Making the most of modern drivers

Research reveals the latest tips from the pros to get the most from your big driver, fly in the face of long-established advice

Charlie Lemay's picture
Golfmagic instruction contributor
Fri, 26 Apr 2013
0

While most of us crave for a driver with a big head - the maximum allowed 460cc seems to be the norm - do we really know how to make best use of it?

I was brought up on the old adage that the ball should be positioned just inside the left heel and placed on a tee so that its equator of it sits level with the crown of the clubhead when the sole, at address, is place on the turf.

Wrong!

I've been doing some research and it seems the latest tips from the pros to get the most from your oversize driver, fly in the face of previous advice relating to driving instruction.

With modern golf balls, the trick is to get them airborne as quickly as possible and reduce their spin rate so they fly higher and straighter but don't necessarily roll that far on landing. Off the tee, it's all about 'carry' and reducing 'drag' through the air.

More loft is good!

So one of the first things you need to look at is the loft of your driver. Don't be fooled into thinking that an eight or nine-degree driver will suddenly give you that extra 20 yards you're looking for, unless you're a pro or a low, single-figure handicapper with lots of time to practice.

With the modern ball and its combination of core, cover and dimple pattern, it's important to get it airborne with a steeper launch angle, so anything that will promote that trajectory is a positive.

Notice, too how increasingly, manufacturers are making drivers with 11, 12 and even 13 degrees of loft. That's not a girlie thing - it's a benefit to help make the most of modern technology which is increasingly encouraging the re-distribution of weight lower and towards the extremities of the driver (e.g. the new square headed drivers) to help give loft to the ball and deliver more stability at impact.

The type of shaft you go for, too , is vitally important. Too stiff for a slow Swing Speed and you'll be hitting, weak, fading, daisy-cutters for ever more.

Tee it high let it fly

Modern tee pegs are usually about 7cm (2.75 ins) but when pressed into the ground, perch the bottom of the ball at only about 5cm (2 ins), meaning its equator barely reaches the crown of the club.

So unless you can get hold of some extra long tees - the longest I've seen is about 9 cm (3.5 ins) - you have to consider the ball's position in your stance so that you hit it on the upstroke.

Move the ball forward at address

As mentioned earlier, most of us are taught that for a driver the ball needs (for a right-hander) to be positioned in your stance opposite the inside of your left heel.

But with modern drivers, the validity of that no longer applies if we need to get the ball airborne quickly with a straighter-faced club. To hit it 'on the up' it's important to move the ball opposite the toe of your left golf shoe or even a fraction forward of that.

Address the centre of the ball with the toe of the club

My research also revealed a secret to solid ball-striking with modern drivers is to address the ball with the toe of the club rather than the middle.

Now that the ball is teed so high (to accommodate big heads and deep faces), to position it in the centre of the face with the club on the ground will tend to deliver merely the heel clubface to the centre of the ball as you swing through. And that's not good, is it?

But by addressing the ball with the toe of the club and moving yourself an inch or two away from it as you get comfortable in your normal stance, you will effectively deliver the centre of the clubface to a ball which is perched three inches off the ground. It will need minor adjustment and experimentation on the range, but it works.

Tell us on the forum how you are handling the modern drivers. Are you hitting the ball further than ever before, or merely harder with more confidence because of the bigger, more forgiving heads? If you've got any driver tips that have worked for you, this is the place to share them or tweet us @golfmagic.

Article first published January 2007, updated April 2013

 

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