The feeling of crushing a big drive down the middle of the fairways is tough to beat in golf. You step up to the tee, with people watching on behind you and drive the ball magnificently to rapturous applause.
That’s what we all want. However, the reality is we often step up and swing the driver only to see the ball slice away into the rough or worse. On average, players hit 12 shots with the driver during a round of golf. How many of these shots travel a good distance and land on the fairway?
If you have never counted, try it next time and you may be surprised. And my bet is that the result is not going to surprise you positively (sorry for ruining your confidence!) The driver IS a difficult club to control. The simple fact that the shaft is longer and it is the lowest lofted club in just are just some of the factors. But when mastered, having a solid and somewhat stable drive to pull out of the bag will set your game up to reach the next level. Just see guys like Rory McIlroy and Dusting Johnson, when they drive it well, they are (almost) impossible to beat.
The Driver Sets Up Your Whole Game
We all know the old saying of “Driving for show – Putting for dough”. That absolutely has lots of truth to it, but I find that if my driving does not function, it affects my whole game – even my putting. Getting the ball well of the tee is for me something that sets up the entire hole. If I put a good swing on my driver, the chance of me making a confident approach shot is much higher. Good drives build confidence right out of the tee box, and, for me, it transcends all way to the putter.
Good Driving Starts With a Good Setup
The basis for mastering the driver begins with the setup and your stance. The driver has the longest shaft of any club in the bag and therefore requires the widest stance. The stance should allow for the length of the club during the swing and in many cases will be wider than shoulder-width apart. Look at some of the best drivers of the ball in modern golf and you will see VERY wide stances because they load up such tremendous power.
The position of the golf ball is also vital when hitting the big dog. Again, due to the length of the club, placing the ball in the middle of the stance will not work. If you want to master the driver and any club for that matter, you must be prepared to move the ball either back or forward in your stance.
When hitting the big dog aka Mr. Driver, you need to move the ball forward in your stance. The ideal position is considered to be the in-step of the heel of your front foot. Placing the ball in this position allows the driver to contact the ball on the upswing and this helps to promote a great drive. Getting the ball placement correct by the front foot will also allow you to decrease the spin of the golf ball (the more you hit down, the more spin) and give you more length.
Tee It High, Let It Fly
However, where you place the ball in your stance is not the only consideration when it comes to teeing it up with the biggest club in the bag. You must also think about how high you are teeing the ball when using the driver.
To promote a good, sound driver swing, you will need to tee the ball higher than with any other club. Anything from 2.5 inches or more from the ground to the base of the ball on the tee should be good enough. Some people like to tee the ball very high but to begin, anything between 2.5 and 3 inches is enough. Or a rule of thumb is that the top of the driver should be at the “equator” of the ball. Yes, that is very high, and for many, it will seem ridiculously high, to begin with (and might cost somebody a sky mark or two).
As you settle into your stance, do not hold the driver up against the ball. Bring it back a little as this helps to hit the ball on the upswing.
Easy Does It
Finally, do not be tempted to take the club away as quickly as possible when attempting to master the driver. Many people believe everything with the driver must be done as fast as possible but that’s not true. Instead, take away the club slowly and low to the ground. Some of the speed will be generated due to the length of the club, so focus on good technique rather than trying to hit the ball as hard as you can.
Below is a video guide with my favorite golf instructor on Youtube, the always enlightening Sean Clement.