Driving The Golf Ball For Beginners: Tips To Improve

Introduction

Without a doubt, the driver is the most difficult club in the bag to hit well, particularly for people new to the game of golf. In spite of all the technology that top manufacturers employ, the lack of loft and length of shaft can make this club very difficult for amateur golfers to strike correctly.

Let’s run through some tips on how to improve your driving so you can enjoy your rounds more.

Driving The Golf Ball For Beginners

Get The Basics Right

Before looking specifically at using a driver you need to make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance of success by getting the fundamentals correct that apply to every club.

Grip

Having a solid, neutral grip is usually the best way to go. Although your instructor may have recommended a slightly stronger or weaker grip because of your own physical abilities. 

If you tend to struggle to square the clubface at impact then consider adjusting your grip slightly to compensate. 

For example, many beginners and high handicappers tend to leave the clubface open at impact. Strengthening your grip slightly should help you get the clubface back to the ball in a much squarer position.

Grip pressure is also important. You need to grip the club so that it won’t twist in your hands during your swing but don’t repeat so hard that it introduces tension into your wrists and arms as this will affect your ability to generate speed and to deliver the clubface accurately.

Alignment

Probably more important with the driver given you are trying to hit this further than any other club.

Make sure you are aligned parallel left of your target. Imagine some railway tracks with one rail running through your golf ball to your target and the other rail as the guide for your feet.

If you happen to be someone who prefers to flare out their feet then make sure you line up correctly first before repositioning your feet.

Try to keep your shoulders, hips and knees all aligned along this rail.

Stance And Posture

While your stance and posture will be broadly similar for all your clubs there are a few tweaks that can help you hit the ball better with your driver as it is the only club where you are trying to hit the ball on the upswing.

Width Of Stance

With a driver, you are looking to generate as much clubhead speed as you can while still remaining in control so give yourself a good foundation by taking a nice wide stance. Using your heels as the reference point make sure they are at least shoulder-width apart. Most players should probably consider a wider stance.

Don’t go so wide though that it restricts your ability to turn your hips and shoulders fully.

Athletic Posture

Maintaining your balance is important to producing good golf shots and there’s no reason why you can’t set up with an athletic posture that allows you to do just that.

Your weight should remain fairly central over your heels and toes with a little knee flex and you should bend from your hips. Keep your back straight and your chin off your chest. You should find your arms hang naturally straight down and leave roughly a hand’s width between your lead hand and your thigh.

Andy and Piers give you a great checkpoint for this:

Driver posture

Spine Tilt

In order to help encourage an upward strike, most instructors are probably going to suggest that you tilt your spine slightly away from the target. This is another way of helping you preset an upward strike.

ball position for a right hander
Ball position for a right-hander

Ball Position

The driver is the longest club in your bag and has the least loft with the exception of your putter so give yourself the best chance of getting the ball on the up by positioning the ball opposite your lead foot. It will depend slightly on your own swing so experiment with having the ball opposite your heel, instep or even big toe to find the point at which you can reproduce solid contact with a square face.

Don’t fall into the trap of putting the ball too far back in your stance as this will inevitably lead to a descending blow which will rob you of distance and possibly accuracy too!

How Far Should I Stand From The Ball?

Your posture should dictate how far you stand from the ball. Having taken your normal stance and posture the length of the club in your hands will set the distance to the ball. You should allow your arms to hang naturally leaving roughly a hand’s width between your lead hand and your thigh. Don’t set the ball so far away that you have to reach for it or so close that it leaves you with no room to swing.

How High Should I Tee My Golf Ball With The Driver?

Many amateurs still have a tendency to tee the ball too low when using a driver. I would recommend at least half the ball be above the level of the clubhead if you placed it on the ground behind the ball.

If you struggle to consistently judge the correct tee height then you might want to think about purchasing some castle tees that come in a number of fixed heights. Find the particular size that suits your driver and then you should have no problem getting the correct height every time.

Tips For Hitting The Ball Farther

Turn Your Lead Shoulder Under Your Chin

If you’re going to maximize clubhead speed then you need to make the longest swing that you possibly can. Turning your lead shoulder under your chain (or even further) will give you the maximum time to generate speed on your downswing.

Turn Your Hips

There are certain schools of thought that suggest you should try to restrict your hip turn whilst maximizing your shoulder turn. Creating resistance between your hips and shoulders is probably not such a great idea for beginners or high handicappers and you should let your hips turn as much as possible to help you achieve a long backswing.

If you lack flexibility then don’t fear letting your heel on your lead foot lift up at the top of your backswing. Many great players such as Jack Nicklaus had their left foot off the ground at the top of their backswing.

Stay In Sequence

In order to produce the best results, you need your downswing to occur from the ground up. So your lower body will start to turn out of the way as your golf club drops behind you before it swings around to connect with the ball.

If you try to hit the ball with your upper body or arms then you will lose all of the stored power and probably not make a great connection with the ball either. Indeed, you shouldn’t be attempting to “hit” the golf ball at all, you should be thinking about swinging the clubhead through to a nice full finish. The ball should merely get in the way of the clubhead!

Shawn Clement has some interesting ideas on how to improve your game by using everyday tasks that your body is more used to accomplishing.

Improve Your Strike

Although modern driver club heads are designed to offer as much forgiveness as possible it is still important to try to hit the sweet spot in order to maximize distance. Get some visual feedback on where you are striking the ball by using some impact tape or you could use some powder foot spray on the clubface. 

Swing In-to-out

An out-to-in or over-the-top swing is a killer so try to groove an in-to-out swing to maximize your potential. One way to help you produce this is to place objects behind the ball and just outside the line to prevent your club from coming in from the wrong angle. You could also put something in front of the ball and just inside the line. Make sure to use something like an impact bag or a large head cover so you won’t damage your clubhead.

Here are some ideas to help you fix your slice.

Tempo

One of the most underrated aspects in your golf game. Find the correct tempo to suit your personality and then try to replicate that on every swing. If you are a fast talker and walker then it’s likely that a faster tempo will suit you better. In contrast, some players need to work with a much slower tempo. Whether fast or slow you should try to avoid rushing the downswing as this will often lead to a loss of power and accuracy.

Driver Fitting

Were you fitted for the driver you are trying to play? If not you may be using too little loft or the wrong shaft flex. You may even need thicker or thinner grips. A slightly shorter shaft might also greatly improve your ball striking and therefore the distance you will achieve.

Driving The Golf Ball For Beginners: Conclusion

Driving the ball well is an important skill to maximize your enjoyment of the game and also your scores. If you’re constantly looking in the trees or having to chip out sideways then you won’t be having too much fun!

Don’t get too caught up counting the number of fairways you hit however as that is a bit of a black and white statistic. Finishing in the semi-rough is probably not going to cause you too many problems, you just need to avoid the serious trouble!

Try to work on the fundamentals as much as possible as these are things that are easily in your control.

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