HENRIK STENSON: DRIVE IT GREAT
Setup and swing tips for long, straight tee shots.
My swing thoughts are always changing. It’s just the nature of the game. New feels and images occur to me all the time, and they feed into each other – a small backswing thought will lead to a new sensation at the top, which will create a different feel coming down. But they’re minor. The basics of my swing, which I’ve worked on with Pete Cowen since 2001, haven’t changed. There’s always room for improvement, but my distance and accuracy have been an asset. I ranked second on the PGA Tour last year in total driving, and I’m first this year, so no big changes coming up.
For me, good driving technique starts with the lower body at address. A nice, wide stance, with my feet just outside shoulder width, gives me stability and leverage. The sensation is that I’m holding onto the ground. I bend from my hips, never stooping at the waist, and my weight is on the balls of my feet. I’m engaged and ready to move, like a soccer goalie.
My backswing happens from the ground up, starting with a shift to my right side, followed by the rotation of my hips, then my shoulders. All the while I’m maintaining that hold-the-ground feeling with my feet and legs. The downswing also is from the ground up, initiated by a little shift back to my left side and a picture in my mind that I’m working down and around with my legs and hips. I don’t want a quick hip turn – no snapping action – just a steady uncoiling.
Another good driving cue for me is to keep my arms in front of my chest. I don’t want them lagging behind as I turn through, and I sure don’t want them flailing out and away from me. If you keep your arms in front, you’ll have a sensation of swinging “underneath yourself.” Your arms and the club will seem like they’re travelling down a channel as they drop from the top and track through the ball. The idea is to be so solid right before impact that the hit itself just happens. I like to feel that my left hand and arm are guiding the motion through impact. Avoid any feeling of flicking at the ball with your right hand.
When my arms move in sync with my upper body coming down, the ball starts on the correct line, or very close to it. That’s a huge confidence-builder. If your drives are starting to the right or left, you need curvature to bring them back into play. But if you start the ball straight, it has to curve a lot to put you in the trees.
MY LEFT HAND AND ARM ARE GUIDING THE MOTION THROUGH IMPACT. AVOID ANY FEELING OF FLICKING AT THE BALL WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND.