Understanding Driving Strategy on the Tee Box

Amateur golfers tend to underestimate the amount of strategy that goes into hitting a quality tee shot. There are far too many players who just aim down the middle and swing away, assuming that there is nothing else to think about when hitting a driver. Of course, that is a mistake. There is strategy involved in every golf shot, including those played from the tee.

If you would like to think more strategically while you have the driver in hand, please review the tips listed below.

  • Make sure it’s the right club for the job. On a typical par-72 golf course, you will encounter four par threes. That means there are 14 other holes to play, made up of par fours and par fives. For many golfers, that means they are going to hit 14 drivers during the round, one on each of these holes. Unfortunately, that will often be a mistake. Sure, you’ll want to use your driver on many of those par fours and fives, but you would probably be well-served to club down on at least a few of them. When the fairway is narrow, or when the hole just isn’t that long, it is smart to think about using a three wood or hybrid club for control. Remember, the main objective with a tee shot is to set up a good opportunity to hit a comfortable approach into the green. If you can do that without needing to take on the risk of hitting a driver, you should do so. Each time you walk up onto the tee of a new hole, assess the situation and decide which of your clubs is going to give you the best chance of success.
  • Don’t ask yourself to do too much. There is nothing wrong with picking out the safest line you can find down the fairway when swinging a driver. For instance, on a hole with water guarding the right side of the fairway, it’s probably safest to play down the left. Sure, that line might not necessarily give you the best look at the green, but a slightly harder approach is better than having to take a penalty after hitting the ball into a pond. It is easy to get up onto the tee and decide that you are going to blast the perfect drive down the fairway, but that won’t always work out. While it’s good to be confident, you also want to be realistic and provide yourself some margin for error. If you are always cutting it close to trouble with your driver, you are going to run into trouble sooner or later.
  • Stick with your trusted ball flight. As you continue to improve your game, you might be tempted to use various shot shapes depending on the layout of the hole in front of you. So, on a dogleg right, you might try to cut the ball from left to right to match the shape of the fairway. Or, on a dogleg left, you might try to roll a draw around the corner. For most amateur golfers, however, the best bet is to just stick with one ball flight for almost every drive. You can usually make your preferred ball flight work on most holes, even if it isn’t quite ideal. Trying to change back and forth between various ball flights is an advanced skill, and something that is beyond the reach of all but the most talented golfers. Unless you practice this skill regularly and know you can pull it off, just trust your standard shot shape in the majority of situations.

Do your best to avoid getting into the habit of just swinging away at your driver each time you step up to the tee on a par four or par five. Take a moment to think strategically about what you are going to do, and make sure you are committed to your plan before you make a swing.