June 2014

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Lets face it. Golf has become a power game. The golfers on the professional tours are stronger and faster than ever. In 2009, the average ball speed on the PGA Tour was 167mph. In 2013, it was 171mph. At the 2013 NCAA Championships, it was 173mph. You can see where this is headed. At the highest level, it takes power to compete. But regardless of your level, we all want to hit it longer! I have never had a student come to my lesson tee not wanting more distance.  Before we get into this, I want to mention several important concepts. 

If you are looking for accuracy, this is not your issue. What makes the ball fly farther does not make it go straighter. In many cases, the swing fundamentals of distance and accuracy are the exact opposite. Also, the bad news is for developing your reservoir for power, old is 22 years. Most of you reading this newsletter are older that 22 but that does not mean that you can't increase distance. In fact, If you played other sports growing up, you may have developed strength and speed that can be applied to golf. Lastly, to increase your speed requires proper training. Of course, this requires supervision from a well trained fitness professional who knows golf and the permission from a physician to make sure the exercises are appropriate for you. If you injure yourself, that does not help your distance.

This issue is devoted to helping you understand power and will give you helpful hints to gain yardage. You can access distance through fitting, physics, swing technique and exercise. With a little bit of all four categories, you should see your distance increase. 



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Power Tip zone

Attack angle   Gear effect   spin Loft

You have a better chance of hitting your driver longer if you hit up on the ball. After all, we get to put the ball up on a tee, so take advantage of it. If your swing speed is 90 mph and you are hitting down 5 degrees, you will fly your ball 191 yards and total out at 226yards. If you swing 90 mph but hit up on it 5 degrees, you will fly the ball 214 yards and total out at 250 yards. That's a 24 yard increase without changing your clubhead speed. Yes, this means that your swing set up and swing will feel different for a driver. I consider the driver a specialty club which requires a special swing.  If you are looking for distance, an upward attack angle is better. 


Spin is your enemy when you are looking for more distance. The ultimate place to hit the ball on the clubface is the sweet spot, however, if you miss the sweet spot, it is better to miss it slightly above the sweet spot because of the gear effect. Without getting too technical, suffice it to say that hitting the ball slightly high on the face increases your launch angle and lowers the spin. If you hit it slightly low on the face, you will launch it low and spin it high which kills your distance. I use a Trackman to identify spin rates.  If the spin is too high, I spray powder (Dr. Schoal's foot spray) on the clubface to identify where on the clubface you are striking the ball. You can then make adjustments to hit the ball on the appropriate part of the clubface to maximize your distance.


Spin loft is a fancy term for the differential between the loft at the moment of impact (dynamic loft) and the attack angle. The smaller the differential, the lower the spin rate and the longer you will hit it. The long drive guys hit up on the ball with a very low lofted club. If you hit down on the ball and add loft to the face to get the ball up in the air, you have a recipe for a high spin short hitter. Practice hitting up a hill and trying to hit it low. This will force you to swing up and de-loft. My coach in college made me hit low shots with my ball position forward. It was a tough drill but it made me long!





When attending a Titleist Performance Institute seminar on power, they mentioned something very interesting. The long drive contest winners all played sports from the other side. Jamie Sladowski, played hockey left handed. Ryan Winther switch hit as a professional baseball player. Jamie and Ryan have won 2 out of the last three Remax long drive championships. Phil Mickelson as you can see in this picture, pitches righty and is actually right handed.  Mickelson to this day is one of the longer hitters on the PGA Tour. You must train in the opposite direction if you want to be the most powerful you can be. 

Another interesting fact is that the biggest differential between PGA tour player and Long drive contest players is the speed of their arms. Long drive guys move their arms 50% faster than PGA tour players. You can practice arm speed by making swings from your knees.  It is also a cool trick shot!



Power swings


When we look at long drivers, they have several characteristics. None of these will seem like the advice you will get on how to be consistent and hit it straight! Imagine getting the following lesson:

Lift your lead heel on the backswing, get your arms as high as you can at the top of backswing (you can have a flying right elbow), let your lead elbow fold (do not straighten left arm), move off the ball into your trail leg, now jump up and let your lead foot spin out during impact! POW!!!!!!

Now obviously all long drivers don't do all of these together but they do have some of these elements in their swings. Look at the video of world long drive champion Ryan Winther at the end of this newsletter and you will see many of these elements. He is not looking for accuracy, he is all about power. 



Raw Power!
health tips

The number one request I get from golfers is “How do I hit the ball farther?”

To better understand how to increase power, let’s first define power. Power = Force x Velocity

To develop power in a golfer, first we must understand where the power leaks are in the player’s body or swing and maximize these areas.

Below is a Test For Power Leaks

Each of these tests should be done with another person to help you measure the distance.

Strength training increases muscular endurance, however power training makes you more explosive.

Here is an example of a Power Testing Screen (Using a medicine ball 5% of your body weight)

1. Seated Chest Pass – a measure of upper body and core power Sit-Up and Throw – a measure of core power

2. Vertical Jump – a measure of leg and core power

3. Baseline Shotput – a measure of total body power

Global Power Comparison Male: Chest Pass – 18-22’
Female: Chest Pass – 16-19’
Sit Up & Throw – 18-22”
Sit Up & Throw 16-19’
Vertical Jump – 18-22”
Vertical Jump – 16-19”
Baseline Shotput – No Asymmetry Baseline Shotput – No Asymmetry -

You should notice the magic number by now – 18-22. The first three tests should be exactly the same numbers. If one test is much lower than the other two, it is the weakest link.

It's easy to understand why your workout should not only involve strength training—but power training, too. You need strength to swing the club correctly and the power to do it quickly.

Article by, Sidney Silver: TPI Golf Medical & Golf Fitness expert. www.SilverSportsTherapy.com (415) 932-6775