Jim Hartnett: Hit it long by using the ground!

Hit it long by using the ground!Golf Book photos 9-26-02 182

Everyone wants to hit the ball farther and for years there have been many opinions on how to hit the ball further. With the implementation of new technology power and distance is no longer a mystery.  Video technology, TrackMan and other technologies have changed what were once opinions on how the golf swing works to produce power into real answers.  Ideas such as hitting it farther off the tee, one of those ideas is the angle of attack with the driver.  TrackMan proved to all of us that hitting the ball on the upswing of 4-6 degrees will increase a players distance off the tee.  This is just one example of what has been learned over the last decade.

Creating power using the ground works but the arms still produce a ton of speed.  I have discussed how the arm swing mechanics and lever systems create a tremendous amount of power in previous articles so we will not discuss here.

BodiTrak, who I am affiliated with, develop ground measurement tracking that has changed the way many teachers teach and many players play.  There are a few companies out there providing pressure mapping but I think BodiTrak is the best at this time.  The information you can gain from each swing is amazing and  a bit overwhelming.  The information provided for each swing  could fill a good size spread sheet with motion specifics.  Golf instructors may not like this but much of the data that BodiTrak provides can not be seen during the swing.  We just cant see some of the subtle motions that BodiTrak picks up and analyzes.

There are many articles on ground force dynamics, COP, COM and a bunch of other acronyms and fancy words.  There are links at the bottom of this page if you want to get technical.  A very good article that is not too technical but provides a great explanation of ground force dynamics was authored by Adam Young, Ground force, cop and com by Adam Young .

How does the average player take all this data and turn it into something they can use to improve their game?  Finding a golf professional that uses pressure mapping and taking a lessons may be the easiest answer. There are some basics that you should understand if you take a lesson or not.

Pressure mapping basics;

  1.  There are a several different traces, where the pressure moves in the swing with, on the PGA tour and there is not a right or wrong.
  2. Players that hit it long  have similar but not the exact same traces.

    The white vertical line indicates impact with the other white line that looks like an ekg reading showing change in pressure from back to front foot.

  3. The basic body motion of players that hit it long;
    1. The start of the swing has the weight generally balanced
    2. In the back swing the weight  moves to about 80% to the back foot
    3. The weight moves to the left foot before the top of the swing
    4. The fastest lateral movement is at the start of the downswing
    5. The weight before impact is actually moving back toward the right foot, yes true

How to use the data

So lets make this simple assuming your arm mechanics are doing the right thing.

  1.  When your left arm  is horizontal in the backs wing this is the most weight and pressure you should have on your back foot.
  2. At the top of your swing before you arms move down you should be moving your weight to your left foot.
  3. When you left arm is horizontal on the down swing the pressure on the left foot increases stopping the forward momentum of your wight shift.
  4. From the left arm horizontal position in the back swing the left foot is pushing back or “backing up” allowing the body to start to rotate.
  5. If the previous motions are correct the rotation of the body and “backing up” of the pressure can cause the legs to straighten causing the “jumping” effect at impact.   If you want to see a demonstration of hitting it long see  Bubba Watson jumping at impact along with many other tour players.

Hit it long?

If you try these methods you will hit it longer but you may not necessarily hitter it straighter.  Start by working on  the sequence listed above without a golf club.  For most players moving to their front foot before they start the downswing will feel very different. Work on these body positions at first slowly and then add speed.  Once you feel like your coordination has improved use a golf club.  Then go to the range and start to practice.

Additional information

Here are some great links to more information regarding pressure mapping and body motion;

How pressure movement affect club path

Counter balance in the swing by Terry Hashimoto

Michael Breed demos BodiTrak

Jake Thurm explains Kevin Steelman swing


Best of luck and happy golfing!


Jim Hartnett, PGA