There really is nothing worse than skying your golf driver, leaving a big scratch on the paint work right on the top of the crown.
You then have to look at the damage for the rest of the time you have the driver. What is worse is if you keep skying your driver, the ball goes straight up in the sky with no distance and you do not have a clue why! Well this tip will help cure your problem shot and will help you understand why you sky your driver shots.
Problem - When hitting wood shots off the tee, the ball hits the top of the golf club and shoots up into the sky producing no distance and accuracy. This also leaves a scratch mark on the crown of your driver or wood. There are two possible reasons why you sky the golf ball and both can be easily fixed so that you never have to hit that shot again.
Cure - The first and most simple cure could be that you are just teeing the golf ball up too high. This will cause the golf ball to hit the top of the golf club rather than the middle of the club face in the sweet spot. As a rule, the perfect tee height depends on the depth of the club face. The best way to measure how high to tee the golf ball up, aim to have just under half the golf ball visible over the top edge of the golf club. This will be high enough to strike the ball cleanly, however not too high to get under the golf ball too much.
Top tip - If you find this height is still too high, tee the golf ball up slightly lower than suggested.
Cure - The most common error is incorrect weight transfer on the way down. The club will most likely be hitting the golf ball too steeply, therefore imparting a downward blow on to the golf ball causing the golf club to go under the golf ball instead of hitting up on the golf ball off the tee. Another great way of creating more of an upward hit is to lean the body weight behind the ball at address.
Key points - Your sternum (middle of chest) ideally wants to be slightly tilted back away from the target at address and also at impact so that the golf club's angle of attack is hitting more up on the ball. Do be careful not to lean back too much at impact. Ideally, we would want to just have our head behind the ball at impact.
Continue to follow through as normal after the shot to create the correct weight transfer.
Golf Driving – How to Stop Skying the Driver
Every golfer has been there. You pull out your driver on the tee box of a par four or par five, place the ball on the tee, and pick a target way off in the distance. After going through your pre-shot routine, you step up to the ball and take one last deep breath. You make a confident, aggressive swing down through the ball, you look up – and you can't find the ball. Where did it go? Only after you check with your playing partners do you learn that it went straight up in the air. After a few seconds, the ball falls to the turf in front of you. In addition to feeling frustrated that you have put your ball in a bad spot, you also feel embarrassed about the shot you just hit. Even if it only happens once in a while, skying the driver is never a good experience.
One of the worst things about hitting a pop up with your driver is the shock that it can send through your golf game. If you have been going along playing a good round only be to interrupted by this shocking mistake, your confidence may not recover right away. Skying the driver is something that can leave you doubting your ability to hit good shots – even if there really isn't anything wrong with your swing technique. It is important that you have a good understanding of skying the driver, and a good plan for how to fix the problem, so that your confidence isn't damaged beyond repair.
While it is possible to 'sky' some of your other clubs when hitting them from the tee, this is a problem that is mostly contained to the driver. After all, you will tee the ball up highest when hitting a driver shot, meaning there is more room for the club head to slide under the ball. An ideal drive is hit just above the center of the club face, so even a good swing is only a few centimeters from disaster. With such a small margin of error available to you, it shouldn't be a surprise if you sky a few drives from time to time. Making this mistake doesn't mean that you are a terrible golfer – it just means that you are human.
You are never going to play your best golf if you are constantly worried about skying your driver off the tee. This is a problem that you will need to solve in order to get your ball around the course with confidence from the first tee to the last green. While anyone can hit a pop up drive occasionally, it should happen very rarely. If there is a pattern of these poor drives showing up in your game, changes need to be made to fix the problem and get back on track.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse the directions as necessary.
What Went Wrong?
Immediately after skying your driver, you will likely start to think of a long list of possible causes for this bad shot. Did you tee the ball up too high? Maybe you swung too hard? Perhaps your foot slipped as you were coming down into the ball? In reality, there are a number of potential causes for this frustrating mistake. The first step toward eliminating the pop-up driver from your game is to correctly identify the root cause. You don't want to be changing things in your swing that don't need to be changed in the first place, so placing blame on the correct part of your technique is crucially important. Only when you are sure you have figured out what is going wrong can you move on to making the fixes required.
Following are three common causes of skying the driver off the tee –
- Teeing the ball too high. This is the first thing that most golfers think of when they hit a pop up with the driver. If the ball is teed too high in the air, you may slide the club head right under the ball even with a good swing. However, if you have a modern driver with a 460cc club head, you will have to tee the ball way in the air for this to be a problem. Unless you have specialty long tees in your bag, you likely don't need to worry about this issue. The standard golf tee that you pick up in the pro shop before you play isn't long enough to create a problem. You want to tee your ball high in the air with the driver so you can hit up through the shot and create a good launch angle. Unless you are placing the ball unusually high on a long tee, your problem is likely going to be found somewhere else.
- Long backswing. Allowing your backswing to carry on too long is one of the most common causes of skying the driver. With a long backswing, the issue comes down to balance. As your swing continues to get longer and longer, your weight will start to drift to the left naturally. Before you even start your downswing, you will already have a large percentage of your weight on your left foot. That imbalance can lead to a steep downswing, and a popped up drive. You want the driver to sweep the ball off the tee at impact, not come swinging down at it like a short iron. With too much weight leaning toward the target, a steep swing and poor contact are almost inevitable. If you determine that this is a problem that is affecting your game, shortening your backswing should be a top priority.
- No lower body rotation. Another way to create a steep swing is to fail to use your lower body during the downswing. As you reach the top of your backswing, it is your lower body that should be doing most of the work to turn your body toward the target. However, many amateurs fall short on this point, instead using just their arms to throw the club down at the ball. When that happens, and the lower body doesn't move left like it should, a steep swing plane will result. Just as in the point above, the result can be a pop up with the driver. Of course, this is also a good way to create a slice, so if you notice that you are dealing with both skying your driver and hitting a slice in the same round, there is a good chance that your lower body is to blame.
There are other potential causes for skying your driver, but the three listed above will apply to almost every golfer who has this problem. It is important that you don't allow yourself to get too frustrated after hitting a pop up or two on the course. This is a problem that can cause some golfers to lose their temper, but you need to remain patient and look for a solution with a level head. Getting mad won't make the problem any better, so take a deep breath and think through your swing logically until you deciding what it causing the ball to fly straight up into the air.
Correcting Your Tee Height
If you believe that your driver issues are being caused by teeing the ball too high, you should be able to fix this problem pretty quickly and easily. However, isn't necessarily as simple as just pushing your tee farther into the ground, because you don't want to overcorrect and end up teeing the ball too low. Having the ball too low to the ground on a driver swing is even worse than having it too high, so you need to learn how to strike a perfect balance. Fortunately, with a plan and a little preparation, you can make sure that your ball is teed up at the right height for each and every shot.
Use the following process to make sure you are teeing the ball up correctly hole after hole –
- To start mastering your tee height, head out to the practice range with your driver, some tees, a permanent marker, and a few golf balls.
- For most golfers, the ideal tee height will have about half of the ball visible above the crown of the club head, so that is a good place to start. Tee up your first ball and place the driver head down on the ground behind the ball. Adjust the tee height until the equator of the ball is even with the top line of the driver face.
- Before hitting the shot, use the marker to draw a line on the tee at the point where it meets the ground. This will indicate your tee height for the first shot.
- Hit the shot and watch your ball flight carefully. Do you feel like that tee height was comfortable, or does it need to be moved up or down? Experiment with various tee heights moving gradually up or down from the starting point. Each time you hit a shot, mark a line on the tee so you will know how high that ball was teed up.
- Once you settle on a tee height that you are happy with, save the tee so that you can replicate the line on other tees.
When you get back home, use the 'winning' tee as a guide to mark up a bunch of other tees in your bag with a line at the appropriate tee height. By having tees with a line drawn on them, you will never have to guess how far to push the tee into the ground – just push down until the line matches up with the top of the turf, and you will be all set. This is a simple but effective way to add consistency to your tee height before every swing of the driver.
Tightening Up Your Backswing
The great thing about working on tightening up your backswing is that this improvement won't just help you stop skying the driver – it will help your game across the board. A long backswing is the cause of many problems on the golf course, so finding a way to shorten your overall motion should lead to great results. However, this isn't going to be as easy as just working on your tee height. In order to shorten your backswing and improve your swing as a whole, you are going to need to put in some serious practice time on the range.
Specifically, the reason that it can be so difficult to adjust the length of your swing is that your timing will be affected. Even if you don't realize it currently, the timing of your swing is something that you have gotten used to over the years. Your body naturally responds to different movements within your golf swing to deliver the club to the ball at precisely the right moment. Even if you aren't a great golfer, you still have plenty of timing mechanisms already built into your swing. As you adjust the length of your backswing, those timing mechanisms are going to be affected.
One of the best ways to shorten your backswing effectively is to control the position of your right knee. During the backswing, the right knee is responsible for maintaining a solid position and keeping your lower body in place. Unfortunately, many amateur golfers allow the right knee to get out of control during the backswing – which frequently leads to a long backswing and poor contact. If you are fighting a long swing, and you are skying your driver as a result, it is a good idea to focus some practice time on how your right knee is working in the swing.
Some golf teachers will instruct students to keep their right knee perfectly in place throughout the backswing, but that is a little extreme for most players. Unless you possess tremendous flexibility, you probably won't be able to hold your knee exactly in place – and that is okay. Instead, you want to focus on limiting the amount that your right knee moves back, while making sure it doesn't move to the right at all. It is okay to have your leg straighten up slightly as you turn, but it is not okay to have that knee sliding away from the target. When your knee moves to the right, that motion can lead your whole body to sway off balance, and a long list of problems can result. Watch your right knee carefully to make sure that any movement during the backswing is simply a straightening up of the leg, and not a lateral slide to the right.
A good way to work on this leg movement is to ask a friend to help you while at the driving range. Stand up in your golf posture as if you were going to hit a shot – but don't have a club in your hand. Instead, give your club to the friend who is going to help you. Once you have taken your stance, ask your friend to hold the grip end of the club against the outside of your right knee. They don't need to push it against your knee, but there should be enough pressure so that you can feel the presence of the club.
Next, make a pretend golf swing (without a club) while your friend holds the club against the outside of your right knee. With a physical reminder that you shouldn't be sliding away from the target, you will be more likely to turn in place without any lateral motion. In fact, if you do try to move to the right, your friend should be able to tell you of the mistake as they will feel the pressure against the club as they hold it in place. Make a few practice 'swings' without a club using this drill, and then return to hitting shots as normal. When you go back to hitting balls, remember the feelings that you had during this drill and your right knee should remain in check.
Think of your right knee in the backswing as starting a chain reaction. When you control the position of your right knee, you will be limiting the amount of shoulder turn you can make away from the ball. When you limit your shoulder turn, your arms can't swing as far, and the backswing will come up shorter as a whole. Although the position of your right knee might seem like a small detail, it can make a big difference to the length of your swing – and in turn, it can help you stop skying the driver.
Using Your Lower Body Correctly
The last issue on the list that is known to cause pop up drives is a lack of lower body motion in the downswing. This is another common amateur mistake, so you are certainly not alone if your lower body isn't quite doing the job as you move through the ball. It can take a lot of practice to learn how to use the lower body properly, but those who do will be rewarded with powerful ball striking all over the course.
A lack of lower body rotation in the downswing can usually be spotted by watching the finish position. If your swing isn't leading you to a balanced finished on top of your left leg, you probably aren't using your lower body properly. The golfers you see on TV almost always wind up well-balanced over their left leg as they watch the ball sail through the air, and you should be aiming for the same kind of finish. Even though the ball is long gone by the time you reach the finish, that position will tell you a lot about the success or failure of your golf swing.
As a drill, try making some practice swings again without the use of a golf club. You can do this drill at home, or at the golf course – it's up to you. The idea is simple – you are going to make a pretend practice swing while trying to get your right foot to come off the ground in the follow through. You should take your normal stance, and swing your arms back as you would regularly (except you aren't holding a club). When you get to the top of your swing, use your lower body to start rotating aggressively to the left. The lower body rotation should pull you so hard to the left that your right foot actually comes off the ground for a moment at the finish. Do as many repetitions of this drill as you would like until you are confident that you have improved your lower body motion.
The nice thing about doing this drill at the golf course is that you can do it for a couple of minutes and then transition right into hitting balls. Obviously, you don't want to pull your right foot of the ground in your regular swing – the drill is simply exaggerated to help you feel the right motion. Once you understand how your lower body can power the swing by rotating hard toward the target, you should be able to repeat that motion over and over again. With a great leg drive, your swing plane should flatten out with the driver, and those pop up shots should be a thing of the past.
To avoid embarrassment, as well as additional strokes being added to your score, it is important that you fix your problem with skying the driver right away. The three possible causes above should cover the issue for most golfers, so take a look at your swing and your game to see if any of these points apply. Once you identify the cause, get down to work as soon as possible so you can start correcting your technique and rebuilding your confidence. The tee shot is one of the most important aspects of golf, and you will have more fun on the course when you can blast the ball down the fairway time after time.