Are you ready to finally learn how to hit a driver and start playing your best golf yet?
Let’s get real, for most amateur golfers, hitting a big drive is the equivalent of dropping a nuke on your opponent. Even though there are so many other elements in golf that translate to lower scores, few are as satisfying as outdriving your playing partners.
Hitting a driver straight is something not enough people can do consistently well. So if you’re known as a “good driver” golf becomes a lot easier.
But hitting it long doesn’t mean you will automatically break 80. There are plenty of long drive guys who couldn’t shoot in the 70s if their life depended on it. For every 300-yard bomb, there are dozens of skulled shots, worm-burners, pop-ups, and tops.
But if you can bomb drivers deep, you will make the game a lot easier, especially with today’s tough golf courses. Like the old 90s Nike commercial said, “Chicks dig the long ball!” Whether it is hitting a home run in baseball or nuking a 300-yard drive, nothing feels better than crushing one from the tee box.
Not to mention, hitting drivers is the most fun to practice. So if you’re ready to start shooting lower scores by setting yourself up with easier approach shots, this is the article for you. You will learn how to hit driver properly, tips to add distance, and the best ways to keep it straight.
Why Hitting a Driver is Different From Your Irons
You might be thinking, nine steps, is that really necessary to hit pure drives?
The short answer… yes.
Your driver is a much different beast than your fairway woods, irons, and wedges. But a lot of golfers don’t hit drivers very far or straight because they don’t consider the differences. Once you understand why you have to make these adjustments, it makes it easier to get on board.
I know I’m not an instructor on the Golf Channel but I know a thing or two about hitting bombs. And I know that if you’re like most golfers, you want to out drive your buddies and have more wedges into greens.
Here are three ways your driver is a lot different from any other club in the bag.
Your Driver is Much Longer
For starters, your driver is the longest club in your bag. The standard driver is usually 45 inches long with some manufacturers making driver shafts even longer. Compare that to a standard 5-iron which is just over 38 inches.
Those seven inches make a difference as a longer swing and distance between you and the ball will adjust your attack angle and impact position. Not to mention, the longer swing, less loft, and more speed means bigger misses. With all things being equal, you have a greater margin for error when using your irons vs. your driver.
As renowned sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella said in his book Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, “The driver is the toughest club to hit consistently. It mercilessly exposes swing flaws and thinking flaws.”
You Hit Driver Off a Tee
Another huge difference is that the ball teed up when you hit driver. While you can hit it off the deck, I don’t recommend it for most amateur players. A driver off the turf is a shot that few pros even attempt so stick to it being teed up.
So why does hitting off a tee matter so much?
Because your impact position is totally different. With irons, wedges, and woods you want to hit down on the ball creating a divot. But as you know, a divot with your driver is the kiss of death and clearly your swing mechanics are off.
Instead, with your driver, you want to hit the ball on the upswing. The very aspect of being able to tee your drive up allows for the club to approach the ball in an upwards sweeping motion. This is important since it significantly affects the “angle of attack” on your tee shots.
Understanding Attack Angle
The angle of attack may sound like a term from the video game Call of Duty, but it simply is a measurement of your club head alignment at impact in relation to the horizon. A shot in which the club head strikes the ball perfectly perpendicular to the horizon would be 0 degrees.
On the other hand, shots with the club head facing slightly toward the ground have a negative angle of attack. Lastly, shots with the club head slightly facing skyward have a positive angle of attack, like your big stick.
This is why you get those bacon-like divots with irons and wedges and almost no divot with fairway woods. Your attack angle determines how well you hit every shot. But with a driver, your tee shot has a positive angle of attack to help launch the ball off the tee and into the air.
TrackMan technology, which is used by almost all professional golfers today, also found the same thing in a study they conducted with amateur golfers. In the study, Trackman analyzed amateur golfers driving the ball and found a direct correlation between handicap and attack angle.
So what did they find?
They found that scratch golfers were near zero on drives from the tee, while bogey golfers had a minus 2.1 degree angle of attack on tee shots. Basically, less-skilled players were hitting down on the ball while golfers who shoot in the 70s hit up on the ball.
Remember, the goal is to hit the driver on the upswing as it will result in maximum ball flight and translate into more distance and carry.
Driver Swing vs. Iron Swing
Before you overthink this, know that hitting driver vs. an iron isn’t a brand-new swing. In fact, all you really need to do is adjust things at setup to account for the length and ball being teed up. We’ll cover all that and more in the rest of this blog post.
How to Hit a Driver: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
When it comes to bombing drives, the big stick is unlike any other club in the bag. Since it’s so much longer and has so much less loft than other clubs, it requires a lot of changes, mostly at setup.
Here’s a quick overview of the setup that is required to hit it long and straight.
- Tee it high
- Widen your stance
- Get the ball position off your front foot
- Set your hands back at address
- Tilt your shoulders to change attack angle
- Grip it easy to remove tension in your arms
- Don’t take the club past parallel
- Keep your tempo the same
- Hit bombs
Tee it High
One of the biggest mistakes, so many amateur golfers make is that they don’t tee it high enough. Remember, to hit a driver pure and deep, you need to hit up on it. But it’s a lot harder to hit up on it when the ball is teed low.
Remember, teeing it high will not result in sky balls. Hitting down on the ball is what leaves those nasty sky marks. Set yourself up for success by teeing it high and letting it fly!
Make sure you have the right tees to tee it high. Here are some of the best golf tees that allow you to tee it high.
For a deeper dive on tee height, check out our full article on how to nail tee height with your driver. And if you’re teeing it high, read all about hovering the driver and if that’s a good idea for you.
Widen Your Stance
Since the club is so much longer, you do need a wider stance to stay balanced throughout your swing. Don’t overdo it, you only need to slightly widen your stance so that your feet are wider than your shoulders.
Also, I recommend positioning both of your feet slightly open. This will allow you to get more turns and activate your lower body more than if your feet were square at address. Just watch Tiger’s latest swing to see what I’m talking about.
A wider stance will also make it easier to get into the Reverse K position and get plenty of weight shift. Not to mention, it will help with accuracy as you won’t need to swing longer to try and hit it farther.
Change The Ball Position
Now that you understand why it’s necessary to hit up on the ball, you need the ball position in the right place. If you have the ball in the middle of your stance you’re going to most likely hit down on the ball. This will result in the dreaded pop-up.
Instead, make sure the ball is in the front of your stance off your left heel. Your driver should never be anywhere near your back foot!
Another way to think of it is directly below your left ear (if you’re a right-handed player). By having the ball up in your swing, you can hit up on it and get way more distance.
Set Your Hands Back At Address
When it comes to hitting wedges and irons you want to have a slight forward press at address. Doing so will allow you to compress the ball and make crisp contact.
But with a driver, you actually want your hands slightly back. This will help maintain loft throughout the swing and not create backspin which will reduce forward spin. Don’t forget, less forward spin means shorter drives!
Tilt Your Shoulders To Adjust Attack Angle
Your shoulders play a big role in creating a powerful driver swing. Your left shoulder should be higher than your back shoulder at address, creating a spine tilt.
You need to do this so that you hit up on the ball since it’s teed up. With shots off the turf you want to keep your shoulders level, otherwise, you would hit well behind the ball and chunk it.
Additionally, make sure your lead shoulder is square to the target line. A tendency with a right-handed golfer is to have the shoulders open at address, which limits shoulder turn and creates an over the top move.
Lighten Your Grip Pressure
The final adjustment is to lighten your grip pressure at address. Because if you’re like most golfers, you hear the term “grip it and rip it” and want to kill it.
In reality, if you have a death grip on your driver, you are adding tension in your forearms. When you have tension, it’s easy to get off tempo and not be fully relaxed throughout the swing.
So instead of trying to hold the grip for dear life, practice on the driving range with as light of grip pressure as you can. While it might feel weird at first, I know that it will help your game.
Keep the Club Short of Parallel
If you want to hit it long and straight, you need to keep your backswing at parallel or even shorter. I see so many amateurs try to kill it and end up with a John Daly backswing. For 99% of players isn’t necessary
Instead, keep your backswing controlled and focus on accelerating through impact. Here’s a good article on how to shorten your backswing.
(However, if you insist on a long swing, at least read our article on how to lengthen your backswing the right way.)
Master Your Tempo
With a good tempo, you will hit it consistently farther and straighter. Don’t try and kill it, just swing within yourself and let the club do the work.
Tempo shouldn’t change with your driver (even if you want to hit it 300+ yards). While your speed can increase (more on that coming up), your tempo should still remain the same.
A good tempo is 3:1; meaning your backswing is 3X as long as your downswing. Click here to read our full guide on tempo.
The final step is to hit bombs- which we’ll cover in-depth below.
How to Hit Your Driver Further
Now that we have our setup ready to go, it’s time to get swinging. Once you improve your setup, hitting it longer becomes so much easier. This is why it’s vital to learn the fundamentals so you can set yourself up for success.
Here are some of the easiest ways to hit the driver further and still keep it in the short grass.
Adjust Your Loft
Before even thinking about your swing, first check your golf club. While your golf swing is important, not having the right equipment setup will make things much harder.
If your driver has too low of loft, you won’t get the ball airborne. For most golfers, you want to have at least 9.5 degrees of loft (or more). This will help you carry it farther in the air which is especially important during winter golf season or playing in the rain.
Most of the best golf drivers on the market are adjustable, so make sure to tinker with your loft settings at the range to see how it affects accuracy as well.
Make sure to read our full article on how much driver loft to use for a deeper discussion of driver loft.
Hit Up on the Ball
I know I’ve mentioned it several times but I can’t stress this point enough. If you’re hitting down on the ball with a negative angle of attack you are losing 20-30 yards.
One way to do this is to make sure that you have a shallow angle of attack. If you’re over the top and starting your downswing with your shoulders, you’re likely hitting down on it.
Make sure to check out our post about shallowing the club to get the club in the right position toward impact. Changing your driver swing to hit up can make a huge difference!
Hit Your Driver Higher
Part of hitting up on the ball means that you will launch it higher. Here are a few ways to ensure you’re launching it at the right angle:
- Get plenty of rotation: You want to make sure you feel loaded at the top of your swing with plenty of width and shoulder turn. If you’re a lefty, make sure your right shoulder turns under your chin. This will give you plenty of power and allow you to hit up and launch the ball high.
- Transfer your weight: Once you load up on your trail foot, make sure your first move in the transition is getting that weight back to your lead foot. Don’t try to lift the ball up. The loft of the club will do that automatically so focus on getting your lower body active and leading your swing on the way down.
Accelerate at the Right Point
While hitting up on the ball is crucial, make sure that you’re accelerating at the right point. I see so many golfers take the club back so fast that it makes it impossible to accelerate through impact. If you want to hit bombs, you need to make sure the club is moving the fastest around impact.
If you use all of your momentum early in the swing, you will throw off your tempo, lose distance, and probably accuracy as well. Work on the 3:1 tempo like every other club to add distance to your game.
Increase Your Swing Speed
If you want to hit your driver further, work on increasing your swing speed. This is one of the biggest factors when it comes to increasing distance with the big stick.
You can do this in a number of different ways but one tool we recommend is the Superspeed golf training system. Over a few weeks you can easily increase 5mph or more. This alone will result in 10+ yards!
Use the Right Golf Ball
If your number one goal is to hit the ball farther, especially with your driver, make sure you are playing the right golf ball. Some balls are made for distance, others for spin, and some are a hybrid of the two.
Make sure that you’re playing a golf ball that matches your skill level and goals. Don’t play a ball just because your favorite PGA Tour pro does; always play the right one for your game.
Hitting Driver FAQs
Do you have more questions to try and improve your driving? We got you covered…
How does a beginner hit a driver?
Learning how to hit a driver is one of our favorite golf tips for beginners. If you’re just getting started, I recommend focusing your efforts on setup. If you have the right fundamentals before even swinging, you will be ahead of most golfers. Focus on getting your feet, hips, spine, and shoulders set up correctly at address.
And contrary to what you may believe, don’t go out and buy an expensive driver if you are just starting. There are plenty of affordable options out there that are much better drivers for beginners.
How do I drive the golf ball straight?
First off, do you need to hit it straight? Here’s the thing, if your irons and wedges are solid, focus on distance more than hitting it straight.
Just look at Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson over the past 20 years. Between the two they have some of the worst driving accuracy on the PGA Tour but some of the longest distance and most wins. While I’m not saying you should hit the driver on every hole, I would focus more on length than accuracy unless you’re playing a super tight course with difficult rough.
So, why is it so hard to hit a driver straight on the golf course?
Because the driver is the lowest lofted club in your bag and creates the most ball speed. Not to mention, it’s the longest club, which means it’s the hardest to control.
That combination is why it is difficult for the average golfer to keep tee shots in the fairway. Shots hit with the driver, by nature, tend to stray off to a greater degree than shots hit with lower speeds with lofted irons.
According to the new ball flight laws, experts think it accounts for 75-to-85 percent of a ball flight’s starting direction and, if your drives tend to have a slower ball speed then the face angle accounts for almost 100 percent of your ball direction.
The more that your clubface is open or closed to the swing path, the more your shot will curve right or left of your intended target. If you can gain an understanding of your natural face-to-path ratio, then you can adjust your tee shots to stay on line and even begin to think about utilizing a planned fade or draw to improve your tee shots.
How do I hit a driver consistently?
First off, what’s consistent?
It’s important to have the right expectations for what’s possible for your game. Don’t forget, even the best players in the world only hit about 60% of the fairways so make sure you’re being realistic from the start.
If you hit half of the fairways with your driver, you’re pretty close to PGA Tour players.
I recommend using all of the tips above and practicing with your favorite club on a regular basis. If you could only practice with three clubs I would choose your driver, sand wedge, and putter. These are the most commonly used clubs during the course of any given round.
On the range, focus on a 40 yard area – let’s say it’s between two flag sticks. Most fairways are about 40 yards wide (some more, some less), and focus on hitting a driver between them. The more you hone your golf swing on the range, the confidence you will have on the course.
Should I hit multiple types of shots with my driver?
You should have a stock shot that you play 90% of the time. While it’s fun to do Tiger’s 9-shot drill on the range, you need one go to shot when you hit the driver on the course.
Whether your golf swing produces a low cut or high draw, have one main shot when hitting the driver. This will give you confidence on the first tee box and not overwhelm yourself with more than one swing thought.
Why do I hit my driver too high?
Without seeing your swing it depends on but here are a few things to evaluate. First off is your attack angle. Remember, if you hit down on it, you will hit it higher and sometimes even pop it up if your weight isn’t transferred properly. This can be fixed by adjusting your setup position and getting your front shoulder higher than your back shoulder.
The second thing to look at is your driver loft. It could be set too high and might be 11 or 12 degrees. Depending on your swing, this could be way too much and you’re probably losing distance as it’s spinning too much.
How do I stop slicing my driver?
Similar to the previous question, it depends on a few things. If you’re slicing your driver you are coming into impact position with an open face. This means you are cutting across the ball instead of a square clubface.
Many golfers have this ball flight from a weak grip and incorrect swing path.
While we have a lot of posts about quitting your slice, a quick fix is to adjust your driver setting if you own an adjustable driver. Make sure that your club is adjusted for a draw bias which will make it easier to square the club at impact.
Another solution is to buy a draw biased driver, such as these drivers designed to minimize the slice. But remember, these solutions are a short term fix and we recommend spending the necessary time to fix this issue as it will help you shoot lower scores.
Even the best drivers can’t make you a great driver – never forget about swing mechanics so you can hit straight drives.
Drills To Hit Driver Better
Want some tangible instruction to improve your game, cancel that slice, and hit bombs like Phil Mickelson? Check out these two drills will help you hit it much better.
The Foot Spray Drill
Did you know that a can of foot spray can actually help you improve your driver (or any club). Watch this video to learn how to get started:
Once you hit a few drivers with the spray on the club, you can instantly see where you’re hitting the ball on the face. This will give you instant feedback and figure out if you’re hitting it too low, too high, off the toe or off the heel. Then, you can make adjustments to the club and make the necessary swing changes.
If you’re not keen on using Foot Spray, try using Strike Spray which is a great alternative to Foot Spray.
Another easy but effective drill is the takeaway drill to help you master your takeaway. Watch this video to learn how to make sure you’re in the right position at parallel on the way back.
As you can tell, if you get the club too inside too early in the swing, it’s easy to make an over the top move to start. This over the top action leads to the dreaded slice that we all hate. Make sure you’re taking it slightly more outside on the way back so you can then shallow out on the way down.
Bonus: How to Hit a Draw With Driver
If you want to hit a draw with your driver, make these simple adjustments:
- Adjust your grip. Make sure the grip is in your fingers, not your hands at address. This will help you have more control and close the face at impact.
- Close your stance. By dropping your right foot back at address, you are much more likely to create a swing path that will help you hit a draw. This is Tiger’s easy tip to hit a draw so if it works for him, it will probably work for you too.
- Adjust your club settings: This is so easy but it can really help. Thanks to new technology, you can easily hit a draw by simply adjusting your settings for a draw bias.
- Move the ball up in your stance: With a full swing and to max out driving distance you need to hit up on the golf ball. Make sure the ball is off your left heel (assuming you’re right-handed) so you increase your launch angle and create more power.
For more instruction on hitting a draw, go here.
Golf Driving Tips Summary
You don’t need to change your backswing or make any crazy weight shifts to start hitting bombs. To hit a driver straight and consistently long, you need to work on your setup more than anything else, which makes sense as it’s the foundation of your golf swing.
If you are in the right spot to begin your swing, you are much more likely to make consistent contact. By setting up properly, you will hit up on the ball, create more forward spin, and get more distance than ever before. Also, don’t forget to check your club settings and ensure you’re playing a golf ball that matches your skills and golf goals.
Finally, stay focused, have a tee box strategy and remember to always pick your target. Even if it’s a huge fairway, always find a small target to focus on. Since drivers are longer and have so much less loft than other clubs, it’s easy for them to get off-line and get you in trouble fast. Lastly, don’t forget to practice these tips on the range before taking this advice to the course.
Use these driving tips to take your game to the next level and I’m confident you will shoot your lowest scores!