The Secret of being long off the Tee – Michael Berenger, PGA
There are several key elements in the golf swing and the perfect combination of these elements will certainly result in consistent long and straight off the tee. Most amateurs praise distance off the tee as essential to lower your handicap; although some golfers will debate on that fact, the reality is that the longer you are off the tee the shorter your next shot will be… End of the discussion!
Swinging a shorter club for your next shot inspires confidence and gives you an ability to either go for the green on 2 on par 5’s, or to look for a desirable landing area before the 3rd shot, to being able to hit wedges on par 4’s. Yes my friends, distance is one of the key elements of scoring. Over the last 20+ years of teaching I have noticed through my students that once you achieve these key ingredients everything else comes in natural. I have listed them in no particular order as they are all important to develop distance off the tee..
Clear your mind Thinking too much over the ball can be as big a problem as not thinking at all. If you appear to be paralyzed from too much analysis, chances are you will tighten your muscles and deliver a poor, inconsistent shot. Remedy; develop an easy routine in the driving range by separating the key elements (ball trajectory/aim, ball placement/lie, distance to target/club and tempo) the swing comes natural. If you are ready to hit your ball and you are thinking about your elbow, or thinking about keeping your head down or any other mechanical issues, you may not be enjoying the game as it was meant to be.
Tempo Your body needs to react and respond to the coil, uncoil of the golf swing. A fast backswing will result in a misalignment of your body trying to catch up with a forward energy of your arms. The result is usually a miss to the right (in right handed players). Remedy; Your hips, knees and the rest of the body need to be in synch with your swing, if you notice inconsistent shots and lack of distance then slow down a bit and let the natural flow of your swing take over. Make a full shoulder turn going back, with your left shoulder turning all the way behind the ball at the top. Try to turn your hips no more than half as far as your shoulders. The tempo should be a nice smooth transition from backswing to swing.
Relax The key to great length of the tee is to be relaxed. Have you ever notice that when you are on the first tee playing a golf tournament you are feeling anxious and in some occasions we tend to hit errant shots, however; a few holes later we get into the rhythm and our pressure is gone and we start playing better. That rhythm and relaxation makes you play better because your muscles naturally perform better when they are relaxed as supposed to when they are tight. Remedy; just before you leave the driving range get the same club that you intend to use on the first tee and hit some balls. It will feel like you are playing a few “mulligans” before the round. By the time you get to the tee that anxiety feeling should be gone!
Learn relaxation and tempo from the players that you have seen on TV; a few years back Fred Couples was the player to watch (he still is) very long off the tee and always relaxed with an easy going attitude. Now a days the longest hitter on tour, Bubba Watson appears to be a left handed version of old Freddie, very casual, relaxed and jet with very different swing motions. Clearing your mind, tempo and relaxation are keys to hit the ball long….