Justin Thomas is barely 5ft 10in and weighs just a little over 10 stone, but he still averages just shy of 310 yards off the tee.
That he does so should give hope to us all – you don’t have to be built like a brick outhouse to generate big yards with the driver.
At 25 years old, Thomas’ progress has been mightily impressive, culminating in his first major victory at the PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup in 2017, and reaching World No.1 for the first time after the 2018 Players Championship.
With seven PGA Tour victories in the last 19 months, Thomas has been on sensational form. His game is built on his superb ball-striking, ranking 3rd for Strokes Gained: tee-to-green so far in 2018.
Follow his example and you can hit the ball with both force and accuracy.
Centre contact is key to distance. It’s measured by smash factor – club-to-ball speed ratio. A recent test saw Justin average an awesome smash of 1.51 over 17 drives. His flat left wrist through impact helps here; no sign of it flipping the clubface at the ball. Repeat this by feeling that through impact both the clubhead and the handle move in the same direction.
Justin’s right arm and left leg are extended. Those are key elements of the width he creates to deliver force into the ball. Use this as a swing thought next time you go to the range. On the way down focus on straightening your left leg and right arm into and through impact. When you can control the move and the force it creates, take it to the course.
At impact Justin’s driver is rising at 4.8º, compared with a Tour average of 1.3º down. It helps him launch the ball at 14.2º (average 10.9º) – ideal for distance. Recreate this by playing the ball under your left shoulder, and feeling you are swinging the club on an upslope. This keeps your spine tilted slightly away from the target and promotes an upward angle of attack.
This picture shows how golfers have learned to use the ground to boost distance. Justin shifts pressure onto his left foot early in the downswing, before raising his pelvis once his hands are about waist high. It’s similar to the move you’d make when jumping as high as you can, using your legs and core. It allows Justin to extend powerfully through impact.
Analysis by Ian Clark, an Advanced Fellow of the PGA. Master Professional at World of Golf, New Malden