It starts with a dress rehearsal.
Most golfers swing as hard as they can with the driver – in case they hit it solid. That’s my funny line, but it’s true. Let’s talk about what you can do to prepare and perform better on tee shots. Try my three-step process: two different practice swings and a better real one.
The first practice swing is without a club. When you’re waiting for your turn to hit, grip an imaginary club and mimic your driver swing at full speed. With no urge to manipulate a club with your hands, you’ll naturally sequence your arms and body properly, back and through.
The second practice swing is all about rhythm. Grab your driver and make a full-motion swing at about 50 percent of your maximum speed [above]. Feel your weight moving in the direction of the swing – to the back foot, then to the front foot – and keep your arms accelerating to the finish. Get rid of the instinct to hit at the ball that so many golfers have.
For your actual swing, stick with the rhythm theme. I love Jack Nicklaus’ favourite key: finish the backswing. That’s a great thought to keep you from rushing the club back or starting the downswing too fast. Wind up to the top, then shift forward and swing through to a full finish. That’s my 1-2-3 to great driving.
Learn your own swing
Sometimes, I get a student who wants to swing like a certain player, usually Tiger or Ernie or Freddie – all of whom I’ve taught. When that happens, my mind always flashes back to a story my dad used to tell.
One time at Winged Foot, where Dad was the pro, a guy showed up and said he wanted to copy Sam Snead’s swing. Dad said, “OK, let’s go to the putting green.”
“No, I want to swing like Snead, not putt like him,” the guy said.
“I understand,” Dad said as he dropped a ball into one of the cups on the green. “Now, can you pick that ball out of the hole without bending your knees?”
“Well, Sam Snead can, so let’s forget about what he does and start working on what you can do.”
Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.