Driving the golf ball can be one of the most fun, yet difficult elements of anyone's golf game.
Everyone loves to hit the ball long and straight down the fairway. At the same time, no one wants to crush one out of bounds or into a hazard. In fact, a good driving game will be the key to setting up the rest of your golf shots for success. Conversely, a few bad drives can be devastating to your entire round.
One key basic to hitting long consistent drives is to not overpower the shot which can cause a lot of problems. Its easy to get excited and try to hit the ball as far as you can. This will be counterproductive, however, and can actually prevent you from hitting the ball long and straight. You want to take a full and smooth swing just as you would with any other golf club.
To set up for a basic drive, align the ball with the lead foot. Youll want the ball forward in your stance because you actually want the club head to make contact with the golf ball during the upswing. This forward alignment allows you to get the ball up in the air and achieve the maximum distance.
Since the driver goes the farthest of all the golf clubs, there is also the less room for error with this club. When you make mistakes with the driver, those mistakes, whether it be a slice or a hook, will be exaggerated.
Be selective about when you use your driver off of the tee. You don't always have to hit the driver off of the tee and the more you play, you'll start to learn which situations call for a different method off the tee. Use the driver on the wide open holes where you have a lot of room for forgiveness. When there is a lot of trouble consider using something with which you are more comfortable and consistent.
Since the driver is considered the most difficult club in the bag to hit, there is a lot of advice out there for a multitude of fixes and cures. As you continue to navigate this website, you will find a lot more advice to help you start hitting your drives longer and straighter. Experiment with the different tips until you find the right combinations that work best for your swing.
Helpful Beginner Golf Tips Driving
As a beginning golfer, there is a lot to learn. Golf is a game made up of a variety of skills, and you will need to learn one at a time until you are able to get yourself around the whole golf course successfully. While it might be a little intimidating at first, all that stands between you and becoming a better golfer is some good advice and plenty of practice.
One of the first areas of the game that you should work on is driving. Getting the ball off the tee and down the fairway on every par four and par five gives you a great advantage when trying to shoot the best score possible. Not only will you quickly get frustrated if you are hitting bad drives, you might not even find the game that enjoyable. In order to really have fun on the golf course and advance your game, better driving is something that you should work on as soon as possible. You are never going to be able to hit each and every fairway you aim at – the game just doesn't work that way. However, you can improve your accuracy and your distance by learning more about the proper technique and the proper way to think when hitting a tee shot.
It is important to note that driving doesn't have to just mean shots hit with your driver. Generally, driving can be considered any shot that you hit off of a tee (except on the par threes). Obviously you will be hitting plenty of drives with your driver, but you will also hit some with your three wood, hybrid club, and maybe even some long irons. Knowing which club to use on which hole, and being able to execute the swings for each of those clubs properly, is all part of your development.
Many new golfers make the mistake of becoming obsessed with distance when hitting their drives. They pay very little attention to the accuracy they are able to achieve and only concern themselves with hitting the ball as far as possible on each and every drive. Don't fall into this category. Of course it is fun to hit long drives, and there will be plenty of time to work on your distance – but only after you learn how to control the ball. If you are sending your drives into the wrong fairway, it doesn't matter how far you can hit it because you'll never play well that way. Only when you have your ball flight under control should you start to work on improving your club head speed and overall driving distance.
Please note that all of the tips below are written based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, be sure to reverse the directions as needed so they will apply properly to your game.
The Mechanical Basics
Since most of your tee shots will be hit with the driver, it is helpful to review some of the main mechanical points of swinging that particular club. The mechanics you use to hit a driver don't need to change drastically to apply to the rest of your clubs, but they will be modified slightly. For now, focus on making your driver swing as good as it can be. From there, it will be easy to learn the tweaks that are necessary in order to hit all of your clubs in a similar fashion.
Below are three basic fundamentals that you want to be sure are in place when you swing your driver.
- Balance. If there is just one tip that every beginning golfer should hear over and over again it is balance. Simply by focusing on your balance throughout the swing you will quickly be well ahead of many other golfers on the course. The importance of balance is increased even higher when you are swinging a driver. Because the driver is the club that generates the most speed and power of any in your bag, it also requires the most balance to keep it under control. Swinging a driver while off-balance is a recipe for disaster. In order to maintain your balance during the driver swing, you will want to start with a wide base and athletic stance that allows you to rotate back and through the shot comfortably. There shouldn't be much side-to-side motion in your swing – rather, focus on rotating to your right in the backswing, and then quickly left in the downswing. There are certainly other fundamentals that you will need to learn, but good balance can take you a long way in golf.
- Stay behind the ball. For most shots hit around the golf course, you will want to hit down on the ball and take a divot out of the grass after you make contact. That is not the case with the driver. When hitting your driver off the tee, you actually want to hit up slightly through impact. That angle of attack will help you get a good launch angle so the ball can get up into the air quickly and stay there as long as possible. Hitting down through your driver will lead to a low launch and high spin – neither or which are good for accuracy or distance. Make an effort to keep your body behind the ball at impact so that you can be sure the club is tracing a slightly upward arc through the hitting area. Of course, having good balance throughout the swing will make this task much easier to accomplish.
- Swing Through to the Finish. No matter what happens during your driver swing leading up to impact, it is imperative that you swing through impact confidently all the way to a full finish position. Many new golfers think that, since the ball is already gone, the follow through just isn't that important. It does matter, however, because it is an indication of what kind of swing you made through the ball. When you are swinging confidently and aggressively, you will be able to get all the way to the finish with ease. Keep the club moving through impact with no doubts as to where the shot is going to go. You should hit the ball with the full expectation that it is going to fly directly toward the target that you have picked out. Being confident on the golf course isn't always easy, but it is greatly helpful when trying to hit quality shots. If you are unsure of your ability, that lack of confidence will show up in the shots that you hit. Therefore, swing all the way through every drive and hold your balanced finish until the ball comes down.
Each of the three points above are relatively simple, and none of them delve into the complicated swing theory that many beginning golfers get caught up in. There is a time and place for swing theory, but new golfers should keep their minds focused on the basics. If you can successfully accomplish each of the three points above when you are hitting your driver off the tee, you can expect to see more and more good shots in the very near future.
The Mental Basics
Just like there are basic physical elements that should be present in your driver swing, there are some mental game basics that you need to understand as well. By and large, most new golfers completely ignore the mental side of the game because they are so preoccupied with learning the technical aspects of swinging the club. That is understandable, but it is also a mistake. If you are serious about becoming the best player you can be, it is important that you pay just as much attention to your mental development as your physical progress.
Toward that end, remember the following three beginner golf driving tips that relate to the mental game.
- Always have a target. This is important for every shot that you hit, but it needs to be highlighted on the tee because many golfers fail to accomplish this simple task on the majority of their tee shots. Just aiming at the fairway isn't nearly specific enough to guide your swing. Your mind will perform better when you have picked out a very specific target that you can think about while hitting the shot. On approach shots, most golfers do better because they have the flag to aim at – which is a very specific spot. Try accomplishing the same thing off the tee by picking out a certain spot in the fairway that will act as your target. Don't be afraid to pick out a small target, either. Do your best to hit the target you have picked out, but your shot should still finish in the short grass as long as you get somewhere close.
- Safety first. Hazards on the golf course are placed in strategic positions to test your patience and decision making ability. Beginning golfers often fall for the tricks of the course designer as they aim their shots too close to things like ponds and sand traps. There is usually no need to take on this kind of risk – playing away from the hazards is almost always the smart play. Your first goal on any tee shot should simply be to keep your ball in play and give yourself a good chance on your second shot. As long as you can find the fairway and avoid taking penalty shots, you will be well on your way to a respectable round of golf.
- Don't waste the opportunities that the course presents you. Just like golf courses have hazards to potentially get you into trouble, they also present you with opportunities if you know where to look. For example, a short par five could be an opportunity to go for the green in two shots – or it could be a chance to play it safe and hit three shots to set up your birdie putt. Likewise, a difficult par four might have an angle in the fairway that could help your drive get some extra roll as long as you play to the correct side. Golf is all about analyzing the course in front of you and making good decisions based on what you find. Don't just walk onto the tee and swing away as hard as you can. Use strategy to find opportunities and take advantage of them as frequently as possible.
It takes more than good swings to play good golf. Success driving the golf ball has as much to do with your thought process as it does with your actual swing mechanics. If you are able to make smart decisions and pick safe targets all the way around the course, you just might be surprised at how many strokes can be shaved off of your score without changing any technical points in your swing.
Dealing with Distance
As mentioned above, accuracy should be a higher priority than distance when learning how to play the game. However, you will get to a point where you want to find additional yards off the tee. There is nothing wrong with trying to hit the ball farther, as long as you maintain your fundamentals and dont lose control of your ball flight in the process.
The first step in the pursuit of more distance is making sure your driver swing is maximizing your shoulder turn. The backswing is made up mostly of a full shoulder turn away from the ball, so make sure you aren't cutting your turn short in a rush to hit the shot. Many new golfers feel rushed during their backswing so they don't ever finish the turn – meaning they cant build as much speed as they would have otherwise. You don't need to hurry. The ball isn't going to run away. Take your time and finish the shoulder rotation of your backswing before getting the club started toward the hitting area.
Once your shoulder turn is working properly, distance becomes all about one thing – the use of your lower body in the downswing. This is another point that countless beginner golfers get totally wrong. Most new players think about swinging the club with their arms. Thinking this way will usually lead to disappointing results. Rather, you should think about swinging the club with the rotation of your body. Sure, your hands and arms are what is holding onto the club, but it is your body turn that really does the work of creating speed and power. When you turn fast through the ball, the club will have no choice but to come along for the ride.
If you really want to learn how to hit the ball a long distance and control it, you will learn how to use your lower body right from the top of the swing. Most likely, this will mean changing the way you swing the club currently. Most amateur golfers start their hands down toward the ball first, and then try to catch up with the rest of the body rotation. Instead, work on making sure your legs lead the way by rotating them toward the target first. When this happens, you will start a chain reaction that leads to your torso turning left toward the target, and finally your arms and the club will swing down toward the ball. Only when you get these moving pieces in the right order can you expect to see actual gains in the speed of your swing – and the distance of your drives.
If you are having trouble getting this process down correctly, try using video recordings of your swing to help make the changes. Ask someone to record your current swing and watch how your body turns through the shot. Then, head to the range and try to make the necessary corrections based on what you saw on video. It will take some trial and error to complete this process, but in the end you should be left with a much more powerful and consistent golf swing.
The information contained above should be plenty to get you started driving the golf ball in the fairway with greater frequency. However, there is still a lot more you can learn, and each little piece of knowledge you add to your mind will get you closer and closer to reaching your potential. Some of that knowledge is only gained through experience on the course, but the tips below may be helpful as well.
- Use the angles. When standing on the tee, it is important to understand that you can tee the ball up anywhere between the tee markers that have been placed on the course that day. That means that you can tee your ball right in the middle of them, well to the right, well to the left, or anywhere in between. Use this to your advantage by picking a target in the fairway and then teeing your ball up to provide the best possible angle toward that target. Many amateur golfers overlook this option and tee the ball up right in the middle of the markers before they even know what their target will be. You want to take advantage of every opportunity the rules of golf provide, and controlling where you tee the ball up is certainly something that you should use to maximum effect.
- Downshift in the wind. Among the top mistakes that amateur golfers make is swinging harder when the wind starts to blow. Especially when playing a tee shot into the wind, most new golfers will swing as hard as they can in an effort to force the ball down the fairway. Quite simply, this doesn't work. All that will happen when you swing harder is an increase to your backspin rate, which will send it higher into the air – exactly the opposite of what you want to do when the wind blows. As soon as you notice breezy conditions starting to develop, soften your swing to reduce the spin rate on your drives and keep them closer to the ground. They probably wont go as far as they do in calm conditions, but your top priority is simply keeping the ball on the short grass.
- Slow down when you are nervous. It is common to get nervous on the golf course, even if you aren't playing in any kind of formal competition. Most golfers are competitive people and they want to perform their best regardless of the situation. So, when you start to feel nervous before a tee shot, make a conscious effort to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Rushing through your swing is going to cost you both in terms of accuracy and distance. If necessary, take a couple of extra practice swings prior to hitting the shot just to calm your nerves and find a good tempo for the shot. It is certainly possible to play good golf while nervous, but controlling your rhythm under those circumstances is something that you will have to learn how to do.
Good driving is something of a prerequisite for being a good golfer. It is nearly impossible to consistently make pars and birdies if you are playing from the rough and the trees all day long. Only when you start to find the fairway with a level of consistency will you be able to feel like you can really get serious about lowering your scores. Golf is a hard game to be sure, but it gets a lot easier when you can play it from the fairway for most of the round.
As a beginning golfer, it is crucial that you don't overwhelm yourself with too much information right away. When you start to work on your driving, take one tip at a time and try to get comfortable with it before moving on to the next. That process might take a little bit of patience, but it will be far more successful than trying to master everything all at once.