Written By Jon Sherman the owner of Practical Golf
I usually shy away from talk about how to hit the golf ball farther because I do not believe that this is the ultimate key to lowering scores for most average players. I do want to give the readers what they want though. Here is the Practical Golf way to hit the ball farther.
Little ol’ me
By all accounts I am not a large man. I am 5’8” on a good day, and weigh somewhere between 145-160 lbs depending on my eating/fitness habits. If you saw me on a golf course, you would think nothing of me. My two-year old son is on a growth trajectory that will have him equalling my height somewhere around the beginning of his adolescent years, so I have that to look forward to!
If I hit my driver properly though, that might get your attention. Despite my Napoleonic stature, I can hit the ball more than 300 yards (not on average!). I’ve probably only met two guys in my life who could hit it farther than me, and it wasn’t by much. The cave man, testerone-filled side of me takes great pride in this.
The evolved-golfer side of me realizes that 300 yards is great, only if it’s in a fairway. So I try to pick my spots with the driver because I can spray it WAY out of bounds if things aren’t going well. With great distance…comes great mistakes.
I did not arrive at being able to hit the ball this far overnight. It wasn’t the result of reading one article, and having a light go off in my head. It took over two decades of hard work, and I didn’t achieve my distance the way you might think I did, which was just by swinging harder.
Having length off the tee, and with your irons, is a huge advantage on a golf course. It’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor to want to hit your clubs farther. The game is much easier with a sand wedge in your hands in the fairway than it is with a 5 iron.
There is no question that golf is a male-dominated sport, so it’s no surprise everyone is concerned with how to hit the golf ball farther. The new lingo with the club manufacturers is club speed. Everyone wants to swing faster to hit the ball farther. Increased club head speed is certainly an important element of hitting the ball further, if not the most important part.
BUT, and it’s a big BUT
Your clubhead speed, and desire to hit the ball farther, isn’t worth a damn thing if you can’t hit the ball squarely at impact. Club technology is certainly improving this, but until they invent a golf club that’s one big sweet spot, you won’t be able to get around this simple fact.
(please don’t do this golf manufacturers)
The reason all of the tour players can hit the ball so far isn’t just about their swing speeds, and all of the technology they have working in their favor. It’s because they can hit the ball on the sweet spot of the club with amazing regularity.
They should, they’ve been honing their craft their entire lives, and it is their day job after all.
I Googled “how to hit the golf ball farther,” and I got 622,000 results. On a side note, “how to hit your wedges closer” only got 423,000. Surprise Surprise…
There are a million tips out there that tell you how to hit your driver farther. Widen your stance, strengthen your grip, create lag in your swing, make a full shoulder turn, widen your swing arc. Blah blah blah blah.
Here is an example of an article that is written every month on every golf publication and website. It features a prominent pro like Jason Day talking about their “keys to distance.” They conveniently ignore the fact that he has probably hit millions of golf balls in his life, and is in the top .00000001% of golfers to ever pick up a club in the history of the game.
Reading a checklist of swing fundamentals that you have to master for more distance will do nothing. Just because Jason Day can articulate what he does right does not benefit the reader. He’s an above-average athlete who can feel things in his swing that us golfing mortals wouldn’t even understand.
You can’t possibly set out to do all of these right at once, and make a meaningful swing change.
I am probably doing a couple of these right, but to be honest I’m not really sure which ones they are. What I do know is that when I hit the ball the farthest, I feel like I am swinging the easiest.
Some of my playing partners will ask me how I hit it that far without looking like I am trying to. My answer usually is “because I’m not trying to hit it far.” I know, I sound like a Buddhist.
I can take this conversation in a scientific direction and discuss smash factor, and why clubhead speed is not the only determining factor for distance. That will go to a place where people will debate me, and say it has to do with using the right equipment, and that it’s not just about where you strike the ball on the club face. It would get into some weird physics/swing theory discussion that I want no part of on this website.
Most people who evaluate this kind of measurement will agree that hitting the ball on the center of the club face is an extremely important element to success. What they will argue is how to get there.
The main point I want to try and make is that in order to hit the ball farther, your first order of action is not to try and hit the ball farther.
That might not make any sense, but let me explain.
Control before distance
If you take two golfers who have similar swing speeds, and one is hitting the ball more solidly at impact than the other, in almost all cases the player hitting the ball closer to the sweet spot will hit it farther on average.
In an effort to add distance most golfers ignore swing fundamentals, trying to hit the ball farther through sheer effort. They will use their arms more than their body, and it just leads to inconsistent ball striking without much distance. The elements of the swing that add distance are often elusive, and not what we think.
The real secret to hitting the ball farther is first worrying about your ball striking, and swing tempo. If you can focus on hitting the ball closer to the sweet spot, and do it with a controlled swing, this will lead to more distance. It’s not a simple fix, and it doesn’t involve getting a new shiny club…but it’s the truth.
I mentioned before that I don’t feel like I am trying to kill the ball when I hit some of my biggest drives. It’s the swings that have a smoother tempo that lead to more distance for me because I am hitting the ball completely square on the club face.
How do you do it???
Well if I had that answer, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d be somewhere on a yacht in the Caribbean sipping a refreshing beer (I’m not into cocktails), and collecting paychecks from this amazing tip that changed the golf world forever.
Here’s what I would do first if I were a golfer looking to add some distance, and it involves some detective work.
Buy some of these things, and start putting them on the face of your clubs when you practice. Find out where exactly you are hitting the ball on the clubface, because I’m guessing you don’t know the answer to that. If most of your strikes are not near the sweet spot, then you know your culprit.
Now that you know adding distance is not necessarily about adding swing speed, think about swinging easier. Keep doing this until you are starting to hit that sweet spot, and focus on this tempo until you can repeat it. Do this even if you feel like you are swinging at 50% of your full speed; whatever it takes to hit that center spot on the club face.
Over time you will naturally figure out the kind of swing path, and tempo that will produce these sweet-spot strikes. It takes some experimentation and patience, but once you get comfortable at 50% swing speed, then you will be able to move to 60%, and hopefully progress to 100%.
If you feel like you are struggling with that, then perhaps it is time to take a lesson or two, and have a qualified professional look at your overall swing. Please tell them you want small changes only!
Remember, it’s not all about speed. You can’t have swing speed until you have control, and good ball striking. Those are the two most important factors to work on before you think about swinging faster in order to hit the ball farther.
I might not have the exact answer on how to hit the golf ball farther, but at least I told you what not to do.