Jack Nicklaus Golf Tip: Drive the Ball Forward, Not Down

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Illustration by Jim McQueen

You’ll hit your best drives when the clubhead is traveling either precisely parallel to the ground or slightly upward at impact. That’s because the ball is hit forcefully forward, which is imperative to achieving optimum trajectory and maximum distance.

Your worst drives usually occur when you deliver the clubhead on an oblique or downward angle, imparting a glancing blow and excessive backspin on the ball at the cost of forward thrust. Weak, sliced pop-ups result from the most extreme form of this fault.

Here are several keys to ensuring a sweeping, or shallow, delivery of the clubhead through impact:

· Tee the ball so at least half of it is higher than the top edge of the clubface;

· Position the ball no farther back than an inch or so behind your left instep;

· Be sure your hands at address are no farther forward than the center of your left thigh;

· Set your head behind the ball at address, then keep it there through impact;

· Make sure your left hip never passes your left foot on the forward swing, ensuring the full clearance of your left side and a complete release of the clubhead with the hands, wrists, and arms.

Get these positions right and you’ll transfer maximum energy to the ball at impact and hit your tee shots farther than ever.

Next Week’s topic: Strike Squarely for Maximizing Distance.

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