Golf pro tip: For longer drives, tee it high and focus on a smoother swing

There's nothing like the feeling of hitting a long drive down the middle of the fairway to start your round.

However, not every golfer can swing over 110 mph to generate the swing speed and connection typically needed to hit a golf ball 250-plus yards down the fairway.

They can maximize their distance, however, by understanding a few key concepts.

Today we are going to focus on how to maximize your distance without gaining club head speed. Too many golfers make the mistake of using more effort to swing faster instead of focusing on swinging smoothly to create more speed.

In this graphic, notice that a club speed of 91.7 generates a straight shot with a distance of 235 yards. Photo courtesy of LS Golf

When you try to swing harder, your whole body tenses up and you actually end up working harder but very little speed is gained.

Imagine a world-class sprinter getting as tight as you see some golfers do when preparing to swing. They wouldn't be able to run as fast.

Tense muscles in all sports - and especially golf - work against you. You must try to relax when you step into the tee box and take some nice, easy practice swings to loosen up.

And, of course, think about making a smooth swing.

Another common error that amateur golfers make which affects driving distance is that they tee the ball down too low, which prevents them from hitting up on the ball. And to make matters worse, they'll hit down on a ball that isn't tee'd up high enough.

This creates the dreaded ground ball, which never looks good and certainly doesn't get you closer to the hole.

In order to maximize your distance with lower club head speed, you need to tee the ball up high, play the ball forward in your stance and tilt your upper body away from the target. The most important skill to hitting a long, straight drive is being able to hit the ball in the center of the face, preferably with a face angle that isn't open to your path.

In this graphic, notice that a faster club speed of 95.0 generates a shot that only travels 199 yards. A smoother swing is more important than a faster swing. Photo courtesy of LS Golf

A simple way to establish your set up is start with your feet together with the ball in line with your front foot. Then take your trail foot back just past your trail hip. This will provide you with the correct ball position and width for your stance.

Then take a nice, smooth swing and enjoy the results.

See you on the first tee!

• Louis Sauer is a PGA Professional and owns LS Golf in Northbrook. He can be contacted by email at, and you can follow him on Instagram at score_golf.

For more from the Illinois PGA, visit

• Editor's note: With assistance from the Illinois PGA, the Daily Herald provides golf tips each Wednesday from a PGA Professional.

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