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Distance on Your Drives

Exercises that will help you improve your golf swing

By Bill Phillips

John Daly took the golf world by storm when he won the 1991 PGA Championship. As the ninth and final alternate for that major championship tournament, his victory certainly defied all odds.

Daly is most famous for hitting the ball a great distance, partially because of his unorthodox swing in which he takes the driver way past parallel. While we would all love to be able to hit the ball as far as John Daly, caution is required when copying his swing or his fitness plan. As far as nutrition advice, he once said, "I believe nicotine plus caffeine equals protein."

Driving the ball for distance has become a sport unto itself. The Long Drive Association holds distance competitions including the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, which is shown on ESPN every year. The winning drive is usually about 400 yards, as compared to the 400 feet of the average major league homerun.

Strengthen Wrists

To improve your own driving distance, it's important to understand that strong forearms increase your swing speed. When you play a round of golf, your wrists control the club-on plane and with the proper clubface alignment-throughout the golf swing. They also provide power through impact or the "hitting zone."

For instance, when you swing a hammer, much of the speed imparted to the head comes from your wrists. If you swung a hammer with your wrist in a cast, all of the energy would have to come from your elbow and shoulder; you'd be lucky to ever get the nail through the wood. Similarly, the majority of the speed in your golf swing comes from the whipping of your wrists through the hitting zone.

My high school golf coach recommended using hand grips. Players can squeeze these devices-basically a spring with a handle on each end-with one hand to build strength. Another simple exercise to strengthen your wrists and forearms is to pick up a club on the end of the grip and let your hands remain at your side. Without moving your arms, raise and lower the club head. Fifteen repetitions in each hand will likely create a burning sensation in your forearms. Repeat this exercise three or four times each week, and you may very well notice an increase in the distance you hit your clubs.

Build Golf Muscles

In addition to strong wrists, building arm muscles will enhance your golf swing.

Consider purchasing a weighted ball of six pounds, available at many sporting goods stores. Position yourself in a golf stance and hold the ball out in front of you as if it were the golf club. Then swing the ball, just like a club. This drill will help you have your arms extended at the moment of impact, and build strength in your bigger golf muscles. Some experts suggest this drill should be done "swinging" in the opposite direction as well, to build up the muscles on both sides of your body equally.

Golf is a game that often defies common sense. Swinging harder and faster at the ball will only destroy your tempo and cause the ball to go shorter and in unpredictable directions. However, with wrist and arm strength to ensure proper tempo and control over the club head, the ball can go a long way.

Bill Phillips of has enjoyed playing golf since he was a young teenager. His site offers a wealth of information and advice about selecting and using golf clubs, including Ladies golf clubs, hybrid golf clubs, Cobra drivers, and more.

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