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Sandy Springs golf pro teaches secret of hitting longer shots
by Greg Oshust
June 18, 2013 03:26 PM | 1756 views | 0 0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
John Marshall teaches golfers how to hit the long ball at Steel Canyon Golf Club in Sandy Springs.
Staff / Nathan Self
John Marshall teaches golfers how to hit the long ball at Steel Canyon Golf Club in Sandy Springs.
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Hitting the ball longer is something that most golfers aspire to.

John Marshall has just the plan for that.

The 65-year old Smyrna resident has established himself as an instructor of the power game at the Steel Canyon Golf Club in Sandy Springs.

Marshall certainly understands the appeal of hitting a golf ball as far as possible.

“Years ago, I remember [former Atlanta Braves pitchers] Greg Maddox and Tom Glavine doing a commercial for somebody – I can’t remember what it was,” Marshall said. “It was a TV commercial and it said, ‘Chicks dig the long ball.’ There’s something about hitting the ball further than your buddies that’s just so appealing and if you don’t necessarily beat them on the scorecard at the end of the day, you can pass them off the tee. There’s something fun about that.”

For Marshall, there is more to driving the ball far than just raw power.

“Certainly, there’s a lot of aspects that go into that — from improving the biomechanical efficiency of the golf swing, being physically fit and flexible and choosing the proper equipment,” Marshall said. “So, it’s kind of a three-pronged situation to maximize length. But, if people can do that and are willing to put in the time and practice time, they get better and they get longer.”

Marshall has practiced what he preaches as a successful competitor in long drive competitions.

He was the American Long Driver Association Super Senior national champion in 2005 and ’06 and a five-time RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship finalist during a competitive career that lasted from 2002 to ’10.

It was the RE/MAX World Long Drive competition that provided the introduction to the world of long drive golf for Marshall, a longtime golfer who played collegiately at Ithaca (N.Y) College in the late 1960s.

“RE/MAX Long Drive is basically the Super Bowl of long drive and they announced a decade ago that they were starting a new division – guys 55 and up,” Marshall said. “I had always been pretty long as a golfer and I was salivating when I heard about. It seemed like so much fun and something that at a slightly advanced age – I could be competitive at this, and I was.

“I had a great time and met a lot of great people and it was an extraordinary experience.”

Marshall teaches the golf swing developed by Mike Austin, a legendary long drive golfer whose 515-yard drive at the 1974 U.S. Senior Open is the longest tee shot in competitive golf history.

“Basically, this swing uses an additional lever, if you will,” Marshall said. “Because of that, because you need more club head speed, you don’t swing any harder – you’re just more technically sound. When people say, ‘How do you hit the ball farther?’ it’s not a magical formula. You don’t just stand there and hit the ball further. You’ve got to create more club head speed and you’ve got to make sure you’re hitting the ball in the center of the club face.

“But, speed is what it’s all about. This golf swing enables people to create more speed, so it’s what I’ve used to compete in long drive and not only do you hit the golf ball further – I think you hit the golf ball straighter. So, it’s the best of all worlds.”

Marshall gives more than 20 lessons a week at Steel Canyon, which he has been affiliated with for five years.

“The people at Steel Canyon are just awesome,” Marshall said. “It’s so much fun to be there and to meet new people and to help them play better.”

Steel Canyon General Manager John Crouse said the association with Marshall has been a positive one for the club as well.

“John’s best attribute is his sense of humor,” Crouse said. “He loves the game of golf and loves helping people get better. His attitude and passion are two of the many qualities he brings to Steel Canyon.”

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