For the weekend golfer a good driving round will be a good scoring round, since a long, straight tee shot usually will bring the green within reach and create a good chance for a par or even a birdie. Most golfers, however, have never really tried to learn how to hit for distance. Women in particular think that they do not have the necessary size or strength. Not true, says U.S. Open Champion Mickey Wright, who has become the longest hitter in the history of women's golf by incorporating into her swing seven distance-building elements. She guarantees that anyone of normal size and coordination, whether man or woman, can learn to drive a golf ball consistently 200 yards or more. On the following pages Miss Wright teaches the seven vital elements in seven simple steps. Once studied and mastered, they will make it easy for anyone to achieve the distance off the tee that is so essential for winning golf today.
STEP 1: The grip
There are two important points to keep in mind about the grip. First, it should be natural. By this I mean the position of your left hand on the club should be more or less the same as its position when your left arm is hanging loosely at your side. This is absolutely the strongest position it can be in, but I learned this the hard way. In 1960 in order to develop a soft, controlled fade I weakened my left-hand grip by moving my thumb over onto the top of the shaft. After a few months I began to feel a strong and persistent pain in my shoulder, which left only after Earl Stewart, the Dallas pro, persuaded me to return to my natural grip. "You are probably forcing too hard to get the club face back on line," he pointed out.
Just as important as the position of the left hand is the placement of the right index finger. This finger should be around the shaft slightly apart from the middle finger (see above), just as it would be if you were set to squeeze the trigger of a rifle. This position is especially important for women. It helps tremendously in keeping the club face square at the start of the backswing and it supplies a much stronger hold on the club at the top of the backswing than a grip that doesn't emphasize this trigger-finger action of the right index finger.
Suggested practice routine: Practice for a minute or so daily just putting your hands on the club in the correct manner. Check the trigger finger closely. Then keep rechecking against the drawings (left and above) until the grip becomes automatic. Recheck again frequently.
STEP 2: The stance
The right foot is the key to a strong stance. It is both a buttress around which you will build a great deal of your swing and a starting block from which you can accelerate into the shot quickly and smoothly. The rest of the stance is pretty routine, but I'll go over it briefly. Play the ball opposite the instep of your left foot with your weight distributed over the rear portion of both feet, from the balls of the feet back through the heels. No weight should be on the toes. At address your arms should be firm but not rigid, neither pressed in against the body nor reaching out for the ball. You will lose a great deal of distance if you have to reach. The sole of your driver should be flat on the ground. When it is, you know you are handling the club the way it was designed to be used.
To produce extra distance you must learn to use the right foot efficiently. The weight planted on the right foot should be carried entirely along the instep. The right knee should be braced inward so that you can feel tension all up and down the inside of the calf and thigh, as if you were holding a volleyball against your left leg with the right knee. Bracing your right foot and leg in this manner will keep the leg from buckling during the backswing and thus prevent a left-to-right sway. It will also furnish a powerful jumping-off place from which to start the downswing. To reproduce exactly what I want in this respect I often hit practice shots with a golf ball tucked under the outside spikes of my right shoe (see drawing). The immediate increase in distance using this gimmick is astonishing.
Suggested practice routine: Spend at least 15 minutes each week hitting shots with a golf ball placed under the outer edge of your right shoe. This will also help improve footwork.
STEP 3: The wide-arc swing