How to ‘Hit the Long Ball’

By Bruce Furman, Director of Instruction
Oregon’s Top Golf Instructor, Oregon Chapter PGA

Mark McGwire tells Greg Maddux in a famous commercial from the past “Chicks dig the long ball”, and so do most golfers when hitting their driver.

So, how do you hit a long, straight drive?  There are many factors to consider in this equation.  Here are a couple tips to consider.  To learn in person, sign up for one of my next golf instruction clinics on May 17th and 18th from 5 to 6pm,

Step 1: Get Professionally Fit for a DriverBruce Furman Driver Set up

I know this can sound daunting, but a professionally fit driver (or any club) can make all the difference.  The simplest thing like a shaft that is too stiff or a loft that is too low will make you alter your swing to maximize the poorly fit drivers’ performance.  Eliminating those factors will allow your natural swing to perform optimally.  At this point, you can follow my tips below to hit the long ball.

Step 2: Good Set up Position

A good set up is the foundation of a good golf swing.  Without a good set up when addressing the ball on any shot, much less a driver swing, means you are set up to fail.  So, what is a good set up position?  It’s simple, a wide stance, ball positioned forward, hands behind the ball, and your spine tilted away from the target.

Step 3: Make a Full Turn

Now that you have a properly fit driver and you are in a good set up position, you are ready to “Hit the Long Ball”.  How you ask?  By making a wide backswing with a full turn.  Ideally, you should make a 100 degree shoulder turn and position your weight braced into your right leg.  Your right arm, bicep to forearm, should be at a 90-degree angle from your right shoulder and as far away as possible.

Step 4: Shallow Plane on the Downswing

A shallow plane on the down swing means the head of the club will swing somewhat parallel to the ground through impact.  Essentially, it will never actually touch the ground since you are hitting ball that is already in the air (because it’s on a tee).  To make a shallow downswing plane, swing the driver head on a path from inside the target line before impact and outside the target line after impact.  Compared to a batter in baseball, you should feel like you are hitting toward right center field.  The benefit is an angle of attack that catches the ball slightly on the upswing, so you launch the ball high.

Step 5: The Finish

Finally, finish tall on your front leg with the weight on the outside of the front heel. The back knee should touch the front knee and the front leg is straight. The back toe can slide forward a little if necessary.

How to Practice this Motion

Make practice swings on a slight uphill lie.  It is important to match your shoulders and hips with the slope and swing up the hill. Do not hit the ground!  As you master this technique, your centeredness of contact on the driver face will improve significantly, the #1 fundamental in achieving distance, and you will start hitting the Mark McGwire LONG BALL.