Athletic ability sets the ceiling for a golfer’s potential. That ceiling can be changed through physical training. However, to get to that ceiling, or potential, a golfer must increase the skills required to play.
There is nothing natural about being a good player. Good players work on their athletic ability, and their skills, and “talent,” is all earned. Beyond physical training, golfers need to work on skills, such as, how to hit the ground with the club head (and not any specific physical motion). As players develop skills through practice and playing golf, they become better at transferring the energy of their motion into the club head. What is key for me, as an instructor, is to help speed up my students’ developmental process. The professional golfers we watch on TV are incredible at hitting the golf ball a really long way, and they make it look very easy. This is because the pros transfer the energy into the club head very efficiently.
Ball speed is how fast the ball takes off from the club face. This is the biggest factor in a player’s ability to hit the golf ball far. Ball speed is predominantly determined by club head speed and contact point. For the purpose of this article, we will take contact point out of the equation to have one less variable.
I teach many golfers who do not hit the ball as far as their physical capabilities because they do not transfer the energy into the club head. Instinctively, many golfers transfer the energy into the handle of the club, and the full potential of energy never gets to the club head. The scientific explanation on how to transfer the energy is enough for another article in itself. Hopefully, this article will provide some education on the subject, along with some simple solutions on how to correctly transfer the energy.
The only attachment a golfer has to the golf club is his/her hands to the handle, or grip. I believe this is why it is intuitive for golfers (who are trying to make the ball go as far as their potential power) to makethe effort of the swing revolve around making the handle fast. There is no doubt that the handle going fast helps, but there must be a declaration in the handle in order for the energy to transfer to the club head. If a golfer just keeps moving the handle forward (and/or down) during the downswing, the potential club head speed will never be accomplished. Also, this makes solid contact more difficult.
If you are a golfer who drives the handle as fast as possible throughout the entire downswing, then you will find the next few exercises helpful. The first drill is to take half swings, standing with your feet together. Try five to ten swings without a golf ball, and then five to ten swings while hitting a golf ball, all with your feet together. Then try the same routine, but with full swings (See Photo 1). After that, hit five to ten golf balls with a normal stance, but try to have the same feeling of the club head passing your hands and body on the downswing. Repeat this exercise multiple times during the practice session.
A wonderful tool to create a sense of swinging the club head is an Orange Whip Trainer (See Photo 2). This training aid has a very whippy shaft, with an orange ball on the end that is heavier than an actual club head. This tool trains the golfer not only to load the energy into the club shaft on the backswing, but also to properly transfer the stored energy on the downswing.
Go see your local PGA professional to discover how to unlock your potential power, by getting the energy into the club head at the correct time during your swing.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titlteist-certified fitter and a Titliest staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org.