort, we’re talking about getting results with higher efficiency. Less wasted motion, smoother – yet powerful.

    • Joe Golfer

      May 4, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Good, diplomatic response. Never fun when some “Anonymous” says what you’ve written is B.S.
      He really did miss the point. I thought your advice was very good.
      I play the ball forward and hit on a slight upswing, but I have to go with a slight fade due to a bad back and old injuries. I have to use a slightly open stance due to my back/hips. Plus, if I close my stance to hit from the inside-out (which I agree with you is the best way to increase distance), I find that I can’t always control it, as I have to release my hands more, and I get inconsistent results as far as accuracy.
      With the straight to very slight fade, I get the accuracy, and the hands release naturally. So I’ll just have to take a loss of yardage because of a balky back. I’m missing that extra yardage that a strong hand release gives, and I understand your point, as I use it in tennis, but the hand release it too inconsistent if I go to inside-out path, even with a strong grip.

    • Slim

      May 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Don’t listen to the negative Nellie’s. They can stop reading. The rest of us are enjoying the effort you’re putting into this and the info you’re sharing. People can take from it what they want.

  10. Cody Lewis

    May 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Great article, I agree with some of the comments that your next installment should include videos but otherwise, good information here. I often coach golfers at Falcon Ridge Golf Course in NV and you are spot on.

  11. MarkY

    May 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    What a BS article. 95% of most amateurs would do well to hit 285 and keep it in the fairway. Trying to gas a drive 300 is asking for trouble.

    D-plane, doppler, etc… what a bunch of nonsense.

    • naflack

      May 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      It is interesting that so many tour pros still hit down with their long clubs…

  12. Steve Pratt

    May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    @Andy – send me your Trackman report. I will discuss increasing clubhead speed in a future article.

    • Andy

      May 3, 2013 at 4:23 am

      Morning Steve,

      How do you wish me to forward the report ? I can’t see an email address to use.

      I note on my Driver testing I was hitting 1 to 2 degrees down in general (Trackman data) but during the MATT fitting (prior to hitting balls) I was 1 degree positive.

      Thanks for offering to take a look.

      • Joe Golfer

        May 4, 2013 at 12:13 am

        @Andy I noticed that his bio at bottom of article has a website address called http://www.hititlonger.com and a Twitter handle of @hititlonger
        His website has a link to contact him and ask a question or send a comment, and it asks for your email address. So I assume you can contact him that way and explain that he asked for your Trackman report at GolfWRX. Hopefully he’ll respond and give you an email address where you can send your info.

  13. Steve Pratt

    May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Tiger is currently at 295.1 from 119.5 mph clubhead speed. (PGATour.com). He could be at a 320+ average at the same speed. Arguing that this delivery pattern is intentional for better accuracy is relatively invalid, as he is 152nd at 55.7% fairways hit.

    Hunter Mahan is at 287.1 from 112 mph clubhead speed. More efficient, but not great.

    • Narf

      May 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Don’t the PGA stats include drives hit with 3 & 5w? That’s hardly a fair number for this conversation.

  14. Tags

    May 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Swing up on the ball works but Tiger hits down and still pipes it 325. Hunter Mahan hits down too and hits about 285-290

    • Cris

      May 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      …and both of them are making the corresponding swing changes to hit up on the ball and increase their carry distances.

      • naflack

        May 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm

        Tiger is not doing that. His go to ball off the tee is a cut with the ball teed lower and slightly descending strike.

  15. Andy

    May 2, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Love the article Steve. I’d certainly like to get near that 300 mark.

    I’m 44, live in the UK and the idea of hot days and hard fairways is alien over here. So need to do it the hard way.

    I work with my Pro on Trackman during lessons and last weekend spent 2 hours at TaylorMade (Wentworth) being measured for a new driver and Irons. So I’m serious at improving. Have the trackman data from that, but won’t bore you with that detail here 😉

    My swing speed is currently 98-101 with a driver.

    So really my first big challenge is – how do I get that speed up by 10Mph ? I already take lessons, I already play regularly, seems I need to get stronger and more flexible…?

    Looking forward to reading the other parts.

  16. Shastygolfer

    May 2, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Dude videos

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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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Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf

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Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotbyShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

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Instruction

PNF Drills: How To Turn Onto The Golf Ball

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In this video, I share a great drill to help you turn onto the ball. This will help you rotate through impact.

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