Nicklaus Golf Academies

Nicklaus Golf Academies

, AZ

P: 602-799-7099

The Truth Behind Creating Distance

By Mike Malaska
Nicklaus Academies’ World-Wide Director of Instruction

There is one question that comes up with most players; “How can I hit the ball farther?” As much as the golf industry and my peers want you to believe there is more to length, creating distance is quite simple. There are two important aspects in creating efficient distance. Controlling the clubface is number one. The second is proper forearm rotation.

The Truth Behind Creating Distance

In order to maximize your golf swing, you must first”catch the ball” squarely on the clubface. For most players, getting the clubface square on the back of the ball is either an accident – or a miracle. Regardless of a club head speed of 100+ mph, or one that is less than 50 mph, it is paramount you learn how to control the clubface with every club in your bag.

DRILL – You need to start with the shortest of strokes, the putting stroke, and learn to square the clubface on the ball. Draw a line around the entire ball, and on a flat putting green or surface, set the ball down with the line straight up and down and practice ‘rolling’ the ball 8 to 10 feet so that the line remains constant (straight) throughout its roll. You cannot achieve ‘a straight line’ with anything less than square contact on the ball. Once you have mastered rolling the ball, increase the distance. Begin to work on squaring the clubface on chip shots with a 6- or 7-iron, then pitch shots, then eventually full shots. With all clubs, the control of the clubface is in the timing of the winding and unwinding of the lead forearm.

TEST – To confirm you are truly controlling the clubface, practice hitting shots with every club in your bad so they only carry 50-75 yards with a full turn, then begin to add speed as you increase the distance at 25-50 yard increments.

RESULT – When you master this drill, you will now have control of the clubface and will begin to create more distance – efficiently.

NEXT ISSUE – Proper forearm rotation and the use of launch monitors to confirm you are maximizing your club head speed.

Creating Distance (Part 2)

By Mike Malaska
Nicklaus Academies’ World-Wide Director of Instruction

Last issue, we discussed the importance of proper club face control as it relates to creating distance. Without being able to ‘catch the ball squarely’ on the club face, one has little chance of maximizing distance. A key to controlling the club face and generating effi cient power is found in rotating the lead forearm properly.

DRILL – Extend the thumb on the hand of your lead arm and point it toward the top of your chest just below your Adam’s apple. Next, drop your hand until it is waist high allowing your hand to rotate outward so your thumb is pointing down the target line. Extend your other arm to form a golfer’s grip, bend at the waist, and extend your hands down the target line as if you were just past impact. This is a simple demonstration of proper forearm rotation – nothing more, nothing less.

Creating Distance

– To confirm you are rotating your forearm properly, put your watch on so the face is visible from the underside of your wrist. Now, take a normal swing. When you complete your swing, you should be able to read the time on your watch.

CONFIRMATION – The use of a ball flight monitor, or launch monitor, will confirm you are maximizing impact. By tracking club head speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rates, the monitor will calculate ‘a Smash Factor’ for each shot. A Smash Factor of 1.5 is considered the industry standard for solid impact, or the maximization of a square face at impact with a proper swing path and controlled club head speed. All essential components required to generate the maximum distance possible.

OTHER FACTORS – In addition to a square face at impact and proper forearm rotation, the combination of club head design, loft, shaft flex & kick-point and golf ball play a substantial role in the delivery of distance. Better instruction facilities and golf shops that employ launch monitors as part of their teaching and equipment evaluation process can help match your swing style, club head speed and path, and impact tendencies with the ideal equipment combination that will add yards (and consistency) to your shots.

About the author: PGA Professional Mike Malaska is #28 on Golf Digest’s ranking of instructors and is one of Golf Magazine’s Top 100. To arrange a personal session with Mike, call 602.799.7099 or visit

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