Teeing up a ball to start off on any hole can be exciting, the sense of power that you have holding the longest club in your bag is a great feeling. People are often overcome with nerves and emotion because of what’s at stake with that first shot. Using the driver in golf is a true starting advantage when executed properly, or it can be a complete disaster when not.
There can be an argument made that the driver is the most important club in the bag, or some may say it’s your putter because you can really knock off a lot of strokes with great putting. The driver is important in a different way, giving you a great starting point to play from on your second shot, if you gain maximum yardage while keeping it in the fairway. It can give you a boost mentally and set you up with more confidence on all your remaining shots from tee to green.
When your shot does not go well it can be the complete opposite and lead to a disastrous hole or even affect your complete round out there. The driver, when not executed properly can play on you mentally and make it uncomfortable in the tee off box, creating tension and affecting your swing plane and ultimately your shot.
Most beginner or intermediate golfers want to use their driver too much and sometimes it’s just not the right club selection for that particular hole. It’s important to really decide if the risk is worth the reward on each hole based on your surroundings. When in doubt, club down a bit with a 3 wood or iron and put your ball in play on the fairway with a club that’s easier and more forgiving to hit.
Being successful with your driver all starts with proper execution. Your stance, the height of your tee and how you swing are all going to play an important part in making a great shot. What do your surroundings look like? Is it a narrow fairway lined by trees or are there hazards set up in the right places to land in? Do you know the yardage that you generally hit with your driver so you can judge where your ball is going to land? Definitely questions you need to ask yourself before a shot.
Another thing that most higher handicap golfers don’t think about is the driver they are using. Are you using the right driver that suits your game? The latest and greatest driver on the market might be cool to own but if you can’t hit it properly because the technology and makeup of the club is not built for you then what good is it? Choosing the right tool for the job is extremely important.
Setup Is Your Foundation
A proper stance is going to be the starting point of your power. Your stance is going to be wider with your driver than any other club in your bag because your swing is going to be longer and wider. Make sure your feet are slightly wider than your shoulders to give you a nice stable balance. The toe on your front foot slightly turned out.
Flex your knees slightly to allow easier movement of the upper body and play the ball in line with your heel on your front foot. A proper tee height is generally when the ball is about half a ball higher on the tee than the height of your club head placed next to it while on the ground.
Swing For Power
The motion of your backswing is going to be the same for your driver as it is with any other club. Pay special attention that your hips are turning and not sliding as you are going through your takeaway with the club. Think long and wide as you move the club through your backswing. When you get to the top of your swing, your shoulder should be turned under your chin and both the shoulders and hips should be loaded and ready to unleash with great speed and power.
On the downswing, let the hips lead the way and the shoulders to follow, arms and hands come last. It’s extremely important to follow this in sequence to deliver the clubhead into the ball on the correct inside path. If the process is rushed, you will likely unwind your shoulders too quickly and swing “over the top” creating the dreaded slice as you move on an out-to-in path, losing power in the process. Follow through with your lower arm extending right down the target line to maintain your power and accuracy.
The Right Driver For You
Choosing the right type of driver for your abilities is really a necessity if you want to maximize all the distance and control out of your club. The two main areas you should be concentrating on are the type of flex the shaft has and the amount of loft in the club head.
Flex is made in a variety of types including, regular, stiff, extra stiff, ladies, and senior. Everyone is going to fall in their own category here based on their strength and mainly their clubhead speed. It is extremely important to get your swing speed measured so you can make the most out of your driver with distance. Choosing the right flex is half the battle.
The other important piece to consider is the loft of your driver. The loft measurements can go anywhere from 9-15 degrees depending on the style, usually going up in 0.5 degree increments to get the right loft angle that suits your needs. When judging what loft is best for you, as a rule of thumb, the higher the loft, the more height you will get with your shot.
Women’s, seniors and the drivers designed for higher handicap golfers are going to give you those higher lofts in the club to assist you with an easier ball flight and a better experience off the tee. Another type of driver you can look at is one that has an adjustable loft. Generally designed with a variety of loft angles that you can explore and really dial in the number that suits your driving needs.
There are a few other things to consider with a driver as well. The size of the head or face, how large is the sweet spot? Are you looking to control your shot with a fade or a draw or just trying to get pure distance? Some drivers on the market also have adjustments you can make to alter the face to customize your type of shot. A driver with an “offset” at the head can be very beneficial to a higher handicap golfer to help square up the face at impact.
Gain Your Advantage
Technology has come so far in all golf clubs in today’s world, so using the driver in golf isn’t just as simple as picking up any old club anymore. If you want to really help your game it’s essential to dial in every aspect of the best driver that’s going to suit your ability and type of game.
Using a great driver is going to give you a huge mental lift in the tee box when you know that the club is specifically designed for your game. This, combined with proper setup and execution with your swing are definitely a proper recipe for success in your driving game and it will carry forward in other shots throughout your round.
Remember that knowing when to pull the big boy out of the bag is also a critical choice based on your surroundings, but if the time is right there’s no greater feeling than to grip it and rip it! Get out there and enjoy it and if you have any questions please hit me up in the comments section below.