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Thanks to his full and loose swing, Fred Couples has always been one of the longest hitters on tour.
Thanks to his full and loose swing, Fred Couples has always been one of the longest hitters on tour. (Michael Zito/Eclipse Sportswire)

Increase your club head speed, increase your distance

Les MillerBy Les Miller,

Club head speed determines distance. The golf swing has three moving parts: your body, your hands and your arms, all of which generate power during the swing.

The upper body needs to make a complete shoulder turn on the backswing, (this is where energy is stored). On the downswing the arms drop and swing around the body, then the hands release through the impact zone to create speed by straitening the arms at impact. As the arms swing down from the top of the backswing and through the hitting area, the speed of the swing will continue to increase if the arms straighten during the impact area.

Most players' arms and hands are too tight during the swing, creating tension that lowers swing speed and produces a weaker impact. Most golfers pull the arms inward while hitting, so the hands don't release. The result: slower swing speed and miss hits.

Years ago, while working at Cleveland Golf, I had the opportunity to watch many PGA Tour players practicing on the range. The longest hitters were the ones whose arms were soft and relaxed during the swing. At address, the arms should be relaxed and hanging down from your shoulders, tension free. At impact, the arms should be fully extended, allowing the hands to release upon impact.

The tour player who I believe best demonstrates the above is Fred Couples. His swing is full and loose, with no outward look of tension. During his career he has always been one of the longest hitters on tour and can easily reach back for additional distance when needed.

So take a full shoulder turn on the backswing, relax and let the arms straighten out upon impact. Your swing speed and distance will increase and you'll become a much better ball striker.

Les Miller was a longtime Golf Writers of America member who covered golf instruction for several newspapers and golf publications. His many years of experience as a golf professional, director of product development and tour relations for several major golf companies gave him a unique background and ability to help golfers increase their enjoyment of the game.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • swing speed

    Jason Sorrel wrote on: Mar 24, 2015

    This isn't correct. The arms should straighten AFTER impact. Look at the pro's position at impact and you'll see how the full release comes about 1.5 ft after the ball is struck.


  • Les Miller

    Rod Miller wrote on: May 13, 2010

    Sadly, I must report that my brother Les passed away yesterday in California. He was 64. Les truly loved the game of golf & it was the only business he was ever involved in after serving in the army. ( He was a decorated soldier in Viet Nam & was awarded the Silver Star )
    I just thought you should know.
    Les was something special.


      • RE: Les Miller

        Dave Curry wrote on: Jun 3, 2010

        Sorry to hear about Les. Good guy. I worked for Tad Moore when I first met Les. I had sent him an email just last week about working a deal together with Adams Golf and hadn't heard from him. My Georgia rep was in this morning (Ames Hogan) and told me. My prayers are with your family.
        Dave Curry
        Big Oak Putters