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Knowing how to drive the golf ball consistently solid is imperative for golfers who want to take their game to the next level and lower their scores.
Shots with the driver are very volatile in the sense that any small error, whether it be a slightly open or closed clubface at impact or a strike that isn’t quite in the sweet spot, can be amplified into a disastrous result: a sky ball, a wild slice or hook, or a runner that doesn’t get more than 10 feet off the ground.
So in this article, I’ll give you some of the most valuable drills I know of to help improve your driving. In addition to that, I’ll provide some of my best tips that should stand the greatest chance of turning your tee game around.
The Importance Of Hitting Your Driver Well
You may have heard the expression “drive for show, putt for dough” before. This suggests that driving performance doesn’t really matter much.
While this may be more or less true for professional golfers playing on certain courses, it’s not true for most amateurs. For the typical golfer, driving is just as important as the short game, and in fact, it’s required to even have a chance at shooting a low score.
If you hit your driver poorly, you put yourself out of position right off the bat, whether it’s in thick rough, in a water hazard, or out of bounds. Having a sound, accurate driver technique will ensure that you’re in good position to attack the greens as often as possible.
Drills To Get You On Track
1. The “Chip Shot” Drill
This drill is for golfers who have a messy takeaway with the driver and struggle to maintain the proper form throughout the swing.
You can do this drill either at the range with a bucket of balls or by hitting into a net.
Assume your normal address position behind the ball with your driver. Take the club back, but only to the halfway point in the backswing where the club is pointing behind you. Keep your lead arm straight and don’t rotate your hands.
Then rotate into the shot in a controlled manner, and finish with the club around halfway or three quarters past the ball, all while maintaining your spine angle. The result should be a very low, short ball flight.
The shot described above is essentially a “chip shot” with the driver, hence the name. It doesn’t generate much power at all, but it’s designed to help you maintain good form and stay on plane.
This drill will help tackle many potential swing flaws at once. They include:
- coming too far inside or outside in the swing
- getting out of position in the takeaway
- cocking your wrists too much in the backswing
- swaying too much off the ball
- changing your spine angle through impact
Just like any other swing in golf, this drill helps you develop proper form on a smaller scale first. Once you master that, you can take the club back a little farther until you’ve built up to a full swing.
Watch golf coach Mr. Short Game demonstrate this drill below:
2. The “5-Point Parallel” Drill
This drill is for golfers who are struggling with overall driver consistency.
With driver in hand, take the proper grip and posture and align parallel to the target line.
Rehearse in sequential order the five positions in which the driver shaft should be parallel to the target line: at the halfway point in the backswing, at the top of the backswing, halfway to the ball in the downswing, halfway past the ball in the downswing, and at the end of the downswing.
Make a full, natural swing while trying as best as possible to hit these five positions.
It can be argued that point 3 (halfway to the ball) is the most important position to be in, as a solid strike will often tend to follow from it.
What this drill does is help you stay on plane throughout the swing and produce a solid, straight shot (or any other desired shot shape).
Rehearse the drill enough and you will start to hit the correct swing positions subconsciously.
Some Tips For A Better Driving Game
1. Use the right driver.
Using a driver that compliments your swing and your ball flight tendencies can make all the difference when it comes to your performance off the tee.
Center Of Gravity
If you have a slower swing with a low trajectory and spin rate, a driver with a center of gravity (CG) that is positioned low and back will help you get more height on your shots and thus will likely help to improve your distance. These are typically known as game-improvement drivers.
Similarly, if you have a fast swing with trajectories and spin rates that are high, a driver with a more forward CG can improve your distance by producing lower shots with less spin. These are typically known as LS (low spin) drivers.
There’s also the matter of flight shapes. Drivers with draw (CG towards the heel) or fade (CG towards the toe) biases can help counteract any undesirable slice or hooks that hurt both distance and accuracy.
The shaft can play a significant role in your success with any club, much less a driver.
Graphite shafts have pretty much become the standard for today’s drivers. But the shaft flex that suits you best is generally dependent on your swing speed, with lower swing speeds calling for more flex and higher swing speeds calling for less flex.
Playing a flex that doesn’t match your swing speed can result in poor control and sub-optimal ball flights.
Beyond assessing your own situation and looking into drivers that help satisfy your needs, you always have the option of getting a custom driver fitting at a local golf retail location or fitting center.
Some businesses offer fittings free of charge subject to certain conditions. A suggestion for those who are serious about their golf game and are looking for the best deal is the following:
- Get a driver fitting.
- Read reviews of your fitted driver online.
- Look for the driver with the desired specifications (standard loft, shaft flex, etc.) online on sites like eBay, Global Golf or the official manufacturer’s website and compare the best online prices with your local price.
You can also have your existing clubs fit to better suit your game, although there are some specs that can only be accounted for in a from-scratch build.
For comprehensive reviews of various drivers with different characteristics, I recommend checking out Golfstead’s driver reviews page.
2. Get your grip, posture and alignment right.
Grip, posture and alignment are the three fundamentals of a golf swing. Even if you have the best equipment in the world, you won’t hit good shots off the tee if your fundamentals are off.
Moreover, if you play with an incorrect grip, posture or alignment long enough, you’ll start to make compensations that can further screw up your swing. Sometimes a simple adjustment in one or more of these areas can do wonders for your long game.
I cover all three of these swing elements in fair detail in my popular 5 swing tips article, which you should check out if you’re interested in the solutions. In a nutshell:
- there are three main types of grips: the ten-finger grip, overlap grip, and interlocking grip.
- There are are also grip types related to hand position known as weak, neutral and strong grips.
- you should feel like you’re in an athletic position over the ball, with a straight back and slightly flexed knees.
- your weight should be evenly distributed on both feet, which will help you start the swing with proper balance.
- if you draw a line across your feet, knees, hips and shoulders, they should all be parallel to your intended line of play.
- keep your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and the ball forward in your stance.
3. Make a smooth, controlled swing.
Swinging a driver isn’t fundamentally different from swinging a fairway wood or iron.
The general idea is to rotate away from the target (ideally until your left shoulder for a right-handed golfer is just about under your chin) and swing back through the ball, all the while keeping your head level and your eye on the ball.
The general guidance for each part of the swing is as follows:
- Backswing: rotate your shoulders, torso and hips away from the target while shifting your weight to your back foot. Try to keep your left arm as straight as possible and lift the driver over your head so that it’s pointing roughly in the direction of the target.
- Downswing: start to rotate your hips towards the target and shift weight to your front foot. As you do this, let the club drop down from over your head in an arcing motion and strike the ball with your arms in an extended position.
- Follow-Through: let your body naturally carry the driver through, up and over your head on the other side.
At the end of the day, though, you should swing in a way that works best for you while keeping in mind the swing fundamentals mentioned above.
With modern equipment, a strong command of your driver swing, and some driver drills that will help keep your form in top shape, you will be set up to have an unstoppable game off the tee.
You just need to put what is mentioned in this guide into practice and internalize it until it becomes second nature. You have to put in the time and the work. Once that happens, everything will start to change for you.
Also remember that having quality equipment (clubs, training aids, etc.) will help lift up your entire game including your driving.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or thoughts about these drills and tips, feel free to drop a comment below.