Do you love hitting short drives? Of course not!

What is the Biggest Potential Cause of Lost Driver Distance?

You, like every other golfer on the links, love to hit long drives right down the middle of the fairway. There are few feelings in golf which can rival the experience of launching the ball way off into the distance. Unfortunately, for most amateur golfers, that feeling occurs far too infrequently. You might hit a long drive from time to time, but most of your tee shots are probably coming up short of their potential.

One potential cause of lost distance is striking the ball with the wrong part of the club face. Even if you make a good swing otherwise, you can lose a significant amount of distance simply be striking the ball somewhere other than the sweet spot. If you miss the center of the face by a significant distance, the energy transfer between club head and ball will not be as clean as it would have been otherwise, and you’ll lose some distance in the end. If you can consistently strike the ball near the middle of the club face, you can avoid this problem and it’s likely your average drive will be longer as a result.

Of course, this is golf we are talking about, so striking the ball on the sweet spot all the time is not going to be easy. In fact, it’s downright impossible. No one – not even the best golfers in the world – hits the ball on the sweet spot with every swing. You are going to have to deal with inconsistency out there on the course, as that is just part of the game. However, if you work on your skills and have a plan for hitting the ball more accurately, you should be able to improve over time.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Where is the Sweet Spot?

Where is the Sweet Spot?

Every golfer knows that it is a good thing to hit the sweet spot when swinging a club. It doesn’t matter what club you are using; the goal is almost always to strike the ball on the sweet spot. But where is that sweet spot located, and is it actually the best place to make contact with the ball in all situations? Not necessarily.

First, let’s establish that the sweet spot is generally found in the middle of the club face. When you strike the ball on the middle of the face, the weight of the rest of the club will be evenly distributed around the point of contact. That means the club head will be unlikely to twist as contact is made, and an excellent transfer of energy will occur between the club and the ball. If you want to hit your shots longer and straighter, making contact perfectly in the middle of the club face is a great way to start.

With that said, you might not always want to hit the center of the face when maximizing distance is your top priority. We are talking specifically about the driver at this point, as playing iron shots is a different conversation entirely. You are usually going to focus more on control than sheer distance when hitting irons, so the approach is not the same as it is with a driver. When hitting tee shots, most players keep distance as their top priority, as long as they can control those drives enough to at least keep them in play.

If you want to find every last yard your driver has to offer, it’s likely that you are going to want to make contact slightly higher on the face than you might think. The actual center point on the face may be a bit lower than what is optimal to send your ball flying down the fairway with maximum distance. Drives which are struck higher on the face tend to have a slightly lower spin rate and a slightly flatter trajectory – perfect for picking up yards. During your next practice session, or round if you so choose, try teeing the ball up just a bit higher and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

At this point, we do need to say that the results you achieve are going to be directly tied to the specific driver you happen to use. Not only that, but the shaft you have in that driver, and the dynamics it brings to the equation, is going to play a role as well. Many modern drivers seem to provide great performance when the ball is struck a little high on the face, but there is no guarantee that will actually be the case for you. To find out, you’ll need to test this concept for yourself. Watch how the ball behaves when struck up high on the face as compared to how it flies when struck closer to the center. Over time, you should be able to get a pretty clear picture of how your driver performs and where on the face you should attempt to make contact in order to maximize your results.

One other point that we would like to make in this section is that you don’t want to find yourself obsessing over the exact point on the face where you make contact. The golf swing takes place quickly, especially when you are swinging a driver. If you try to become too precise with your point of contact, you might find yourself slowing down through impact to guide the club toward the back of the ball. That is obviously going to be counterproductive. It’s great to make contact on just the right spot but attempting to do so shouldn’t come at the expense of the quality of your swing as a whole.

Leveraging Technology

Leveraging Technology

It should go without saying that it’s pretty tough to analyze where on the face you are striking the ball while out on the course. Your swing speed with a driver may be in excess of 100 miles per hour, making it completely impossible to see exactly where you have contacted the ball when making the swing. Even if you watch your swing back on a video recorded by one of your friends, it still may be tough to determine an exact contact point.

And, even if you do figure out exactly where you made contact with the ball – perhaps through the use of impact tape – you’ll still have the tough task of sorting out the results. How do you know that it was your impact point which led to a longer drive, rather than a simple big bounce out in the fairway? There are a lot of variables in play when you are on the course, so you can’t really make any solid conclusions based on a few drives hit during a single round.

What we are trying to say here is this – if you would like to know exactly where on the face you should be striking the ball, you are going to need to lean on technology. The kind of technology available in a club fitting session can go a long way toward helping you make a plan for your ball striking moving forward. Going through a club fitting session is something which is often done when a player wants to buy a new driver, but working with your local club fitting pro can be just as useful when trying to learn how to use your current club more effectively.

The goal of this type of club fitting session will be to figure out which spot on the face is providing you with the greatest ball speed, and the greatest overall distance. A pro using a launch monitor to analyze your swing data should be able to provide you with this information relatively easily. If the shots that are coming off the upper portion of the club face seem to be travelling faster and farther than the shots struck lower, you will have your answer. If not, you may have a driver which will respond best to actually being struck on the middle of the face.

Many golfers who sign up for fitting sessions at their local course of golf shop make mistakes which limit the usefulness of the session. The list below includes three mistakes you should aim to avoid.

  • Swinging too hard. This is the big one. When golfers get in front of a launch monitor to hit some shots, they tend to swing harder than normal in an effort to ‘impress the computer’. This is pointless. Not only is the computer not going to be impressed by your effort, the teaching pro who is managing the session is not going to care, either. The only goal here is to get information which is going to help you on the course, and the information will only be useful if you make your normal swing. Take a deep breath, make the swing you typically use on the course, and you’ll be rewarded with valuable and helpful information.
  • Not asking questions. You probably don’t get many opportunities to have one-on-one time with a club professional who has a wealth of knowledge regarding the game of golf. During your club fitting, feel free to ask questions – the pro is there to help you, after all. If the pro says something that you don’t understand, don’t just let it go and nod your head. Instead, ask a clarifying question and clear the matter up in your mind. You should come away from this kind of session with not only information about your driver, but information about the game as a whole.
  • Thinking you have all the answers. This last one will drive a golf pro crazy. If you sign up for a club fitting session, don’t go into the session thinking that you already have all the answers. What’s the point of that? This type of golfer will argue with the pro when they offer advice, or ignore the data that is being produced by the computer. If you are going to commit yourself to going through one of these sessions, the least you can do is go in with an open mind. Be open to what you will learn during the fitting and be willing to make changes as a result.

If you are serious about shooting lower scores, you should be serious about exploring every avenue available to make improvements. With so much technology available in the game of golf today, it would be a mistake to ignore it all. Consider using a club fitting session at your local golf facility to learn more about how your driver performs and where on the face would be the ideal spot to make contact.

Refining Your Swing Technique

Refining Your Swing Technique

In this section, we are going to talk about refining your swing technique in an effort to strike the ball higher on the face. Again, that might not wind up being the optimal plan for your swing and your driver, but it will be the right way to go for many players. If you do decide that hitting the ball higher on the face is a good plan, we hope the tips below will be of assistance.

  • Tee it higher. Okay – so this is an obvious one, but it’s where we need to start. The only way to access the upper part of the club face when swinging your driver is to tee the ball high in the air. If you tee the ball too low, it will be impossible to strike the shot with the upper part of the face – no matter what you do with your technique. As a good rule of thumb, try teeing the ball at a height which allows half of the ball to be above the top line of the driver at address. At first, this is going to look a bit strange, and you’ll be worried that you might swing right under the ball. Try to trust this setup and just swing up through impact slightly to send the ball on its way. Before long, you’ll get used to the way the ball looks being teed up rather high, and your confidence will quickly grow.
  • Move the ball forward in your stance. This is another fairly obvious adjustment. By moving the ball forward in your stance, you will have an easier time making contact on the upswing, and you should find it easier to hit the ball high on the face, as well (assuming you have teed it up high enough). Ball position is one of those things that many golfers tend to take for granted, so don’t overlook the importance of this point. During your practice sessions, experiment with various ball positions in an effort to find one which suits your needs just right. The perfect ball position for a given player will depend on a number of factors, so trial and error is the best way to arrive at the right spot.
  • Avoiding the slide. Sliding from side to side is one of the worst mistakes you can make in your golf swing. Many players start sliding from the very beginning of the swing, allowing their weight to move back over the right foot during the takeaway. If you make this mistake, it is nearly impossible to get back on track. You will then have to slide back to the left at some point during the downswing, and you won’t be able to turn as aggressively as you would like. Sliding from side to side not only takes speed out of your swing, but it also reduces your ability to strike the ball with precision. Focus on rotation in your swing and limit your lateral movement as much as possible.
  • A shallower plane. Many golfers who find success with their drivers are able to do so in part because they use a shallow swing plane. Players who use a steeper plane – one where the club swings down into the ball on a steep angle of attack – are usually in pretty good shape with the irons, but not so much with the driver. It is best to hit your driver with a slightly upward blow at impact. To achieve such a swing shape, you’ll want to swing the club around your back more so than up over your right shoulder. With a relatively flat swing plane in place, your driving performance should take a step forward.

Your swing technique is constantly evolving in the game of golf. Just when you think you have it figured out, something changes, and you need to respond to get back on track. The points listed above are good places to start as you strive to improve your point of contact with the driver and add distance to your tee shots. Of course, every golfer is unique, so you will have to figure out which tips work for you and which you should leave to the side.

Closing Thoughts

Closing Thoughts

There are a few other thoughts we would like to make regarding driver distance and striking the ball on the right spot on the club face. Please review the list below for these points.

  • Don’t lose sight of the goal. As you pursue more distance with your driver, don’t make the mistake of thinking that distance is going to automatically lead to lower scores. Sure, hitting longer drives can certainly help your performance, but there is much more to golf than just launching the ball as far as you can down the fairway. Obviously, your control over those drives is just as important – if not more important – than the distance you create. Positioning the golf ball properly is a great way to make it around the course with a low score, regardless of how far you are able to hit it off the tee. In the end, the goal of a round of golf is to shoot the lowest score possible. Sometimes, working toward that goal will mean unleashing all of your potential power. On other occasions, you’ll need to reign in your power and play for position. For every shot you play during a given round, make a plan based on furthering your goal of posting a low score for the day. If you are opting for more powerful shots just because you want to impress your friends, you are doing something wrong.
  • Consider an equipment update. If you’ve been using your current driver for quite a long time, it may be worthwhile to look into the possibility of an update. Purchasing a new driver is not always the way you should look for more yardage, but it will be beneficial at some point. Technology moves quickly and continuing on with a driver that is more than a few years old may be putting you at a disadvantage. Also, if you have used your driver quite a bit, the face may be worn out and might not offer as much rebound as a newer club.
  • Be patient with yourself. As you work on dialing in your ability to strike the ball with a specific part of the club face, remember that golf is a tough game and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself when you struggle a bit. There is nothing wrong with striving for improvement, but don’t lose your patience and give up when a breakthrough may be just around the corner.

The ability to strike the ball accurately on a specific part of the club face is an advanced skill which you are only going to develop through plenty of practice and the refinement of your technique. We hope the information in this article will help you find at least a few extra yards with your driver. Distance isn’t everything in golf, but it sure is nice to push the ball down the fairway as far as possible. Good luck!