This Years Top Swing Tips on Golf Drivers

    To all of you out there that continually use the phrase, “Drive for Show and Putt for dough”, try this one on for size.

    “If you can’t putt, you can’t score…If you can’t drive, you can’t play.”*

    To put it in simpler terms, birdie putts are going to be non-existent if you are not hitting your driver well. If your driver is not your best friend, then it is time to put some effort into the relationship. Nothing can cure your driver woes like a quality practice session at the range. I would suggest that you concentrate more on your driver on the range than you do your irons, at least until the two of you get your issues resolved.

    Driver Tips

  • Aim at trouble. Then work away from it. ~Jack Nicklaus~
  • Believe it or not, this is a geometrical exercise. If there is trouble on the left side of the fairway, aim towards the trouble and work away from it. This will enlarge your safe landing area immensely. The one thing I would caution against is aiming at the trouble directly. Every once in a while, we golfers actually hit the “dreaded straight shot”. When this happens it would be tragic if it actually cost you a penalty stroke.

  • Tee the ball higher and hit it on the upswing. ~Almost any teacher on the planet~
  • Both driver technology and golf ball design suggests that we can increase our launch angle to gain more distance. In years past, high ball flight was a detriment as it didn’t travel as far and usually had a tendency to slice or hook. Nowadays, technology rewards a higher launch angle with higher ball speed and lower spin on the ball. Both of these factors contribute to driver accuracy and added distance.

  • Hit the shot you know you can make, not the one you think you can make. ~Bob Rotella~
  • I used to golf with this fellow named Jim. His nickname was Skinny Mel. His nickname has absolutely nothing to do with this anecdote…I just liked the nickname. Skinny Mel would rarely try a difficult shot. He would always play the safe shot. Even when the risk was minimal, he would bail out. One day I convinced Skinny Mel to actually go for it. I told him that if he never tried the risky shot, he would never be able to establish a baseline for success with more difficult shots. He listened to me, hit a 5 wood 235 yards over water and a greenside bunker to 10 feet…then he three putted. The point of this story is that Skinny Mel expanded his confidence level regarding risk/reward shots. I told him if he could comfortably hit that shot successfully say, 6 out of 10 times, then he should probably try it when the opportunity arises, instead of bailing out all the time. Push your driver…it might surprise you.

  • Waggle like the pros. ~Nick Price~
  • To non-golfers waggling looks childish. The truth is that very few tour professionals do not waggle prior to hitting their shot. Of course some are more deliberate with their waggle (are you listening Sergio?), while others waggle minimally. I find, and I’m sure I’m not alone, that waggling helps to ease you into a confident state before you actually hit the golf ball.

  • Stay on balance.
  • This is something I can write about with confidence. In 1999 I was at the pinnacle of my golf performance. I played 150 times that year, had 45 sub-par rounds and was able to drive the ball a mile. Over the winter I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. I lost 50 yards off my driver and 2 full clubs with my irons. The reason? Balance. I couldn’t maintain my balance when I was swinging hard. I have been struggling for 17 years to get my balance back, with no luck. The good news is that I have maintained my low handicap (I am still a 4 handicap). Although, I make a lot of one putt pars now. My game is just different than it was pre Diabetes. If there is one thing that will keep your driver on your BFF list, it is staying balanced.

  • One, two, pause at the top…downswing.
  • When I think of this rhythm exercise, my favorite golfer of all time comes to mind…Fred Couples. There is, I’m sure, lots of tour pros that have great rhythm with their driver. It’s just that I used to watch and admire Fred Couples’ swing. One, two…pause at the top and then rip it.

  • Choose your target wisely.
  • Gather as much information as you possibly can before deciding on where you want your drive to end up. What seems obvious may not be the wisest choice.

  • Open your stance and hips for more distance.
  • This is especially important if you have an issue either with your shoulder turn or your hip turn. A full turn is an essential component to maximizing distance and control with your driver.

  • Increase your flexibility to get a fuller shoulder turn.
  • Quite often the problem with not being able to turn your shoulders completely is a physical limitation due to lack of mobility. If this is the case, stretch your shoulders out for 10 minutes prior to teeing off. Even a 5-10 % increase in shoulder turn can add yards to your driver distance.

  • Timing is crucial.
  • I spoke of timing in point number (6) but this is in reference to the total issue of timing. Timing includes many components; getting the club loaded at the right time and position in your backswing, starting your downswing with your legs at the right moment, holding the lag created by a proper wrist cock until it is time to release it and finally, letting the club face square up at impact.

  • Know your limitations.
  • Plan your drive around what you believe you can accomplish. Don’t watch what others do and then try to follow them. There are many ways to make par. You don’t have to be a sheep and follow blindly.

  • Don’t try and hit the ball straight.
  • I know that this sounds counter-intuitive but, truth be told, most tour players don’t even try to hit their driver straight. They all commit to a certain ball flight, whether it be it left to right or right to left. If it is good enough for them…

  • Keep your club low on your follow through. ~Anika Sorenstam~
  • If you let your club finish high you run the risk of cupping your left wrist at impact which will create a tee shot that is high and right. Your follow through is every bit as important as the other components of your driver swing.

    Driver drills to help improve your driver performance

  • Hit balls with your feet together
  • Take full swings but at 50% power
  • Grip pressure light and body tension free from address right through follow-through
  • Slow backswing-accelerate through the impact zone
  • Begin your downswing with your hips, not your arms
  • Learn how to hit the driver as hard as you can…and then scale back to a level that is totally repeatable ~Greg Norman~
  • Learn to hit your driver 100, 150, 200 and so on.
  • Summary

    I believe that your driver is the most important club in your bag. I also believe that is the easiest club in your bag to hit. The ball is on a tee and is just begging to be hit. You don’t have to go down and get it like an iron shot. Just set up, rare back and hit it. A proper set-up, one piece takeaway and strong weight transfer will get you well on your way to improving your driver.