The Holy grail. The savior. The one club to rule them all. Cue to insert a number of clichés here. The fact remains that the driver is the longest club in your bag if fit, hit properly. If given a chance to smoke a 300 yard drive as against a 50 yard pitch to a few feet, most of us would take the 300 yard drive…I know I would..The problem is that most of us cannot hit the driver with any measure of consistency.
Research on the PGA tour has shown that the longer you hit your driver the better your chances of scoring low. Of course, you would need to have a shot from the fairway to have any chance of doing that. So, herein lies the problem/quandary, how does one go about making the driver work for you.
1) Get Fit: All heads in the last 5 years hit the ball the same distance due to the COR limit placed by the USGA. You don’t believe me, research Iron Byron and its article/video review of different drivers. Iron Byron is a robot which produces the same swing tempo/speed for each club it tests. All things being the same, the only thing that would differ would be temperature ups and downs while the clubs are being hit. A pretty consistent setup if you ask me. Guess what the outcome was? All clubs (same lofts and shafts) finished up within 2 yards of each other.
Myth 1: I hit my friend’s driver 250 yards, man, it is awesome! No, it’s not, it’s just another shiny thing that you think is better than your driver. Chances are, the honeymoon period ends once you buy it or test it out more.
Instead of buying a new driver, buy one which has been on the market for a couple of years/cycle. It will work out to be cheaper. Here is where the concept of shafts comes in. Most shafts promise distance, high launch, low launch, low spin, high spin. Where does one begin? Go to a reputed club-fitter and check your stats. Do you have a positive attack angle, do you have a negative attack angle. How high do you hit the ball? The club-fitter will use trackman technology and recommend a shaft. Then check your grip size and get proper grips fitted (Yes, they are important).
Note#1 Use a forgiving driver to help minimize penalty on mis-hits. The Ping series, the Cobras are dynamite in that respect. One can’t go wrong with any of them.
Note#2 If you are in between a regular and stiff, get a stiff. If your swing speed is 90mph, no sense in getting a stiff shaft unless you have a violent, fast transition. Trust the club-fitter, they know more than most of us for a reason.
2) Stop trying to smoke one 300 yards: Counter intuitive? Sure. The harder one tries to hit, the tighter your muscles get and the tension increases. Tension is a swing killer. Your muscles need to be loose.
Note#1: Being loose is not the same as a loose grip. Your grip should not change but your arms should feel loose.
Grip the club with your normal grip but let the hands hang loose. Then put your best swing on the ball. I guarantee you will hit it further than if you are aiming to hit the ball hard.
3) Tempo: Swing back slowly and finish with a nice smooth downswing. Rushing it back and trying to rush back through is not going to do you any favors. Like someone said, you do not hit the ball on the backswing but it sure does make things interesting. Your backswing lays the platform for your downswing and ensures your club is on the correct plane.
Note#1 Google: Tour Tempo. I guarantee you will find it useful (Hint# It is music played on a keyboard, I am not kidding)
4) Recalibrate distances: Stop lying to yourself. Most of us cannot hit 300 yards regularly. Try to tone it down to 220-230 in the fairway consistently. A consistent driver of the ball will beat an inconsistent driver of the ball 8 times out of 10 simply by playing the second shot from the short grass. Being in the fairway matters. How many of us would play from rough/bunker consciously if given the chance, No one I presume. Again, hit it nice and easy and aim to put it 220 yards down the fairway, right in the middle.
5) Groove your swing/See a coach: Please go see a coach and tell them your issues. They will spot a flaw in your swing. If you don’t want to see one, ask the tee girl to video your swing from the back and the side view so you can self-help. If you don’t use a tee girl, ask a well meaning buddy to help you. If you don’t want to do that, pray! Tell your coach what you want out of the session specifically. It is better to set expectations right away so that there is no disappointment later. Your coach can lay out a plan for your and both of you can work towards your intended goal.
Note#1: Please allow yourself some time to see positive changes. Swing changes and grip changes take time to adjust to. The windfall, if implemented correctly, will be worth it.
6) It’s all in the mind: That’s it, it is all in the mind. If all you can see is the fairway then the body will make the ball land in the fairway. Envisage yourself hitting the ball in the fairway and it will make its way there.
7) Last but not the least: Learn how to aim correctly. Line up directly behind the ball and pick a spot on the fairway where you want to hit the ball (don’t worry about distance). As long as your ball stays on your intended path, it should be fine. Now, aim for a spot 2 feet in front of your ball on the intended imaginary line to the target. take your stance and place your club-head behind the ball and perpendicular to the spot 2 feet in front of the ball. In non mathematical terms, the face of the driver should point directly at the spot in the front of the ball.
That’s it. Try these steps and I guarantee your driving accuracy will pick up and you will soon be driving it past your buddies (at least some of them).
Tips & Pictures were written and submitted by GolfPH Member, Harry Syles.
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