Drive for Show,
Drive for Dough
Q and A with Marc Solomon,
Director of The Hampton Golf School
in Jacksonville, Fla.
I sure could use a few ideas. I am hitting the ball pretty well
except off the tee. Can't figure out what I'm doing. When I pull
out the 7-iron I hit the ball pretty well. All my playing partners
tell me that I need to swing easy. Sometimes it works, sometimes
it doesn't. Any assistance you can give me is appreciated.
Greg H. Savannah, Ga
It sounds like we need to get you off the tee better. We need
to get some yardage out of your tee shots so that you will have
shorter irons into the green. This will help contribute to you
finding some lower scores.
I listen in amazement when my fellow Professionals tell their
students that the distance you hit your tee shot isn't important.
They say it is more important to hit the ball in the fairway.
I agree that driving isn't the most important aspect of the game
as far as creating a low score. The skill of putting has a much
bigger influence on your scores than driving the ball. But, hitting
the ball longer than your opponent rates a close second.
A great example that stands out to me was the 2000 U.S. Open
at Pebble Beach. Colin Montgomerie led the field in the number
of times he hit the fairway. Montgomerie hit 82% of the fairways
with his tee shots. Montgomerie also shot 15 over par for the
tournament. In fact the top 3 players in the fairways hit category
came in 32nd, 37th and 46th place in the tournament as far as
score was concerned. Tiger Woods led the field in driving distance
with an average drive of 299 yards. He also won the tournament
by a pretty good margin. The top 3 in the driving distance category
finished 1st, 2nd and 8th in the tournament as far as score.
Now I'm not saying that you should gear up for each tee shot by
telling yourself that you need to "knock the crude out of the ball."
But sometimes telling yourself to "swing easy and just get the ball
in the fairway", doesn't help your score. A lot of the time it might
actually contribute to your bad shots.
How many times have you stepped up to the tee and told yourself,
"OK, swing easy"? Half the time you might hit a good
shot. What happens the other half of the time? Now, how many times
have you stepped up to the ball and just said "I don't care
where this ball is going, I'm just going to swing at it"?
Those are the times we hit our best tee shots. Why is that? It
is because we have no thoughts in our head to interrupt our natural
rhythm. We just get up to the ball and give ourselves a chance
to hit it.
When we tell ourselves to swing easy, we are holding ourselves
back. We are causing parts of our body to hesitate and then move
abruptly. Our natural urge is to send that ball soaring down the
golf course. We want to see it hang in the air while it is blazing
through the air, down the fairway. We want to feel that feeling
in our hands that we hit the perfect drive. You know that feeling.
The one were you don't even feel the ball hit the club, but you
still have a sense of power flowing through your body.
The key is knowing how to produce that power consistently. We
want to, in the words of Julius Boros, "Swing easy, hit hard".
How can you swing easy and still hit the ball hard. The key is
using your hands to swing the golf club. Your hands are the most
important part of your body for swinging the club correctly. They
are the only part of you that is attached to the golf club. They
determine how fast you will be swinging the club.
Try this as a test. Turn your driver over so that you are holding
the hosel (the part of the shaft that connects to the clubhead)
with just your right hand (for right handers). Now swing the club
back and forth as fast as you can using just your arm, hand and
wrist. It should be making a swooshing sound. Keep swinging faster
and faster until your swoosh becomes louder and louder. "Now
catch your breath." Keep holding the club in your hand, but
try to swing using your shoulders, hips or legs. When you try
this don't use your hands, just the other parts of your body.
How loud was the swoosh?
If you are like most people, the swoosh was much louder and easier
to achieve when using your arm, hand and wrist. The swoosh represents
power. Golf is a power game. If you don't believe that, then answer
this question: Why is there a Senior PGA? Why aren't the guys
over 50 still playing with Tiger Woods on a regular basis? The
guys on Senior Tour are awesome players, but they can't compete
with someone out driving them by 50 yards.
Learn to make the swoosh with your hands. Practice it over and
over until you get the sense of effortless power. Then every once
in a while try using your body more than your hands to swing hard.
You will probably feel unbalanced, uncoordinated and powerless.
One last point - there is some truth in the phrase "Drive
for show, putt for dough", but look at these numbers from
the 2000 U.S. Open - The top 3 in the putting statistics earned
a total of $278,216. The top 3 in driving distance earned $1,304,266.
Maybe we should change the phrase to "Drive for show, drive
"Do you have the desire to improve your golf game?"
Marc Solomon, PGA, is the Director of The Hampton Golf School
in Florida – www.Golfmadesimple.com He has been named as a “Top
10 Instructor under 40 in America” and is regarded as the “Top
Instructor in North Florida.” The Hampton Golf School provides
golf instruction that is more beneficial than your ordinary golf
lesson. If you have the desire to improve, checkout his web site
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