Pros Teaching Joes: How long-drive champ Kyle Berkshire helped me gain 8 yards in two swings

Golfers have always wanted to hit the ball farther, but, thanks to Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, the desire to bomb the ball off the tee has become more mainstream than ever.

It’s also something that is actually achievable if you go about it the right way. And no, it doesn’t always require months of excruciating work in the gym (thank goodness!). Back in November, I had the chance to experience first-hand how simple it is to add yards to your drives, thanks to an on-the-spot lesson from reigning World Long Drive champ Kyle Berkshire.

My driver is my favorite club in the bag. Hitting the fairway is generally my forte, but my distance is less than stellar. A good drive for me usually travels around 200 yards. But with Kyle’s guidance, with one swing, I gained four mph, and on my second, I posted an additional eight yards of distance. Amazing! Here’s a breakdown of how he helped me max out my drives, without changing my swing.

How to gain yards without changing your swing

Step 1: Create as much speed as possible

Speed means distance, and, as a general rule, the more speed you create, the more distance you’ll generate. But how do you create more speed? Berkshire says it’s all about displacing your weight from your starting point, and returning that weight with more momentum and power through the ball. Berkshire’s recommendation for me was to try to shift my weight more to my trail side on the backswing, which should help me turn more and deliver more power (and speed!) through impact.

For me, that meant “stacking” my weight over my right knee on the backswing and trying to make sure the entirety of my body was behind the ball at impact.

I’m not a very technical person, especially when it comes to the golf swing, so the feeling I tried to create on my practice swing was one of additional extension on the backswing — almost like an extra gear of wind-up — and a deeper shoulder turn.

The swing felt strong — and it was! Right off the bat, I gained four mph in ball speed. Huzzah! But Berkshire wasn’t done with me yet.

Step 2: Learn to unload your wrists

The immediate ball-speed gain was nice, but Berkshire felt like we could do better. The next step? Unloading the wrists in the final third of the swing before impact, which Berkshire says is the biggest point of speed amplification in his swing. The more extreme the angle, the greater the unload, and therefore, the greater the distance.

One thing to keep in mind, Berkshire said, is that the wrist angle is not just something you can aspire to create. It’s reactive to the work you put in to the first part of your backswing: your coil, turn and stacking.

Obviously, I would never come close to the wrist angle Berkshire achieves on his longest drives, but even a minor improvement would make a big difference for me.

When Berkshire put me on the spot to hit one more drive, I was nervous — I didn’t think I could top the first drive I hit. But keeping his guidance in mind, lo and behold, my second swing was even better. Eight more yards of carry! For a player like me, that’s a whole club! It can mean the difference between being in range on a par-5 or not, or hitting an iron as opposed to a fairway wood on a par-4.

In short, my time with Berkshire was eye-opening and inspiring. And it sure feels good to be a new member of the bomb squad.

To add more pop to your swing, get a driver fitting from the experts at 8AM Golf affiliate True Spec Golf.

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jessica marksbury

Golf.com Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.