In order to hit the ball as far as possible, you must use all of your four power sources. In addition you must use them in the correct sequence. If you are not using all of your power sources, you tend to overuse the others in order to hit the ball farther. Doing this causes unathletic compensations and creates bad habits. Here are the four power sources and the sequence in which you should be using them.
In addition to holding the golf club, the hands play a big role in creating speed. The wrists hinge and unhinge, creating an incredible source of power. Some players tend to use their hands early in their backswing, while others tend to use them very late, like the great Jack Nicklaus. Either way, the wrist needs to hinge in the backswing and unhinge in the downswing very similar to casting a fishing rod. The key is to unhinge the wrists at the right moment in the downswing. Most people unhinge too early in an attempt to help the ball into the air. Players who hit the ball the farthest unhinge very late in the downswing.
The less tension you have in your arms, the faster you can swing them. Jim Flick once told me that tension in the arms starts in the shoulders and travels down to the hands. Most people would think it would be the opposite—starting in the hands radiating up the arms. Very similar to a pendulum, the arms are going to swing back and through. In addition to swinging the arms, the arms also rotate similar to the motion of using a screwdriver. This adds power and influences the opening and closing the clubface. One of the biggest mistakes that I see with amateurs is that they rotate their arms too late in the downswing, if they manage to do it at all. The correct time to start the rotation and rolling (similar to a topspin shot in tennis) needs to begin early in the downswing.
Most of the people that I see do not have any shift of the legs in the downswing. They fall backward and swing up on the golf ball as opposed to driving the legs toward the target. One of the reasons that Jack Nicklaus was so powerful was because he drove his legs really hard toward the target. The legs should drive and shift as the first move in the downswing. This move will allow the club to drop into the correct position while maintaining the wrist hinge created in the backswing.
The final source of power is the rotation of the body, which rotates back and through in the golf swing, creating torque. Your body structure and flexibility determines the amount of rotation you are able to accomplish. However, one of the most important positions that everyone should accomplish is a full rotation of the body in the downswing resulting in all of the body’s mass ending up on the front foot. Where I teach, we like to call this the pro finish. Make a turn in the backswing as much as your flexibility will allow and rotate the body fully in the downswing after the shift has occurred.
In order to hit the golf ball farther with less effort, make sure you are using all of your power sources. In addition, make sure you are using them in the correct sequence. If you are not using all of your power sources, you are compensating and creating bad habits. If you need help determining which power sources you are not using, please contact your local PGA Professional.
Darren deMaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Prior to The Bridge, Darren worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla. and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, Conn. Darren has had many top 100 instructors influence his philosophy but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf.