Golfers have their say on the big stick - do we love it or hate it?
Do You Love Or Hate Your Driver?
In the pro game it’s become more and more of a weapon of mass destruction as driving distances and swing speeds have rocketed and courses, even at 7,500+ yards, have been reduced to not very much.
But on the club scene while, many of us will quickly resort to the driver on any 1st tee or any par 4, it is still often viewed with much suspicion.
So how do you view your driver? Here’s what golfers say…
I love hitting my driver, I probably have more confidence with that than any other club in the bag. I have it lofted up at 11.5, nice and easy to hit fairways with it, or just a yard or two off. Only around 220-240 yards but I rarely ever lose a ball with it so that’s fine.
My driver was stopping me from breaking 100. I have a swing speed of 100mph but I could slice the ball 80 yards right. I reduced my backswing to 30% (75% in reality), used a shorter tee (white Castle instead of pink castle) and moved the ball closer to central in my stance. I now hit 200 yard drives straight with a low-to-medium ball height. Sometimes I get 230 yards but I know I am leaving a lot of length on the table, but my drives are more consistent and is allowing me to work on my short game which is pants at the moment. I can also play a stinger now which a lot of my pals like and is useful when into a headwind. I have a strong left-hand grip that combats my slice but I have also experimented with tee heights and found out that the pink tee was not as consistent as the white tee height. Once I had moved to a lower tee height, I then moved the ball back in my stance and found more central a meant lower flight but less slice.
I’m beginning to fall back in love with the driver, this is 100% due to having consistent lessons and practising what I’ve learnt from them.
I bought an Callaway X Speed with a ladies’ length shaft, set at -2 and draw. I can smash the daylights out of the ball and get (usually) 240 down the middle. Smashing club and set-up. My tip is find out what works. Get it, and stick to it.
This is going to be said while touching lots of wood, I am generally pretty straight with my driver. It really is more the Indian and not the arrows, especially if you’re changing them a lot when they’re not working. Like everyone, I have the occasional bad day with it but that is definitely down to me more than the driver. The main trick I’ve learnt is to shorten my backswing and keep my left arm straight. And SLOW DOWN. I don’t try to smash the cover off the ball anymore. The disadvantages of trying too hard outweigh the benefits. I’ve had my Callaway XR 16 driver now for four years, I sometimes get tempted when I read of the next big stick but in reality this is still working well for me.
I used to hate having to pull driver out the bag; Titleist 910, Ping G10, Callaway Rogue, all awful in my hands. Since my fitting with Precision Golf for the G425 SFT, I’m reaching for it on a lot of holes. Trust it completely now.
Two years ago I had a Nike VrS driver, I’d had it for a good few years and fancied a new one. I bought a second-hand TM M2, loved it to start off with but then started to struggle after a couple of months. A mate of mine had a Ping G something or other, I had a go, hit it lovely, sold the M2, bought a Ping G25. Loved it to start off with but after a few months I again started to struggle, so I sold it. Bought a second-hand Callaway Rogue drunk one night, hated it straightaway, sold it. I bought a TaylorMade M2 again, currently absolutely lov… I’m not going to finish that sentence.
It’s a tool at the end of the day, if I’m hitting it poorly it’s down to me not the driver or whatever club it is. I’ve been driving the ball well this year, but the last two games been all over the place off the tee, nothing to do with the club.
Drivers are strange things. A few years ago I was using a TaylorMade R1. I loved that club. I went to The Belfry with a few friends for one of their overnight deals. First day was on the Derby, and I was smashing my driver an easy 260 down the middle all day long. It was a good driving day for me, but not that unusual. The following day on the Brabazon I couldn’t hit a barn door from six feet. I was a danger to all around me. That club never worked for me again despite multiple lessons and multiple settings adjustments with proper fitters (and multiple sessions of me fiddling with it, it must be said also). Changed to the TM mini driver eventually, and the fairways and distance returned. Got a Ping now and very happy with it.
If I’m standing over it thinking I’m going to smash this perfectly down there I generally do. But any hesitation, doubts/negative thoughts or distractions and it can go anywhere. That’s on me. It’s my head shortening or knocking my swing out of tempo. Not sure if that helps but if you’re not feeling it, it’s a tough ask.
As I got worse with the driver I tended to tee it down to try to squeeze one. I started moving it back in my stance from inside the left heel. Worse I got the lower I’d tee, the further back it went. I was afraid of the high hook off a tall tee. Incremental movements added up and I didn’t really notice. It’s all a confidence thing. Now I’m back to teeing it off my left heel and ‘normal height’ in line with the yellow line on my tee – if not even a touch higher – and let it fly. Fear does things to a swing. None of it good.
It is a club we try to hit too hard and equally it is the longest club in the bag. Longer the club, the more difficult it is to control. Even the pros struggle with this more than any other club. Tiger with a driver is utterly random and how many majors does he have in the bag?
I love the driver but I’ve reduced its use to maybe four times a round now as it risk/reward just wasn’t reflecting good scores, getting away well would mean a good score, on days when it wasn’t behaving the scores were poor. So, now it’s either 3-wood or a hybrid and this leads to a more consistent round. I would however, on a good day, score much better if the driver was more trustworthy but we have so much cabbage, overgrown woods and OOBs that there’s little margin for big hooks or slices.
I struggle a bit with the concept of smooth, it can lead me to try and steer, I need to have the feeling of a positive strike. However, to combat trying to smash it too hard, which is something I’m guilty of often, I make sure I’m very specific with the target I’m aiming at, rather than just trying to hit it as far as possible. E.g. choosing a specific target of 250 yards on a particular line, rather than just a line.
I recently walked off thinking my driver was not going well, and then I had a little mental replay, and actually I hit one bad shot with it, every shot was playable not necessarily where I had aimed granted but I had a line in and I had access to the ball so there is a case of stopping being negative and see the positives.
Most shots in golf you are using a specific point to aim at – usually the flag. With a driver I tend to pick a line, not a specific point, and larrup it. What can possibly go wrong? The other truism is that the lay-up shot always goes straight and 15/20yds further than you wanted whereas the full wallop comes up short/left/right. If only I could play all my shots as lay-ups..
I’ve had a mahoosive love/hate relationship with drivers for years. I got an original Great Big Bertha in ’97 and I can honestly say I was a driving God. I had a short break due to injury and the arrival of The Boy..and lost it. And I’ve only had it back for short periods since.
Many a time I’ve driven with a 3 or even 4-wood. I’ve had fittings and they’ve not really worked, I’ve fitted myself with, arguably better success.
I had a G410 in the bag for 18 months which is something of a record but that began to annoy me and the magic wore off. I’ve currently got an old Callaway 815 with a Rogue Silver shaft and it seems to be working…for now.
SLOWLY DOES IT…
Having spent the last month teeing off every par 4 and 5 with a longest-drive mentality and throwing the kitchen sink at it, I’ve had a bit of discomfort from my left rib cage around to my shoulder blade. Dosed up on paracetamol I played determined to just swing slow and steady and concentrate on getting centre strikes. The result was far fewer wayward drives and negligible loss of distance. A couple actually went further up the fairway than I’ve ever been. We didn’t keep score, but going back over the round it would probably have been my second best ever score. It felt like a bit of an epiphany.
My regular playing partner, just turned 70, hits every drive down the middle about 180-190. Every single drive (well 95% of them). I’m quite often 30-odd yards in front of him, but scattergun. I regularly lose three balls a round, he very rarely loses one, and never off the tee. I really wish I could hit my drives like he does.
NOT FOR ME..
I recently took all of my woods out of my bag and teed off with a 4-iron. My tee shots were getting me into too much trouble so, instead of 230 yards, I’m 190 but much more often in play! The knock on-effect is that with another iron shot I’m left with a pitch to the green rather than very occasionally being on the green. As I’m new to the game this approach is working but I do feel that it’s just not cricket!