If you want to roll up to the golf course with the confidence that you can minimize your score no matter the conditions, chances are, you will need to cover a higher distance per strike. Nothing sets you up for success as a great driver, and there are some essential tips to hit a driver consistently.
To hit a driver consistently, you should assume a wide stance, release tension in your upper body, anchor your trail foot firmly and rotate your hips instead of swaying them. You can also achieve a further advantage by extending your hands outwards and lifting your front foot’s heel.
While the above tips are handy for those with a good command of their clubs, this article covers each essential tip at length. As you read the piece, you will learn the following things about hitting drivers:
- How to release tension
- The best muscles to exercise for great results
- What helps achieve distance
- The best way to practice your swing
Ease the Tension
A lot of driving involves getting out of your own way, and the number one reason people mess up a driver is by getting too tense. To avoid getting tense, get rid of the stimulus, i.e., the club.
Because your current swinging habits are tied to the stimulus of holding the club, it is advisable to form the new swing in the club’s absence. This way, you are not actively fighting your instinct to swing the old way.
Swing your arms within a club but in the same direction as a driver. Do not make a gripping motion, and leave your hands as close as possible. You are not meant to swing your arms with your hands clasped together, either.
Once you normalize swinging in the driving direction without introducing tension, the next step is to visualize the target and lean into the swing with a forward emphasis on your step around the point of contact.
Again, you may have the instinctive reaction to get tense at any of these points. Swing until it is natural for your arms to remain free of tension throughout the motion and the forward emphasis while visualizing the target.
Once the tension-free swing is normalized, you should introduce a club and keep your relaxed swing from the practice without it.
Strengthen Your Foundation
Now that you have removed the tension from the equation and are working with the driver, you need to leverage a foundation of strength to make the most of the driver’s speed.
A typical driver head is not very dense, and the club is pretty long, and this combination results in an incredible capacity for motion with little resistance. As you can achieve speed with relative ease, the success of your contact depends on your posture.
It is advisable to have a wider stance with your feet shoulder length apart from each other. Furthermore, you should have a bodybuilder’s hunch, which makes your hands go inward and forward.
This precision allows you to not just swing the driver with most of your energy being translated into the swing, but it also increases the odds of making contact with the golf ball.
To get the bodybuilder’s hunch, move your shoulders toward each other until your pecs (chest muscles) feel a little tense. You have the perfect hunch at that stage, and your shoulders are in the best position to swing. Move your feet farther than your shoulders, and you are ready to drive.
Position Yourself Accurately
While most of the tips help make the driver travel the right distance, it does not matter if you miss the ball.
Golfers usually tend to place themselves right at the center of the tee, which is a human bias towards symmetry and has nothing to do with golf.
In order to get in the right position, it is advisable to have your left chest pocket be right above the tee.
Of course, if you are a left-hander, the opposite applies, and you should have your right chest pocket be above the tee. This is not meant to be taken literally, as you may not have chest pockets.
You can still visualize a pocket in the place where one would be sown and have that area be above the tee.
Optimize for Lift
One of the mistakes most novices and advanced amateurs make during their golfing activity is to use the same swing for irons and drivers.
A driver requires you to hit the ball not on the ground but into the air. This obviously requires a lift and the typical iron swing works to do the opposite.
Swinging a driver like an iron with the only difference being the club and the addition of a tee only leads to mediocre shots that have fairway-tier results.
One way to optimize for lift is by bringing one shoulder slightly below the other.
The shoulder facing the direction of the swing will be marginally higher, while the one facing the opposite side will be at least three inches (7.6 cm) lower. As a result, your swing will have an upward lift.
That said, you must be cautious not to tilt your spine too much, or you will hit the ground instead of the ball. It is a balancing game, and you have to practice the tilt alongside the swing before getting it right.
Activate the Right Muscle Groups
When you swing a club, it may seem like only your hands and arms are involved, but most of your major muscles are being put to work. More importantly, your fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers are involved.
You want to initially make your fast-twitch muscle fibers react instinctively to your swing.
In other words, you want to optimize for speed by conditioning your body’s speed-related muscles to get active as soon as you swing a driver. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as merely telling yourself to activate specific muscles.
You need to start practicing with a lighter club. When you work with anything heavy, your slow-twitch muscles are activated by default. However, if your fast-twitch muscles are strong enough, they will get activated by heavier clubs as well.
So, just like you start with smaller dumbbells and graduate to heavier weights, you must practice with light clubs until you have the sensation of tough exercise (a burning sensation in your muscles).
This is a signal that your fast-twitch muscles have been hard at work. Make sure to get plenty of rest after this because you need to rest for your muscles to recover and get stronger.
After a few weeks, your fast-twitch muscles will be primed and strong enough to deal with the club that is standard for you.
The next step in optimizing your muscle fibers for the perfect swing is to strengthen your slow-twitch muscles. The slow-twitch muscle fibers allow you to add strength to the contact.
For this, you will do the opposite by using clubs that are unnaturally heavy compared to the driver that is your standard.
By shifting from a standard or a light driver to a heavier club, you will make the muscles responsible for dealing with weight getting involved in the swing.
However, it is important to keep the sequence in mind. If you work with heavier clubs right away, you will deemphasize speed and introduce too much tension into your swing.
As long as you have sufficiently stimulated your fast-twitch muscles with your light club cardio, you will only make your drivers more effective by training with heavier clubs.
It is also advisable to train your upper muscles to add more force to your swing without getting exhausted. For this, you can either join a gym or even workout at home by gradually increasing the number of pushups you do.
Even if you can’t do a single pushup, you can start with mini-pushups and graduate to complete pushups. It is also essential that you introduce protein to your diet as it helps with muscle recovery, strength, and rejuvenation.
Introduce As Much Width As You Can
One of the reasons drivers allow speedy swings is because the club’s length creates a broader arc. To lean into that strength, introduce as much width as you can without compromising the other factors.
A great way to do this is by extending your hand away from your body. The general tendency among novices is to hold a club like an umbrella.
This leads to less width, but if the driver is held at the correct angle and one’s thumbs extending forward with the hand extending away from their body, width gets introduced much early into the swing.
The challenge with this is not that extending one’s hands earlier on can be difficult but that it is not habitual. As a result, you remember that you were supposed to extend your hand after you have already swung.
A visual exercise helps offset this: imagine that as you start your swing, your thumb is getting pulled by a string away from your body. If you can imagine this with every swing, you can give in and let your hand extend so you can make a forceful shot.
Design a Stretching Routine
Often, golfers may give in to the tendency to prioritize bravado over effectiveness. While going to the gym helps with the upper body muscles, a lot of your swing has to do with releasing tension and being flexible.
When you design a stretching routine, make sure to include stretching your arms, touching your toes, and rotating to a healthy degree on either side.
Your gym routine may have to do with the muscles involved in the swing; your stretching routine has to do with making your entire body as flexible as possible so that tension is never the problem in your swings.
Above all, make sure this is a routine that you can do every day. Even if the routine is not very comprehensive, that is fine as long as you can do it on a daily basis.
On the other hand, a comprehensive routine you can adhere to weekly is less effective. Frequency is a higher priority.
When you are involved in a sport, it is always great to look at industry leaders for best practices.
PGA tour players pay close attention to their data, and if the only data one has is their score, then the ego can get involved and cloud their judgment.
For instance, a higher score may be explained away, while one may take too much credit for a lower score.
Furthermore, your score says a lot about your overall golfing success and not your driving numbers. Therefore, it is recommended that you use a launch monitor and practice outside the context of a game.
A launch monitor gives you the data that is reliable enough for world-class professionals to rely on.
Don’t Ignore the Spin
Hitting a driver with a spin is counter-productive as it increases your score despite doing everything right in terms of distance. You want to make sure that the contact you make is not at the boundaries of the ball.
As you are already working with a launch monitor, you can see your spin rate and adjust your swing to decrease the number.
Usually, there are two culprits for a high swing rate. The first is not hitting the ball closer to the center, and the second is leaning into the short and driving it down upon impact.
While that is okay for a ball placed on the ground when you are working with an iron, you do not want to have the same strategy with a driver.
As mentioned earlier, it is crucial that you focus on the lift. It is almost impossible to create a lift without decreasing the spin. Again, tilt your shoulders right and continue to practice with the launch monitor until the spin rate is much lower.
Use Your Trail Foot as an Anchor
Putting equal weight on both feet is a novice mistake. Let’s take an example of a pendulum, which is known for its swing; it relied on a single point anchor.
It is not possible to have an efficient pendulum with multiple anchors. Similarly, it is impossible to create a swing with the right lift unless you are anchoring your foundation on one foot.
At this point, you may be wondering how you can set your trail foot as an anchor. Putting more weight on the foot would be a start, but you may shift weight to your default by force of habit.
It is recommended that you put pressure on your inner thigh on your trailside. If your thigh gets instinctively tensed upon assuming the stance, you are already making progress.
Prioritize Hip Rotation Over Posture Visual
Golf is not a competition to see who looks pretty, and drivers are meant for distance. With that in mind, it does not hurt to have bad posture when making your swing.
There are twenty-four hours in a day, and you spend, on average, under three hours in a week, holding your golf swing posture. In other words, your swinging posture will not influence your day-to-day life.
For instance, if you have a wide stance during your swing, as is recommended for drivers, you will not start standing with your legs far apart during work presentations. Similarly, hunching over will not become a habit, and you should do so if it allows you to rotate your hips more.
If you are over fifty, then this will be helpful, and if you are in your early twenties, you may need to arch your back while leaning forward to get the most hip rotation for your swing.
Either way, find out what allows you to rotate your hips the most and assume that posture even if it is ‘bad’ by everyday standards.
Get Rid of Early Tension
We have discussed many ways to release tension, and while it is easier to release tension in the arms, your core and hips are not as easy to command.
When you are in the process of optimizing your swing, pay attention to your hips. Do they naturally rotate and turn around, or do they move forward in the direction of the ball?
If they move towards the ball, your feet are less likely to remain firm. To keep them firm, you have to tense up. That’s where early tension gets in the way of your driving shot.
You have to train your hips to be flexible during the swing. Even if your hips rotate, it does not hurt to get better, so follow this exercise regardless of your current hip flexibility.
Do Overhead Deep Squats
Overhead deep squats introduce flexibility to your hips and eliminate early tension without consciously thinking about the issue. That said, they are not easy to do.
There are some steps you can follow to make sure you perform the exercise right. Here are those:
- Hold a golf club horizontally over your head with both your arms extended and each hand holding each side.
- Slowly start squatting without allowing the club to move forward. This will enable you to keep your back straight.
- As your squat gets deeper, you may have the urge to let your heels move up and your knees move forward. Make sure your heels remain firmly on the ground, and your knees do not go further than your toes.
- To avoid your knees from passing your toes, you will need to make your thighs parallel to the ground. This is the final step of the squat.
Repeat the above steps repeatedly until you have worked out the relevant muscles and lent strength and flexibility to your hips. Once your hip muscles and leg muscles are isolated well, you will automatically eliminate early tension.
Stop Relying on Symmetry
As humans, our natural instinct is to rely on symmetry. From finding beauty in things to creating functional architecture, we default to symmetry for standards.
While that is functional for our species in other areas, in drivers, it is not. Drivers are incredibly biased towards putting weight on the trailside.
However, our natural stance may compel us to keep both feet on the ground. While this may not interfere with a good driving shot, you can gain a good lift by simply lifting the other foot.
Most right-handers have their right foot as the trail foot and put weight on their right thigh to anchor it in. This is great for lift, and they can achieve further leverage by lifting the left heel.
On the other hand, if you have your left foot as your trail foot, you will get the same advantage by lifting the right heel. As long as you anchor one foot and plant the opposite toe, your swing will naturally lead to a good lift.
Beginners have the tendency to let their hips move on the backswing. The result of this movement is reliable on feet for rotation. This is not ideal because it is your hip that has the best potential to rotate.
However, the force of habit is stronger than the knowledge of practicality. That is why your best bet is to use an imagination exercise to help assist in your backswing and hip rotation.
Just like with the case of imagining a string pulling your thumb outwards and away from you, you have to imagine a string pulling your pocket backward. Go with this pull and let your hip rotate optimally on the backswing.
Release the Tension in Your Neck
By now, you are well aware that hitting drivers consistently is an exercise in releasing tension. What you may not know yet is that a driver’s success even depends on how tense your neck is.
The thing about tension is that it travels, and your shoulders play a role in the distance you achieve.
You must release the tension in your neck by tilting your head and moving your chin towards your trail foot while keeping the eye closest to the ground on the ball.
That said, please keep in mind that you are not tilting your head all the way. To understand how much you should tilt it, clasp your hands together and take them to the position they are in at the peak of your backswing.
You will feel some tension on one side of your neck, the right side (if you are right-handed). Simply tilt your chin slowly until your neck is a little relaxed.
You can theoretically continue to tilt your head, but the returns diminish, and you can no longer keep an eye on the tee. So this definitely is medicine best served in small doses.
Leverage Slopes to Form Good Habits
As we reach the final portion of this article, it is handy to discuss things that can bring together the tips discussed earlier.
As you may recall, tilting your shoulders, anchoring the trail foot, and lifting the left heel were among some of the recommendations.
Furthermore, there was a consistent emphasis on creating a lift with your swing.
You can bring all of these together and make them habitual by practicing on an upward slope.
Though the slope can’t be steep enough to warrant bending your knees, you can use the base of a hill to set your tee and get yourself in a swinging position.
Naturally, your shoulders will be parallel to the ground, which will automatically make one of your shoulders go below the other.
Additionally, you will have more weight on your trail foot, and your swing will have no option but to lift the ball upwards.
Train the Opposite Swing
As the final tip of this article, we have the ultimate habit breaker. You learned earlier in the piece that the biggest challenge for most novices is getting out of their own way.
Force of habit is strong to break, but the best practices are easiest to adopt when starting from scratch. That is why training to swing left-handed if you are right-handed is so good for your natural swing.
When you improve your swing in the opposite direction, you begin to understand the role of your hips, how firmly you must plant your trail foot, and which way to tilt your head.
It becomes easier to be conscious of the smallest details, all of which translate to your natural swing when you flip sides and swing right-handed.
Hitting drivers consistently brings you unshakeable confidence that you can lower the core no matter the score, no matter the course. To set yourself up for success with drivers, you must follow certain best practices.
Here’s a recap of the post to cover the most important tips:
- Release the tendency to get tense and exercise relaxation.
- Swing while rotating your hip and applying pressure on the trail foot.
- Prioritize lifting the ball with your strike instead of driving it down.
- Assume the right stance to lend precision to your swing.