Golf is often referred to as a game of precision and finesse, it is a sport that does require an understanding of the various intricate shots, however, a huge element of unlocking scoring potential is driving, specifically, the larger distances that can be gained from this particular shot. The driver has the potential for impressive distances above all other clubs in your bag. However, harnessing this potential requires a grasp of several key concepts which play pivotal roles in achieving this length along with accuracy and good levels of consistency.
If you have read our previous Discover Golf editions, you should be familiar with how to hold the club, address the ball and swing the club. Now I will take you through some key points to help you use the driver as effectively as possible.
What is a driver?
The driver is the largest of all the clubs in the bag and the go to start most holes that require maximising the distance you can achieve from your swing. This is possible due to its large volume of head size, length of shaft and aided by lower lofts and lighter weight.
Understanding Low Point
Low point, in golf terminology, refers to the point in the swing arc where the clubhead is at its lowest position before it starts its upward trajectory. When hitting the driver, the position of the low point is crucial. A suitable low point helps ensure that you make contact with the ball slightly on the upswing, which is a crucial element for maximising distance and achieving an optimal launch angle.
To establish a consistent low point, focus on maintaining a shallower sweeping movement of the club through the lower part of the swing and avoiding lowering the body dramatically during the downswing, something that can be common when incorrectly trying to ‘keep the head down’ something that should be avoided. When the low point is well-managed, the driver’s loft can be utilised effectively, leading to longer and more controlled drives.
3 Keys to unlock your driver’s potential
1 Using of a tee and tee height?
Using a tee and adjusting tee height when hitting a driver in golf is essential for optimising your performance with this shot. A tee is used to elevate the golf ball above the surface providing us with a guaranteed perfect lie every time. Because of this, it is easier to launch the ball into the air as it provides the opportunity to strike the ball without making contact with the ground and assist with striking the ball more on the upward part of the clubs movement.
A useful starting point is having half of the ball above the height of the driver face, however finding the optimal tee height requires experimentation during your practice sessions. Pay attention to how different tee heights affect your contact and ball flight and adjust accordingly by either increasing the tee height or lowering it.
2 Ball Position
Next up to help create the optimal strike with the driver is the strategic placement of the golf ball in relation to the stance. Altering this will have an effect on the body positioning and if the ball is struck on the up or downswing, greatly affecting your shot outcome.
For drivers, a great place to start is positioning the ball inside of your front heel. This placement ensures that the low point occurs just before the ball, enabling you to hit the ball on the upswing. When the ball is positioned too far forward, closer to the front foot, the low point could happen too early and potential mishits. Conversely, if the ball is too far back in your stance, the low point may occur after the ball, resulting in an overly steep angle of attack and reduced distance.
3 Width of Stance
The width of your stance plays a vital role in achieving the proper swing shape for hitting the driver effectively. A stance that is too narrow, you may have trouble staying balanced, leading to inconsistent shots., while a stance that is too wide might hinder your rotational movement and timing.
When addressing the ball with the driver, aim for a stance that is wider than shoulder-width. This provides a stable foundation while allowing enough ability to rotate and have the body positioned suitably during the swing. The wider stance also encourages a sweeping motion, which aligns well with the shallow angle of attack required for successful driver shots.
Putting It All Together
As we discussed, the upward strike on the ball typically creates a more optimal outcome. To help with achieving this put the previous points into play and focus on maintaining a shallow, sweeping motion in the downswing.
Putting this together and discovering the appropriate movement in the body to simulate the correct arc is to try the following drill.
Simply by placing a headcover (a ball or an additional rubber tee) in front of the tee where your ball would sit creates feedback of where the low point is and increases the likelihood of a more upward strike. Through doing this you will start to gain awareness of the suitable body movement that avoids contacting the object, if you do it is likely that your low point is too low and too left producing a downward impact into the ball. Practise swinging through, clipping the tee, and avoiding hitting the object in front. Avoid excessive attempts to scoop the ball into the air, by shortening your arms as this can lead to inconsistent contact and reduced distance. Practising this aspect of your swing can lead to more consistent and powerful drives off the tee.
Remember that consistency and improvement in these areas require practice and dedication. As you gain a deeper understanding of how these factors influence your shots, you’ll be better equipped to unleash the full power and potential of the driver in your golf game.
Conor Thornton is a member of the PGA Professionals team at Golf Saudi-managed Riyadh Golf Club