As told to Michelle Hiskey, for the AJC

John Marshall ( is a golf teacher in Sandy Springs, who since 2002 has specialized in helping golfers develop more power through the Titleist Performance Institute fitness website ( He is a two-time American Long Drivers Association super-senior national champion and a five-time RE/MAX World Long Drive finalist. He explains how amateurs can hit longer.

“Chicks dig the long ball,” Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux once said in a classic Nike commercial. Actually the universe is quite a bit larger than just chicks. I have yet to meet a student who didn’t want to pound the ball past their buddies and utter those eternally special words: “You’re away.”

To hit it farther, a golfer must create more clubhead speed and hit the ball in the center of the clubface. Most higher-handicap golfers don’t swing fast enough or turn enough to create power.

Imagine standing directly behind Ernie Els, who fans think swings so slowly. In reality, you would be shocked at how quickly “The Big Easy” is moving. The move from the top of a pro’s swing to impact is several times faster than the average amateur will generate. That speed translates into the long ball.

When I was competing in long drive, one key thought was, “Hit it on my backswing.” This is contrary to the old advice to swing “low and slow.” Instead, get out of the gate like Secretariat and keep moving with supple quickness.

Power is also generated with a longer swing. Why? For the same reason that big truck tires will get a vehicle to its destination faster than “donut” spare tires. The bigger the circle created with the clubhead, the more potential speed is generated at the moment of truth — when the ball is hit.

Long-drive competitors often swing the club so far back they look like John Daly, and I’ve seen a guy swing so hard that on his follow-through, the club hit his back and the shaft snapped. I was in awe.

The flexibility required to make a good turn in the shoulders and upper body doesn’t happen overnight. It’s true that the 15th club in everyone’s bag is their body. I work on exercises that increase hip flexibility all the time because if you are able to rotate with a lot of speed and flexibility, that will create the centrifugal force to move the clubhead faster.

To become a little more flexible and a little stronger, check out the Titleist Performance Institute web site ( It’s a great golf-related fitness website. A little consistent effort in fitness will pay off when your tee ball is 30 yards past your pals.