Arnold Palmer: how to hit longer drives

By Arnold Palmer

I’ve been telling you to hit the ball hard, but let’s pause for a minute and qualify that.

No good player ever swings as hard as he can; that is, he doesn’t throw everything at the ball. Rather, it’s a matter of timing, not of overpowering the ball off the tees.

Some people can turn farther than others. The bigger the turn, the longer the arc of the club head and the better the chance to speed it up.

Every player has to stop his turn at some point. When further movement back will affect the grip on the club or alter the stance, the limit of the turn has been reached. Each player has to find this point for himself.

With my left foot pointed slightly toward the hole and my right set at a right angle to the intended line of flight and slightly behind the front foot, I have room for the turn. My hips can rotate along with my shoulders, and my head will remain fixed without impairing my vision of the ball. My feet are almost exactly as far apart as my shoulders, and my knees are Hexed slightly, giving the impression I’m about to sit down.

If I can get back to this same position at impact, I know I will hit the ball right off the tee. If I position myself wrong at the start, my chances of hitting the ball properly are reduced, unless there is some compensation in the swing. Compensations create bad habits. You cannot do the same wrong things the same way all the time because they are unnatural. But you can get in the habit of doing the right things most of the time.

Golf clubs are constructed for different distances by changing the loft of the club. The face of the driver makes almost a right angle to the ball and propels it the longest distance. The brassie or two-wood is cut with more loft and so on down to the wedge, which lies almost flat on the ground.

The feet are spread farthest apart in the stance for the driver and get closer together as the club loft increases. The stance opens, too, to the point that the wedge is hit with the feet barely apart and the left foot well behind the right.

The ball is positioned from the front toward the back. With the driver, the ball rests on the tee opposite the instep of the left foot. When you get to the five- iron, the ball rests halfway between the feet. And when you reach the wedge, it is opposite the instep of the right foot.

On my drives I concentrate on moving the left shoulder under my chin with a slow, deliberate action until I reach the top of my backswing. Now is the time to turn on the power. I have the feeling that my left hand is pulling the club down. You should be able to feel the weight leaving the right side before you start thinking about hitting the ball off the tee. This prevents a quick uncocking of the wrists a* the top of the swing and the resultant loss of all power. It also helps avert a slice, which takes all the distance from the hit. When the swing has started through and the hands are moving down, let the clubhead fly, making certain the effort seems late to insure the last-second break of the wrists.

Few things give a greater feeling of accomplishment than striking the ball with the middle of the clubface and watching it go straight and far. And there are few worse feelings of despair than those when the ball is hit with the heel of the club or with the top half of the clubface and dribbles away or shoots off into places where it was never intended to go.

It’s no disgrace to hit a golf ball crooked. There are so many things that can go wrong off the tee that even the best players have their bad days. Sam Snead, who is recognized as a picture swinger, occasionally hits the ball with a hook that makes a pitcher’s best curve ball look dinky. Ben Hogan, who holds four Open titles and record scores in both the Open and Masters, was a notorious hooker and ready to quit the game until long hours of labor on the practice tees got the ball moving in the opposite direction-from left to right. With few exceptions, most power hitters produce hooking action, which I believe is the correct way for the ball to fly.

In 1958, when I first won the Masters, I hit a drive on the seventeenth hole that hooked a little too much, smacked into a tree, and almost put me in the land of bogey. Fortunately it bounced back into the fairway and I was able to reach the green with an iron and get my par. I was lucky there since all players make mistakes. The idea is to reduce these mistakes to a minimum.

Until you get a slight hooking action, you aren’t coming into the ball right. The average player, I mean.

At most courses, there are four par-five holes and par is 72. When you can hit the long ball consistently off the tee, the par fives are reduced to par fours and par for you is 68. The shorter hitter is at a disadvantage most of the time. When the long-baller is on the green or mighty close, the shorter hitter has almost a full pitch shot. He’s playing an easy par-five hole with this

shot, but the long hitter has only a chip or two putts for his birdie-and is within eagle range.

One of the most important factors in setting yourself up for the long hit is the grip. You must hold the club firm, and use the strong position. That is, have the left thumb alongside the shaft on the right side rather than on top. The right hand will fall in line if you overlap the right pinkie be- tween the first two fingers of the left hand and place it firmly in the valley there.

I’m convinced that most players who slice take the clubhead back outside the line of flight the first six inches from the ball. Concentrate on moving the clubhead straight back. This will force you into the correct hitting position at the top. There is no breaking of the wrists until the hands pass the right hip.

Use a driver with a medium to soft shaft in the beginning. The softer shaft with more whip will give the ball a longer flight with less physical effort. The stiff-shafted club must be swung much harder to produce an equal amount of force.

The length of the driver is a factor in hitting the long ball, too. The longer the club, the bigger the arc and the more speed. It is harder to control the longer driver but, once you get the feeling of the long ball, it is easy to move back to a club of average length.

Many times I have been accused of swinging so hard that my eyes bulge. No doubt I have slashed at the ball on occasions when the heat was on and my temperature was a few degrees higher than normal. For the most

part, though, I think it’s the last-second release of the club as it comes back to the hitting position that gives this impression.

I hit down on the ball more than most because I believe that the club- head and the ball should meet at the bottom of the arc of my swing. The more popular conception is that you hit the ball on the upswing. When you do hit the ball on the upswing, the ball gets a higher flight. This shot is more difficult to control if there is any wind; it does not have as much roll and thus costs you distance.

I have the feeling of starting back to the ball from the top with my left hand. At one time I was a bad hooker, but I always managed good distance and gradually learned to control the amount of hooking action. I still have a tendency to hook because I’m hanging onto the club for dear life with the left hand.

Try it and see if you don’t get more distance off the tee with your driver..

How to fix the weak hand golf grip

Distance, Ken Little, PGA Pro, Coach

Through out my career as a teaching professional I have experienced many golfers
coming to me seeking more distance and greater accuracy with their shot making. The
desire for more distance is hands down the number one request. I can personally be
assured that many golf shots lacking distance have a significant amount of curvature
to them as well. It is a sure bet the direction of this curvature is to the right. A
slice for right handed golfers.

We may never obtain the distance and accuracy demonstrated by Tiger Woods or any
great tour star for that matter. However, we can commit to the same solid
fundamentals or basics touring professionals have and build a swing to fit our body
that is unique in its own way. I believe the most overlooked fundamental in all of
golf is how the club is actually held in the hands. I feel that the grip is the
heartbeat of the golf swing. A faulty grip can affect one or all of the ball flight
laws of clubhead speed, swing path, center of contact, angle of decent, and the
squaring of the clubface at impact.

More times than not the problem is how the student is holding the club with their
weak hand. Left hand for right handed golfers. The tendency is to have the club
handle positioned straight across the hand and more towards the palm. The result is a
weak or open face position. This method will most likely cause the clubface to be in
the open position at impact and limit the natural releasing (right hand rolling over
the left) of the clubhead through the hitting area. In an attempt to square the club
and obtain more power, we may find ourselves over working the bigger muscles of the
body and actually magnifying our current problems.

I personally teach the finger to palm diagonal grip. I like to see the heel pad of
the left hand more on top of the club or closed face position. The V formed between
the forefinger and thumb pointing to the right shoulder. The right hand more where
the fingers meet the hand covering the left thumb with the life line. This proper
grip will assist in squaring up the clubface in addition to letting the clubhead
release naturally.

This new grip may indeed feel funny or uncomfortable at first. This may be true only because it is new and different. However, with practice and patience you will soon begin to feel the clubhead actually squaring up and releasing properly through the hitting area with much less effort. Correcting both distance and directional problems with one simple change.

Golf driving tips


For most golfers, it’s a hands/arms effort. There is a tiny, little pivot, then
an abrupt lifting of the arms because that’s the only way they can make a
backswing. And, from the top, since there has been virtually no turn, the only
way back to ball is with the hands. Watch the Olympic athletes. Skaters, divers,
gymnasts all keep the upper parts of their arms close to their body when
turning. The same is true for the golf swing. The reasoning is simple. The
closer you keep the upper arms to the body, the faster you can turn. It also
assures that you will create a power producing turn rather than a lift and chop.


Quick Fix For Drives

The following adjustments to your position at address are easy to make, and
will quickly improve the striking, trajectory, and distance of your drives.
Really, it will.  And if it doesn’t, go back and re-read this!!!!

Tee the ball a little higher than normal (i.e. get BIGGER tees!!!), and play it
forward in your stance, opposite the instep of your left foot (REMEMBER!!! On
drives, your feet do not point directly ahead, i.e. they don’t point towards
where you eyes are looking. They should be slightly spread apart for BALANCE!!).
Widen your stance slightly, and put 60 – 65% of your weight on your right foot
AND side. Your head and your hands should be placed slightly behind the ball
(this insures everything is set up correctly). AS ALWAYS, maintain a light grip
pressure, relax your body and don’t ground the clubhead – hover it slightly
above the turf. This is extremely difficult to do, I realize, but there is a
reason.  I am not sure what it is, but it just does work better.  This is
probably the HARDEST STEP in this process!!

The grip must be in your fingers, not in the palm.

Combined, these adjustments will make it a lot easier for you to make a full
and free shoulder turn, create a wide arc and get your body fully turned behind
the ball at the top of your swing. You should be aware of an increase in the
amount of coil that you create which will then enable you to move back to the
left side and accelerate the club through impact with a more powerful ascending,
sweeping motion. Keep your head back (hit up the back of the ball) and attempt
to sweep the ball away without removing the tee-peg. Work on this procedure
wherever you can.  Pretty soon you may well be playing a game with which you are
not familiar.

The most important aspect of this lesson is that you are hitting the ball while
your clubhead is going UP!!  You should always swing THROUGH the ball.  This is
most easily accomplished by trying to hit a spot two inches in front of the

Proper Balance!!!!

By having poor balance at address, you’ll lose power. Take your normal stance,
then imagine: if someone gave you a little push in the center of your back, or
in the middle of your chest, would you fall over? What if someone tugged on the
club-would you fall forward? If someone could easily push you over from behind
(or pull you forward by tugging on the club), you have too much weight toward
your toes; if someone can push you over from the front, that means that you have
too much weight on your heels. Take a solid athletic stance, with your weight
evenly distributed on the balls of your feet. Staying in balance will lead to
better rhythm, more consistent shot making and longer shots.

Now, when you start hitting the ball a little farther and straighter, I want to hear

about it.  If it doesn’t work, hey, it’s free
advice, what do you want??  You think we are going to put BAD testimonies in our
feedback column??? (well, actually we will, if enough people complain that our
tips are WRONG!!)