drive for dough

While there's no denying putting's impact on scores, it doesn't mean much if you take too many shots to reach the green. Not counting gimme putts, about 55% of all shots are played from 100 yards or more. And efficient golf begins on the tee.

For all the focus on driving length, accuracy is more important for amateurs. You've got a much better chance of reaching the green from the fairway, as opposed to rough, sand or trees. And you've got no chance if you drive into a water hazard or out-of-bounds.

To boost the number of fairways you hit – thus improving your greens in regulation and lowering your scores – try these simple pointers with the driver:

1. Stand a little wider: The general rule of thumb is to spread the feet shoulder-width apart, meaning the insides of the feet fall directly beneath the outsides of the shoulders. Any narrower and you risk an incorrect weight transfer and poor balance. A stable stance is a great starting point.

2. Grip down an inch or two: In the quest for greater distance, manufacturers have lengthened the standard driver to 45” or longer. Some golfers simply can't control shots with a club this long. When gripping the club, make sure there's at least an inch between your top hand and the end of the club. Don't be afraid to grip down farther, if it helps. You'll gain more in accuracy than you sacrifice in yardage.

3. Don't try to kill it: Too many golfers “come out of their shoes” when swinging the big stick. Fact is, you stand a better chance of making a fluid, efficient swing and solid contact by exerting a little less effort. Strive to swing at no more than 85% of full strength and you'll not only hit the ball straighter, you'll hit it longer.

There is an old saying in golf that goes something like the following – 'you drive for show, and you putt for dough'.

Drive for Dough – Perfect Your Long Game to Score Low

The implication here is obvious. The long and straight drives you hit during the course of a round are mostly for show, to impress your friends and others on the course. It is the putts, however, which are for the money. When you make a lot of putts, you shoot low scores and you come out on top.

To be sure, putting is extremely important in the game of golf. You use your putter more than any other club in the bag, and nearly every hole finishes with a putt. If you struggle with the putter during most of your rounds, you are always going to struggle to reach your scoring goals. With that said, we think it might be time to revise this old golf saying. After all, the driver is an extremely important club, especially in the modern game. While you aren't going to play particularly well if you don't use your putter effectively, you are also going to struggle if your driver is giving you fits.

In this article, we are going to talk about a number of ways in which you may be able to improve your long game. You might think that simply making a better swing is the name of the game here, but that isn't entirely true. It will help, of course, to make a better swing, but there are other steps you can take. We'll address both your technique and the mental side of your driver performance in the content that follows. Also, we'll wrap up the article with some ideas on how to find the perfect driver for your needs.

It should be said before we get started that this article isn't meant to take anything away from the importance of the putter. We would still agree that it is the most important club you have in your bag, and a significant amount of practice time should be dedicated to learning how to use it effectively. The point here is this – the putter can't do it alone. If you can combine great putting with excellent performance off the tee, you will have a powerful combination that is able to take you a long way in this game.

All of the content 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.

The Benefits of Great Driving

The Benefits of Great Driving

It might seem a bit silly to even bother writing a section called the 'benefits of great driving'. After all, isn't it obvious that hitting good drives is an important part of playing golf? Well, it might be obvious, but you also may not have thought about all the ways in which great driving can help you stay on track toward low scores. By highlighting several of the biggest benefits of this skill, you will have more motivation that ever before to work on this portion of your game.

Please review the following list for several examples of how great driving can translate into improved performance on the course.

  • Easier approach shots. We'll get the most obvious point out of the way first. When you hit great drives, you have easier approach shots into the greens. This should lead to more pars, and more birdie opportunities. Great driving is not only about distance, but also positioning your ball in the right spot. With your driver working well, you can consistently set up short approaches that allow you to use an easy path to the hole. If you feel like your approach shot game is always letting you down, be sure to consider the possibility that your game off the tee is actually to blame. If you aren't hitting good drives, you really can't expect to hit many quality approaches.
  • Stay out of trouble. While there are certainly risky approach shots that you will need to play from time to time – such as approach shots over water to the green – it is likely that most of the risk you will face on a given course will occur on the tee. This is because your drives are the longest shots you hit, meaning they have the greatest capability to stray off target. If you hit a bad drive that misses the fairway by a significant margin, you may not find the ball at all. And even if you do, it might take a stroke (or two) to get back into position. With good driving as one of the key elements of your game, you should be able to avoid serious trouble for most of the round. This will keep penalty strokes off of your scorecard, and it will make it far more likely that you'll reach your scoring goal when all is said and done.
  • A big confidence boost. Every golfer knows that it is important to feel confident on the course. Unfortunately, confidence can be hard to come by in this game. That is particularly true if you know that you are going to struggle to hit fairways. It's hard to feel good about your game when you are constantly searching for your ball in the trees or the rough. On the other side of the coin, it is easy to feel good about your game when you keep sending the ball directly down the middle of the fairway. As your driving game improves, so too should your level of confidence. This is a nice combination to have on your side, and you may soon feel like your game is stronger than it's ever been.
  • Cover up for other weaknesses. It would be great if you could count every part of your game as a strength. Of course, this is a hard game, so that isn't realistic. All golfers have at least one part of the game that gives them more trouble than the rest. Even if you are an accomplished amateur player, or even a professional, there is sure to be something about your game that you don't love. With that said, great driving has the power to make up for some of your other issues. For example, let's imagine that your long putting is something you think of as a weakness. By improving your driving ability, you can set up shorter approach shots, meaning you should be able to place the ball closer to the hole on a regular basis. In the end, you face less long putts, and your weakness does not have as much of an opportunity to be exposed.

This might not exactly be breaking news, but the ability to drive the ball long and straight down the middle of the fairway is one of the most valuable tools in golf. Players who are able to consistently drive the ball successfully have a huge leg up over the competition.

Three Swing Keys

Three Swing Keys

Obviously, it would be impossible for us to tell you exactly how to swing the driver in order to achieve excellent results. There are simply too many variables in play for that kind of instruction, and we've never seen you swing the club. So, instead of providing specific directions, we are going to offer three general keys that tend to work for most golfers. It will be up to you in the end to determine what works, and what doesn't, as you make your way toward a better driver swing.

Without further delay, let's take a look at our three driver swing keys.

  • Excellent balance. Regardless of which club you are holding, managing to stay balanced throughout the swing should always be a top priority. Simply put, balance makes everything in your swing work better. If you are having trouble making solid contact, balance should allow you to find the center of the face more frequently. If you are struggling to make a full turn back and through the ball, balance should again be able to help you improve. When you watch golf on TV, you will see all sorts of different swing techniques. What you won't see, however, are players with poor balance. Those players simply don't make it to the top of the game, which should illustrate just how important it is to stay on balance. Since the driver is the club in your bag that you swing at the highest speed, it demands the most in terms of body control. You might get away with some balance issues while swinging a wedge, for example, but those issues are going to be exposed with a driver in your hands. If you are currently struggling to balance properly while swinging a driver, make improving this area of your game your sole focus for the time being. Only when you have your balance sorted out should you work on anything else.
  • Take your time. Rushing during the driver swing is incredibly common. As you stand over the ball, you are excited about hitting the shot as far down the fairway as possible. So, in your excitement, you forget to stay in your natural rhythm and you rush through the swing from start to finish. Not only does rushing the swing make it harder to hit the fairway, but it is also likely to rob you of distance. The best driver swings tend to be the ones that take their time to develop, with the only fast part of the swing taking place right at the moment of impact. Remember, the driver is the longest club you have in your bag, so it should take the longest amount of time to swing. Allow your backswing to develop fully before you change directions and unleash all of your available power into the back of the ball. It might be hard to take your time at first, especially if you are used to rushing, but this is one of the best things you can do for your driver swing.
  • Trust it. As you continue to work on improving your driver technique, you are sure to run into some doubts along the way. These doubts may pop up from time to time on the driving range, but they are far more prevalent on the golf course. Even if you swing is in good shape, you may doubt your technique and attempt to make last-second adjustments to 'save' the shot. These kinds of adjustments are almost always destined to fail. Instead of saving your drive, you'll actually ruin it. Therefore, one of the best traits you can have in your swing is the ability to trust it all the way through to the finish position. You aren't always going to hit great shots, of course, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't believe in yourself. Find as much self-confidence as you can muster before each driver swing and expect great results. In a game as hard as this, self-belief goes a long way toward success.

The three keys listed above on their own will not be enough to turn you into a great driver of the golf ball. They should help get you started, however, and taking the first step is essential if you are ever going to reach your destination. If you feel like you need more help with your swing technique on the tee, the best thing you can do is take lessons from a local teaching pro. Find someone in your area to work with and have them help you with the finer points of your mechanics. This kind of one-on-one assistance is extremely valuable in golf, and it is probably the best way to speed up your learning curve.