Our golf team, Florida Gulf Coast, was involved in a great college golf tournament Monday and Tuesday. Teams like Wake Forest, Baylor, Florida State, Notre Dame and St. Mary's (Calif.) — and many other great schools — came to Naples to play in the second annual Lexus Naples Intercollegiate Invitational.
All involved would like to thank my friend Peter Jacobsen and Peter Jacobsen Productions, Germain Lexus, Mike Curtan of WCI, Tom Brown of Golfing Naples, Scott Casselberry of Sam Snead's, and Bob Radunz, general manager of Hammock Bay Country Club and his staff for all the effort and work to make this such a great tournament. We all know how much work and effort goes into a production like this.
If you were out watching the tour players of tomorrow, you couldn't help but notice how far they all hit the ball. What can the average golfer, and in my case, an older golfer, learn from watching these players in terms of how to get that ball out there farther?
Listed below are some tips I noticed that would help all of us hit it 10 yards farther:
• Grip — Relax your grip. Keep the tension out of your hands and arms at address to allow for faster clubhead speed. Also, it was quite noticeable how strong their grips were. (Turned to the right).
• Head Position — All of these long-hitting kids set up with their head at least 3 to 5 inches behind the ball. This allows them to hit up on the ball with the driver.
• Tempo — Develop a slow tempo on the backswing. The slow tempo gives the big muscles of the shoulders and hips time to make a full turn.
• Wide Arc — Wow! Look at all those Tiger-like wide swing arcs on the backswing. It seemed like every one of these kids had long, wide, extended swing arcs. And, of course we know the width of the arc is a great distance producer.
• Coil — You talk about coiling their upper body against the resistance of their lower body on the backswing and all of these long hitters do this. I think if you're looking for a name, they call this their x-factor.
• Leverage — You say, what is leverage? Leverage is the ability to keep the wrists cocked far into the downswing. Most of us, of course, loosen our wrist cock as we swing down. This would be called casting. No casting in this group.
• Weight Transfer — Every one of these kids looked like they were starting their downswing movement to the left side before the club even finished its backswing arc. This type of weight transfer to the left side with the lower body initiating the movement down is an earmark of all long drivers.
• Rotation — At impact, these golfers had their hips open at least 45 degrees and their shoulders open 20 degrees. This open position showed great rotation speed of their body and is another distance producer.
• Timing — Timing is probably the greatest distance producer of all the mechanical principles. Timing is the sequence or order of the movement. For example, the order of movement on the backswing is: clubhead, hands, arms, shoulders and torso, hips, feet and knees. The order is simply reversed on the downswing: feet and knees, hips, shoulders and torso, arms, hands and wrists, and finally, clubhead.
• Rhythm — The last thing I noticed was the rhythm of their swings. All throughout the motion you could see even acceleration of their clubhead — no jerks or bobbles.
Even if you can't swing the club like these younger golfers, it's great to know how they do it, and in increments you can apply some of the power principles and tweak your swing. But always remember to find your own power source and build your swing around it.
Dr. Jim Suttie, the 2000 PGA Teacher of the Year, is director of instruction at The Club at TwinEagles in North Naples and at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill. Suttie was a presenter Feb.17 and 18 at MIT in Boston for the Technology and Golf Instruction Seminar. Dr. Suttie and Dr. Mike Thompson made a presentation on a study on the "consistency" of variables during the golf swing and whether good players more consistent across variables compared to high handicappers. His new book is "Your Perfect Swing" and is available at bookstores and at amazon.com. He also is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and rated No. 15 by Golf Digest. Suttie coaches the FGCU men's golf team. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.