The traditional plight of the long hitter is a lack of consistency from swing to swing. You may step up to a drive intending to crush it, only to send it careening into the rough -- or worse. To compensate, your next try is made with a cautious half-swing, but the results are the same. This inconsistency in tempo and rhythm makes it impossible to develop a repeating swing, which is just as responsible for your inaccuracy as any other swing fault.
The key to consistency is finding a happy medium between swinging easy and jumping out of your socks. After finding the perfect pace, the next step is grooving it so it's repeatable.
Rev It Up, Throttle It Down
To find the perfect pace, warm up by hitting 15 to 20 balls on the range. Make sure your muscles are loose. Then, without hitting a ball, make full swings with your driver as hard as you possibly can. Do not stop between swings. Swing back and through about 10 times. You should be out of breath when you're finished.
Now, take a deep breath, tee a ball up, and, cutting your swing about a third, hit the ball. You may feel that you're swinging easy, but you'll be surprised by the clubhead speed and distance you produce. This is your ideal swing speed. If you figure that the all-out gorilla swing is a healthy 125 percent effort, cutting back a third means almost 85 percent. That is the most effective effort level for the majority of golfers because it allows them to produce maximum clubhead speed, while minimizing the chance of a loss of balance.
The skill comes in maintaining your perfect pace throughout a round or series of rounds. Pressure, changes in weather, long waits between shots -- nearly anything can throw off your rhythm. When that happens, you inevitably start to swing harder, bringing trouble back into play. Here's how to return to a speed closer to your ideal.
If you're getting a bit wild, make your 10 hard swings in a row, then turn it down a third. (You should have performed this trick often enough on the range that you know what "all-out" and "a third off" feel like.) Stay loose and catch your breath before hitting the ball.
Slowing your swing speed doesn't mean shortening it. In fact, the only way an 85 percent-effort swing will be effective is by making a long, full shoulder turn and letting your body unwind naturally. Shortening your swing only shrinks the arc, forcing you to work the hands and arms to make up the difference. That result is wildness.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.