Who better to crack the long-distance code than the most talented drivers in the pro game today? Pay attention, class—you won’t get a better lesson than this.
Q: The story goes that power starts at address. What’s the one part of your setup you monitor most?
Justin Thomas: Power actually starts before address. You need to be loose. Work on hip flexibility—scissor kicks should do the trick. Now you can torque your upper body against your lower.
Dustin Johnson: I focus a lot on weight. When you step into your setup, shuffle your feet slightly to move your weight evenly not only between both feet, but also evenly between your toes and heels. You’ll feel a lot more athletic.
Lexi Thompson: How you grip the club is huge. The best advice I can give you is to grip the club firmly, but in a way that lets your arms dangle freely, without tension. “Firm hands, loose arms” is my power mantra.
Rory McIlroy: I focus on posture. I want my back as flat as possible—no curves or humps allowed. You’ve got to bend from your hips. Then, tilt them. The goal is to get your belt buckle pointed at the ball. Now you’re set.
Q: Then there’s another story: The first two feet of the backswing are the most important. Is this true?
Justin Thomas: Your backswing is your windup, so I’d say the whole thing is important. To make it as full as it can be, turn both shoulders at the same time until your back faces the target. Some weekend players only turn one.
Dustin Johnson: There’s some truth to that. Fast swings are wide swings, and you have to start wide or you’ll lose it. My trick? I take the club back nice and low. You can’t help but trace a nice, wide swing arc.
Lexi Thompson: Rhythm is the key. I power my takeaway with my hands, letting them turn my shoulders and, eventually, my hips. It’s not a one-piece motion, but it instills good rhythm.
Rory McIlroy: Yes—the first two feet are critical. If you start on plane you can rip at it without fear. “Push” the club straight back. Picture a line running parallel to your toes. The goal? Keep your hands and the clubhead on the line.
Q: Now, the moment of truth. What do you focus on through impact to generate max ball speed?
Justin Thomas: On the course, I limit myself to one swing thought: Pull my left hip up and behind me. That jump-starts my move down from the top and fires the clubhead through the ball on the proper path and the proper angle.
Dustin Johnson: When you get down to it, driving is easy— return the club to basically the same position it was in at address at the fastest speed possible. Just be sure to maintain your posture.
Lexi Thompson: Some players pause at the top. I don’t. Just before my hands reach the end of my backswing, I start to unwind my hips. My hips fire and my arms “snap” down as a result—it’s like cracking a whip.
Rory McIlroy: As I reach the delivery zone, I push off the ground using my left foot and “post up” on my left leg. The post creates an axis I can use to turn through the ball at maximum speed. You can’t turn without the post.[image:14121615]
Q: Far is good. Far and straight is better. How do you add speed without sacrificing accuracy?
Justin Thomas: Keep your feet beneath you, whether you keep them flat on the ground or push off on your toes, like I do. A solid support base gives you balance, and balance equals accuracy.
Dustin Johnson: From the top, think about keeping your knees at the same height as they were at address. This helps you remain tall so you have enough space when you swing through impact and correctly square the face.
Lexi Thompson: You can’t release the club fast enough! Picture this: Get the face on your wristwatch pointing behind you after impact. Not only will you nix your banana ball, you might even hit a power draw.
Rory McIlroy: As soon as your left shoulder swings under your chin in your backswing, stop. That’s the end of your backswing. Control that, and you’ll control impact.