Mastering how to drive a golf ball can be a daunting prospect, and golfers of all abilities can struggle using the driver.
But, this doesn’t have to be the case. When used correctly the driver can be the most useful and enjoyable club to swing.
Aside from being very impressive, having the ability to drive well means relying less on your short game to get you out of trouble and can elevate your game to a new level.
So, whether you’ve never held a driver before or are a seasoned golfer looking to recap on the basics, you’ve come to the right place.
This article will cover the five critical elements of how to drive a golf ball:
- What makes the driver so different?
- How to set up for driving
- The Backswing
- The Downswing and Impact
- The Follow through
You’ll soon see that using the driver can be made simple, and with some practice, you can turn those bogies into birdies!
What is different about the driver?
To understand how to successfully drive in golf, it’s important to first have a bit of knowledge about the club itself, and why it is different from your other clubs.
The driver is the longest club in any golf bag, meaning a lot more speed can be generated when swinging it. It’s also the club that has the least amount of loft.
Shorter distance clubs like mid to high irons have lots of loft to help carry the ball into the air, but longer distance clubs like the driver need less.
These two characteristics mean that this club allows for the most distance, but requires a different swing technique.
Unlike irons, you can’t hit down on the ball and rely on the club’s loft to bring the ball into the air.
Instead, you need to bit hitting up on the ball when making contact with your driver, to get that flight. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when starting to use the driver.
1. How To Drive A Golf Ball – Driver Setup
Setting up correctly when driving in golf is one of the most important elements of a successful shot.
The setup majorly influences the way that you will hit the ball, and there are quite a few important differences when it comes to the driver.
You can check that you are setting up correctly by recording yourself.
Look at a picture or video of your setup position from front-on and side-on, and notice which things you have and haven’t got correct. Repeat this until you can tick each of these steps off.
A. Stance and ball position:
Much like the other elements of the setup, your driving stance and ball position will be tailored to help create an upward strike angle, whilst maintaining your balance.
To find the correct position, have your feet together directly in front of the ball.
From here, the lead foot (left if you’re right-handed) should move slightly toward the target, so that the ball is in line with the inside of your foot.
Move your rear foot backward enough to balance and support your body.
You should find your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and the ball noticeably further forwards than normal.
Make sure that, with your club face behind the ball, the shaft is always pointing straight towards you and is not angled in any direction, so as not to add or reduce loft.
B. Body Tilt:
Because the ball is further forwards, you might naturally feel like your rear shoulder wants to dip slightly. Allow your body to do this!
The leading shoulder should be higher than the rear to assist in creating the upwards angle at impact that is needed with a driver.
To achieve a good body tilt, slide your hand down the side of your rear leg until you can just touch the side of your knee. This will help you to arrive at the desired shoulder angle.
This upper body tilt will be crucial and will need to be maintained throughout the swing until impact.
C. Distance from the ball:
Due to the length of the club, using the driver in golf is going to require slightly more space between you and the ball.
Rather than allowing your hands to hang freely below your chest, like with an iron shot, your hands should be hanging inline with your chin.
This will create a slight stretch outwards and will allow for optimal movement and freedom when swinging.
D. Positioning the tee:
The driver is the only club that requires you to tee up the ball every time you use it.
The tee elevates the ball to help create an upward angle when the club strikes the ball.
Each driver and tee Is different, so there is no exact height that should always be used.
As a rule of thumb, position the tee at a height so that, when the club head is rested on the ground in front of the ball, half of the ball is above the club head.
2. The Backswing
Now that you’ve established a strong setup, you want to be able to rotate into a backswing without undoing all of that good work.
The key to the backswing when using the driver is that you continue to stay behind the ball.
If you could draw an imaginary line from the ball straight up to your body in its setup position, the line should be around your leading ear.
Throughout the backswing, your body should not move forwards into this line, but don’t overcompensate and move your body back too much, as this will reduce your balance.
Bring your driver straight back and around your torso by rotating your upper body and shoulders. In the top half of the backswing you can begin to rotate your hips to get to that final position.
At halfway the driver should be parallel to the ground with the arms fully extended. The driver should then begin to move around the torso until your upper body feels like it’s coiled.
The driver’s path should be through the body, instead of upwards or underneath.
Doing all of this while staying behind the ball creates the power, which you’re now ready to deliver in the downswing.
3. The Down Swing and Impact
From the top of the backswing until impact, keep your arms extended and unwind the body, swinging through the ball in an upwards sweeping motion.
It’s important to keep the body behind the ball throughout the movement.
Don’t swing using the arms, keep them straight and allow the body to do the work.
As you impact the ball, the shaft angle should be almost completely straight, just as it was when setting up.
You should aim to strike upwards into the back of the golf ball, maintaining the tilt in your shoulders.
Additionally, to be able to hit the ball straight and with all the force available from the driver, you will want to make impact with the ball as close to the center of the club face as possible.
A great way to check this is by either marking the ball with a felt tip or by spraying the club face with any type of powder spray (athlete’s foot spray works best) just before you strike the ball.
This will leave a temporary mark on the driver’s face and you can see exactly where you made impact with the ball.
Aim to be getting the ball near the center as often as you can, and you should be driving the ball a lot straighter.
4. The Follow Through
You might think the work is done now, but the final element to driving a golf ball is a strong and stable follow-through.
Watching some of the best drivers in the world, you will notice that they all hold an elegant finish. This is the result of an effective and balanced delivery of power through the ball.
After impact, continue to stretch your arms around the body and rotate your hips through. You should transfer your body weight towards the leading side.
This shift in body weight tends to lead to the rear heel lifting off the ground. This is where you will see that typical golfer’s finishing stance.
You should finish with more weight on your left-hand side, a full body rotation, and complete balance.
If you’re not able to hold your finishing position for long after driving, then this is a sign of an unstable swing, and it’s likely you’re trying to hit the ball too hard.
Swing smoothly so that you can comfortably hold your finishing position until the ball lands. When you can do this consistently, begin to build up speed and power while maintaining that balance.
Now you’re ready to start practicing how to drive a golf ball, and that’s exactly what you need to do!
Driving in golf is a skill that requires great technique and can take years to perfect, so keep a cool head and don’t be discouraged if things don’t go as planned straight away.
Start by getting yourself to a driving range and spend some time practicing all four elements: the setup, backswing, downswing, and follow through.
Remember to keep the body tilted behind the ball while you coil up that power, unwind through impact swinging up on the ball, and you’ll be on track to hit some great drives!