Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.
The only way to increase your distances is by increasing your swing speed. Yep, it’s that simple — it’s just never actually that simple in practice.
That’s because just swinging harder doesn’t always translate into farther, more accurate shots. In many cases, it produces the opposite results, as amateur golfers often lack the proper understanding to generate more swing speed.
In order to generate more speed, golfers not only need a game plan, but they need a grasp of the dynamic motions that go into doing it right. This means knowing how to use their feet, rotate properly, and utilize an athletic golf posture to drive the ball.
So if it seems like every amateur player is obsessed with gaining length off the tee, that’s because they are!
Ask anyone in your next golf group about what they want to improve on, and three-quarters of them will begrudgingly say, “I want more distance with my driver.”
In today’s Shaving Strokes, that’s exactly what a 40-year-old science teacher named Chris wanted, too. But instead of going about it on his own, he teamed up with GOLF Teacher to Watch Lucas Wald.
Wald put together a program for Chris that concentrated on increasing his swing speed. Not only were the results incredible — with the high school teacher gaining 20 miles per hour of club speed — but it also led Chris to become a scratch golfer.
So take a look below at how Wald helped Chris gain more length and shave some strokes; who knows, maybe it can help you do the same?
Chris Kirby is a 40-year-old high school science teacher. This means that when Chris isn’t trying to wrangle the attention of his students, he’s sitting down at a desk grading quizzes, tests, and papers.
But he’s also an avid golfer, who was searching for help to hit the ball farther.
Chris knew that he wanted to get on the green in fewer strokes, which would help him compete at a higher level. Problem is, he couldn’t do it with his previous golf swing.
Remember, short and crooked is not something anyone wants to see on the golf course.
So two years ago, Chris invested in Wald’s “How to” series, which is Wald’s blueprint for setting up the human body for speed and accuracy in the golf swing. Along with three in-person lessons, Chris transformed his game to another level.
As of January 2022, Chris’s index was 5. Today, Chris sits at a +1.9.
So how did it happen? Using Wald’s help and sticking with a game plan, Chris increased his swing speed and ball speed from 95/142 miles per hour to maxing at 114/171 miles per hour.
The image below shows the progress.
With the increase of 20 miles per hour in swing speed and approximately 30 miles per hour of ball speed, Chris is carrying the ball often 70 yards farther with his new swing! The video below shows the before and after.
So what was the secret? Wald shared the below steps that he used with Chris.
Increased thoracic rotation and extension. Wald helped strengthen Chris’s core muscles, which allowed him to fully rotate in order to generate the speed needed to drive the ball farther.
Increased length of backswing with proper sequencing. From making a full shoulder turn to avoiding swaying and even lifting the lead heel, the video above shows some of the ways Chris lengthened his backswing.
Stabilization of arm and hand release. By eliminating the reliance of the right hand in his swing, Chris was able to square the clubface at impact. The swing speed soon followed, which led to more distance.
Correction of both body work and foot work. Many amateurs forget about how important their feet are in the golf swing. Wald not only reminded Chris of that, but also helped him properly use them as he reshaped his motion.
Elimination of too much lateral motion. This means getting rid of swaying in the swing, which Chris was often doing. This would lead to lost distances and inconsistencies.
Improved posture and tempo. Stand up straight and slow things down; that seemed to be the rule of thumb for Chris. By correcting this issue, he was more likely to stay on plane and be in control from setup to follow through.
Support to mental and physical health. The teacher encouraged his student throughout the entire process. This meant building Chris’s confidence in himself, while also helping prepare and recover his body.
Mastering movements at slower speeds. As mentioned above, golfers must have a game plan that doesn’t just involve speeding up and swinging as hard as possible. Wald helped Chris learn the right fundamentals of the golf swing — and the results speak for themselves.Originally published on Golf.com here: golf.com/instruction/driving/how-science-teacher-gained-swing-speed