Strength Training Exercises You Can Do to Increase Driving Distance
Golf fans love to watch the pros mash long drives. While many can appreciate the exquisite wedge game of Zach Johnson more covet the gargantuan drives of Dustin Johnson. By PGA Tour standards, Zach Johnson is a short hitter, almost 20 yards behind Dustin Johnson.
Both Johnson’s are major championship winners and are in the midst of fantastic careers. But it is Dustin Johnson who elicits awes with his driving distance. He has a five-inch height advantage over Zach and that equates to a longer swing and thus greater swing speed.
You can’t control how tall you are but having a naturally wide arc to your swing is just one way to generate club-head speed. Dustin Johnson may have the perfect long and lean build for a golfer but he also has remarkable strength and flexibility. Greater strength and flexibility are within reach for virtually every golfer. That will give you greater club-head speed resulting in greater distance.
Some factors affecting driving length
- Launch angle: many golfers can increase their distance merely by teeing the ball up higher.
- Balance: since the driver is the longest club in your bag, a wider stance is needed for proper balance.
- Ball position: the ball should be forward in your stance for a driver so that you can hit the ball on the upswing.
- Leverage: Dustin Johnson’s height increases his leverage, leading to longer drives.
- Accuracy: it does you little good to hit the ball farther if you can’t keep it play.
- Swing speed: the No. 1 factor in driving distance is the speed you generate with the club head.
Some of the factors to generate greater distance are a matter of practice and technique. But the biggest factor, swing speed, is increased through greater flexibility and strength. You can increase your flexibility and strength through exercise.
For many years, professional golfers eschewed exercise and especially weight lifting. Gaining muscle mass was thought to be a detriment to the touch you needed around the greens. One player who bucked that trend was Gary Player, who was perhaps the fittest player in the game during his prime. Player is 5-foot-6, much shorter than his counterparts, so he made up for his lack of leverage in other ways. But Player’s great fitness was an anomaly when compared to the chubby Jack Nicklaus and the chain smoking Arnold Palmer.
While Nicklaus and Palmer were two of the all-time greats in the game and had great physical abilities, neither hit the gym like today’s players, including Johnson. The turning point may have come from another all-time great, Tiger Woods, whose fitness regimen was still unusual when he joined the professional tour in 1996. The tour’s fitness trailer came along in the mid-1980s and with it a greater emphasis on fitness. Nicklaus attributes his Masters win at age 46 in part to his commitment to better fitness.
But it was Woods who sparked the current trend where most players feel greater strength and flexibility through exercise is an essential part of the job. You don’t have to be a professional golfer to gain strength and added length off the tee. You do need the proper fitness regimen.
Video: 5 Exercises to Hit it Longer
Exercises to aid driving distance
Woods created a bit of a stir in 2015 when he withdrew from a tournament citing his inability to “activate my glutes.” That was a phrase that not many people had heard but your glutes (the muscles in your butt) are definitely important to a powerful golf swing. The glutes provide support to your back and torso. If they are “activated” properly, a golfer might compensate and suffer a back injury.
One great exercise for your butt is the glute bridge.
The Glute Bridge
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feel flat on the floor and your arms to your side.
- Raise your hips off the ground until the only part of your back touching the ground is your shoulders.
- Hold the position for a few beats then lower back to the ground.
Be sure you use your hips and not your feet to lift off the ground.
Explosiveness is important for driving distance and you can improve your explosiveness with a medicine ball.
Medicine Ball Throw
- Choose a medicine ball that is heavy enough to provide resistance but light enough for you to handle.
- With your hands on either side of the ball, swing the ball to one side.
- With an explosive movement, toss the ball up against a sturdy wall (or throw it to an exercise partner).
The core of your body, made up of all the muscles in your midsection, is another important area. A great exercise for your core is a plank.
- Get into a pushup position.
- Rest your body on your elbows
- Put your body in a straight line position from your head to your toes.
- Hold the position for up to two minutes
The closer you can get to holding this position for two minutes the better the results. Most of you will not be able to get close to that length of time initially but will need to work up to two minutes.
Plenty of exercises are available to the average golfer to help increase distance off the tee. You may never reach the fitness level of Dustin Johnson or Tiger Woods but you can increase your club-head speed. That increase will translate into longer drives, a definite advantage in the game of golf.
I love spending time on the golf course which is not surprising, but I also enjoy writing about it. I created At The Tee to help people discover new courses, fine tune their game, and find the right products.
Editor at At the Tee