The putter might be the most important club in the bag on most days, but the driver certainly isn’t far behind. When you can blast your drives right down the middle of the fairway hole after hole, it gives you a tremendous advantage over the course. Playing from the fairway makes golf much easier, and getting good distance on your drives means you will have shorter approach shots and more chances to make birdie. For these reasons, understanding the proper fundamentals of how to hit a driver should be one of the top priorities for any golfer.
There are both similarities and differences to be aware of when comparing the driver swing to the iron swing. It isn’t good enough to just swing your driver and irons in the same manner, as they are different styles of clubs and need to be treated as such. By taking the time to learn what you need to do with the driver in order to find both more distance and better accuracy, you can improve your overall game in the long run.
Let’s look at five key fundamentals to hitting the driver to help get you pointed in the right direction during your very next round.
How to Hit a Driver
Fundamental #1 – Balance is Crucial
Staying on balance should be priority number one when hitting a driver. Many golfers fail in this regard and lose their balance while trying to swing too hard and maximize distance. In reality, the best way to maximize distance is to stay on balance and make sure you make solid contact on the center of the clubface.
Good balance means keeping your center of gravity near the middle of your stance throughout the backswing, and then moving it aggressively toward the target on the downswing. A common mistake that many amateur golfers make is letting their weight drift onto the back foot during the backswing – make sure to avoid this error. When your weight starts to sway side to side during the swing you will likely lose both accuracy and power from your driver. Work hard to keep your weight centered during the backswing and you will be far better prepared to swing confidently through the ball.
If you find yourself struggling to find proper balance you can try using a simple balance trainer to work on getting the right feel as you shift your weight through the swing.
Fundamental #2 – Spending Time at the Top
It is easy to rush when you are making a driver swing, often causing you to not take the proper amount of time at the top of the backswing to let your body and the club get in perfect position. Ideally, there should almost be a pause at the top – not a complete pause, but more like a slight hesitation that allows your body to gather and the club to switch directions and fall into the slot for the downswing.
A common mistake to this end for amateur golfers is making the transition prematurely and never letting the club get all the way to the top of the swing. When you cut the backswing short, you lose some of your potential power in the swing and also risk creating a slice because the club may be “outside” the proper swing plane. Always remember that the ball isn’t going anywhere – it’s just waiting on a tee for you to hit it. There is no rush, so take your time throughout the swing and only start down toward the ball when your body and club are in position and ready to go.
Fundamental #3 – Sweeping Motion
Iron shots should generally be hit with a downward angle to cleanly strike the ball and impart the necessary backspin to get it up and soaring through the air. This is due to the design of the irons, and the fact that you are usually hitting them off the turf instead of a tee. However, with the design of a driver and the advantage of a tee under the ball, a sweeping motion is the desired way to attack the shot at impact.
A high rate of backspin is the enemy of hitting good shots with your driver. While some backspin is needed to keep the ball in the air and on line, too much backspin will generate a weak shot that floats high in the air and falls short of its distance potential. Hitting your driver with a sweeping motion rather than a downward angle will help to bring down the spin rate and give you a better, more penetrating ball flight.
Fundamental #4 – Less than 100%
Everyone wants to hit their driver as far as possible – that is no secret. However, in the pursuit of distance, it is possible to overdo it and end up doing more harm than good. There is nothing wrong with swinging hard, but it should never come at the loss of balance within your swing (remember the difference between swing hard and swinging fast). Try swinging your driver at slightly less than 100% effort so you can have an easier time remaining balanced and making contact on the center of the clubface.
You might think that you are losing distance by not swinging as hard as you possibly can, but you will likely average more distance with this approach. The goal is to become more consistent by staying within yourself and focusing more on balance than on speed. When you are able to hit the sweet spot swing after swing, your distance will start to increase and you should have more control over the flight of the ball as well.
Fundamental #5 – A Proper Target
This last fundamental makes sure that you have the proper focus and preparation for your driver shots so that you can get the most from your swing. Many amateur golfers make the error of not picking out a specific target for their driver and end up just “swinging away” without a real purpose. When you hit an approach shot to the green, you will usually aim right at the pin so it’s easy to pick your target. However, off the tee, you can just fall into the trap of aiming down the fairway and not getting more specific than that.
To help your mind focus, pick out a very specific target in the distance to aim your driver at. Trees work well for this purpose, as do fairway bunkers that are out of reach with your drive. Take a moment on the tee to pick out a spot that you are going to aim at, and give it your full attention until you look up and see the ball sailing perfectly down the middle of the fairway.
Practice the five simple fundamentals explained here and you’ll learn how to hit a driver with outstanding results in every round you play!
Further Recommended Reading
Looking for even more ways to improve your shots off the tee? Check out these staff recommended books that cover the most important fundamentals of this crucial shot.
- The Keys to an Effortless Golf Swing by Michael McTeigue
- Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan
Both of these books have been around for quite some time but there’s a reason why they’re still selling…their advice is spot on!