While a driver is not always the easiest golf club to hit, it is still one of the most important clubs in your possession. Used for hitting a drive, the driver is hit off of a golf tee that is raised up from the ground.
It is the first shot of a long hole and is also the longest golf club used during a game. Not only is it the longest golf club in your collection, but it also has the largest clubhead of any of the clubs in your golf bag.
So, if it is such a long golf club and has such a large clubhead, why is the driver so hard to hit? There are actually many reasons for this, and that’s what this article is here to help you with.
Why Is the Driver So Hard to Hit?
One of the main reasons drivers are so hard to hit is a fairly simple reason to understand. Drivers are the longest club in your bag, so they can be more difficult to control than the shorter clubs are.
A standard driver for men in the 21st century is around 45 inches long, three inches shorter than the maximum of 48 inches allowed by the United States Golf Association’s Rule of Golf.
For women, drivers are usually around 44 inches long. The shaft is the part of the club that you can change the length of if you like, so typically, drivers can be shorter or longer than this; however, these are the average sizes in today’s golf game.
Years ago, standard drivers for men and women were often shorter – 43.5 to 44 inches for men and 43 for women – so with longer drivers comes less control over the ball as you hit it.
This is unfortunate because this is the one club that all golfers want to hit with accuracy and consistency every time. Does the material the club is made of and the player’s level of experience affect how the driver is hit? Of course it does, but the fact is that the pure length of the driver simply gives you less control over the ball, regardless of those two factors.
In addition, there are other reasons why drivers are often difficult to hit, and they include:
- The ball position is wrong.
- The club has the lowest loft.
- The club has the wrong shaft flex.
- The club is too stiff.
- The club is too whippy.
- The golfer has improper swing mechanics.
- The golfer hits the ball way too hard.
- The golfer hits way too much on the upswing.
- The golfer misses the sweet spot.
- The height of the tee is wrong.
You may wonder why hitting the ball hard is a problem. Hitting hard can produce a very long tee shot, but this is only on paper. In reality, many of these hits end up too thin, topped, or otherwise in trouble instead of the ball going down the middle of the fairway like it was supposed to do.
In short, to take care of these problems, you may need to go back to basics and learn the right fundamentals so that your swing speed is faster and the ball is contacted in the center or right above the center at impact, which is what will bring you the most luck when you’re playing with a driver.
Taking instructions from the pros and learning expert tips, as well as playing with a high-quality club, are good ways to get started when you’ve been having a hard time hitting the driver on the green.
The point is to learn to have a faster swing tempo and learn to hit the ball correctly – not just hit it for the sake of hitting it. Speaking of today’s clubs, the ones made out of strong materials such as metal, titanium, and of course, carbon fiber composite material tend to be a lot more forgiving.
In fact, you can often miss the center of the clubface and still get a lot of distance from your hits, not just once or twice but consistently each time you play.
One of the most important things to remember is that your driver is not like the other clubs, which means the position of your ball has to be taken into consideration each time you play.
For instance, putting the ball so that it is even with your left heel or a little inside of that left heel will usually work best when you’re working with a driver. If the ball is too far forward, it can affect your hit.
In other words, while your swing is naturally very important, the position of your ball is likely even more important, which is something else to keep in mind when you play.
You can also experiment with the position of your ball to determine which one works best for you. Also, if you concentrate on sweeping the ball instead of hitting up on the ball, this might help as well.
If you hit the ball on the upswing too much, it can cause a slice. There are just a few tips to keep in mind to hit the ball a little better when you’re playing with your driver. Now, let’s take a look at a few others.
Tips to Improve Your Golf Driving Skill
There’s nothing like a good, long shot with your driver to get a hole off to a great start, and if you find your driver to be the most difficult club to work with, you’re not alone. Regardless of why you’re having trouble getting good consistent shots with your driver, the chances are good that you can do something about it.
Best of all, the tips listed below are fairly easy and may even cause you to have an “a-ha” moment. They may not all be applicable to you because some of these things you might already be doing, but there are enough of them that you should learn at least a few things you didn’t know before.
Below are some valuable tips that can help you become better at hitting with your driver. Keep in mind that these instructions are for right-handed players, so you’ll want to reverse some of the directions if you are left-handed.
Don’t Be Overly Anxious to Hit the Ball
It’s easy to stand over the ball and be excited to pull off a good long drive, but if that excitement causes you to swing too soon, it can cause the shot to be less than perfect.
You don’t want to rush the swing, and here’s a good way to avoid doing that: first, take some deep breaths so that you can calm down, then stand behind the ball. Next, take a look at your target, take a few more deep breaths, then walk toward the ball and stand behind it.
Take the correct stance, then hit the ball without rushing through it. In other words, you have to take the shot when you’re relaxed, not while you’re over-anxious or excited.
Rushing through your shot is going to happen from time to time, but if you make it a habit to stay calm and take your time with the shot, it will produce much better results for you.
This doesn’t mean you can’t hit the ball with confidence; it just means that if you walk right up to the ball and swing without thinking about how to swing the club, the ball is never going to do what you had intended for it to do.
Don’t Swing Your Driver the Way You Would Other Clubs
When you’re swinging your irons, you hit down on the ball to put some backspin on your shots. This, however, is not the way to play with a driver.
Irons are typically swung in a “vertical” pattern, meaning the club will execute a steep path on the way back and then come back down on the ball in a steep manner, which doesn’t work when you’re swinging a driver.
Instead, round out your swing plane because you’ll want the plane on your backswing to be relatively flat. On the way back, don’t let your left shoulder move down toward the turf; instead, keep it up and barely, just barely, underneath the chin.
The steep backswing and downswing you accomplish with your irons works with those clubs, but they will not work with your driver. In fact, you never want to hit down with your driver anyway, so try to take that move off the table whenever you’re working with your driver.
Remember, irons and drivers require completely different swings and directions, both because the clubs are different and because your hitting goals are usually different as well.
Concentrate on Accuracy and Control More Than Distance Alone
Simply put, if you concentrate just on achieving a great distance and nothing else, chances are good that your shot won’t be all that great. This is especially true if you have a playing partner who hits a great shot right before you do because it can create a bit of competition between the two of you.
While there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, you still have to concentrate on your accuracy and control just as much as you do on the distance you want the ball to go. After all, you don’t get brownie points for hitting the ball a longer distance than your partner.
A good rule of thumb is just to concentrate on a game plan that is all yours and don’t worry about how your partners are playing the game. Develop a plan and stick to it regardless of what those around you are doing.
This will help you stick to that plan throughout the game and look at the whole picture, not just how far you are trying to hit the ball. While a golf game is still a competition in some way, the only points that count are the ones you add up at the end of the game so that you can see who has the lowest score.
Don’t Swing at 100%
Okay, this one sounds counterproductive, but it isn’t. Let’s take a closer look at this tip. When you hit with a driver, your natural instinct is to hit it hard. After all, this is one club that is built to get great distance shots.
If a long drive is accurate, they’re beneficial. If they’re not accurate, long drives are essentially no good. Players generally believe that if they swing at less than 100%, they’re going to lose distance, but the truth is, you may even be able to gain a few yards if you do it right. Why?
Because the quality of your contact will be improved, usually much more than you think.
So, how big should your swing be? You don’t have to reduce it by that much. Some experts recommend swinging at 60% to 70% of your full swing, while others recommend 80% to 90%. You may have to experiment a little and see which effort works best for you.
The important thing to remember is that since a driver is made to result in more distance, it will do a little of the work for you.
Because of this, you may want to practice and see which percentage does the best job for you. You’ll want to reduce the swing while still being able to hit the sweet spot and keep your balance at the same time.
Don’t Assume the Driver Is the Club You Need
This is a common yet understandable mistake. Sometimes, you’d do better when you simply leave the driver in your golf bag. A shorter club simply works better when accuracy is more important than sheer distance.
Before you hit the ball, take a look at what is in front of you and ascertain the shot. Does it really need a driver, or can it do with a long iron, fairway wood, or a hybrid instead? Consider your risk versus reward before you take the shot.
Look down the fairway and decide the risks that your driver will bring to the shot compared to the reward of the shorter approach that the driver will bring.
You are likely one of those players who likes to play aggressively or one who likes to keep the ball in play at all times. Whether you’re cautious or like to take chances, you’ll need to test out your strategy to see if it works for you, then change it if you notice that it doesn’t.
Regular practice and test drives are essential because the more you test out different ways to play, the closer you’ll come to knowing what works right for each type of shot. This way, you’ll have at least an idea of what you should do the next time you get out on the course.
Make Sure You’re Using the Right Shaft
When you go out to buy your next driver, you may concentrate more on the type of clubhead you want instead of the shaft, but in reality, the shaft length is often much more important than the size of the clubhead.
While shafts come in different lengths, the only way to know for sure which size you should be playing with is to go to the golf store and ask the professionals there for assistance. While they usually charge for this service, they will have a golf pro on staff who can fit you with the perfect shaft every time.
Sometimes, they will reimburse you for the amount they just charged you if you turn around and buy your new club at their store.
Of course, even if you buy your next driver somewhere else, this is a great service to take advantage of because you’ll know for sure that you have the right shaft for your driver. With this in mind, you can have the perfect driver and play for many years to come with success.
Naturally, you can try to guess yourself which size shaft you need and maybe even get it right, but with the help of a golf pro, you’ll know for sure.
The shaft you choose is the most important piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to get the absolute best driver, and a golf pro is there to help.
Know Your Specific Target
This one sounds basic, but it’s amazing how many golfers don’t get it right. When you’re using your driver, you can’t just aim down the middle and pray that it’s the right action. It takes more than that.
Your swing should be more focused and you’ll need to choose a very specific target. When you choose your target carefully, not only do you shoot better but it will help you position the ball better as well.
Remember, not all spots in the fairway are created equally. Putting the ball in short grass when you’re using your driver will usually work out best for you.
While your putter is more important when it comes to scoring, never underestimate the importance of your driver. That being said, knowing when to use your driver and when to keep it in your golf bag is equally important.
For most of your swings, your accuracy is going to be more important than distance alone. Keep in mind that you’re never going to hit a golf ball with 100% consistency because this isn’t possible.
Nevertheless, if you are consistent most of the time, you’re going to be surprised by how much better your golf game will be.
Always Tee the Ball High
If you have a driver with a 460cc clubhead, you can’t find the sweet spot at impact unless you tee the ball high. In fact, if you don’t tee the ball high enough at impact, you’ll never find the sweet spot, even if your swing is perfect.
For most drivers, your sweet spot is going to be a little bit above the midpoint on the club’s face. As a general rule, when you tee the ball, your goal should be for the ball to end up at a height that is halfway above the top of the driver.
In other words, the middle of the golf ball needs to be lined up with the top line of the driver when you are starting your swing and grounding the club before you swing.
Remember that your driver is the opposite of your irons, meaning that instead of hitting down on the ball, you’ll want to hit up on the ball whenever you’re using your driver.
You’ll want a trajectory that gives you the most distance, and reducing your backspin is a good way to do this. When you head through your hitting area, you need to tee the ball up at just the right height so that you can catch the ball on the upswing. This, in turn, will reduce your backspin.
Just like other types of swings, this one may take practice, but that practice is going to bring you great results in the end.
Don’t Work the Ball in More Than One Direction
The idea of working your ball in both directions off the tee is a good one, but it is also not a good idea for most golfers. In fact, unless you’re a professional golfer, you should make up your mind to work the ball in one direction only.
The skill of hitting both a draw and a cut on demand is a very difficult one and one that most golfers won’t be able to master.
Carving your driver all over the course might sound like a good idea at times, but in fact, even most professional golfers admit to sticking with one flight and trying to master several different types of shots – not trying to master and use two different shots at the same time.
If you only turn the ball in one direction and you feel comfortable with that shot, you’re better off trying to master the shot instead of trying to work the ball in two different directions.
Most players find that sticking with a shot they know and trust works best when it comes to overall successful shots. In fact, you are much more likely to change up the shape of your shots using irons than when you’re working with drivers.
This is something important to keep in mind, but the main tip to remember is to not work the ball in more than one direction at a time.
Use the Right Tools to Get a Perfect Angle Before You Swing
Before you even place your tee in the ground, you should think about your angles and exactly how you’re going to swing when the time comes. This includes selecting the spot you wish for the ball to end up between the tee markers before that first swing.
In fact, compared to other aspects of the golf game, this is the only time when you’re playing golf that you get to choose where to place your ball. You might as well take advantage of the opportunity while you can.
Playing the right angle may seem like a no-brainer and a very basic tenet of the golf game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it important. In fact, even on a par three, this basic rule applies to other clubs as well as to the driver.
Even subtle advantages on the golf course should never be ignored, and learning how to get the perfect angle before you take a swing is a great start. Choosing the right angle can open up your target nicely, which increases the odds of a great shot in the end.
Naturally, these are not the only tips that can help you hit your driver more successfully so that you get better results, but they are a good starting point. While many players concentrate on swinging for speed instead of concentrating on the sweet spot first, it should be the other way around instead.
You can even concentrate on a smaller target to make it a little easier for you; for instance, if you picture a small nail stuck in the back of the ball and then try to hit that nail through the ball as you swing, it can help that swing produce better results.
If you’re hitting other clubs successfully and the only club you’re having trouble hitting is your driver, you have to start by asking yourself what you’re doing differently when you’re playing with your driver.
Then, you have to fix the problem. Even though that can be a little more complex than it sounds, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. Distance and accuracy should be your two main goals, not just distance and nothing else.
In fact, concentrating mostly on distance and nothing else when using a driver is a common mistake among golfers, so the first thing you should do when you want to improve your driving game is to get out of that mindset.
This, coupled with lots of practice and following tips from more experienced players should be enough to help you improve your driving game before you know it.