The old adage is dead when it comes to golf driving. In years gone by, the mantra of ‘drive for show, putt for dough’ was taken as gospel. It was drilled into those taking up the sport, encouraging them to focus on their short games if they wanted to lower their scores.
However, the advancement of statistics within the sport has flipped this viewpoint on its head. Golf Driving, as it turns out, is for more than ‘show’.
It sounds logical doesn’t it – the closer you are to the hole from the tee, the lower your score is likely to be on any given hole. Yes, there’s still the small matter of getting the little white thing into the cup, but you’re much more likely to be doing that from closer range if you’re attacking the green from 100 yards, rather than 150!
But, driving the golf ball well isn’t just about driving the ball far. For your driving to be considered a serious weapon within your arsenal, you’ll need to be using it to get your ball in play more often than not; after all, there’s no point hitting it 350 yards into somebody’s back garden.
This can be difficult at times. Your driver will likely be literally the longest club in your bag, which means the head is further away from your hands than on any club. There’s the least amount of loft of any club (other than your putter!), reducing spin which in turn reduces some of the control you have over your flight. Not to mention, your ball will be placed on a tee peg, meaning it’s not as simple as just striking down into the turf to ensure good contact.
There are things that can make this easier though. For starters, having a driver that is properly fit for your game will help. I mean, just listen to how much happier Rory McIlroy is with his new TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus Driver following some tweaks he made in his latest custom fitting session.
Custom fitting isn’t just for the professionals though and it could be arguably more important for the average club golfer. It’s common sense that a 6’5” golfer with a 110mph swing speed, might need a slightly different driver than a 5’1” senior golfer swinging it closer to 80mph.
The best way of figuring out what sort of specifications you’re likely to need in your driver is to undergo a custom fitting with a trained expert. Whilst things like age, swing speed and handicap can give some indication of the sort of club you’d need, there’s a myriad of other factors that go into selecting a driver that’s a help – rather than a hindrance!
That said, it’s useful to have some indication of the sort of driver(s) you might want to try during your fitting, and fortunately for you, our Best Golf Drivers guide was recently created to tell you everything you need to know about the year’s latest releases!
Our guide gives the full run down on products from TaylorMade, Callaway, PING, Cobra, PXG, Titleist, and Mizuno; and we’ve even got sections broken out based on handicap as well as price. So before you head to your next (or first) custom fitting, take the time to get yourself fully up to speed with this year’s offerings.
Best Golf Driving Tips: Instruction Guide
The introduction of YouTube has massively helped to better explain aspects of the swing to golfers at home.
However, over the last decade there’s so much information out there that it can be a daunting place to try and learn the game.
Fear not, your pals here at GolfMagic have you covered with our own series of instructional videos to ensure you hit your best drives ever this year.
We’ll whip through some of the basics within the article here, but will also include some links where relevant to our favourite videos from across the GolfMagic YouTube Channel.
Like all elements of the golf swing, a solid base and good fundamentals will be your friend when looking to drive the ball well. There will obviously be some variances from person to person, after all, the famous Golfing Machine book claims that there are almost 450 quadrillion ways of swinging a club that could be effective. However, for the most part, nailing these things will help the majority of golfers.
A good swing starts with a solid, and repeatable grip. The grip of the club should run through the fingers of your left hand (for right handed golfers), and settle on the fleshy pad on the opposite side of your hand to your thumb. Too often, grips can slip into the palm of your left hand, which can reduce your overall control of the clubface and reduce your feels throughout the swing.
If you’re struggling with creating a workable grip, check out this quick and helpful video from the GolfMagic YouTube Channel courtesy of PGA pro Duncan Woolger:
Here are some more helpful tips on how to correctly grip a golf club.
Whilst your stance is important throughout the bag, with driver it is even more imperative to nail. With this being the golf club you’ll be swinging the fastest (and hopefully hitting the furthest) you need to be setting yourself up for success. Where possible, your feet, waist, and shoulders should match up to your intended start line – allowing you to swing down this line and hit the ball towards your intended target.
With the driver, you may want to widen your stance slightly, giving a more solid base from which to swing. Additionally, it can help to build in a little bit of side tilt within your setup, allowing you to attack the ball on the up – rather than hitting down into the turf as you would do with shots that aren’t on a tee peg!
Conventional teaching would suggest golfers move their weight into their back foot on the back swing, and transfer this back through the ball towards impact. Our one word of caution here is to not get ‘stuck’ on your back foot, as this can lead to throwing your arms at the ball in order to make contact – inevitably robbing you of significant distance.
Ball Position and Tee Height
With your tee shots being the only time you’re hitting the golf ball from a floating position, it’s important to be aware of this within your setup. As a general guide, you should play your driver the furthest forward of any club in the bag, typically setting up with the ball in line with your left heel (for a right hander), with your left foot flared slightly. This will provide ample room for you to begin to hit the ball on the upswing, helping to launch it into the air.
Tee height can be both subjective and circumstantial. For example, you may want to tee the ball higher on downwind shots really helping you to launch it down the fairway. As a rough rule, we’d suggest having about half of a golf ball visible above the crown of your driver when it’s on the ground behind it, although take some time to work out the height that is most comfortable for your swing. Once you’ve found a height that you’re comfortable with, be sure to try and stick to it, allowing for consistency each time you play.
Selecting The Right Driver
Getting acquainted with a driver that you trust implicitly is essential if you’re to gain confidence off the tee. You don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest big stick, but we’d definitely suggest looking at something from within the last five years if you’re to make the most of all the latest and greatest technology on offer.
Modern golf drivers come in various models, helping different golfers in different ways. Whether you need something to keep your spin down or prevent a slice, or something with adjustability for different conditions throughout the year – there really is a driver for everybody. Our first port of call for understanding which driver might be right for you would be to book in with a professional, preferably one with access to a launch monitor and several different brands to try.
Failing that, why not check out GolfMagic Equipment Editor Alex Lodge's helpful guide to finding the perfect driver for your game:
Tips and Fault Fixes
Hit It Longer!
Congratulations if you didn’t just skip straight to this bit of the article! Welcome if you did!
Everybody wants to hit the golf ball longer, and there are no secrets as to how that is achieved. To hit the ball further than you currently do, one (or more) of these things will need to improve; swing speed, ball speed, launch conditions, spin characteristics. In reality, some of these are easier to work on than others.
Swing speed is a relatively simple concept to understand for most golfers. There are though, some ‘watch-outs’ with trying to improve this. Firstly, you don’t want to sacrifice good setup and fundamentals to the extent that your new, faster golf swing isn’t replicable on course.
It’s also important to understand where the speed is needed within the swing. Your clubhead should be traveling the fastest when it’s coming into contact with the golf ball – you don’t necessarily need to ‘whip’ the club back down from the top to hit the ball a long way!
There are loads of drills and pieces of equipment to help you swing the club faster, and we’d recommend checking out this great video from our YouTube channel where we worked with Bry Roberts on some of the best ways to increase overall swing speed:
But, it’s no good increasing your swing speed if the ball isn’t coming off the face any faster! There’s two things to look into here, and once is certainly more exciting than the other … strike and technology.
Strike, as many fitters will tell you, is the ultimate king. You need to be finding the centre of the clubface more often than not if you want to maximise your distance. Again, this can go back to your fundamentals – but we appreciate this can be tricky with the longest club in your bag. If you find yourself struggling to really hit the sweet spot, perhaps consider a lesson to work on this with your pro.
The second way to increase ball speed is through technology – the more exciting option. Whilst there has been some limit on the flexion of driver faces for some time, manufacturers are constantly working out ways to make their clubs go faster – and across a bigger area of the face. If you’re using an older driver, you could benefit and gain distance from something more modern. Please do consider having a lesson too though!
In terms of launch conditions, we’re mainly looking at whether you’re hitting the ball on the up or down, and how high it’s launching from the face. During the TaylorMade SLDR campaign back in the day, their research showed that the optimal launch conditions for the longest possible drives for most golfers was 1700 RPM of spin on a drive that launched at 17°.
In theory, a 12° driver, hit 5° on the upswing. However, for many this will create too much spin, robbing your flight of overall distance. Furthermore, the low-spin model heads that can live in this window don’t tend to be the most forgiving, meaning that shots not struck from the middle of the club can be heavily penalised.
We’d recommend trying to catch the ball on the up, and unless you’re swinging your driver at more than 110mph, you could likely benefit from a touch more, rather than a touch less loft. To help get the ball in the air, consider raising your tee height somewhat. This can have three main benefits.
Firstly, it’ll simply allow you to hit it more on the upswing, giving you more time to generate speed.
Secondly, it can encourage a strike higher on the face, which will typically spin a little less, and roll out a little further.
Finally, it can make it easier to attack the ball from the inside. Whilst a draw isn’t necessarily always longer than a fade (see Jon Rahm for further proof!), hitting solidly on the up, from the inside, will generally product better results than chopping across the ball from out-to-in.
Our final bit of advice is to really concentrate on using your legs and lower half. As you turn and load your body on your backswing, feel as though you are really using the ground to push off from, helping to propel the ball into the year.
And if you’ve tried all of this, and still want a bit more help, check out this video from two-time World Long Drive champion Joe Miller:
Stop Slicing Your Drives
It’s the shot that plagues amateur golfers, the dreaded slice! For the unfamiliar (lucky you!), a slice is a shot that curves viciously to the right (for a right handed golfer). There are several root causes of a slice, but essentially it is the result of a clubface that is open to the intended target line, married with a swing path which cuts across to the inside.
Golf is fundamentally a game of opposites, and so the worst thing you can do when trying to cure a slice is to aim further left, as this will inevitably cause you to swing even more across the line, perpetuating the amount of cut on the ball!
That said, we know this can be daunting, and not something you might want to try on the first tee of the monthly medal, so our first advice is to get down to the range. There’s no penalty here for hitting the ball off the planet to the right, so you should have no fears about getting yourself lined up to start the ball at the centre of the fairway.
You’re likely to find that after a few balls, your inner brain takes over and begins to avoid hitting the ball into the side-netting of the range, but don’t let your alignment change. Force yourself to keep aiming straight and your body will have to find another solution.
One of the first things to check is your grip strength. The fear of a slice can cause tension, not allowing for your hands to properly release through impact. You should also check that your grip is not overly weak – by which we mean, that the thumbs are both pointing down the centre of the shaft. If this is the case we’d recommend turning your top hand slightly so that the ‘v’ created by your thumb and forefinger point back towards your trail shoulder.
Once you’re comfortable with your grip, ensure your ball position isn’t too far forwards, as this can again increase the amount that you’re swinging across the golf ball. As mentioned earlier, for your driver, the ball should be roughly in line with the heel of your lead foot, allowing for plenty of space to attack the ball from the inside, before your body starts to turn through and cut across towards your finishing position.
If you’ve got your setup, fire some drives down the range – feeling like David Beckham taking an in-swinging corner with his right foot! Really get the feeling of attacking the ball from the inside, and concentrate on starting the ball straight, or to the right of your intended finish line. This will force your path to the right, and be the major feeling that you’ll need to get used to when switching from a slice to a straight shot or draw. Have no fear if the ball stays to the right, as this is something that is much more easily corrected through further strengthening of the face through impact. Working on your path first will be a huge help when it comes to leaving the slice behind forever.
We know that it can be hard to visualise this, so once again our YouTube comes into its own with these fantastic drills from PGA pro James Whittemore to stop you from coming over the top:
Find Your Own Fairway-Finder!
No matter how much you work on your swing, there’ll still be times when it all feels a little uncomfortable. On these occasions, it’s important to have a go-to shot for getting off the tee. The most obvious solution is to drop down to the club you feel most comfortable with. However, this may be as short as a 5-iron and could leave you a long way back on Par-4’s and Par-5’s.
Instead, we’d prefer you to develop a shot that you can rely on time and time again with the big stick in hand.
Here’s a couple of our favourites:
The ‘Zach Johnson’ Feeling
ZJ – as the American’s refer to him – has some pretty uncharacteristic arm positions within his swing. That’s to say, everything is quite straight and turned around his body, resulting in a shorter overall backswing. Whilst this might not be the most powerful move on the planet, it’s one that’s relatively repeatable, and can allow for the golfer to build some confidence. We’d recommend moving the ball a hair further back in your stance, and concentrating on keep the elbows and arms straight throughout the swing. Have the feeling of hitting the ball with your chest, as you rotate around yourself. Ultimately, you should expect to see a shot that comes out a touch lower, with a slight draw. Think about swinging slower than usual, building the pressure from the ground up, and having little-to-no additional tweaks from the hands throughout.
The Necky Cut
This might not be the ideal solution for those struggling with a big slice, but a low cut has long been a go-to for many players. For this one, we’d recommend having a touch more weight on your lead leg, and teeing the ball down quite significantly. From here you can have a feeling of staying on top of the golf ball, aiming down the left rough (for righties) and cutting it back towards the middle of the fairway. This isn’t one to pull out regularly on tree-lined parkland courses, but when there’s no trouble down the left, it can be a very efficient way of getting the ball into play! Concentrate on trying to strike the ball in the centre of even slightly towards the heel of the driver, as catching this one out of the toe can cause it to stay down the left hand side due to the ‘roll-and-bulge’ of modern driver faces.
The ‘Tommy Fleetwood’ Bunt
Tommy is known as one of the game’s preeminent ball strikers, with a unique setup and finish to his golf swing. You’ll notice that he almost always grips down on his golf clubs. This adds more control to his swing, and allows him to find the centre of the club face more often. He also has a finish that is shorter than many of his peers. However, this concentration on a shorter, punchier swing, can be incredibly useful for finding the fairway. Particularly if you’re able to perfect this with a slight in-to-out swing path. In truth, his driver swing has a fuller finish than his iron swing – but we’d advocate for that punchy swing with the driver when there’s a premium on hitting the fairway.
Check out this awesome driving video that the guys at Me and My Golf filmed with Fleetwood:
Easy Does It
Our last suggestion for your fairway finder is arguably the most simple to explain, but the toughest to force yourself to do on course. Concentrate on taking the club back super slowly, and not ‘snatching’ from the top. This will create a smooth swing that takes some of the spin off the ball, and also avoids it ballooning into the air. We like to imagine we’re swinging at roughly 50% speed. It’ll never be this slow in real life, but the feeling really prevents rushing, and forces you to concentrate on a good starting line.
What do you make of these golf driving tips? What's the best golf driving tip you've ever received? Share your thoughts and comments over on the GolfMagic social media channels or head over to the GolfMagic YouTube Channel to check out more helpful golf swing videos.