The Secret To Hitting It Long

A golf professionals perspective on hitting the golf ball farther. Guest article

“The Secrets To Distance Hitting And How To ‘Go Long’ In Golf”

“Going Long”
I’m a football fan as well as a golf fanatic so I spend the cold weekends in the winter, which aren’t conducive to golfing, watching both sports on TV. Sometimes the schedules aren’t cooperative and I find myself switching back and forth between an exciting football game and a more relaxing golf match. Thanks to the remote control, I can do this all weekend and never leave my chair!
When the weather is particularly nasty I enjoy having some buddies over to watch a big game and I remember one such gathering last winter. I forget which teams were playing (it doesn’t usually matter – we can get worked up over a great game without even knowing which teams are on the the field ), but it was an exciting game with both teams scoring frequently. Finally, it was the last quarter and there were only a few seconds left on the clock; the team with the ball was three points behind and they took a timeout, we supposed to discuss whether to go for the tie or the win. We were impatient – what coach in his right mind would settle for a tying field goal when he had a quarterback capable of putting a great pass right in the end zone?

Finally, the team broke the huddle and they came up to the line as usual – no field goal! We were pumped! There was time for one play and the team with the ball had over 60 yards to go for a touchdown. We knew they had a plan when the quarterback called a short signal and rolled right. At first, it looked like he was going to hand off the ball and we collectively held our breaths – no way that was going to work. Then he was in the backfield looking for a receiver. We could see one open about 15 yards down the field but that wasn’t going to win the game and we knew it. We started yelling (not that the quarterback could hear us, but it felt good anyway) and pumping our fists: “Go long! Go long!”

I tell you this story because this is exactly what I say and do when I hit a tee shot or an iron shot that’s more than 200 yards from the hole: “Go long! “Go long!” I’m not alone. Every golfer implores every distance shot to “Go long!” It’s the name of the game, especially on those long par-5 holes where hopes for a birdie are pinned on reaching the green in two. This is the hope of every golfer on every hole but a par-3, until we get closer to the green. Then we can be heard to beg and plead a hard-hit ball: “No! Don’t go long! Don’t!”

How do the Pros do it?
Week after week during the season, I watch the golf pros effortlessly hit a 6 or a 7 iron from halfway down the fairway and then calmly watch as the ball bounces several times in the fairway before landing on the green and rolling to within inches of the cup. I watch them all intently as they study the shot, going through the checklist in my mind:
– The lie – is it tall grass that will get in the way, short grass, level ground, or is it in the rough? What’s between the ball and the green – open space, trees, bushes, or traps?
– The distance – how far is it to the green and how far does this shot need to go to either reach the green or set up the next shot to reach the green.
– The wind – how strong is it, which way is it blowing?
– The club – which one will create the right speed and power to go as far as it needs to go and which one will either lift the ball to the right soaring height or keep it close to the ground and under any tree branches in the way. As I watch them week after week, I have to remind myself that they are serious professional golfers. They play every day and practice endlessly. Not only that, they are naturally talented – far more than I am – and they work very hard at perfecting these difficult shots. So, I know that I can learn from them, try and emulate them, hit these shots the best I can, and hope for the best.

Can I do it like the Pros do?
Every golfer dreams of standing in the fairway and watching a perfectly hit iron shot sail away toward the hole, drop on the fairway and roll up to the cup, leaving a short putt for a birdie. The other dream is standing in the trees and watching your perfectly hit iron shot skim along the ground, under the tree branches, land in the fairway and bounce on to the green where it stops just inches from the cup.
The question is – are those dreams attainable or are they just dreams ? Well, here’s the truth. The pros hit these shots longer and straighter because they play every day. They work at perfecting their iron shots or their drivers and I have resigned myself to the fact that I may never be able to hit an iron shot as far as the pros do. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. We all can hit good shots and we can all make them fly long and true. We just have to know the secrets.

The secrets to “Going Long”
Just like the best baseball players who pitch blinding fast balls or hit towering home runs, the secret to perfection is in the speed of the pitch or the batter’s swing. For a golfer it’s “club head speed.” The bottom line is that they generate quicker club head speed than most occasional or amateur golfers. If you ever get a chance to measure your own swing speed you will be amazed of the difference in the readings compared to the pros. So here are the secrets to a “going long”:
– Treat the club grip like a kitten. That means “Don’t strangle it!”
– “Load the club.” This is the term for bending your wrists like a hinge (preferably a well-oiled one) and it is the key to hitting the golf ball long. If you keep your wrists straight when you hit the ball, it will only go as fast as your arms can swing the club.
– “Unload the club,” also known as releasing the club. Before you try this, watch a video of Sergio Garcia, who is a great example of a master at unloading the club. Releasing the club creates a lag on the down swing, which means the club will have to “catch up,” thus whipping the club head through the ball and sending it soaring. Practice his method until you have perfected it and your drives will get longer every time you hit.
– Visualize the perfect swing and the ball sailing down the fairway as far as you can see. This technique is what made Jack Nicklaus one of the all-time great golfers in the history of the sport. He could play every shot in his mind and watch it as he would a movie on a screen. When he hit a great shot, he would stand and swing the club a few times, the same way, making it easier for him to remember what a really good golf swing looks like and how far it goes.
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Keith Matthews is keen to share more of his golfing tips and experience so sign-up for his free weekly emails at TopGolfTipsHQ.com.

Posted under Golf Performance

This post was written by Mark Tolle on October 30, 2012

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Consistency Is The Key To Better Golf

Today I’m going to post a guest article regarding the importance in developing consistency in your golf swing. Please let me know what you think.

“A Blueprint For The Consistent Golf Swing And How To Get One – Part 1″

WANT TO GET IN THE SWING OF GOLF?
WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?

When you step up to the tee and “address the ball,” do you say, “Ready or not, here I come?” When you lift the club from your shoulder and start pulling it back to begin your swing, do you shout with glee, “Watch out ball, I’m going to knock you into the next county?”

If this describes your golf game, you are not alone. Many of the best started out with such a “slash and burn” approach; but the best wisdom is that golfing is all about finding your own style – your rhythm, your best stroke, and your natural swing. This takes time and hard work even for a natural-born professional golfer like Tiger Woods.
As an expert, I get questions from a lot of weekend golfers who think they should be able to play like Tiger. I got one call from an old friend who told me that her new husband loves golf and wants her to join him in his weekend golf games. She said, “I took a semester of golf in college and I NEVER hit a good shot the entire time. I topped, pulled, sliced, shanked, and dubbed my way to every cup on every hole. I’m sure I had the highest score of anybody in the class – maybe even a course record. I’m a killer at miniature golf but the golf swing eludes me. I need serious help!”

WHAT’S YOUR DREAM?
When I asked my friend about her dream, she said that she just wanted to hit the ball without her husband laughing at her. I told her that every golfer I know feels the same way but that there are bigger dreams to chase on a golf course. There is the elusive “hole-in-one,” as well as brilliant putts, perfectly placed fairway shots, and the “winged creatures of golf” – birdies, eagles, and double eagles. Of course, then there’s the “holy grail” of golf – a low handicap or, better still, no handicap.

WHAT’S YOUR GOAL?
So, I asked my friend the standard question I pose to all those who seek out my help: what do you want to achieve on the golf course? Straighter drives, more accurate chips and putts, lower scores/handicaps, or just an enjoyable outing with your husband on the links – what’s your goal?

Every professional golfer from Sam Snead to Phil Mickelson had a goal when they got started. It may not have been to win the US Open but I guarantee they all had one goal in common: to play better golf. No matter how much they knew about the game, they all found out quickly that there is one basic skill that you must master – the golf swing. Whether driving the fairway, chipping from a sand trap, blasting out of a lake, getting out of the woods, or putting brilliantly, you must swing the golf club. The speed, path, and final destination of your golf ball are all direct results of how you do that.

WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STEP?
My friend’s next eager question was: “So what do I do first?” but her smile faded when I answered: “Get serious.You have to develop a consistent golf swing.”
“I don’t have time to do that,” she said. “Can’t I just go out and hope for the best? Maybe I’ll be lucky and actually hit the ball.” I shook my head and told her about my uncle. He was a weekend golfer who was also a member of a weekly bowling league. He was well-known on the lanes for his completely lucky 7-10 split conversion – something he always dreamed of doing. Known affectionately as “Mr. Lucky,” he was also famous in the 19th Hole of his home golf course for this shot.

After a decent drive off the 18th tee, he had ended up just off the green in two, not too far from the cup; but the ball was sitting just under a mis-placed divot. He took one look at his bad lie and flailed at the half-buried ball with one desperate swipe with his sand wedge. It exploded out of its spot and took wings! He shoved his club back in the bag thinking that he’d need an iron to get the ball back to the green. Just as he looked up, though, he saw his ball hit the flag squarely and drop like a stone into the cup. Mr. Lucky ended up with the low score for the foursome even though, he said, “It was the worst shot I made all day.”

My friend grinned, “So, I can just take a swing and hope I get lucky like your uncle.” It took some fast talking to convince her that good golf is not a matter of luck and that she would never enjoy playing without practice. I finally quoted Arnold Palmer, who said, “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get” and she agreed to give it a try.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Several weeks later we met at the golf course for her next step, which was to analyze her golf swing. She was sure that it must be awful but when I watched her swing, I saw that she was strong and had an easy-going way with the club. So I videotaped her and she was surprised to see how easily she handled it. As we watched, I pointed out to her the basic components of a golf swing and how she could improve hers:
Address the Ball – Good posture
Firm Grip – No white knuckles
Smooth Swing with Arms and Shoulders
Golf is not a dance – no swaying or tip-toeing
Golf is not a performance – no flourishes
Backswing – not an “upswing” that reaches for the stars
Downswing – more of a “frontswing” that doesn’t chop wood
Follow-through – smooth and firm
You’re not in Fenway Park – don’t “punch it”
Don’t look up – the ball will go the same way if you’re watching or not
Consistency – whatever you do well, do again – and again – and again…

WHAT WILL MAKE YOUR SWING BETTER?
Without a doubt, the key to a better golf swing is consistency. I assured my friend that every golfer – amateur, pro, once-a-week, occasional – can swing better and more effectively and that what it takes to actually play better and improve your scores and your enjoyment is simple – Be Consistent.
She was still hesitant as I knew she was thinking about her busy schedule and wondering where she would find the time to practice, practice, practice. So I assured her that a simple regimen of lessons and practice was doable, even for her crazy schedule, and would help her to focus on her swing, to develop a consistently effective and natural stroke that would at least keep up with her husband’s game.
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Keith Matthews is keen to share more of his golfing tips and experience so sign-up for his free weekly emails at TopGolfTipsHQ.com

Posted under Golf Performance

This post was written by Mark Tolle on October 14, 2012

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Longer Drives With Increased Shoulder Turn!

I was talking with one of my golf clients a few days ago and she explained that her teaching professional asked if she was tight through her upper back. She told him no and explained that I found that she had good flexibility with her shoulder turn. So the teaching professional simply asked if she could turn a little farther while staying in a good position. She tried it and of course she could, because she has the flexibility/mobility. What then happened was she hit balls while turning more and they were going much farther. Simply put she was able to hit farther with that greater shoulder turn.

Now I know that many people lack this flexibility/mobility in the upper back, as well as the stability through the pelvis that is needed in the backswing. So here is an exercise that helps work on both mobility and stability specific to the backswing. Give it a try!

Posted under Exercise Tips, Exercise Videos

This post was written by Mark Tolle on March 3, 2009

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Golf Exercises To Decrease The Hip Slide & Sway

Here are a few more golf specific exercises to help improve the strength and stability in the hips. Improved stability will help correct the slide and sway many golfers have in their golf swing.

Posted under Exercise Tips, Swing Faults

This post was written by Mark Tolle on February 16, 2009

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Off Season Golf Training!

November is here and many golfers are heading indoors for the winter or putting away their clubs entirely. The question on many players mind is; what do I need to do to make next year a better year? Part of the answer to that question is to clearly understand that the off season is an important time of improving your golf performance, and it is a time that should be taken advantage of.

The off season is best utilized by first resting and reflecting on your past season. Take a few weeks off and think about how your golf game went over the summer. How did you play? Do you need more lessons? Do you need to hit the ball farther? Do you need to get rid of the back pain?

Once you have thought about it, make an off season plan. Making a plan is very important. If you fail to plan you essentially plan to fail. Consult with your teaching pro or coach and discuss a plan for lessons and practice that will be implemented over the coming months. Your goal is to be refreshed and ready to hit the course in the spring.

From a fitness standpoint you should also develop a plan. Consult with your golf fitness professional to discuss your swing faults, and physical limitations. The off season is a good time to refocus on fundamental movement patterns, as well as correcting physical limitations. From a strength perspective it is typically also a time when athletes build greater strength. Increasing your overall strength during the winter should be a key component to your workouts.

It is also a great time to really work hard on improving your flexibility if that seems to be an issue. It just all depends on your specific needs. Your fitness plan may include some or all of this, but it needs to be planned out with your fitness coach and teaching professional so you can achieve your goals.

So don’t lie around all winter, take advantage of this time to elevate your game. Work hard and good luck!

Posted under Exercise Tips

This post was written by Mark Tolle on November 20, 2008

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Are You Training Like Tiger or Vijay?

Well I hope not! I often times come across individuals that tell me about an exercise they saw in a magazine, got from a friend or heard that the tour players use it. Sometimes they will try to show it to me but perform it incorrectly, or they explain it didn’t help or they tell me they hurt themselves. That is usually the case. It is important to recognize that most exercises are prescribed on an individual basis and are designed for a specific purpose. Every golfer is different and has different needs.

Training for optimal golf performance or correction of specific physical problems, requires a specific program. And that specific program is based on a detailed golf fitness evaluation. I do believe there is value in general flexibility or strength training for golfers, but the progress is much slower and less specific. I always say the hard part is getting started, so committing to a general program is a good starting point, especially if you do not have access to fitness professional.

The most important point here is to be cautious. I often times speak of developing fundamentals or ensuring you have a foundation to build upon. One example of this is trying to develop power in your swing by doing medicine ball drills before you are able to control pelvic rotation or before you have proper hip mobility. This is an injury waiting to happen. Over the years I have seen a lot of people come into physical therapy with injuries they received from doing inappropriate exercises or performing them incorrectly. There is nothing worse than injuring yourself in the middle of the golf season and then not able to play.

So if you want to train like Tiger or Vijay remember you need to slowly work up to that level by first developing strong fundamentals. Good luck with your training!

Posted under Exercise Tips

This post was written by Mark Tolle on November 20, 2008

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