For me, there is no greater feeling in golf than bombing a drive right down the middle of the fairway.
Sure, we all love draining a big putt or even chipping in from off the green. Some of us have even been lucky enough to have holed out from a fairway bunker, or jagged the coveted hole-in-one at some point in our lifetimes.
But personally, there is no sweeter moment than directly after you’ve flushed a driver when, for a split second in time, you’re the only person in the world who truly knows how well you’ve struck the ball.
Sure, a hole-out from the fairway is euphoric, but I find something truly satisfying – hell, even tranquil – about watching a well-struck drive launch through the air.
The next most enjoyable feeling is walking down the fairway and finding your ball 50 yards in front of your playing partner’s (unless, of course, you’re playing alone).
Every golfer on the planet – whether you’re an amateur or a tour pro – wants to hit longer drives. The question is: how do you do it?
To hit longer drives you need only one thing: to change your angle of attack from negative to positive. An upward angle of attack will impart less spin on the ball, launch it higher off the tee and, as a result, make it travel farther through the air. Without increasing your swing speed, you can gain nearly 50 extra yards off the tee by simply hitting up, not down, on the ball.
Sure, I could say you need to spend seven days a week in the gym like Bryson DeChambeau in order to start hitting bombs, but while physical gains will give you some extra distance, this kind of training is not practical for the average weekend warrior.
If you’re like me, you likely work a full-time job and don’t have hours and hours of spare time to transform your body in the weights room.
Some of you reading this may even have physical limitations that prevent you from working out, or you may be at an age where – no matter how much stretching or strength training you do – you’ll never swing the club as fast as you once did in your prime.
However, fear not! In this article, I’m going to explain how you can maximise your potential with the ‘big dog’ in hand and start hitting longer drives without increasing your clubhead speed or buying new gear (if you are looking for a new driver, however, check out our top picks for beginners).
How can I hit longer drives in golf?
This is a question we’ve all sought the answer to throughout our golfing journeys.
For me, when I first took up the game at around 26 years of age, I wanted to find out what I could do to hit big, booming drives like the pros on TV.
I would look at guys like Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and, more recently, Joaquin Niemann and think: ‘they’re roughly the same height and weight as me, so there’s no reason why I can’t hit the ball longer than I do currently’.
Of course, I didn’t expect to acquire PGA Tour length off the tee, but I truly believed as a fit, young man – with a clubhead speed of around 108mph (only 6mph less than the Tour average) – I could definitely get more out of my driver.
It wasn’t until I stumbled across a YouTube video by instructor Chase Duncan, who runs a channel called Own Your Golf Game, that I truly had that lightbulb moment when it came to hitting longer drives.
You see, Chase is only 5’5” tall and weighs in at just 120 pounds, yet I was mesmerised watching videos of this pint-sized pocket rocket blast 300-yard drives with ease.
I had to know his secret: and it turns out that secret is angle of attack.
Let me explain some of Chase’s teachings about why attack angle is the key to hitting longer drivers (disclaimer: I’m not in any way affiliated or compensated by Own Your Golf Game. I just really like their content and find it extremely helpful).
What is attack angle in golf and why does it matter?
Attack angle in golf measures whether you have struck the ball with an ascending or descending blow. Striking the ball while your club is still travelling downwards on its swing arc will create a negative angle of attack. In contrast, striking the ball while your club is moving upwards on its swing arc will create a positive angle of attack.
How angle of attack affects the flight of your golf ball is as followed:
Negative angle of attack: Imparts more spin on the ball; launches the ball lower off the tee; will result in less carry distance through the air.
Positive angle of attack: Imparts less spin on the ball; launches the ball higher off the tee; will result in more carry distance through the air.
What Chase made me realise in the simple 10-minute video below is that I could significantly increase my distance with driver without generating any extra clubhead speed – all I had to do was make sure I was striking the ball with a positive angle of attack and physics would do the rest.
Well, that’s exactly what I did, and I’ve never driven the ball farther in my life. I kid you not.
Watch the video of Chase explaining attack angle:
So, what are Chase’s secrets to increasing launch angle? Let’s take a look.
How to increase your attack angle for longer drives
There are three key factors that will help you strike the golf ball with a positive attack angle and hit longer drives – weight shift, ball position and shoulder alignment. Hitting the ball off your front foot while keeping your weight behind centre, with your shoulders slightly closed, will maximise your driving distance.
If you can optimise each of these elements in your golf swing, you will greatly improve the likelihood of creating a positive angle of attack that will get you hitting longer drivers without adding so much as one mile-per-hour of clubhead speed to your swing.
Now it’s time to break down each of these steps in more detail.
One of the most common pieces of advice amateur or beginner golfers get is they need to make sure they get their weight onto their front foot as they strike the ball.
But, as Chase explains, this can often be misinterpreted and, as a result, create some unwanted problems with the driver:
What I hear over and over from amateur golfers is ‘I need to get through it (the ball), I need to get through it’, so they try to get all their weight off their back foot and come forward.
As they do that, they think they’re achieving a good, solid golf swing. They’re used to seeing the guys on the PGA Tour with their weight on their front foot, finishing forward.
But they don’t realise the negative effect that plays on their attack angle.
Instead, when addressing the golf ball, you should picture an imaginary line drawn from the left-side of your chest down into the ground.
When swinging driver, you should try and keep your head behind that line and not let it drift forward to touch it or, even worse, get in front of it.
By keeping your centre of mass behind that imaginary line, it will help keep your weight well behind the ball (while still transferring to your front foot) and create a positive angle of attack (upward strike), which will create higher launch.
In summary: you don’t have to push forward off your back foot as much as you think you do.
One of the easiest ways to create a positive attack angle, increase launch trajectory and maximise distance with driver is to move the ball forward in your stance.
A common tip you’ll read online is to place the ball on the inside of your left heel when setting up to hit driver, but, as Chase explains, you can take it even one step further to truly start hitting bombs off the tee.
To demonstrate, he hit three balls with driver – one from the middle of his stance, one from inside his left heel, and one from in front of his left foot.
These were the attack angles each shot produced:
- Middle of stance: -7.8 degrees
- Inside left heel: -0.5 degrees
- In front of left heel: +5.2 degrees
What this demonstrates is the farther forward the ball is in your stance, the greater you can increase your attack angle with driver.
The reason this occurs is the clubhead will start travelling in an upwards direction after bottoming out at the low-point of the swing.
Next time you’re at the driving range, experiment with ball position and you might be surprised by how much distance you can add without changing anything else in your swing.
The final set-up technique you can tweak to help hit longer drives is shoulder alignment.
Too often, amateur golfers will address the ball with their shoulders excessively open because, as Chase says, “they’re so anxious to see where the ball is going to go”.
What this does is create an out-to-in club path, otherwise known as an ‘over-the-top’ action, which will promote a descending strike and a negative attack angle.
To maximise distance, you want your club to travel on more of an in-to-out path as this well help draw the ball through the air and allow it to fly farther.
The best way to do this is by setting up with your shoulders slightly closed to your target line (I’ve explained how to check your alignment in another article that I’d definitely recommend you read).
Doing this will shift your centre of mass farther behind the ball, and make it far easier to hit up on it – creating that ever-so-important positive attack angle that is essential for maximum distance.
Other ways to hit longer drives
While improving your attack of angle is by far the easiest change you can make in order to hit longer drives, there are some other things you can do that may help squeeze a few extra yards out of your swing.
Strengthening your grip: Doing this will tend to promote a draw ball flight, which can help create more penetration through the air and also extra roll down the fairway – meaning more distance.
Speed training: There are some great aids available on Amazon, such as the ArchiTek Golf Overspeed Swing Trainer that can train you to generate more speed in your swing, for an affordable price, and get extra yards out of your driver.
Get fitter: If you really want to take your game to the next level, it might be time to join a gym and start lifting weights and stretching regularly. Players like Bryson DeChambeau, and Tiger Woods before him, have proven that added strength and flexibility translates to greater distance off the tee.
If you want to hit your driver farther without increasing clubhead speed, the easiest way you can do this is to create a positive angle of attack at impact.
Making slight changes to your ball position, weight shift and shoulder alignment can result in big improvements to your driving distance and will have you outdriving your mates in no time.