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Lesson Learned: Sam Burns Showed You Can Drive for Show and Dough

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Sam Burns plays his shot from the 16th tee during the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship at Country Club of Jackson on October 03, 2021 in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The PGA Tour is off and running and we couldn’t ask for two better winners than Max Homa and Sam Burns. A couple of young superstars in the making on tour who prove week after week how important ball-striking is toward winning. 
Sam’s performance was something very special. He was almost 15 strokes better than the field in Strokes Gained. His 3 under 33 to close the final nine in Jackson, Mississippi, included an absolute stripe show off the tee.
The commentators marvel at his confidence. The closing holes at the Country Club of Jackson are tight off the tee. Burns must have believed those fairways were wide because he stepped up and drove it straight down each of them with the tournament on the line. Even though you may not be competing for a PGA or LPGA Tour win, there are two moves here we can copy from Sam to mirror his driving success.
The best drivers on tour swing with a complete turn and free-flowing follow through. You can see it clearly in Burns’ swing. Though every golfer may not possess Sam’s athletic ability or flexibility, there’s a way we can all feel a better backswing turn and follow through to a complete finish. Here’s a simple demonstration drill that will have you moving more like a tour pro in minutes.
Whether you are at home or on the practice range, pull out your driver and a golf ball. Hold the shaft across your shoulder line. You can easily do this by crossing your arms and placing the grip end toward the lead shoulder and the clubhead end toward the trail one. Take your regular address position in front of the ball you placed on the ground.
  • Turn the lead shoulder back toward the ball. The grip should be pointing down toward the ground as close to the ball as you can get it. To make that much turn in the backswing, you may need to lift that lead heel, and that’s okay!
  • Now move the trail shoulder and clubhead back toward the ball. Imagine the feeling of hitting the ball with that clubhead. You would really need to stay in your posture (side bend).
  • Keep turning through and get that trail shoulder and clubhead of the driver you’re holding against your shoulders past your lead shoulder. This will complete your turn and give you the Burns bomb.
Too many times we don’t complete our turn back and our follow-through. For many this will start out as a stretch. You’ll feel a mile away from the ball in your backswing, but that will give you power and consistency. Yes, consistency. Using those big muscles to turn will take over for the hands and wrists causing a much more solid strike at the ball.
Following through where your trail shoulder finishes closer to your target than the lead shoulder is very important. That’s a full commitment to the shot increasing speed and accuracy. Solid shots start with a powerful coil and finish with a free-flowing aggressive finish.  
Very soon these rehearsals will become more comfortable and balanced. Mix in some drives if you are at the range. Very quickly you will notice this magic move will help all your full swings. Irons, hybrids and wedges are all meant to be struck this way.
You don’t have to be super flexible or crazy athletic to swing the golf club like the players you see on television. You just have to trust yourself and build up some confidence with a turn like Sam’s. When you do, I promise you’ll soon be seeing solid results.

Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.

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