How to Hit a 400 Yard Drive: 3 Critical Points

Kudos to my good buddy Russell. In one of his comments on a previous post he mentioned how he wants “more superficial information” like how to hit a golf ball 400 yards with a 3 wood. So this post goes out to all y’all who want a more superficial side of Seth. (If there’s actually “y’all” out there—which word suggest a plurality of audience members). For a future date, Rusty suggested a tutorial on how to cut your own hair, which thing I’m quite good at seeing how I haven’t paid anyone to cut my hair for years. Stay tuned for that one. This post’s about my favorite leisure activity and a unique ability to hit a golf ball a really long way… under special circumstances…

Being that Rusty has given me the green light to be superficial I might talk about myself a little bit here. It’s true. I’ve hit a golf ball over 400 yards numerous times with many witnesses (but never with a 3 wood, sorry Rusty). In some sense that puts me in an elite club. I don’t know what that “club” should or would be, but if there was one that had anything to do with hitting a golf ball 400 yards I might qualify by a few yards.

My brief golfing history: I hit my first 300 yard drive when I was 14 years old with a 3-wood on Fore Lakes Golf Course in West Valley City, Utah (not much of a course, just a little 9 hole executive). I made my first birdie on that same hole. I started golfing with a used set of clubs my uncle had given me. It’s been a little while since then. I’m much bigger now or taller at least with a little bit longer and a somewhat shinier clubs that are more explicitly functional (Mizuno MP30’s 2-PW, X-stiff Dynamic Gold +2 steel shafts, bent 3 degrees upright). I’ve never had a lesson in my life, but since high school I’ve somehow been able to flirt with scratch golf (I did more flirting in high school…) and I’ve won every long drive contest in every tournament I’ve been in outside of collegiate or prep sports. (If you don’t know what “scratch” is then don’t worry about it).

Nobody in my family really plays much golf, except my uncle, so I don’t know to whom I can attribute my golf mediocrity other than Tiger Woods himself. (No, he’s not on my speed dial but I got close enough to him one time that I could have punched him in the face had I wanted to). As A kid I would record every single tournament he played in the was broadcast on national television to watch it over and over through out the following week. Thus, I’m very much self-taught, or I just did what Tiger did. So this post is as unprofessional as is my golf.

PAUSE: I better watch it. This golf subject is way too enjoyable for me and I know way too much about way too much meaningless golf stuff. I can talk about golf for hours or days even, which would mean I can write about it for even longer. Straight to the point…

3 Critical Points to Hitting a Golf Ball 400 Yards

DISCLAIMER: I have two things to my advantage. First, I’m coordinated. Second, I’m 6’10”. Most of you have the former, but not the letter. The latter gives me all the advantage in the world to hit a golf ball 400 yards, if I have the former. (Being tall plays a different role when you actually try to score well in golf, in that sense it’s better to be a lot a bit shorter).

A golf club is a lever and you know what Archimedes said about levers and fulcrums, “Give me lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” Yeah, I’ve got long… fulcrums and levers and stuff. So don’t you worry about what you can’t control, just do these three things and you’ll perform just fine.

Critical point number one: Forget everything that has anything to do with Happy Gilmore as it refers to golf. The movie is good entertainment sure, but it has given people an incrdibly false perception about golf in more ways than just how to hit a golf ball 400 yards. From a golfer’s viewpoint, from my viewpoint, the show is a disgrace to the game of golf, but albeit entertaining.

Always remember this: it is mechanically impossible for someone to hit a golf ball 440 yards swinging like Happy Gilmore. It’s not going to happen. You may think that “swinging harder” will make the ball go farther, but in golf, that’s just not the case. You can’t run up to a ball and swing as hard as you can and make the ball go any further. Don’t think so? Try me, I’ll give you a driver and I’ll take my 7 iron and I’ll out drive you by 50 yards. I only hit my 7 iron 205-207 yards. Distance is not about swinging hard, it’s about a lot of things that have nothing to do with swinging hard. Hitting the ball is mostly about proper timing and synchronization of your hips and shoulders. Almost as important are your stance, grip, ball position, and ball striking. None of those have anything to do with swinging hard. If you’ve ever seen Ernie Els hit a golf ball you’ll know why he’s called the Big Easy. He’s one of the longest drivers on the PGA tour. Check this…

Critical point number two: Tee the ball up higher and don’t rest your club on the ground prior to takeaway and place the ball all the way forward in your stance. This is critical. I use 3” tees (must be white and wooden). Don’t be afraid to tee it up and rip it. The top of the club face should hit the ball right at its equator. Beginners don’t tee the ball up high enough and when they do they’ll pop it straight up in the air because they rest their club on the ground before they swing and flub it.
Most people rest their driver on the ground prior to takeaway and skim the surface of the grass during the backswing. I got news for you. Your brain is accurate enough to help your muscles create a specific muscle memory point. Your downswing will likely return to that point, nip the grass (or plow it), and hit the clubface way above the sweet spot instead of right smack in the middle of it. The result is a weak shot. Don’t do that. Hover the club barely above the grass at setup, tee the ball up accordingly.

The reason why you must place the ball all the way forward in your stance (straight off your big toe) is because you want your driver to do what it’s meant to do. That may sound stupid, but it’s true. Your swing with your driver is different than with 3 woods from the turf, utility clubs, irons, wedges and putters. Your swing is shallow and wide; more “oval” than any other shot. . The impact point with the driver should be just before the club begins to ascend. The impact point with all other clubs, except a 3 wood off the tee, is descending. Just get used to teeing the ball forward and swinging wide and shallow.

Okay, that was three points, lucky you.

Critical point number three: For me, this one factor has made all the difference and has turned my mediocrity into superhuman strength. Have girl problems. I’ve hit my longest drives while releasing large amounts of dating and relationship stress in the form of focused adrenaline. Just get it all out man… and let it go. Just let it go. For those of you who don’t have girl problems, I’m sorry, but 400 yards is a bit far without that superhuman edge.

All in all, it should look like something like this. I even give you two swings for the price of one. (This shot is with a standard 45″ Titleist 905R with a Fujikura Speeder shaft).

Bling.

About the author: I’m just a family man trying to make a difference by being who I am.

6 comments… add one

  • Risa

    I remember my first time to the driving range. You took me and I must say that if I had any desire to play golf it was snuffed out at that time and well I haven’t been back. So I guess you could say that it was my first and last time at the driving range. We went with a friend of my with whom you were infatuated but as yet could not date so I came along. As you helped her with the finer points of golf I was left to my own devices and needless to say that I was not what you would call successful. I think I hit chunks of grass farther than my ball most of the time. Finally I hit the little darn thing super far and I gave up a holler and a woop, at which point you told me that this is a quiet game and loud noises like that are not allowed. It was then that I knew that golf and I would NEVER be friends. Oh well at least you tried. You must have gotten your love and ability for the sport from the plaid and pastel striped, golf fairy.

  • Seth

    Risa, I don’t remember that! Who was the girl?

  • Razzle Dazzle

    Glad to see you cater to your patrons advice. I think I took that video of you at Sleepy Ridge. Can’t wait till spring when I can get more hands on advice from Mr. Fulcrum.

  • John

    Actually, the Happy Gilmore swing does work and add distance if done correctly, and it has been demonstrated. There are videos on Youtube of Padraig Harrington demonstrating this. Most people aren’t Padraig Harrington, but the point remains: however you build up your potential energy, it is possible to hit the ball far if you are using the big muscles of the body correctly. You can do this even with a Happy Gilmore-like swing.

    Secondly, distance IS partially about swinging hard. But it’s about swing hard with the right muscles of the body – primarily the hips and legs. Most amateurs fundamentally do not understand this. When most amateurs swing hard, they swing hard with their hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders, and this creates all kinds problems (casting, etc.). You are absolutely correct that a golfer must have proper grip, stance, etc. But the fact is, if a golfer is going to hit it a long ways, he must find a way to generate a tremendous amount of force, and doing so does not happen simply by being loose, having a good grip and stance, etc. If a golfer wants to hit it far, he HAS to be aggressive … but do so in the right way.

    For the record, Ernie Els is NOT one of the longest hitters on Tour and hasn’t been since 2005 (when he was 11th). In 2013, he was 77th in driving distance. In 2012, 51st. In 2011, 118th. There is definitely a lot to be learned from him about how to swing a club, though.

  • Well, I almost feel as if I am butting in to a private blog post and conversation here from the tone of the comments, but I’ll chime in… I am a 6’1″ 250# duffer in search of a swing that produces something other than a 240 yrd (at best) drive. My current ball set-up (in search of the nice safe shot, with a little added gusto) is at my left heel. I have always thought the the toe, assuming you toe-out your left foot, was a little too far to tee up, but again, I drive 240.

    I’ve learned a lot lately, and appreciate your thoughts on kinetics, anatomy, and slapping the hell out of the ball. I think I’ll try teeing up a little higher, and setting up the ball a little more forward – and of course, hold a a little more lag. Thanks -sa

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