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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.

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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

A Jedi Mind Trick For Improved Target Awareness

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I think all golfers, at some point in their life playing the game of golf, has gotten stuck, or become frozen over the golf ball. Why?  They’re trying to remember which of the 23 different swing thoughts they used for the day performed the best.

The disheartening reality: none of us are going to perform well on a consistent basis with our thoughts being so internally driven. Swing thoughts force our awareness inward. Is the shaft in the correct position? Am I making a proper pressure shift? Was that a reverse pivot? Close that club face! Regardless of the technique you are trying to manage or modify, these kinds of questions make you acquire sensations internally.

To complicate things further, we are taught to look at the golf ball, not the target, while hitting our golf shot. And yet instinctively, in almost all other skills of making a ball or object finish towards a target (throwing a ball or frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, skipping a rock across water, shooting a basket ball) our awareness is not on the ball or the motion itself, but rather the ultimate target.

So, can we develop a skill that allows us to still keep our eye on the ball, like the game of golf encourages, but have awareness of our target, like so many other target sports demand?  Yes, the answer is (third rate Yoda Speak), and the skill can easily be yours.

Here’s where this gets fun. You already have learned this skill set, but under different conditions. Perhaps this example resonates with you. Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a child? Remember how you used to close your eyes and count to 10? During those 10 seconds of having your eyes closed, weren’t you using all of your senses externally, trying to track where your friends were going to hide? Weren’t you, just like a bloodhound, able to go directly to a few of the less skillful hiders’ hiding places and locate them?

Or how about this example. When you are driving down your own local multilane highway, aren’t you aware of all the cars around you while keeping your eyes firmly on the road in front of you? Reconnecting, recognizing and/or developing these skills that all of us already use is the first step in knowing you’re not too far away from doing this with your golf game.

Here’s what I want you to do. Grab a putter and place your golf ball 3 feet away from the hole on a straight putt. Aim your putter, and then look at the hole. As you bring your eyes back to the golf ball, maintain part of your awareness back at the hole. Each successive time your eyes leave your golf ball and head back to the hole, your eyes will be able to confirm your target. It hasn’t moved; it’s still in the same location; your confidence builds.

When you know for certain that your external awareness of the target is locked in while still looking at your golf ball, step up and execute your putt.

The wonderful beauty of this skill set is that you now have the best of both worlds. You are still looking at the golf ball, which gives you a better chance of striking the golf ball solidly… AND you are now target aware just like you are when you are throwing an object at a target.

As always, acquire this skill set from a close target with a slower, smaller motion. If you don’t execute properly, you have a better chance of making the proper corrective assessment from a slower, smaller motion and closer target. As you become more proficient with this skill, allow the target to get farther away and try to add more speed with a larger range of motion.

So give learning this skill set a go. I don’t think there is anything more valuable in playing the game of golf than keeping your “athlete” attached to the target. Become proficient at developing this awareness and you can tell all your friends that the primary reason your scores are getting lower and you’re getting deeper into their wallets is because of Jedi Mind tricks. Good luck!

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Instruction

6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

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One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

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Instruction

Is There An Ideal Backswing?

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In this video, I talk about the backswing and look into optimal positions. I also discuss the positives and negatives of different backswing positions.

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