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Understanding how launch angle and power are linked can help you hit it further without swinging any harder. With a driver you are looking for an upward angle of attack into the ball. If you get it right you'll hit shots that launch high and without creating too much spin, stay in the air for a long time. This video and article show you how to do it.
How power and launch angle are linked
If you take one thing from this, it should be how you can get more yardage without swinging any harder. Some players seem capable of generating easy power – that is they swing within themselves and yet their distance is always good. This is because their launch conditions are spot on.
With a driver in hand, this means you need the right launch angle. A good way to think of it is to imagine you are holding a hose – if you lift the end of the hose up the water goes further until the angle becomes too great and then the water starts coming back to you.
Related: Best Golf Drivers
With your driver you should be aiming to find the optimum launch for distance. BY FAR, the most common fault among regular golfers is they don't launch the ball high enough. They carry a driver that is too low in loft and/or they attack the ball from a steep downward angle - this causes low launches and weak carries.
Set For Optimal Launch
The perfect ball position with a driver is forward. The ball should be just inside your left heel at address, your sternum behind the ball, and your weight distribution at address is on your trail side. Your lead shoulder should also be a little higher. The video with this article shows exactly how it's done.
If you can find this position at address you will be pre-setting the perfect launch angle to optimise your distance. Also, don’t forget about the tee height – roughly half of the ball should be above the top of the driver. Given how launch angle and power are linked, this is a crucial element to get right.
If you set the correct driver address position, you should be able to make a normal swing and find the ideal launch angle. However, one thing to watch out for is how your weight is moving. Your weight should settle over your trail leg at the top of the backswing and then move back towards the target through impact. Firstly, make sure that your weight is moving in the right direction (many golfers get this wrong, shifting away from the target through impact). Secondly, ensure that you're not lurching towards the target through the downswing. If you want that upward angle of attack that we have mentioned, your weight should gently follow the club as you move through impact.
A good rotation is another crucial ingredient to power. The basic idea is that rotate your upper body around 90˚ while your hips turn about 45˚. The difference between these angles helps to create good clubhead speed.
Related: Most Forgiving Drivers
However, it's common for golfers to struggle to rotate their hips this far, which restricts the upper body rotation accordingly. Place an alignment stick through your belt buckle to highlight your own hip turn.
If it is less than 45˚, hit some shots with your right foot moved back. This will help improve your hip turn and your body rotation for extra distance. Then try to incorporate this feeling into your normal swing.
If you are still struggling, allow the heel of your lead foot to lift in the backswing. This will help facilitate a bigger hip turn which is very important.
One of the biggest power killers in the swing relates to the way your wrists work. In the backswing, your wrists will naturally hinge to help the club reach the top.
The correct wrist hinge in the golf swing is a huge source of power and you want to hang on to it for as long as possible in the downswing to maximise your clubhead speed. However, often it's released too early and speed is lost before impact as a result.
Creating lag for power is one of the many things the pros do so well that amateurs struggle to get their heads around.
To help, make some swings holding an alignment stick. The loudest swoosh should come as the stick swings through the impact area. If the swoosh is early, work on retaining the angle in your right wrist for a little longer.
Along with understanding how launch and power are linked will huge impact on your overall power potential.
Location: Cumberwell Park
John has been Head Professional at Cumberwell Park in Wiltshire since it opened in 1994. He gets as much pleasure teaching beginners as he does county players, although being Wiltshire's Head Coach, Boys Coach and Girls Coach means he's always in demand. He also works with England Golf, and was England Coach Of The Year in 2020.
He's had the pleasure of working with many top players over the years, and has fond memories coaching the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tom Lewis before they made the leap into professional golf. John specialises in swing analysis and short game development.
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