- Different design. Your woods, especially your driver, are designed with a ‘flatter’ lie angle than are your irons. That means that the club shaft sits at a lower angle when the club is placed behind the ball at address. That design promotes a flatter, more rounded swing – as compared to an iron, which is designed to be swung more ‘up and down’. While you should hit down into your iron shots and take a divot, you want to be sweeping the ball off the tee with your driver.
- The tee advantage. With a rare exception, you are going to be hitting almost all of your driver shots off of a tee. While you are obviously allowed to put a tee under the ball for iron shots hit from the tee box as well, you still want to keep the ball close to the ground so you can hit down through the shot. With a driver, you will tee the ball a couple inches off the ground so you can make impact with the club travelling roughly parallel to the ground. This means that it will be easier to get the ball up into the air, but you have to make a swing that is designed to hit the ball from its position up off the ground.
We all should be able to hit a perfect drive every time, right? We get to tee up the ball exactly as desired on a flat area – or teeing ground – positioned above the fairway. Also, modern drivers have a bigger clubhead than ever before, and therefore the face has a bigger sweet spot than ever before.
Well, despite all these advantages, some of us regularly hit drives that are somewhat less than perfect! Here are five tips designed to help any golfer deliver a drive that is – if not perfect – a good beginning to the hole’s play.
1. Think of your drive as a shot, not a performance. The tee box can feel like a stage, and your playing partners can resemble an audience. However, viewing the drive as a performance creates performance anxiety – which causes the muscles to tighten and the brain to cramp! Your goal is not to entertain but to put the ball into play in a good position for your second shot.
2. Adjust the ball placement in relation to your stance. The ball should be placed further forward in your stance than is the case with iron shots. For most golfers, a good placement corresponds to the position of your left heel (for a right-handed swing). The result of this ball placement is that you make contact with the ball further along in your swing. In fact, contact should occur just as the clubhead begins to ascend. This placement takes little away from velocity while providing extra lift to ensure that the ball rises high enough to fly a considerable distance.
3. Ensure that your clubhead face has a degree of loft that is appropriate for your skill and power. Most non-competitive golfers should look for a driver with loft closer to 10–12 degrees than to 7–8 degrees. Greater loft helps you in two ways. First, increasing the loft increases the height of your drives, which is normally a good thing. Second, higher drives curve less – which is always a good thing.
4. Don’t focus on the hazards, but instead focus on a target area on the fairway. In other words, don’t think about where you don’t want to hit the ball! The tendency while standing on the teeing ground preparing to swing is to worry about hitting the ball into the rough, or into a water hazard, or into another disadvantageous position. Instead, you should pick out an area in the center of the fairway and comfortably within your range. Focusing on your target area increases the likelihood that you’ll hit the ball there.
5. Don’t gamble. Unless your handicap is very low, you probably should not attempt to clear a bunker 200 yards away or cut the corner off a dogleg. The risk is too great. Your goal should be to put the ball into play, setting yourself up to make par on the hole.
The drive is just one stroke, but it is the stroke that sets the tone for your play on the hole. Make the most of it while not veering into performance or taking unnecessary risks. Keeping these tips in mind will help you to avoid some common driving problems.
Get Off the Tee Properly with These Driver Swing Tips
If you took a poll of all of the golfers at your local course next weekend and asked them which club in the bag was their favorite, there would likely be a clear winner – the driver. Most golfers love to hit the driver because it goes the farthest, but also because it can actually be the easiest club in the bag to hit once you understand the proper technique. Even for players who struggle to hit their driver straight most of the time, there are usually at least one or two great drives during the round that offer excitement and satisfaction. The feeling of hitting a driver right on the sweet spot and watching the ball sail down the fairway is one that is rarely matched on the golf course.
Obviously, hitting your driver well once or twice during the round isn’t going to be enough to get the job done. If you have hopes of playing better golf and lowering your scores over time, you will need to become consistent in your performance with this important club. While not all tee shots have to be hit with the driver, you will likely use yours between 8 and 12 times per round. With that many driver shots in a given round, you are going to want to have a good understanding of the proper golf driver swing. Driver swing tips are slightly different than those that you would use throughout the rest of the bag, so take the time to learn how to hit a golf driver and you will be rewarded with improved overall play.
You might think that hitting a driver is just like hitting any other club in your bag, and that you can use the same swing for each and every one of your clubs. That would be a mistake. In fact, hitting a driver is different than hitting your irons, and you need to make certain adjustments to hit quality shots time after time. There are a couple reasons that your swing must adjust between hitting woods and irons –
The correct golf driver swing plane is different than the correct swing plane with your irons. That means, basically, that you need to have two different golf swings that you can make throughout a round – one with your driver and fairway woods, and one with your irons, While they will share many common characteristics, there are a few differentiating factors that are important to understand.
Figuring Out Where You Are Starting From
Before golf driving tips can help you improve your performance off the tee, and before you can achieve the proper golf driver swing, you need to get a clear picture of where you are starting from. After all, assuming you already play golf, you have some kind of driver swing that you are working with. No matter how good or bad that swing might be, you will need to make adjustments from it in order to reach the right golf driver swing plane and hit good shots. Once you make an honest assessment of your current driver swing, it will be much easier to make the right adjustments that can lead you to a better swing in the near future.
To get started, take a trip to your local driving range and set aside some time for the following drill. You will need your driver, ten golf balls, and a notebook. The drill itself is quite simple. All you are going to do is hit each of the ten balls, and write down the ball flight that you achieve and any other notes that are important about the shot. Take your time working through this drill – hit one ball, step back and make your notes, then hit the next shot. Treat each shot as if it were an actual drive out on the course, meaning you need to pick a target and go through your pre-shot routine before making your swing. The more serious you are able to take this drill, the more informative your results will be.
With those ten shots taken, sit down and look at your notes for a moment. Do you notice any patterns within the shots? For example, you might find that you hit four of them straight, but the other six were sliced. That is an obvious pattern, and something that needs correcting. For most golfers, it will be pretty quick and easy to notice what your tendencies are with the driver, and then get to work fixing them. If you are unsure of what to make of your swing after the first ten balls, consider hitting another ten until you get a better picture of what your driver swing looks like at this point.
So how does taking this step help when you start to work on improving your swing and changing your technique? It provides you with a target to fix, and a goal to track. So, if you notice that you slice more often than not when hitting the driver, you can watch your ball flight change as you work on your swing to see if that slice starts to disappear. If the slice shows up less and less as you go, it will be obvious that improvements are being made. Should you have skipped this step altogether, it would have been much harder to measure progress later on.
Finding the Right Swing Plane
Now that you have evaluated your current swing, it is time to get to work making the needed changes to improve your ball flight. Of all of the golf tips driver swing plane is one that you should pay particular attention to because it has a profound influence on the ball flight that you will end up with. The golf driver swing plane should be flatter than that of your iron swing because you don’t want the club to take a divot out of the ground – you want the driver head to just brush along the top of the grass, if it touches it at all.
The first step in achieving a flat swing plane with your driver is to make sure you have a good posture for hitting a tee shot. The proper golf driver swing is a rotational swing that has your center of gravity remaining mostly in the same place throughout the swing. To set up for that kind of swing, make sure you have a good amount of flex in your knees, and keep your back straight. The worst thing you can do in your posture before a driver swing is to hunch over – that will put your shoulders on a plane that is too steep and will likely lead you to a slice. In fact, if you notice that you are fighting a slice with your driver, the first thing you want to check is your posture. Straighten out the position of your back and try to stand more upright at address. There is a good chance that just that adjustment alone will quickly straighten out your ball flight.
With your posture in a good position, the next part of the equation to deal with is the takeaway. This is another point in the golf swing where the plane can go all wrong. Many golfers use their hands too aggressively during the takeaway, especially with the driver. If you feel like you are trying to hit the driver as hard as you possibly can, there is a good chance your hands are working too hard at the start. When the club begins to move away from the ball, your hands should be doing very little – if anything. It should be your torso and your shoulders that generate the initial movement in the swing, while the hands just hold on to the club and remain quiet. Only once you get about halfway through the backswing should your hands do anything at all when they start to lift the club and hinge up toward the top of the backswing.
It is easy to check your top of the backswing position to make sure you are on the right plane to hit a quality driver shot. All you will need is a mirror that you can use to look at your swing, or a friend to take a look at it for you. Either way, make a backswing up to the top of the swing and then pause there. What you are looking for is the relationship between your lead arm (left arm for a right handed golfer) and the angle of your shoulders. Ideally, your lead arm will be pulled across your chest on a very similar plane to that of your shoulders. If you see that your arm is on a much steeper plane, you have the club too high up in the air and your swing plane will be too steep to hit your driver. When this is the case, work back through your swing and figure out when you got off track. It shouldn’t take long to locate the point in your swing where you got the club moving too much up instead of around.
Mastering the Timing of the Driver
The driver is the longest club in your bag, and therefore, the most difficult to time correctly at impact. Where you might have a relatively easy time getting your wedges square at impact for a straight ball flight, that task is far more challenging when you are hitting a driver. Many golfers are able to swing the driver at over 100 miles per hour, so it should be obvious why the challenge of achieving proper timing is so great.
By far the most common mistake when talking about driver timing is rushing through the swing too quickly. Hitting a driver is a paradox in that it is the club you can swing the fastest, but it is also the club that you need to take the longest to swing. Does that make sense? It might not at first, but think about it for a moment. The only point in the swing that needs to be fast is impact – the rest of the swing can gradually build up until that point. Even golfers who are able to hit towering 300+ yard drives often have slow driver swings. While you are learning how to hit a golf driver with the most possible force and power, remember that you only have to swing fast at the bottom of the swing. A smooth tempo throughout the rest of the swing is highly desirable.
Near the top of your list of golf driving tips should be a slow and deliberate transition from backswing to downswing. Unfortunately, this is the point in the golf swing where most players tend to rush. While it might feel like you have to hurry the transition in order to build speed before you get to the ball, you actually have plenty of time during the downswing to accelerate the club head. The important thing at the top of the swing is to transition smoothly so that the sequencing of your swing stays in order. If you rush at the top, your hands and arms will likely beat your body rotation through impact, meaning you will lose power and control over the ball. The body should rotate through the zone first, with the club trailing along and building speed the whole way.
When it comes to golf tips driver tempo usually gets lost behind things like grip and stance – but it shouldn’t be that way. Improving your tempo is one of the most important things you can do to better your game. In fact, if you are able to successfully improve your tempo with the driver, you should expect to find that your tempo will be improved with the rest of your clubs, as well. To work on your tempo with the driver, the best thing you can do is head to the practice range and hit some drivers as short as possible. That’s right – try to hit full swing shots that fly as short as possible. Why? You want to learn what it feels like to make a slow, controlled swing that stays on balance from start to finish. This is likely to be harder than you expect at first. After some practice, you should be able to make a full driver swing that only sends the ball 100 yards, or even less. With that accomplished, slowly start to put the speed back into your swing until you are reaching your maximum distance while still controlling the club and keeping your balance. This is a simple drill, but the effect can be powerful when it is done correctly.
Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Driver
Hitting your driver is fun, and it can be a powerful club for setting up birdie opportunities when used correctly. However, driver is not the right club to use off every tee. One of the most important driver swing tips you can receive isn’t a swing tip at all – rather, it is a course management point about picking the right club for the right hole. Trying to use your driver off the tee of every par four and par five all round long is a strategy that will almost always lead to frustration. The driver is intended to be a power club, and not every hole requires power to navigate successfully.
As you walk up onto the tee of a par four or par five, take a quick look at the scorecard and a look down the fairway, as well. Do you need to hit your driver to set up a comfortable approach shot? Your concern shouldn’t be seeing how far you can hit the ball – it should be to figure out where you can position the ball for the best chance at a good approach shot. Sometimes that will mean hitting your driver, but other times it will mean reaching for a fairway metal or hybrid club to improve your odds of hitting the fairway. By picking the right club on each hole to hit your ball off the tee, you will quickly give yourself a much better chance of staying out of trouble and achieving a lower score at the end of the round.
If you think about it for a moment, it makes sense that you will never be as accurate with your driver as you can be with other clubs in your bag. Since you are going to generate more speed and power with your driver than the other clubs, any mistake that you make will be amplified. For example, imagine that you make a swing which results in the ball flying 2* off line to the right. If you hit that shot with a 5 iron, you ball might only be a few yards off line when it lands. However, if you hit that kind of shot with a driver, it may be 15 yards or more off line by the time it comes down. That can be the difference between a shot that lands in the light rough, and one that lands in a water hazard or out of bounds. Even players who are great with the driver will always be safer hitting shorter clubs when they have the chance. It is a matter of thinking through the risk vs. reward equation and deciding which club will maximize your chances at success.
With all of that said, you shouldn’t be afraid of using your driver when the situation calls for it. After all, the point of working on your driver swing is so you can use it to hit long and straight drives which set up birdie opportunities. Ideally, you will feel confident with your driver while still understanding that there is a time and place to hit it. All golf courses are different, but you will usually be able to find between 8-10 opportunities to use your driver per round – maybe more, if you play on a golf course that has wide fairways. As long as you are thinking about your game as a whole, and not just trying to impress people with long drives, you should be able to pick and choose your spots properly.
You should be excited to go to the driving range and work on your driver swing because it is one of the best elements of the game. Launching that perfect drive right down the middle is a great feeling, both because you get to watch the ball soar, and also because you know you have set up your next shot perfectly. Once your swing fundamentals are in place, and you have spent enough time practicing to become confident and consistent, it will be time to take your new driver swing to the course and test it out. Best of luck, and play well!