Among the biggest mistakes weekend golfers make is thinking they must swing harder to drive the ball farther. They think you have to muscle up driving the ball 300 yards. That’s not so. You can swing easy and still, if you know what you’re doing a point I’ve often stressed in my golf tips and golf lessons.
Take Fred Couples, one of the Tour’s most solid all-time ball strikers. He hits the ball a long way. His power is almost effortless. And his swing is extremely fluid. That’s because he combines great mechanics, excellent tempo, and the right swing thoughts in one package. These in turn generate maximum power right when he needs it the most at the point of impact.
It’s been more than 20 years since Fred joined the Tour. Through it all he’s remained basically the same. He hasn’t changed his swing much, either. On the tee he embodies the philosophy “swing easy, hit hard.” He remains relaxed, from address to finish. Yet, he still bombs the ball. Recently, Fred’s made some changes to his swing that have him hitting the ball longer and straighter.
The key change is in his takeaway. He’s lessened a distinctive lift in his takeaway by using a lower, wider sweep that starts the club back more along the target line than before. The change involves setting up with the clubhead about 12 inches behind the ball. This new set up brings several benefits. It lets him make a deeper, fuller turn. It let’s him get a jump on his takeaway. And it reduces the amount his driver shaft cuts across the line at the top of his swing.
As a result, Fred swings down on the correct plane, with the club more in front of him, not trapped behind his right side like before. Previously, Fred had to make some mid-course adjustments in his swing to hit the ball solidly. To counteract this, Fred opened up and played a fade. But that left him prone to hooking and missing far too many fairways. Now he plays a draw and hits the fairway more often.
Another change is in ball position. Previously, Fred played the ball just inside his left heel. Now he positions the ball back slightly, which helps him hit his draw. The new position allows him to square his shoulders to the target. From there, he turns it over for more distance. A draw tends to run when its hit the ground, while a fade tends to stick when it hits the ground.
Tempo Is The Key
But what hasn’t changed in Fred’s swing is his great tempo. That’s the real key to Fred’s effortless power. Fred’s swing starts out nice and easy and then accumulates speed as it goes along. His power comes from getting the fastest point of his swing right at the ball. For Fred that means letting the speed of his swing build until impact. The gradual acceleration keeps his swing in sync and his power in reserve until it meets the ball.
In addition, Fred accelerates all the way to the finish. He wants the club to wrap around his body and his right shoulder to point at the target. This finish proves to Fred that he has accelerated through the ball. The key to this type of finish is Fred’s ability to stay relaxed throughout the swing. Being relaxed, his muscles flex naturally to support the swing’s momentum. Tensing up prevents this from happening.
Swinging Hard At The Wrong Times
Many players with high golf handicaps swing hard at the wrong times. They whip the club back to the top of their swings or yank it down from the top. Neither move is conducive to good tempo. These are the times when their swings should be the slowest. A rhythmic backswing helps you make a fuller turn. Starting down softly lets the golfer match up body, arms, and club at impact. Both help produce power and direction.
Thanks to Fred’s relaxed swing, great tempo, and near perfect mechanics, he’s able to hit the ball a long way without seeming to try. Weekend golfers serious about driving the ball 300 yards and cutting their golf handicaps down to size should take a close look at Fred’s swing next time he’s on television. It’s not a bad one to copy.
Driving the ball 300 yards comes naturally to some. The rest of us need to take golf lessons and read golf tips to learn to do it. But with hard work and practice, a golfer can learn to generate effortless power.