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.