There is a famous saying for golfers that is an absolute truism: “Drive for show, putt for dough.” There is something thrilling about hitting a tee shot and watching it soar through the sky; consequently, our drive is one of the only things we want to work on with our game. If only we could consistently hit it long and straight! First, I want to talk about how to practice, get better, and not just practice to practice. Then I’ll outline a few drills that will help you hit the ball farther.
When you head to the driving range, you should have a specific purpose for being there. For a power boost, you want to focus on generating more distance. If you think the answer to more distance is changing your swing, you’re dead wrong (unless you are Charles Barkley). I once heard legendary swing coach Hank Haney say that there is not one perfect swing plane for all golfers, but rather each swing has a perfect swing plane. And to quote Bagger Vance: “You’ve lost your swing, we’ve got to go find it.”
So stop trying to tweak your swing—do what is comfortable, and when you have found that comfortable swing, try these tips and drills to generate more power.
Power in a golf swing comes from swing speed, but swing speed does not come from having huge arms and pectorals, because a golf swing is more than just swinging your arms. To improve swing speed, you need to think resistance training, not weight training. Think of a baseball player using a donut weight before he goes to bat. When he takes the weight off, the bat feels lighter and thus he can swing faster and hit the ball farther. That is what these exercises are designed to do, but by doing them often, they have a more permanent effect (unlike the donut that only lasts for a few swings).
Wood Block Drill
- This first drill is designed to improve your takeaway speed
- Find a block of wood or a book, or something flat between 2-5 lbs. (Whatever feels comfortable)
- Grab a mid-iron and take your golf stance as if you are addressing a real golf shot
- Place your chosen object directly behind your club (with no space between the object and club)
- On the takeaway, push the object back with the head of your club. You should feel added pressure on your feet because of the extra effort to push the object back. Do this 100 times a day to help with your takeaway speed
Hip Rotation Exercises: Medicine Ball Throw & Basketball Drill
Your hips are the most important element when trying to add power to your swing. Again, think resistance training more than weight training, although more weight coupled with resistance is optimal for these exercises.
Medicine Ball Throw
- Grab a medicine ball heavy enough to provide good resistance
- Get in a squat position, with your knees just a bit more bent than they would be in your golf stance
- Hold the medicine ball out with both hands directly in front of you
- Rotate only your hips, as hard and fast as you can, and throw the ball at a wall in front of you.
It is important that as much as you can, only let your hips do the work, not your shoulders. However, after you have done a set with your hips, do the same throw, this time rotating both your shoulders and hips. Thus, you get an isolated hip rotation workout, as well as an in-concert hip and shoulder workout, which simulates more what a golf swing would be like.’
This drill is like the medicine ball throw; the only difference is you will get in your golf stance as if you were going to hit a ball.
- Grab a full-size men’s basketball and perform a normal golf swing
- When you get to the bottom of your swing, pick out a spot about 2-3 feet in front of you
- Throw the basketball at that spot as hard as you can.
This may seem easy, but after you do it a few times, you will start to feel the burn. This drill is comparable to having a donut on a baseball bat, but offers more permanent results.
Resistance Cord Exercise
- Grab an exercise band and put it through a door handle, or something stable that won’t move
- Take your golf stance, and with your left hand hold the band so it is directly behind you
- Pull the band forward in an explosive motion, and afterwards let it slowly return to its original position behind you
- Alternate doing just your left hand (for right-handed players), and both hands simulating a real golf swing. For more resistance, simply stand farther away from whatever is anchoring the exercise band
Remember as you practice these drills, the goal is to not only practice your form, but also remind you of the correct principles of having power in your swing. By knowing the principles, you can come up with your own exercises that simulate resistance training in a golf swing. Make sure you work hard if you want to see results, but also know your limits and be safe as you drill!