The Driver Golf Club Guide: Using a Driver In Golf Explained

The driver is often the first club pulled out of the golf bag at the beginning of each hole, so becoming proficient in using a driver in golf is a must for setting up low scores!

This is because on shot one, distance is the objective, and no other club in golf will get you further up the course as your driver.

Hitting the driver consistently, however, can be an unforgiving task due to the length and power of the club. But don’t fret – this guide is here to help you!

While emptying buckets of balls at the range is a great way to practice driving skills, it’s also crucial to know the ins and outs of the driver and how it differs from your other clubs if you want to improve shots from the tee.

This guide to the driver golf club will provide all the information you need to feel confident and in control the next time you step up to the tee!

Let’s jump in!

driver golf club guide

What is a driver?

The driver golf club is characterized by a long shaft and a large rounded club head designed to hit the ball over far distances.

It falls under the wood category of clubs and is classically labeled the 1-wood, making the driver the longest-range club option available on the course.

The driver typically has the largest length shaft and biggest club head of all golf clubs.

This makes the driver the best candidate club for generating the furthest distance with as much power as possible.

The Driver Golf Club Guide: Using a Driver In Golf Explained 1

loft of a driver

Aside from your putter, the driver is the least lofted club in golf.

Most drivers have between 8 and 12 degrees of loft built into the clubface.

For comparison, a 3-wood typically has between 15-18 degrees of loft, and a 2-iron has 16-19 degrees of loft.

The exact amount of loft will depend on the specific model of driver and the preferences of the manufacturer.

Some players may prefer a driver with less loft for a lower, more piercing shot, while others may prefer a driver with slightly more loft for a higher, more forgiving shot.

In general, players with slower swing speeds may benefit from a driver with more loft in order to get the ball airborne more easily, while players with faster swing speeds may be able to generate enough power to launch the ball with a lower loft driver.

The angle of attack, or the way the club head approaches the ball, can also affect the amount of loft that is optimal for a given player.

A player with a steep angle of attack may benefit from a driver with more loft, while a player with a shallower angle of attack may do better with less loft.

using a driver in golf

Length of a driver

Drivers typically have the longest and most flexible club shafts in golf.

The standard shaft length of a driver ranges from 43 to 46 inches.

This is designed to maximize club head speed in the swing and produce longer shots, but it comes with a catch: Control and accuracy are harder to achieve.

The driver’s longer length makes it notoriously one of the most challenging clubs to hit well because it’s harder to gauge where the bottom of the club is at the low point in the swing and the faster club speed increases room for error.

This is compensated slightly by a larger surface area on the club head, however, and it can take a few sessions at the driving range to get used to the feel of the club.

Choosing the right driver for you is important as this can have a significant impact on your performance with the club.

Golfers who are taller or have longer arms may prefer a longer driver, while those who are shorter or have shorter arms may prefer a shorter driver.

using a driver in golf

Distance chart For a Driver

So, how far can you hit the ball with a driver?

Let’s take a look at a breakdown of average driver carry distances for male, female, and senior golfers by skill level.

Related article: 7 Golf Club Distance Charts

Driver averages for Male players

Driver190 yds220 yds250 yds280 yds

Driver Averages for Female players

Driver150 yds175 yds200 yds230 yds

Driver Averages For Senior Golfer & Pro Comparison

ClubSenior Average DistanceSenior PGA Tour Champions
Driver196 yds279 yds

Driver Swing Speed Chart: By Skill Level

Skill LevelDriver DistanceSwing Speed
Beginner190 yards80 mph
Average220 yards94 mph
Good240 yards100 mph
Excellent265 yards110 mph
PGA Tour Average275 yards114 mph
Women’s Average180 yards77 mph
LPGA Tour Average218 yards94 mph

PGA Tour Driver Averages (notable names)

Range (yards)
Bryson De ChambeauDustin
Rory McIlroyTiger
LPGA Tour Averages

Being aware of the yard ranges for each golf club will enable you to make smart club choices anywhere on the course and improve your game strategy!

However, keep in mind that distance charts should only be used as references, and distances can vary due to factors such as swing speed, ball condition, weather, and tee height.

using a driver in golf

When to use a driver

The driver is typically used to hit the ball from the tee box, the starting area for each hole on a golf course.

Drivers are most commonly used to tee off on par-4 and par-5 holes.

Your main objective with the driver is to achieve maximum distance towards the green, granting you a favorable position for hitting approach shots and improving your odds of scoring pars and birdies.

Occasionally you might also use a driver to tee off on a longer par-3 to reach the green in one shot.

However, for shorter holes, golfers may prefer to tee off with a fairway wood or low iron for better accuracy over less distance without reducing their swing.

It’s important to remember that while a driver can be a powerful tool, it is also harder to be accurate with than the shorter clubs and requires a well-executed swing to achieve optimal results.

So, if you’re facing a tight fairway or have trouble controlling the ball with a driver, it may be better to tee off with a fairway wood or iron instead.

using a driver in golf

How to use a driver

1. Tee height

The main distinction between a driver swing vs other golf clubs is that the ball is struck on the upswing after the club reaches its lowest point.

This contrasts with irons, for example, where the ball is hit on the downswing, and turf contact is made after the shot.

For this reason, the golf ball is teed up higher off the ground with a driver compared to other clubs.

Tee height when using a driver is significant because it affects the launch angle and spin rate of the ball.

A higher tee height can result in a higher launch angle and a lower spin rate, which can lead to longer drives.

Conversely, a lower tee height can produce a lower launch angle and a higher spin rate, leading to more control but potentially shorter drives.

The ‘correct’ tee height varies for each golfer depending on their swing and the type of driver they use, however, about 1.5 inches off the ground is optimal for most players.

To visualize this, roughly half the golf ball should be showing above your driver’s club head when its sole is resting on the ground.

2. Address

The setup for using a driver is slightly different than your setup with an iron.

This is to allow for more power and speed in the swing and to hit the ball at a higher position on the tee.

Stand with a wide stance, about one extra step wider than your normal iron stance, and distribute your weight evenly across both feet.

Your spine angle should be slightly less tilted forwards than in an iron setup, with a bit of lean in the upper body away from your target. To achieve this, stand taller, with your lead shoulder higher than your back shoulder at address, and hold the club a bit further out from your body.

The ball position should be closer to your front foot to encourage an upward hit.

Align yourself parallel with your target line and allow your feet to flare outwards to accommodate a powerful momentum shift.

3. Swing Technique

The key to a successful driver swing is a smooth, rhythmic motion and consistent tempo.

During the backswing, keep the club head low and steady on the way up and maintain a straight lead arm.

You want to create a full shoulder turn to generate a lot of power, but bear in mind your club should not travel beyond parallel with the ground at the top of the swing to reduce chances of error on the downswing.

Initiate the downswing by clearing your hips, then shoulders, and finally wrists. This creates lag which helps you maximize club speed at impact.

Remember to have the mindset of producing an upward strike on the golf ball, as if you’re sweeping the ball off the tee.

Finally, swing with pace and complete your drive with a confident follow through, pointing your chest toward your target.

If you’re new to drivers, why not check out our guide to selecting the best drivers for beginners!

Photo of author
George Edgell is a freelance journalist and keen golfer based in Brighton, on the South Coast of England. He inherited a set of golf clubs at a young age and has since become an avid student of the game. When not playing at his local golf club in the South Downs, you can find him on a pitch and putt links with friends. George enjoys sharing his passion for golf with an audience of all abilities and seeks to simplify the game to help others improve at the sport!

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