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The driver is the one club we all long to hit well because the further down the hole we can send the ball, the better our chances, especially if we can also keep it straight.
Different clubs in our bag require different set-ups and swing mechanics for successful execution. The driver address position and swing require a different approach to nearly all other clubs in the bag - save perhaps longer fairway woods off a tee-peg - because you really must hit up on the ball rather than down on it to achieve optimal results from some of the best drivers on the market.
In this article we look at some of the key set-up and swing pointers to help you hit your driver long and straight. You'll also find many more excellent driving tips from our team of top coaches on the Golf Monthly website.
How to hit a driver: Ball position and tee height
Many golfers know they’ve got to get the ball forward in their stance with a driver to promote an upward strike.
A good rule of thumb is to have the ball just inside your left heel, though some players may prefer slight variations on this to optimise their launch angle.
If the ball is too far back in your stance, the downward strike this promotes will create too much unhelpful backspin.
As for tee height, again this will vary according to swing type and angle of attack. But having the equator of the ball around the top edge of the driver will be a good starting point for many.
A solid foundation
The driver is the most powerful club in the bag and generating power off the tee requires a strong foundation. You need a nice wide base with the driver, so make sure your stance is not too narrow as that can create instability in your attempts to generate power.
Beware though – if your stance is too wide it can restrict your ability to turn. Having your feet just over shoulder-width apart is ideal.
Turning your toes out fractionally can also help you rotate your hips and make a full turn. Of course, if you are focusing on how to set your feet at address it is well worth understanding exactly how to aim in golf so that you have the best possible chance of taking the club back on a good line.
Solid posture over the ball is also very important.
A good way to achieve the ideal posture is to start with your legs and back nice and straight, then tilt your upper body forward from the hips before just adding a little flex in the knees.
One of the keys to hitting modern drivers well is to reduce the amount of spin you impart on the ball. Hitting up on the ball rather than down on it is a major plus in that regard.
A great way to encourage this is to add a hint of spine tilt away from the ball at address. Dropping the right shoulder slightly below the left will encourage an upward strike through the ball, helping to reduce spin and increase clubhead speed.
Having the shoulders too level restricts your turn and makes it very difficult to generate the ideal launch angle with your driver.
A good trick to create the ideal spine tilt is to first stand with your hands together and the grip in between them, before sliding your right hand down the grip and into position
Width and extension
As you start away from the ball, width in the backswing is crucial to driving it well. Feel as though you’re taking the club away wide and close to the ground rather than picking it up quickly with the hands.
Taking care not to sway off the ball to the right with your upper body, try to feel the club stretching away from you until you achieve a nice wide position when the club is roughly parallel to the ground on the way back.
It’s vital that you retain this width through the ball too as getting too narrow with your swing will rob you of power.
This means you then need almost a mirror image of the width you’ve created on the takeaway coming through the ball as you really extend down the line towards the target.
The importance of coil
One of the real keys to hitting your driver is to create a solid lower half for your upper body to coil or resist against – this is what helps to generate power. To help achieve a powerful coil, you want the feeling that your right knee is being held in place inwards and not swaying away from the ball or buckling.
This will restrict your hip turn on the way back and give your upper body something to coil against. If the right knee straightens on the way back, the right hip will extend backwards and you will lose power in your coil.
The driver is the longest club in the bag so you are generating more speed and power with this club than any other. This means you should be able to swing through to a nice full finish as the club wraps around your body after dispatching the ball.
Get your driver fundamentals right and everything will feel perfectly balanced at the end of the swing as the ball soars away down the middle of the fairway.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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