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The Tour Report

January 23 2013

3:05 PM

Tips from Travis: Max driving distance

By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy

I get a lot of questions about Brian Gay’s golf swing on how he doesn’t really appear to be hinging his wrists during the backswing. Much like Steve Stricker, Gay is a player that doesn’t aggressively hinge his wrist to create an apparent angle between the lead forward and the club shaft. This lack of wrist hinge is one of the reasons why Gay doesn’t create a lot of clubhead speed but yet last week in California his driver was going further than in the past.

Recently, Gay started working on his game with Grant Waite and Joe Mayo in an effort to get his game back on track. One of the things they have done is maximize the efficiency of Gay’s limited clubhead speed with his driver. To do this, Gay had to change his attack angle with his driver to more “up” through impact versus “down."  As a result, his driving distance increased significantly last week from last year’s average. 

In order to maximize distance off the tee, your attack angle needs to be slightly up through impact and not down. Most amateurs hit fairly down on it with the driver, which increases the amount of spin, which robs them of precious yards.  Although the PGA TOUR average is a mere 1-degree down with the driver, changing that to 1-degree up can mean more distance without increasing club head speed.

To encourage a positive (up) attack angle with the driver here are two things to consider:

1) Ball position adjacent to the lead shoulder: The lead shoulder is the low point of the swing arc so tee it relatively high and well forward in the stance so you promote hitting the ball closer to the low point.

2) Shoulders closed: One of the most common errors with the driver is to open the shoulders. If your shoulders are open then you are promoting a swing direction to the left which is not conducive to an upward attack angle. Therefore, most players need to feel closed with a swing direction to the right.

Although this topic can be a little confusing it highlights the importance of the attack angle through impact which can be often times overlooked. Therefore, I encourage you to learn what your attack angle is with your driver and then determine where you need to go to maximize your clubhead speed.

Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.