How can you develop more power in your golf swing? This is probably one of the more commonly asked questions in golf, right behind “How do I get rid of my slice?” As a beginning golfer you will start to look for more power in your drives before any other swing. However, this is an advanced concern for most golfers. Therefore we will discuss the topic, but unless you have mastered the basics, we would prefer that you focus on tempo, solid contact and accuracy.
Fundamentals of a Powerful Drive
Golf swing power is the result of three specific factors. Two out of the three are much more important, but the third does have a bearing on the outcome of how far you hit that ball.
The first and probably most evident of the three is your swing mechanics. I bet you are not surprised by this one.
The second one is probably the least recognized of the three, but for many is the “key” to longer drives and the category that is given the least amount of attention. Number two is what we term golf strength. This is defined as how well your body is conditioned (i.e. fitness) to swing a golf club with maximum power. Probably the least understood of the three, and maybe the most needed by golfers in general. We will talk more about this later. Let us move on to number three in regards to power for your drives.
Number three is your equipment. Yes, equipment does make a difference in how far you drive the ball. The equipment manufacturers have let this fact be known, and I bet we all have gone to the pro shop probably more than twice to pick up a new driver that claims to give us another 20 yards on every drive. That extra 20 yards might not be down the middle of the fairway, but it will give you an extra 20 yards… could be left, could be right, or could be in the center of the fairway. That all depends on points one and two of this article. Equipment and technological advances have definitely lengthened the distance of our drives. But without better swing mechanics and your body in better golf shape, new technology will not help your game. A bad swing will produce a bad result, regardless of what type of “new” driver you may have just purchased.
I think all of us are aware of how important the mechanics of a swing are when it comes to driving the ball down the fairway. It is essential, if you are over the top with your swing or come inside too much, you’ll see that dreaded slice or snap hook. The drives will be short, too low, too high, left, right, or a combination of these if you are putting bad swings on the ball.
It is essential for a golfer to work on the mechanics of their swing, week in and week out, to improve their game. If it weren’t important why would all these tour players have swing coaches that work with them on a consistent basis? The golf swing is such a finite, mechanically complex movement, that requires constant work to keep it highly efficient and in check.
One of the most common mistakes I see amateurs make is probably a lack of instruction. I see amateurs over and over at the driving ranges, week in and week out, pounding balls without any improvement. This, I feel, is a result of one of two things: 1) a lack of instruction or 2) low levels of golf strength. A lack of instruction leads to the development and ingraining of improper swing mechanics. This only results in slices, hooks, topping the ball, and hitting it fat on the course. And we all know that those types of swings lead to frustration and bad rounds of golf. I would suggest to most anyone to find a good instructor and take lessons on a consistent basis. This can only help your game in the long run. Now moving on the second point of how to achieve powerful drives and that is golf strength.
Golf Strength (Golf Fitness)
Golf strength is a term we use to describe the golf fitness level of an individual pertaining to swinging a club. This is much different than how much you can bench press or squat, which I like to refer to as “weight room strength.” Understand that these two terms, golf strength and weight room strength, are very different. If you do not quite understand the difference, ask yourself one question: How many bodybuilders do you see teeing it up on Tour? The answer to that question is quite obvious, none!
It comes down to this idea: the mechanics of a golf swing require specific levels of flexibility, balance, stability, strength, endurance, and power to perform it efficiently. If your body does not have the required capacities of the aforementioned list, then the result will be? Anyone want to guess? Well, let me give you the answer: a less than optimal and less efficient swing than possible. Essentially, your body supports your swing much like a foundation supports the house you build upon it. I am sure that all of you would choose to build a house on a stone foundation rather than a sand foundation, wouldn’t you? I will say that many of you make a different choice when it comes to your golf swing. I quite often see amateurs developing their swing on a “foundation of sand,” not a good thing to do in my book.
Regardless of how much time you work on your swing mechanics, if your body does not have the “golf strength” to support your swing, you are limiting your potential. I have seen it numerous times, people practicing at the range who struggle, not because of trying to get better, but because their bodies are limiting what they can do with their swing. Quite often I see people with limited flexibility, poor balance capabilities, and low levels of strength and power. The bottom line is that your mechanics will not get better until you fix the body that swings the club!
Up to this point we have discussed the two most important ideas when it comes to power on the golf course. A review of the topics tells us that they are optimal swing mechanics and the proper levels of “golf strength” in the body. One without the other is going to leave you short when it comes to your potential in the game.
Again, I probably see point number two, golf strength, being addressed less often than swing mechanics when you get right down to it. The pros are all aware of the importance of golf strength, why not you?
We have come to the final point, and that is equipment. I think the majority of golfers are aware of the technological advances that have occurred in golf equipment over the last 20 years. I mean, think about the ‘80’s when we were still playing with woods that actually had wood club heads! Imagine that for a moment, and now we are using drivers with space age faces that shoot the ball off of them at warp speed. In addition, we have to mention the advances in terms of golf balls. How manufacturers design golf balls today makes a difference in how far they travel. What a lot of people do not realize is that the USGA has set standards on how “hot” driver faces can be and how “fast” balls can come off the face of drivers. Most clubs are reaching this limit, and anything past these USGA rules becomes illegal to play. So what does that tell us? 1) Club manufacturers have done a great, and I mean great, job in the advancement of technology, and 2) to increase the distance on your drives you are now going to have to turn to points one and two of this article.
So what does improving your power really come down to?
It comes down to three simple ideas. Number one is improving your golf swing mechanics. Improved mechanics will improve your driving distance. Number two is improving your golf strength. By improving your body as it pertains to the golf swing you will improve your distance off the tee. Finally, equipment does make a difference, if you hit the ball correctly.