I realize I am in the stage of life -- soon to be 71 -- where I am supposed to rely on my short game and putting versus power to score well. You know, “that older gentleman who has pretty good touch.” Undoubtedly, my younger golf friends are thinking age happens and it just makes sense for a golfer to adjust his thinking as the years mount up. I get it. I know that yards are harder to find these days.
However, after reading Lee Trevino’s very recent quote below, I was inspired to think differently. Rather than strike the word “power” from my thinking, I should continue my search for extra yards. As you will see below, there are a number of suggestions on how you can add yards to your game. Perhaps one of these thoughts/tips will click with you – regardless of your age. In my case, I should seriously consider all of them.
“I’m going to dominate (at the 2022 Father/Son Challenge/PNC Championship) with the driver, there’s no question about it, because I’ve been in the gym — and you’ll see this — I’ve been in the gym, and I’m hitting the ball longer than I did last year. And I’m older. I’ve gone to that crazy, flexy shaft — you know, that $800 job, too — it’s pretty good.” – Six-time Major winner Lee Trevino, who turned 82 on Dec. 1.
“The length of your backswing is a big factor as you get older. When you're in your 20s or 30s, you can hit the ball far because you can get your backswing to parallel or past parallel. As you get older, it gets shorter and shorter. If you look at the PGA Tour Champions, 50, 60 percent of [players] can't even get their swing to parallel. It's like throwing a ball, or boxing. A longer wind-up creates automatic power. If I can increase the length of my back swing, it gives me a few more yards without even thinking.” -- 56-year-old Vijay Singh, who won three Majors, has been on the Champions Tour since 2013. He is currently averaging 300 yards on his drives. (Quote from a November 2022 GolfDigest.com post.)
According to GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jason Baile, the key to hitting the ball farther is rotating. Or, more importantly, rotating the correct way: “Are you rotating in posture? Are you in good posture to start with, and then can you rotate from that posture?” asks Baile, the director of instruction at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla. “Most amateurs are turning too much, and they always think if they aren’t hitting it far enough they aren’t turning enough. So they turn so much they get themselves out of posture. Usually they are turning their torso way too much in the golf swing, which flattens their shoulder plane and gives poor club delivery.
His fix is: “taking your left shoulder and work it toward your right pants pocket as you bring a club back. When that happens, the shoulders stay on plane, the lower body loads to the ground a lot better, and the arms can move from the inside.”
“More than anything, I focus on getting my left shoulder stretched behind the ball as I complete my coil. You don’t want too many specific thoughts on backswing positions. If you just get your hands nicely on the club at the set-up, keep a soft grip pressure, and then think about getting the left shoulder behind the ball as you turn, you will achieve a good coil and plenty of power.” – Ernie Els (Born 1969), winner of four Majors (U.S. Open 1994 & 1997 and British Open 2002 & 2012).
“There are ways for smaller or older golfers to condition themselves to get more power, even if they don't spend time in the gym. For many, the best training ground is the practice range, the old rock pile. So wear it out. Ben Hogan once said that beating hundreds of balls made him incredibly strong and improved his swing along the way. Get ‘golf strong’ by hitting a lot of balls. Your hands and arms will become more wiry and your body more toned. – Bubba Watson (Born 1978), winner of the Master in 2012 and 2014.
In the 2021-2021 golf season, Jon Rahm’s average driving distance was 309.0 yards, which ranked 19th on Tour. In this past season (2021-2022), he finished fifth on Tour with an average of 318.9 yards So how did he get that extra 10 yards? According to Callaway’s Jacob Davidson, equipment made the difference. “The statistics show that the new club, a Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS driver, produced the kind of incremental but significant gains that pros dream about when they consider making gear changes. The lesson should be clear: No one is too good to stop searching for more gains.”
“Stretching is certainly the easiest way to improve your game and decrease your chance of injury. Stretching improves flexibility, which not only allows you to position the club they way you have been taught, but also lessens the stress on your joints and muscles, thus decreasing soreness and injury and improving your enjoyment of the game.” – Physical therapist Paul Hospenthal, from the book, Golf For Dummies.
“If I really want to crank one – say it’s a wide-open par 5 or I really need to carry a bunker – I’ll use a trick biomechanist Sasho MacKenzie taught me and lift my left heel high off the ground in the backswing. It allows me to make a bigger turn, loading up on my back foot, before I start down and explode through the ball.” – Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick (Born 1994), who won the U.S. Amateur in 2013 and the 2022 U.S. Open. Both of those wins were held at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.
So, what are you going to do to find those extra 10 yards?
Down The Fairway,