What you can learn from a Long Drive Champ

As a former world long-drive champion, I often hear from regular golfers that they’ll never come close to being able to swing like me. Not true. You can. If you copy even a little of my technique, the ball is going to come off the face of your driver hotter than ever. Try these things the next time you’re on the range.

CHEAT THE SCALE

If you just stood on a scale, it would give you your body weight. But if you push down, that number will go up. When I make a backswing, I’m loading more than 100 percent of my body weight into my trail leg (right leg for righties). So really push into the ground with your trail leg as you take the club back. It will help you create and store a lot of energy.

GET OFF THE HEEL

As you swing back, it’s OK if your lead heel comes off the ground. That’s going to help you make a bigger backswing—especially if you’re not that flexible. You’ll really load up on your right side.

AVOID THE SWAY

Feel like someone standing behind your back is grabbing a belt loop near your right hip pocket and pulling it toward him. In other words, sink into that right hip as you swing back, which will keep you from swaying away from the target.

PLANT AND BUMP

To start your downswing, replant your left heel if you let it come off the ground. I mean really plant it. Try to leave an indentation in the turf. You’re using the ground to create energy for more swing speed. Also, let your left hip shift toward the target. This bump allows you to stay behind the ball with your upper body so you can apply all your weight to the strike.

GO WITH THE FASTBALL

I don’t think about pulling the handle of the driver down toward the ball, and I don’t think about releasing the club, either. Instead, I get the sensation I’m throwing a fastball with my right hand. It probably comes from my time as a minor-league pitcher. This feel will really boost your speed down into the ball.

SHOULDER THE LOAD

You want your club moving its fastest as it meets the ball. To make that happen, get the right shoulder facing the target as you finish the swing. It’s got to keep moving. As long as my lower body leads in the downswing, this turn helps blast the ball way down the fairway.

JUSTIN JAMES, 29, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, won the 2017 World Long Drive Championship. He plays a Krank Formula X Snapper driver (48 inches, 3.5 degrees of loft). He hit a 435-yard drive to win the championship.

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Five steps to copy Tiger Woods’s swing technique

As last season proved, a healthy Tiger is a scary Tiger. While his technique is ever-evolving, it’s always worth studying, to say nothing of copying. Check out the keys to his swing below.
Muscle Matters
There’s no denying it—Tiger’s arms are still jacked! And they’re not for looks. Woods understands that at the highest levels, golf is a power game that taxes every muscle. Tiger continues his legacy as the original Tour gym rat, and if his arms are any indication, he has zero plans to let the youngsters on the Tour outwork him.
High Flyer
You can tell from his finish below that Tiger has launched a higher-than-normal approach. He’s extending his lower spine up and toward the target. It’s a great move for any swing— if your back can take it. Looks like Tiger’s finally can.
Back in Business 
Players with bad backs rarely swing to a full finish, let alone a high one like this. As with his knees, Tiger’s back looks ready for prime-time— the slight lean back or subtle “reverse C” is impossible to achieve when the back is in distress.
Bottom Gear
Is there really something to “glute activation” after all? You bet. There’s no better way to produce serious clubhead speed than by firing your glutes and squeezing your thighs together through impact. The combo causes your body to decelerate at just the right moment, allowing the club to pick up speed and whip through.
Knee Brace 
Tiger’s healed left knee below can once again handle the torque created by his swing. His left foot is nearly flat on the ground, even this deep into his follow through, providing the stability he’s been missing for years. If your knees aren’t as healthy as Tiger’s, set up with your feet flared, or allow more weight to roll to the outside of your spikes.
SOURCE:  Golf

Want a better golf swing? Train diagonally

The majority of gym goers exercise almost exclusively in the sagittal plane. Things like squats, rows, hammer curls, and deadlifts all are performed in the same plane, and they are good exercises for overall strength and stability. However, the golf swing is performed in multiple planes of motion. The body rotates (transverse plane), shifts (frontal plane) and even thrusts (sagittal)—all in less than two seconds as you go from address to finish. Knowing this, doesn’t it make sense to train in all three planes of motion when you work out? Even better, it’s smart to choose exercises that make you move in two or more planes with each repetition.
It’s also important to know that many muscles are designed to work together. The outer unit of muscles and other soft tissue are often grouped in what are known as “slings.” These slings function as a unit as your body moves. Perhaps the most important of these for golfers to train is the posterior oblique sling. Think of it as strand of connective tissue (fascia) that runs from the lower part of your shoulder down to the opposite hip (see illustration above). Actually, it goes from one side of your lattissimus dorsi muscle down and across your back to the gluteus maximus on the other side. If you imagine yourself making a swing, you can see how important it is to coordinate the movement of one side of your shoulder and back with the opposite hip. These muscles provide stability and power to a golf swing, especially when they work in coordination.
SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Augusta National beefs up No. 5, creates another classic Masters gauntlet

Where’s Herbert Warren Wind when you need him?

It was the Homer of golf writers who in 1958 wrote about the action “down in the Amen Corner where Rae’s Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front end of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green.” And just like that, almost off-handedly, this sequence of holes was gifted the last thing it needed to gain renown — a catchy, evocative name. Amen Corner was born.

There is another corner of the course opposite that far reach of Augusta National that is in line for a good nicknaming. Something suggestive of mayhem and exasperation.

It will never happen, mind you, for several reasons. For one, Mr. Wind and his elegant ilk are no longer with us. I certainly can’t come up with anything eternal. For another, holes No. 4-5-6 fall far too early to be a part of the Sunday Masters crescendo. So much happens on that back nine that all else gets kind of washed over.

That’s too bad because, with the recent lengthening of the par-4 5th hole — heretofore the most overlooked hole on the property — this corner just may be the most trying stretch of holes in all the green sausage grinder that is Augusta National.

With the money to reshape the land to any whim, the lords of the Masters decided this year to add another 40 yards to an already toothy fifth. And if that doesn’t suit them, one day they will just buy up a stretch of I-20 and put a tee box in the median.

The result is a now 495-yard par 4 that has grabbed the players’ attention before the first competitive shot is struck.

“Between there and 11, I may even consider No. 5 a more difficult hole now,” Jordan Spieth said. “I would have said 11 is the toughest hole on the course prior to the new No. 5.”

“I’m struggling a little bit right now on how to play the hole, so I’ll have to figure that out over the next couple days.” That’s Jordan Spieth speaking, the guy who rolls out of bed and finishes top-five in this tournament.

Having already let out the par-3 4th hole — to where it can play 240 yards to a roller-coaster green – the guardians of par have created quite a little gauntlet here with the lengthening of No. 5. Throw in the par-3 sixth, with a green that practically requires an escalator to get from one level to the next, and these people have almost succeeded in turning golf into actual, honest work.

Phil Mickelson throws the 450-yard par-4 seventh hole into the mix, too. “I think 4-5-6-7 is a very difficult four‑hole stretch and making a little bit harder I think is a good thing,” he said. “I always like making hard holes harder and I think guys that are playing well will be able to make par (on No. 5) and pick up a quarter or half a stroke on the field that are not able to make par. Ultimately, that’s a good thing.”

During last year’s Masters, Nos. 4-5-6 played as the second-, sixth- and eighth-hardest holes. In contrast, Amen Corner presented both the most difficult (the 505-yard par-4 11th) and least difficult (the 510-yard par-5 13th). No. 12, the famed par 3 over Rae’s Creek was right in the middle, the ninth hardest. So, which stretch is really more deserving a prayerful nickname?

In the redesign of No. 5, they also moved back the complex of large, deep fairway bunkers on the left side, and created a stiffer penalty for finding them.

“I think they are unplayable to get the ball to the green,” Tiger Woods said. “You have to be very lucky and get a situation that you might be able to get to the front edge of the green. But you need to stay out of those bunkers.”

Even a good and true drive leaves no bargain.

“I hit a good drive (Monday), and the course was playing really soft and a bit long. And I hit 5‑iron in,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “A good drive last year – if you could be aggressive with the driver – you might have a wedge or 9‑iron to that middle part of the green. It wasn’t a difficult shot.”

In summarizing the change to No. 5 — a hole due entirely new respect now — two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw was succinct, simply calling it “a monster.”

While the knights of the keyboard may fail to come up with a catchy name for this other critical corner of Augusta National, players undoubtedly will come up with a few of their own. They will not be flowery, or even fit for general consumption.

How to handle a downhill lie and hit the green

If you play a lot of hilly courses, you’re already familiar with uneven lies, including those of the downhill variety. This tricky position—in which your leading foot is below your back foot at address—can be very challenging, especially from short fairway grass. To ensure solid contact and a pin-seeking approach shot from a downhill lie, you’ll need to make the following three basic setup changes.
SET SHOULDERS PARALLEL
Your normal iron setup won’t work for this lie—the clubhead will bottom out too soon and you’ll make contact with the ground behind the ball. Instead, hold your club across your shoulders and tilt your spine toward the target until the shaft matches the slope of the hill. Once your shoulders are parallel to the slope, move on to step 2.
Learn how to conquer any downhill lie.
MOVE YOUR WEIGHT TO YOUR DOWNHILL FOOT
It’s critical to make ball-first contact from this lie, so play the ball in the middle of your stance (or at least slightly farther back than normal) and shift about 75 percent of your weight to your front, or downhill, foot. This will encourage your body to move in the direction of the slope, rather than hang back.
TRACE THE SLOPE
Last, extend your arms through impact so that the clubhead travels as low to the slope as possible. By swinging on the same plane as the hill, you’ll ensure ball-first contact and a smooth, full finish— and maybe even a birdie opportunity.
SOURCE:  Golf.com