I’m always amazed when I see a slightly built player on the LPGA Tour grab a driver as tall as she is and split the fairway with a 250-yard drive. Why can’t I do that? I’m a foot taller, probably 90 pounds heavier and still fairly limber.
“The reason the top women are able to hit the ball so far is because they know how to use their core strength,” said Michelle Dube, an LPGA master teaching professional at Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita. “Men typically try to overpower the ball by using their upper body strength, but that just leads to a swing out of sequence.”
If I swung like a girl I could add a few yards to my drives and subtract a few numbers from my scorecard? Hmm. Perhaps it’s time to embrace my feminine side, because I sure as heck have a lot more in common on the course with Stacy Lewis, Ai Miyazato and Morgan Pressel than I do Bubba Watson, Heath Slocum and Graeme McDowell.
To get it together sequentially – and realistically – men (like me) with higher handicap indexes should probably watch a few more LPGA Tour events. That tour typically plays courses in the 6,500-yard range and the players hit their shots about the same distance a decent male player would. Yet the women’s scoring average is close to 70, while the average male weekend warrior would be thrilled to get near that mark.
“They’re more in tune with their ball striking,” Dube said about the top female pros. “Their rhythm and timing is outstanding. They build a swing from the ground up and unwind the club in the proper sequence. The average male golfer really can relate to a top female player because their games are similar as far as yardages are concerned. They’re good models to emulate.”
We’re men, so we typically play from a tee box farther back than we should and pull out an 8-iron for a 165-yard approach shot over water when a 6-iron is the more realistic choice. We’re transfixed with heroic shots and swinging for the fences even though that strategy can lead to final scores most NBA teams would love to rack up.
Dube played professionally on a development tour years ago, said she hits the ball farther now because of better equipment. Balls and clubs are constantly being upgraded to enhance distance and control, but the primary way men with higher handicaps can gain power and a technically better swing has nothing to do with technology.
“The women are using more of their legs, their glutes, their abs, their core in general, when swinging the club rather than just the upper body,” she said. “Women also hold the club lightly and relax their arms and allow the clubhead to gain speed, whereas most guys who want to hit it hard, they’re squeezing it tight and trying to hammer the nail into the wall.”
So rather than beating my head against a wall dreaming about 300-yard drives that will never come, perhaps it’s time to lighten up and focus on technique instead of testosterone. In other words, swing like a girl and be the envy of the guys in my group when I post the lowest score. Sounds like a plan. But when the round is over we’re definitely heading home, going to a sports bar or stopping by the 19th hole to dissect the round or talk about football. I’m totally drawing the line when it comes to hanging out at the mall.