World No.1 and FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson reveals the secrets to his huge driver distances – and what you can copy from his golf swing.
As you can imagine, I’m often asked how I’m able to hit the ball so far off the tee. Most people assume it’s all down to swing speed, but there’s more to it than that.
Swinging the club harder doesn’t always equal more distance. In many instances, if you’re swinging out of your boots, chances are you’re going to be off balance – coming over the top, imparting too much spin and doing all sorts of crazy things that will throw the club off line coming into impact.
Even when I smoked that 432-yard drive in Hawaii a few years ago, I didn’t give it everything. I never do. The bottom line is, the harder you swing the club the harder it is to control. So I always make a point of never swinging faster than 90% of my max.
I’ll show you how I create my power. The good news is that my tips are simple enough for you to use, too.
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Set up to create a power launch
When I set up with a driver, I’m thinking about two things.
The first is setting the body angles I need to create power.
The second is forming the solid foundation upon which I can harness that energy.
I like to stand as tall as I possibly can with a wide and athletic stance. My knees are bent slightly and my upper body is tilted back a little to keep my head behind the ball, which allows me to fully turn my shoulders.
I like the ball well forward in my stance, just inside my left foot.
These factors combine to help me generate as much clubhead speed as possible.
Rotate your head slightly away from the target
Getting that left shoulder under your chin for a huge turn requires flexibility. My head is well behind the ball and rotated slightly away from the target.
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Angle spine away from target
See how my right shoulder is lower than my left? This helps me tilt my spine slightly away from vertical, which makes it easier to make a full shoulder turn and to hit up on the ball through impact.
Grip at 50% pressure
If I’m grading my grip pressure out of 10, I’d say it’s probably at four or five. Holding the club too tightly creates tension. I like to feel like I’m holding the club just hard enough not to break an egg.
Shaft is vertical or leaning away slightly
One of the secrets to distance is launching the ball high. The combination of loft and speed delivers maximum hang time. For the most loft at impact, I keep the shaft vertical or leaning ever so slightly away from the target with the ball well forward in my stance.
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My key power tip: get width early in your swing
Many amateur golfers tend to ‘lift’ the club up with their hands early in the takeaway. That’s a real power killer. But guess what? It’s my biggest swing flaw, too.
I want to achieve as much width as possible in my backswing so I focus on making a low and slow-moving takeaway. This gives me the time I need to turn my upper body and really achieve that full wind-up at the top.
A good swing thought is to feel that you create plenty of distance between your right hand and your right ear at the top of your backswing.
Delay your wrist hinge
Setting the wrists early in the backswing may feel like it gives you more control but it saps your swing of power. Let your wrists hinge in their own sweet time.
Turn your back to the target
I like simple swing thoughts. A great one to help you really rotate your upper body is to focus on turning your shoulders so that your back feels like it faces the target at the top.
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