Speed and finish key in hitting the long ball

Golf, a game of the ages which is satisfying and appealing to many different audiences. I have never seen a sport or recreation that is appealing to such a wide variety of people. No matter of your age, gender, athleticism or status within the community, golf simply appeals to all.

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Golf, a game of the ages which is satisfying and appealing to many different audiences.

I have never seen a sport or recreation that is appealing to such a wide variety of people. No matter of your age, gender, athleticism or status within the community, golf simply appeals to all.

The game seems to provide an emotional or physical outlet for players. Some enjoy the competitive nature of the game, the individualism, the social aspect or the beauty of the outdoors. No matter your reason to play, golf provides something for all players.

As I walk down the driving range and observe players hitting balls, the most common club I see players using is their drivers.

You should start with a shorter club to loosen up those muscles and then progress to your driver. But what do I know? Virtually all players want to hit the big stick and the big stick only.

This of course gets me thinking, why? There are many factors to this game than just hitting the driver.

On most 18-hole golf courses you will hit the driver approximately 14 times. Considering that the average score of most golfers is around 100, and approximately 50 per cent of your shots are played on or around the green, then the majority of your strokes will be played from the fairway or rough with a club other than the driver.

Therefore, practising with all of your clubs is important, but rarely happens. I ask myself, what is so attractive with the driver that most players will only use this club when hitting balls on the driving range?

There is nothing more satisfying than hitting the ball up in the air further than you have before, or more importantly, out-driving your playing partner. The following paragraphs will discuss these in further detail and will hopefully assist you in creating more distance, not only with your driver but with all of your clubs.

There is no question that having the proper equipment fitted to you will assist in creating more distance. The most important component of the club is the shaft.

You want to ensure that the shaft you have in your club is properly fitted to your swing speed. If you play with a club that is too flexible, then your ball flight will be too high and the direction will be inconsistent.

Alternatively, if you play a club that has too stiff of a shaft for you swing speed, then the ball flight will be too low, direction will be compromised and the over all distance will be shorter than you desire.

It is very important to have the proper equipment to increase your distance, however it is your swing that will send the ball further and straighter. Good fundamentals and the proper motion will assist you in getting the most out of your drives.

Distance is determined by speed. The faster you make that club move, assuming you make square contact, the further you will hit the ball. The most common mistake golfers make is that they attempt to swing too hard at the ball, especially when they have the driver in their hands. Swinging hard and creating speed are two totally different things.

Below are a few key swing fundamentals:

• The first swing fundamental necessary to increasing your distance is to increase the size of your arc. Arc is defined by the distance the clubhead travels throughout the swing.

In theory, the wider the arc, the faster the club can travel by the time it makes contact with the ball.

A player’s physical dimensions influences the size of the arc.

What this means is that players who are taller with longer arms will have a bigger arc than shorter players with shorter arms. This does not mean that you can not hit the ball further than you already do.

One of the key fundamentals to a bigger arc is to ensure that your target arm (left arm for right-handed golfers, and right arm for left-handed golfers), remains straight throughout the swing. We must start with a straight left arm at the address position and keep it straight in the backswing through the impact position.

Many players will bend (collapse) their target arm in the backswing, therefore making the size of their arc smaller. As a result, the left arm generally stays bent through impact causing inconsistent contact and a slower swing speed.

• Grip pressure can also influence the speed at which you swing the club. Too many players will grip the club too tight at the address position and throughout the swing.

Gripping the club too tight causes you to control the club throughout the swing. Your grip pressure needs to be relaxed so that you can hinge the club in your back swing, and release the club through impact assisting in creating maximum speed.

• Finally, and most importantly, you need to ensure that you swing through to a full finish position. A good finish position includes: all of your weight on your front foot and in good balance; your body (or belt buckle) facing the target; your club above your shoulder pointing towards the ground (not the sky); and your back foot rolled up on its tip toe.

I see too many golfers stopping short of the full finish position. The key to hitting the ball further is to ensure that you are creating the maximum possible speed that you can with your club head through impact.

If you do not swing to a full finish position, then this would tell me that your club is actually slowing down as you make contact. This will result in a definite loss of distance as well as inconsistent contact with the ball.

Although these are only a few fundamentals necessary for increased distance, they are the most common mistakes most golfers make. Applying them to your swing will most certainly assist you in hitting the ball further.

Scott Bergdahl is the head professional at Lakewood Golf Resort near Sylvan Lake.

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