A successful drive needs a combination of launch and roll to achieve the maximum amount of distance.
If a senior golfer's drive is too high the ball will land and stop dead minimizing the possible distance the shot could achieve through lack of roll. A high ball flight also becomes a problem in the wind which will buffet the ball around.
First of all, the senior golfer should check they have the right equipment. Drivers with too much loft or a very flexible shaft for the senior's swing speed could send the ball to high. Seniors should find a local professional or store with launch monitor technology which can track the ball flight, swing and compare clubs with different specifications. This way a senior can find out if the driver they are currently using has too much loft or an overly flexible shaft, both of which could send the ball sky high.
The club's loft and shaft flex could both effect the height of the ball, but during the swing, the senior golfer's angle of attack (how steep or shallow) they come into the ball will have the greatest impact on how high or low the ball will go.
Before any swing changes are made, the senior golfer should ensure their driver set up position is correct.
1. Take a slightly wide stance with the feet positioned outside shoulder width; this will give the senior golfer a more stable base.
2. The ball should be positioned just inside the left heel to encourage a sweeping motion through the ball.
3. The butt of the club should be pointing at the left hip (for a right handed golfer).
4. The left shoulder should be slightly higher than the right (for a right handed golfer).
When swinging through the ball, the senior golfer who hits a high shot wants the left arm, hands, shaft and left leg all to be level at impact (when viewed from the front). One reason they may be striking the ball too high is leaning back through impact and flicking the hands at the ball and 'scooping' the shot into the air.
The senior golfer needs to return the butt of the club to opposite the left hip at impact and drive through the ball rather than trying to help the ball into the air, senior golfers should trust the loft of the club to send the ball skyward.
If the senior golfer finds they are still hitting the ball too high, they could also try altering how high they tee the ball. A ball teed high in the air will encourage an upward strike on the ball. Try teeing the ball lower to encourage a slightly steeper angle of approach which should produce a lower ball flight.
Driver Fix for Ball Flight Going Too High
If you watch any professional golf on TV, you have certainly noticed that many professional golfers are able to launch their drives high up into the sky. These drives are launched at incredible speeds, they hang in the air for a considerable amount of time, and they drop down gently into the fairway – often more than 300 yards from the tee. While most amateur golfers would love to imitate the driving of the top pros, it is important to note that there is a limit to how high you want to hit your drives. At some point, a high drive becomes too high, and you will start to see diminishing returns as a result.
In this article, we are going to address the issue of driving the ball too high into the air off the tee. This problem is more common than you might think in the amateur game, as many golfers don't even know that it is an issue. If you are currently struggling to produce solid distance from the tee, and you are having trouble hitting fairways as well, it may be that you are driving the ball too high. There are a variety of potential causes for this problem, and we will outline those possible causes below.
High ball flights tend to look nice as they fly through the air. For this reason alone, many amateur golfers don't realize that they are hitting the ball too high for their own good. High drives certainly look better than low drives, so the golfer hitting the ball too low is more likely to address their problem promptly. Despite the visual appeal of your high drives, you would be wise to address your trajectory as soon as possible in order to achieve better results.
Hitting the ball high from the tee can be especially troubling for golfers who play frequently in windy areas. It is best to keep the ball down low to the ground when playing in the wind, but most golfers who hit high drives don't have the capability to bring that flight down on command. Whether you play most of your golf in windy conditions or you just face the breeze from time to time, your game will be more versatile if you bring your flight down. It is a bad feeling to face an into-the-wind tee shot knowing that your ball is going to soar high into the air. Fortunately, through a combination of proper equipment and good technique, you can bring your flight down successfully.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
It's All About Spin
With very few exceptions, the following statement holds true for nearly every golfer – a player hitting his or her drives too high is putting too much backspin on the ball. Yes, your launch angle plays a role in how high your drives will fly, but mostly it is your spin rate that is going to ultimately determine the trajectory of your tee shots. A low spin rate will keep the ball low to the ground, a moderate spin rate will lead to an ideal trajectory, and a high spin rate will cause the ball to balloon out of control. If you are going to find an ideal trajectory which you can use drive after drive, you need to find the 'sweet spot' in terms of backspin rate.
Fortunately, golfers today have the tremendous advantage of technology when trying to optimize spin rate. You don't have to guess as to your spin rate when you can simply head for a club fitting session with your local pro. Any golf facility with a launch monitor will be able to measure your spin rate, and once armed with that valuable piece of information, you can make adjustments in order to move your spin rate up or down as needed. Even without adding a single mile per hour to your swing speed you could gain several yards of driving distance simply by optimizing spin rate.
Knowing that it is spin rate which is your main concern in terms of trajectory, it will be helpful to learn about some of the various factors which influence how much backspin is placed on your drives. The following list includes a few of the key ingredients in the backspin equation.
- Angle of attack. One of the biggest factors at play when driving the golf ball is the angle of attack you use at impact. Are you hitting down on the ball when you make contact, or are you hitting up? When you hit down, the backspin rate is going to increase, just as is the case with your iron shots. Hitting down on irons is a great idea because you want that backspin to stop the ball. With your driver, however, the story is different. For most people, hitting up on the ball is the best idea because backspin rate will be minimized. You will achieve a nice launch angle when you hit up, and your backspin rate won't cause the ball to soar high up into the sky. This is the best of both worlds, and it will usually lead to maximum distance.
- Shaft flex. Are you sure that you are using the proper shaft flex in your driver? For most golfers, the answer to that question is 'no'. The average golfer hasn't spent much time thinking about their driver shaft flex, which is a problem. If you have the wrong shaft in your driver, it is possible that you will be creating too much spin. This happens when your driver shaft is too soft. With too much flex in the shaft during the downswing, backspin will be increased and you will lose control as well. This is another point where club fitting can come into the picture. A fitting session will not only help you determine your current spin rate, but it can also identify the right shaft for your needs.
- Golf ball model. It is not only the club which plays an important role in your equipment setup with the driver. The ball you use is also important, as the specs of the ball need to match up with your game. Some golf balls are designed for players with high swing speeds, while others are meant to maximize performance for those with less power. In general terms, you can find the right ball for your game simply by checking prices. The most expensive balls on the market are meant for players with high swing speeds and low handicaps, while the cheaper models are best for beginning players. As long as you stay in the right price range, you should come away with a ball that serves you well.
- Tee height. This is another one of those points which is taken for granted by most golfers. While it might seem like a minor detail, the tee height you use for your driver shots is actually quite important. If you tee the ball up at the wrong height, you are going to see less-than-ideal results. Specifically, you want to avoid teeing the ball too low. When the ball is teed low to the ground, you will be forced to hit down, and you will wind up with a higher spin rate. To avoid this outcome, tee the ball well up off the ground and sweep up through impact. Hitting the ball just above the center of the face is going to lead to a decreased spin rate, plenty of carry, and a penetrating trajectory.
As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of elements to consider when thinking about spin rate. Even having just one or two of these points out of line can lead to poor results, so you need to work through all of the details in order to be left with an ideal spin rate. You will feel far more in control of your game when you have a lower spin rate, and you will enjoy distance gains as well.
Reduce the Role of Your Hands
It is tempting to use your hands actively in the golf swing. Since your hands are the only point of contact between yourself and the club, you might think that it is necessary to involve your hands from start to finish. That is not the case, however. It is best to keep your hands relatively quiet when swinging your driver, especially at the start of the swing. Excessive hand action is another mistake which can lead to high backspin rates, and as we learned above, too much backspin will send your ball way up into the air.
The takeaway is where most golfers go wrong on this point. Ideally, the takeaway would be a motion which is initiated by a turning of the shoulders away from the target. The hands should be left out of the action at this point, with your upper body rotation doing all of the work needed to get things started. Later on, when the club is up off the ground, you can get your hands involved to complete the backswing. Sadly, it is common for golfers to use their hands right from the start, which forces the club inside of the proper path and leads to a steep, weak swing. By taking this early hand action of your swing, you should notice a reduction in spin and an improvement in distance.
If you would like to work on taking your hands out of the takeaway, try making some one-handed backswings during a practice session. You aren't going to hit any shots with these swings, but the mock backswings will help you learn the proper feeling for the takeaway. With only your left hand on the grip, turn your shoulders to start the swing and carry the club all the way up to the top. Repeat this process two or three times before putting your right hand back on the club to make some 'normal' practice swings.
This drill is extremely simple, but it can do a great job of teaching you the right technique to use in the backswing. Without your hands 'getting in the way' early in the backswing, you will be able to stay on plane and your swing should stay relatively flat overall. Not only is this a great way to learn how to hit your driver lower, but this same lesson should help with the rest of your clubs as well. It is a good idea to keep your hands quiet in the takeaway on all of your shots – so make this drill a regular part of your practice routine to hammer this point home.
Managing Your Effort
When you think about hitting your driver, you probably think about just one thing – swinging as hard as possible. Why not? After all, you are trying to hit the ball a tremendous distance down the fairway, so it would seem to make sense to swing as hard as you can. However, swinging as hard as possible comes with a downside in the form of added spin and lost control. Believe it or not, most professional golfers actually hold something back when they hit the driver, as they want to prioritize control over everything else. Sure, the pros still hit their drives impressive distances, but they typically aren't going all out.
As a general rule of thumb, try swinging your driver at approximately 80% of max effort on most of your drives. You may want to let it out a little more when you find a wider fairway on a par five, but swinging at around 80% is generally going to be your best bet. Simply backing off on the max effort you are used to giving will make a big difference to your ball flight. In addition to noticing a lower ball flight, you should notice something else as well – you won't have actually lost much (if any) distance. A smooth swing which puts the ball on the sweet spot of the driver time after time is going to counteract any amount of lost speed that you have experienced. In some cases, golfers will actually increase their average driving distance as a result of turning down their effort a few notches.
To learn how to swing your driver with a bit less effort, try using the following drill during your next visit to the practice range.
- For this drill, you will only need your driver, a few golf balls, and a place to tee the ball up. Of course, you will also need to pick out a target in the distance. For your target, you want to pick out an item which is well within your distance limit with the driver. For example, if you normally hit your driver 250 yards, pick a target which is approximately 200 yards from where you are standing.
- Once you have selected a target, tee up a ball and walk into your stance. Take care to aim precisely at your target, as you never want to miss a chance to fine tune your ability to aim properly. When you are comfortable at address and you are aimed correctly, go ahead with the shot.
- The key to this drill is the mindset that you have during the shots. Instead of trying to hit the ball as far as possible, you are only going to try to hit the ball as far as your conservative target. To continue our example, even if you can hit your driver 250 yards, you should only try to hit these drives 200 yards. By thinking about this shorter distance, you will naturally make a softer swing than your normal effort with the driver.
- Hit a handful of shots while thinking about hitting your drives a shorter distance. You should notice that the shots come out a little flatter this way, and you will likely be more accurate as well. Despite the fact that you are thinking about your shorter target, chances are the ball will sail clean over that target and wind up around your normal distance. Even if you do sacrifice a few yards along the way, you will be glad to make that trade given the control that you will have gained.
For golf teachers, one of the hardest things to do is convince students that they can play well by swinging at less than full effort. Despite the natural inclination of most golfers to swing all out at each and every shot, most players would benefit by providing less effort. In addition to bringing your driver trajectory down, swinging at 80% effort is a great idea for your control, your consistency, and your scoring ability overall.
Playing with a Lower Flight
The first challenge you are going to face on this point is to learn how to produce lower drives. Using the advice provided so far in this article, you should be able to successfully make that transition – even if it takes you plenty of practice to make the change. However, even after the change is made, there will still be work to do. From a strategic standpoint, you are going to have to learn how to use this new ball flight effectively. Strategy is half the battle in the game of golf, so don't overlook this important element.
The tips below will help you play effectively with a lower ball flight off the tee.
- Plan for extra roll out. This point should be pretty obvious, but you need to make sure that you provide yourself with plenty of room for roll out on your drives. With a flatter flight, the ball is going to take a bigger bounce when it lands, and it is going to roll out farther as well. When picking a target line for your tee shots, think about not only where you want the ball to land, but also where you want it to stop when all is said and done. This is an especially important point to consider when playing a hole with a significant dogleg. To plan successfully, you need to know your new carry distance, and you need to know the condition of the course to account for the right amount of bounce and roll.
- Pay extra attention to cross bunkers. If you play the same golf course over and over again, you might be used to which bunkers and other hazards you are usually able to carry with your driver. With a flatter flight, however, you may no longer be able to clear those hazards with such ease. Take a fresh look at your target lines and make sure you can carry things like bunkers and water hazards which may now be a danger to your drives.
- Consider a different club on uphill drives. Now that you are hitting the ball flatter, uphill holes will pose a greater threat to the distance on your tee shots. If you hit a flat ball, the shot may head directly into the hill before it has a chance to move very far down the hole. To prevent this issue from costing you distance, consider moving down to a three wood for tee shots on extremely uphill par fours and par fives. You may actually get more distance from your three wood than your driver in this instance, as the three wood will provide you with a higher launch angle.
Finding the sweet spot for your driver trajectory will help you hit more fairways and hit longer drives as well. Sending the ball high into the sky might look pretty, but such high drives are rarely effective in the long run. Use the information provided throughout this article to work on bringing your flight down closer to the ground and your game will benefit as a result. Good luck!