Looking for More Distance? Try This Simple Band Drill
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Today’s PGA of America Golf Professionals are more educated than ever in fitness and the body’s function within the golf swing. They’re not just applying short-term quick-fix band-aids to their students’ swings, but are creating long-term game plans to address the physical, mental and technical aspects of the game.
Justin Kraft is the PGA of America Director of Instruction at Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minnesota. He earned the Minnesota PGA Section Youth Player Development Award in 2022 and was recognized for his outstanding achievement in instruction by GOLFTEC back in 2020.
To no surprise, he hears this often: "How do I hit if farther?"
“It's the most common complaint I receive from golfers on the lesson tee," says Kraft. "But it's a great question and actually carries a lot of value."
As golfers, we understand the longer we hit the ball, the more potential we have to score better. So let's turn it to the expert, Kraft himself, about how we can get more distance the right way.
I'm going to introduce a concept you may not have heard about before.
It's called Hand Path Length.
Before I dive in, imagine you were in a life-or-death situation and you had to bust down the wall behind you to survive. Would you rather have a 10-foot running start to knock the wall down or start 6 inches from the wall?
The answer is obvious! We want a running start because it would allow us to generate more force. This concept can be applied to the golf swing as well as it pertains to the length that our hands travel in the backswing. The farther we can get them to travel, the more potential we have to create clubhead speed.
So how can you create a longer hand path? What are the requirements? Follow these steps:
Get in a comfortable stance
First, we need to be able to rotate in the backswing. The more we can turn on the way back, the more potential we have to create a longer hand path. The first step to turning is establishing a stance where you feel balanced and comfortable. If you struggle turning, it may be beneficial to flair your toes a few degrees. From there, allow your knees to change flex as you load up to the top. This will greatly increase the amount of hip rotation you can achieve.
Think wide . . .
Second, we need to talk about the arm structure. A lot of golfers struggle to keep their lead arm straight (pictured below). While this is true, in my opinion, their focus should be elsewhere. As you load to the top of the swing, ensure that your trail arm does not fold excessively. As a baseline number, try not to let it fold more than 90 degrees like in the image below. The wider we can stay with our hands, the greater the radius of the swing, and the longer the hand path gets!
And feel taller
Third, we need to feel "taller" in the backswing. That's right, we don't want to stay level! The taller we can get in the backswing (pictured below), the more we can lengthen out the hand path vertically. To do this, feel like your trail hip elevates as it works behind you in the backswing and that your trail pec points more up at the sky.
I know this sounds confusing - but don't worry. I've got a drill here that will help you tie it all together.
Use a band drill to "load up"
Take a relatively stretchy band about 5 feet in length (pictured below) and stick it under your lead foot. Simply try to make a backswing and stretch the band out as far as possible. You'll feel your body turning, your arms staying wide, and an extension in your body as you load up to the top. As you stretch the band, you can really get a sense of how long your hand path can be.
If you fail to feel the tension in the band (pictured below), focus on creating width and turning more. Not only is this great for improving your hand path length, but it is also a great stretch that can help create more flexibility. The more range of motion you have available to you, the more you'll be able to stretch the band . . . and the more distance you can gain! Try it for yourself, and next time you tee off, don’t forget to yell “fore!”
To learn more from Justin, click here or follow Justin on Instagram (@kraftygolf).