Driving for Distance: Players today know that carry beats roll

by Butch Harmon

The old idea of hitting a low draw to get the ball running down the fairway is, well, an old idea. Launch monitors have proven that carry distance is the key to overall distance. Here are some tips for maximizing carry. —

First, check your driver specs. A little more loft—for most players, at least 10.5 degrees—will help you launch the ball higher. A lighter, more-flexible shaft means you’ll get more out of the speed potential you have.

Next comes the setup. Move your trail foot back a few inches to widen your stance. That’ll tilt your spine away from the target and put your head behind the ball. From there, you can swing into impact on a shallow, sweeping angle and produce that nice, high launch.

You can make a few tweaks to your swing, too, but don’t try these all at once. Going back, take your time setting the club at the top. You don’t want to go slow, but be deliberate. Get as much body turn behind the ball as your flexibility allows.

Coming down, let’s focus on two things: the trail shoulder and the trail foot. Keep your shoulder back and in for as long as you can. Nothing saps power faster than the upper body taking over the downswing, which causes a steep chop. Let your hands and arms drop as the lower body starts forward. But don’t overdo the lower body: Keep your trail foot down longer, and the club will stay to the inside and come in shallow.

Finally, maintain your arm speed all the way through like Dustin Johnson is doing here. Don’t just hit at the ball. Carry distance requires a level strike and as much speed as you can muster and still hit the ball flush. with Peter Morrice

SUMMER’S HERE: HOW’S YOUR GOLF?
If you’re getting out to play, you’re probably realizing that your good shots and bad shots look a lot like last year’s. Don’t let that bum you out; a consistent pattern is a good thing. Taking stock is the critical first step, then you need some solid swing advice. Seeing a PGA pro is a great option. So is Golf Digest’s all-access instruction program. The videos are top-notch; and all the leading teachers are there. Best of all, you can pull them up on your phone or computer whenever you have time. Learn more at golfdigest.com/allaccess.

BUTCH HARMON is based at Rio Secco Golf Club, Henderson, Nev.

Originally Published on GolfDigest golfdigest.com/story/driving-for-distance

Butch Harmon’s Keys to Simplify Bunker Shots

by Butch Harmon

When most golfers climb into a greenside bunker, it’s like an out-of-body experience. They lose all sense of what they need to do, fear takes over, and a few hacks later . . . triple bogey.

The good news is, most of the mistakes I see come at address, and those are the easy ones to fix. A lot of golfers play the ball back and push their hands ahead. Typical miss: chunk. Others set up tilting away from the target. Typical miss: skull. So let’s check your setup.

First, open the clubface. That adds loft and helps the club slide through the sand. Rotate the face open, then grip with your top hand, setting your thumb on the top of the handle. Add your bottom hand. Opening the clubface before you grip helps keep it open during the swing.

Second, play the ball forward in your stance, in line with your front foot. That pre-sets hitting the sand a few inches behind the ball. The shaft should be straight up and down or leaning slightly away from the target—another key to maintaining loft and promoting that sliding action.

Third, dig in your feet a little and lean your body over your front foot. That’ll give you the descent you need on the downswing to drive the club through the sand and under the ball.

Focus on a spot a few inches behind the ball, that’s where you want the club to touch down.

Now you’re in a great position to hit the shot. All I want you to think about is spanking the sand and keeping up your speed to the finish. You’ll be amazed how your fear disappears after you see a few good ones.

Originally published on GolfDigest
golfdigest.com/story/use-butch-harmons-keys-to-simplify-bunker-shots

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