Distance Killers:  How 3 Dreaded Mistakes Can Drain Yards on Drives

Updated 07/27/2018

When I first lost 20 yards off my driver, I thought it was just because I was getting old. Then I played with a guy who was 10 years older than I am and he said he hits the ball farther today than he did when he was in his athletic prime.

“New technology helps,” he said, “and staying fit. But really, it’s all in the golf swing.”

Well, I have a pretty new driver and I’m not in bad shape; so if it isn’t age, what is it in the golf swing that’s causing that lost distance?

PGA teaching professional Todd Kolb identifies what he says are the top three major sources of “power leaks” in a new instructional video on YouTube.

Watch 3 common distance killers for the driver, here:

Distance Killers #1:  Hitting Down on the Ball

When using your driver, Kolb says the most common cause of power loss is hitting down on the ball. “We know without a doubt that in order to maximize your distance when hitting the driver, based on whatever your club head speed is, that you want to hit up on the driver.”

Why?

“When you come in contact with the golf ball and the club is traveling in an upward motion toward the ball, what that does is it increases launch – which is a good thing – and it decreases spin.” Too much spin, even on a well-hit drive, can rob the ball of distance, according to Kolb.

So how do you make sure you’re always hitting up on the driver?

Kolb says a good way to start is to check your ball position.

“That ball should be positioned probably more forward than you think,” he says while demonstrating the correct positioning on the video. “Very few times in teaching have I ever had to tell a student to move the ball back in their stance (with driver).

“Usually I am telling them to move it forward. When you move it forward you’ll be hitting up into the ball on the drive and you’ll get more distance.”

 

“New technology helps,” he said, “and staying fit. But really, it’s all in the golf swing.”

 

Distance Killers #2: Moving Off the Ball

“They literally take their upper body and shift off the golf ball because they think they want to get their weight back on their right foot (during the backswing).”

With split-screen images of two golf swings – one that shows a player moving off the ball and one where he stays over it – Kolb demonstrates the discrepancies.  In a proper golf swing the right-handed player gets pressure, or weight, over the right foot without shifting the upper body off the golf ball.

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“Don’t confuse off the golf ball with rotation and turn, they’re two completely different things,” he says. “It’s the rotation of the upper body combined with pressure into the right foot, into the ground – not onto the right foot but literally into the ground – that gives you the ability to push forward” through the ball.

Kolb compares this movement in the golf swing to a sprinter breaking from the starting blocks. “Same thing happens in the golf swing,” he says. “When you rotate, if you don’t push down into the ground with your right foot, you have no starting blocks.  You’re trying to sprint but you have nothing to push off from.”

Distance Killers #3:  Poor Transition

The final of the three distance killers that Kolb identifies is also what he calls the most elusive one.  A poor transition: the move from the backstroke to the downstroke.

“It’s where the magic happens,” Kolb explains, “it’s the magic move. The concept deals with the weight of the club, the balance (whatever word we want to use).  When it stands up early (in the backswing) you’re going to lose power.  Basically, you’re dumping all the energy out too early.

“When you let it shallow or flatten out a bit, you store it longer and you can kick it out later.  Much like a field goal kicker, you create late speed and that’s what you want.”

That short explanation may be hard to understand.  But Kolb spends several minutes discussing and demonstrating the movements that cause power loss in the transition. Not only that, he explains the proper motions.  These motions allow the swing’s energy to be stored and released as the club meets the ball.

“What do we want to see? From the top of the backswing, we want to see that magic move.  That move is what we in golf instruction call the shaft laying down. And when the club shaft lays down, the weight of it, the balance, kind of falls back and behind.  And that’s when the energy is stored up and you can release it into the golf ball.”

Summary

There could be a multitude of reasons why you’re losing distance off the tee with your driver. But after 25+ years on the lesson tee, Todd Kolb simplifies it for us . He has found there are three distance killers that appear more often than any.

He’s narrowed these distance killers down to:

  1. Hitting Down on the Golf Ball

  2. Moving Off the Ball During the Backswing

  3. Poor transition from Backswing to Downswing

So if you’ve lost distance with the driver, check out this video to see if one of Kolb’s three most common distance robbers is the cause.

You might just rediscover something in your golf swing.  And that might make you hit the ball as far or farther than you ever did.