The driver is among the most exciting and fun clubs in any golfer’s bag, but players often hesitate to use it – some have doubts about their ability how to hit a driver straight.
All too many golf balls have ended up in the ruff or lost from a driver shot gone astray, and sometimes it seems safer just to hit a long iron and make sure you’re in play.
But it shouldn’t be that way!
Unlocking the potential of the driver can take your game to a whole new level and by familiarising yourself with the basics and practicing, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
There are no secret tips or techniques to driving that will instantly have you hit straighter; like everything in golf, mastering the driver will take practice.
Knowing the fundamentals of what makes a drive go straight, and having them in mind when practicing is the key to improving your driving accuracy.
This article will walk you through the essentials of hitting the driver straight, as well as some simple drills and tips to steer you in the right direction when practicing.
The five key driving ideas covered will be:
- Strike location
- Ball position
- Club face direction and grip
- Swing path
So, whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned golfer looking to refresh your memory, these basics will be of massive help towards driving straighter in golf, and you’ll be hitting more fairways in no time…
1. Aiming correctly
No, this isn’t a joke!
It might sound like the most obvious way to hit straight drives, but many players don’t realize that they’re not actually aiming in the right direction.
The best way to check where you’re actually aiming your shot when driving (and with other clubs) is to check your feet are parallel to where you want to go.
Set yourself up to hit the shot, and place your driver on the ground along both feet.
If you’re aiming correctly, the driver should be pointed precisely where you want to aim.
If you struggle with this, and your feet often aren’t aiming where you mean to, you can try aiming for something a bit closer.
Standing behind the ball, find something that is perfectly in line with, but a lot closer than your target. This might be a leaf or a stick on the ground.
Now, when you come to set yourself up to hit the ball, aim for this closer object, and it should be much easier.
2. Striking the middle of the club face
One of the biggest influences on ball direction when driving is the location where the ball strikes the clubface at contact.
Simply put, the closer to the center of the club face that you make contact with, the less likely you are to hit a shot that curves away from your target.
If you’re making contact with the ball at the toe of the club, you will typically see the ball go from right to left. You may have heard this being referred to as a hook in golf.
On the other hand, striking the ball with the heel of the driver will result in the ball curving from left to right. In other words, you will hit a slice.
This won’t be a simple overnight fix; perfecting this will take a lot of time and practice – as with most things in golf.
To improve on this aspect of driving, it can be beneficial to monitor your strike location.
You can do this with athlete’s foot spray, a sticker on the club face, or anything at all that will result in a mark being left on your driver’s face to show you where the ball made contact with the club.
Seeing exactly where you make contact with the ball is incredibly useful. Use this tool to experiment and determine what works for you to get a more central strike location.
If you can improve on this aspect of driving while not deviating from the fundamentals too drastically, you’ll drive much straighter, much more often.
3. Find the right ball/body position
How far away the ball is positioned from you on the tee is also very important when driving.
This distance influences where the ball impacts the club face and therefore the direction that your ball will be driven.
When the ball is positioned too far away from you, you tend to be reaching for the ball too much. This often causes a hook.
The ball is too close will look and feel equally as uncomfortable and will often result in a slice.
Equally, having the ball positioned too far forward or too far back within your stance will also result in unwanted curvature in your shot.
As a rule of thumb when driving, the ball should be positioned just in line with the inside of your lead foot, and at a distance from you so that when gripping your driver your hands are hanging in line with your chin.
Above all, find the position that feels most comfortable for you and ensure you don’t feel an awkward distance from the ball.
For more detail on the ideal driver setup, check out the beginner’s guide to driving the ball.
4. Correcting your club face direction
Another common cause of misdirected drives is that, at the point of contact with the ball, the club face is not pointed in the correct direction.
You might be aiming perfectly with your body, and be doing everything else correctly, but if the club face is not pointed in the same direction, the ball will not go be going straight.
The biggest influence of this is the grip. If your grip is too strong, you will close down your club face. Alternatively, a grip that’s too weak will open up it up.
The ideal grip when driving will allow for some mobility in the wrists, whilst ensuring the club face is squared at impact.
Mobility in the wrists allows you to generate the necessary club head speed for driving, but too much and the club face will be pointed to the next fairway.
For mobility, the club should be resting in your fingers, rather than in the palm of your hand.
Additionally, you don’t want to be stretching your hand or thumb too much when gripping the club. This tends to cause the wrist to lock up.
Now, to find the correct position for a neutral grip when driving, look at the crease between your thumb and index finger on both hands.
Ensuring the grip still feels comfortable, these creases should be pointed towards your right shoulder, but not past it.
This is a good reference point for a grip that is neither too strong nor too weak.
With this grip, the club face will be kept as straight as possible during the swing and with minimal changes in direction.
5. Swing path
Swing path is the direction that your club takes when swinging through the ball, and is integral to hitting a driver straight.
In order to hit a straight shot, you need the club head to be moving as straight toward the target as possible when approaching and hitting the ball.
Once again, this may come across as obvious, but quite often in golf, it is the obvious things that make all the difference.
If the club is coming into contact with the ball from an angle, you’re going to create curvature in the ball flight.
So how can you improve your swing path in order to hit straight drives more often?
When practicing your driving, find two objects that you don’t mind getting hit with your club. Head covers are ideal, as they are soft and you’re likely to already have them with you.
Whatever two objects you use, place them on either side of the ball to create a gateway for you to hit through, in the direction of your target.
The goal should be to swing straight through the objects without hitting either of them. If you can do this, you will not create curvature in the ball.
Golfers who often hook the ball (right to left) will tend to hit the left object, and those who slice (left to right) will hit the right.
By practicing driving the ball through this gateway, you will soon be able to see if your swing path is correct, and you can make adjustments depending on which object you tend to hit.
This is an excellent way to refine one of the most important elements of a straight dive.
And there you have it! You now have the 5 fundamentals of driving straight to consider when practicing.
Keep these crucial ideas in mind when you’re swinging, use the drills to help, and your ball will be flying much straighter!