If you follow the professional golf tours, you’ll have noticed that driving distances have increased substantially in recent years. Drives of more than 400 yards have become commonplace, and these long distances are not just the preserve of power specialists. Even world number one (at the time of writing) Scottie Scheffler has driven 451 yards this year – that’s more than a quarter of a mile!
As an amateur player, you’re probably not going to be looking at hitting these kinds of distances. However, if you want to turn bogies into pars, and pars into birdies, then adding extra yardage to your drives can help you generate more opportunities. This guide covers everything you need to know about how to hit a golf ball further, and what you can do to achieve it – either with yourself, or your equipment.
Why is driving distance so important?
One of the most important reasons for learning how to hit a golf ball further is simple mathematics: the more ground you can make up off the tee (for example), the less you’ll need to find in your subsequent shots. This gives you a better chance of adding more accuracy to your drives off the fairway, and maximises your opportunity to gain the best possible position on the green.
Another reason is perhaps one of evolution: there has been a gradual trend for many golf courses around the world to get longer and longer. Therefore, if you aren’t able to improve your drives to keep pace, you may find yourself struggling more and more, especially compared to your competitors.
How to hit a golf ball further: key tips for you
Of course, driving distance isn’t the be-all and end-all in golf, because it needs to be balanced with accuracy. There’s no point being able to drive 400 yards if you’re just going to shank it left and land in the woods all the time. The key is to strike the right balance between power and consistency, and these tips should help you get on the right track:
Make centre contact consistently
Golf clubs are designed with ‘sweet spots’ in the centre of the club face where the maximum accuracy and distance are achieved. It doesn’t take much deviation from this spot for drive distance to be severely compromised.
Working out where your typical contact spot is can help you make adjustments to your stance. For example, consistently hitting the ball towards the ‘toe’ of the club face may suggest you’re standing too far away from the ball. Small adjustments here and there, including in how you address the ball, can help you find the perfect positioning for hitting the ball spot-on, every time.
You might think that the backswing doesn’t really make much difference to your clubhead speed because it’s an entirely different movement to the swing itself. However, there is a connection between the two, and it comes in terms of your body shape.
If you put more effort into the backswing, it naturally makes your hip and shoulder rotate further round. Consequently, this opens your body up for a longer swing where you have more time to build up speed with which to hit the ball. This may take some time to get used to, especially round the muscles, but can really deliver results in the long run.
Speed your swing up – slowly!
This could be considered a bit of a contradiction, but slowing down the process of your swing can help you increase speeds in the long run. As is the case with the backswing above, making the set-up process slower and more pronounced can give you more time and space to accelerate the club as you move through the downswing. Ideally, you want to develop a smooth, effortless process that ensures that you’re reaching maximum speed with the club at the exact moment when you hit the ball.
Push off the ground
The ground on which you stand is the foundation of your swing, and the force that you can put into it can be channelled to generate additional power and speed at the clubhead. This is done mainly by shifting your weight slightly from one side of your body to the other as you swing.
Swing harder in practice
If you’re swinging at 100% of your possible performance – i.e. as hard as you can – then you risk losing some of your control of the ball. Even just dialling it back to 95% can allow you to retain much more consistency. However, to make sure that you’re still gaining more distance at 95%, you’ll need to raise your 100% bar even higher.
The best way to do that is to swing harder in practice than you would in actual play. If you’re visiting a driving range, for example, then you have the perfect opportunity to put some real force through the ball and build up the muscle memory because aim and accuracy aren’t as critical.
One of the ways in which Bryson DeChambeau became known for his power game was through his extensive gym and bodybuilding work. Now, that might be taking things to extremes for amateur players, but you can certainly apply the same principles to a lesser extent, and find some ‘gains’ in more ways than one.
If you already go to the gym (or you want to start going) then there are a number of exercises and routines you can adopt to build up your power. Which is best for you will vary depending on your physique, so it may be best to work with a personal trainer who can focus your exercise in the right direction.
But if gyms aren’t for you, then there are also some simple exercises you can try at home to strengthen your core and give you more stability through your swing. In particular, we recommend the ‘high plank’, where you get into a press-up position, and hold your body high for as long as you can to build your stomach muscles.
How to hit a golf ball further: the ‘cheat codes’
As with any area of golf, there are just as many potential improvements to be found in equipment as there are in yourself. If you’re struggling with the human recommendations above – and you have fairly deep pockets! – then you might want to consider making some kit adjustments:
Change your clubs
There are lots of things that come together for the perfect long drive, besides just power: you also need to have the right weight, speed and material at the clubhead. What this magic combination looks like will vary substantially from one player to another.
The best way for you to get the best equipment for your personal characteristics is to go for a golf fit assessment. You’ll get to work with experts that will understand the specifics of your swing, know that you want to improve your drives, and work out the types and sizes of club that are ideal for you.
Change your golf balls
You might be surprised to learn just how much extra distance can be found with certain types of golf balls. Some balls are designed to maximise airtime and therefore distance, although you should remember that you may well be sacrificing some control and spin around the green as a result.
As well as looking around for distance-focused golf balls, you may want to test out some of your existing balls using technology. By measuring different clubhead speeds, you can work out which are the fastest and therefore will have the most velocity in the air. Even a difference of a couple of miles an hour can add several yards or more to your drive.
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
One thing to be mindful of with some of the advice above is the risk of injury. If you try to do too much too fast, then you might find yourself getting hurt when you’re out on the course. And if you decide to invest in new equipment like expensive clubs, then you might find yourself substantially out of pocket if they get lost, damaged or stolen.
These are just two of the reasons why taking out golf insurance is so important, so that you don’t end up suffering financial pain on top of any physical or emotional distress. Our policies will also cover you if you accidentally injure someone else, either through a wayward shot or an accident involving a buggy.
Golf insurance doesn’t have to cost the earth, either: our cover is flexible and starts from just a few pounds a month. Find out more on our golf insurance policies today and give yourself the peace of mind to improve your drives with confidence.