How to Hit Your Driver: Drills for Fairway-Finding Distance

By Nick Heidelberger

Golf practice driver drills

It doesn’t get much better than hitting driver on a hole that has a serious risk vs. reward layout. Or, that feeling when you flush a drive past all of your playing partners. You putter may win you some money, but your driver wins the style and fun points. This is also why it’s the most frustrating club to have go awry. Having your driver tuned in and hitting tee shots where you want them to go is irreplaceable. Here is how to hit your driver with that fairway-finding distance that you crave.

How to Hit Driver

Your driver helps you start your round of golf and can dictate how well your day on the course goes. Statistics have shown, not surprisingly, that as you move closer to the hole, it takes fewer strokes to hole out. That's why hitting your driver well is vital to the success of your score.

The Setup

Tee your golf ball up so that half of the ball is above the top of the driver head. Your stance with your driver is the widest of any club in your bag, and you'll also be standing the farthest from your ball when hitting driver than any other club. This is because the driver is the longest club in your bag.

driver setup

As you continue your setup, be sure that your weight is distributed evenly to both feet, or if anything, as much as 55 percent of your weight is loaded on your trail foot. Lastly, the shaft should be straight or even leaning slightly back (away from your target). This will help promote an ascending blow, in which you strike the ball with the club slightly on the upswing.

The Swing

Start your swing by rotating your hips as you bring the club back. At the top of your backswing, focus on loading your weight on the inside part of your trail foot. Then start your downswing by bringing your hips through and letting your hands follow with a smooth and even swing.

Unlike with your irons or wedges, it's important to strike the ball with a slightly ascending blow with the driver.

Try not to accelerate the speed of your swing or "go for the distance" unless it is absolutely necessary. Trying to get extra distance with your driver by swinging harder may seem logical, but it is not realistic. Increasing the speed and pace of your swing will increase the likelihood that you will make a mistake.

Head Position

Keep your head as still as possible during your swing. Look at the back of the ball and keep your eye on that spot as long as possible until you have finished your follow through and your head comes up naturally. This will ensure that you don't take your eye off your target and will help you make solid contact.

Follow Through

Bring the club through the ball and finish with your hands high, to get maximum distance. Some golfers want to admire a drive before they have completed the swing. This prevents them from following through fully. In addition to losing distance, the golfer will likely lose accuracy as well.

Driver Drills for Distance and Accuracy

If you could use some extra distance, accuracy, and consistency with the driver, give these drills and techniques a try the next time you hit the driving range or golf course, and let the big dog eat.

Flat and Behind

The “Flat and Behind” technique presented by Mike LaBauve addresses distance and accuracy, more specifically, the dreaded slice.

LaBauve points out that many players try to swing their driver straight back, and straight through the ball, but are actually coming in way too steep, which causes the clubface to open, resulting in a weak slice. Whether it’s pizza or golf, nobody likes a weak slice.

Instead, LaBauve suggests, add a significant bend at the waist at address and throughout the swing, and take the club back low on the takeaway so it feels like your hands and the grip are heading towards your back pocket. On your downswing, swing through as rounded as you can and finish with the grip low through your follow-through.

If you try this drill and find that you’re topping the ball, that’s a sign you aren’t bent over far enough through impact. Repeat the process giving extra focus to the feeling of staying bent over through the entire shot.

Extra Driver Distance Technique

When you step up to the tee trying to bomb one as far as possible, there are a few things you can do differently from the normal, 85% driver swing you use when finding the fairway is the priority.

As Jim McLean demonstrates, some of these tweaks are done before you even start the swing. First, tee the ball up a little higher than usual, play it a little more forward in your stance, and tilt your spine slightly away from your target.

Start your backswing with a slow, deliberate takeaway and coil hard into your back leg. Instead of starting the downswing with as much power as you can muster, focus on getting the shaft to its finish position on your neck or shoulder quickly. This simple shift in mindset will promote a much smoother transition and downswing, and will likely result in cleaner contact.

Give No Quarter Drill

The “Give No Quarter” drill is another highly effective drill that will improve your balance throughout the swing and leave you consistently driving the ball better. This drill helps you develop a complete sense of balance and will ultimately help with every club in the bag.

First, place a quarter on your lead foot before swinging. Take your normal approach at the ball, not even thinking about the quarter. The objective is to hit your driver and keep the quarter on your foot through the finish.

If the quarter remains, you have executed great balance throughout the swing. If not, then you have some work to do.

Fix Your Slice

Getting rid of a slice with your driver can be one of the most difficult mishaps to conquer for an amateur golfer. A slice occurs when a right-handed golfer hits drives waywardly to the right. If you play courses that are tight with trouble just off of the fairway, a slice can make for a miserable round. Try these tips to help fix your slice.

According to Hank Haney, the only reason you hit a slice is because your club face is open at impact. This is caused by too steep of a downswing. To combat this, Haney suggests taking some easy practice swings with the club off the ground, anywhere from a foot above the ground to almost waist-height. Notice the rounded feel to the swing, and the way to club face naturally closes through the hitting zone. After noticing that feeling, try to replicate that in the swing you put on the ball.

golf driver drill

Follow through the golf ball, meaning, concentrate on making solid impact and finishing tall with your chest pointed at your target. Too often, a slice will creep into your swing simply because you aren’t making a complete swing. Finish what you started.

Check Your Grip

If all else fails, look to your hands. The key to hitting more fairways might have nothing to do with your mechanics, but rather your grip. Simplify this fix by making sure the club is laying in your fingers as opposed to your palms.

The stress of hitting a good drive could also cause you to grip the club too tightly. Loosen your grip just enough to feel the tension get relieved. The old adage is that you should feel as if you’re holding a small bird in your hands. You don’t want it to fly away, but you also don’t want to hurt it.

Bottom Line

Pulling a fairway wood or iron from your bag due to a lack of confidence in your driver is a defeated feeling. Give these tips a try to get you back to pulling off the big headcover on every hole that requires it. Before long you’ll be able to back up all that hootin’-and-hollerin’ when you pull driver on a short par-4.

About the Author

Nick Heidelberger is the Editor of GolfLink and an active member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). He covers all things golf, from the professional tours to rules, equipment, style, and golf history. In the years prior to joining GolfLink, he worked for the New England Section of the PGA of America. Nick has a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and has been an avid golfer for more than 10 years.