The driver is a high-risk, high-reward club for many golfers. All else being equal, you'll hit the ball farther with a driver than any other club in your bag. But because it's the longest and least-lofted club -- other than your putter -- the driver also can be the most difficult to hit. Use the proper fundamentals and avoid some common mistakes and you'll have a better chance of smacking long drives down the center of the fairway.
Beginning golfers should learn the fundamentals of hitting a driver first, before seeking to solve specific problems. Widen your stance when you're hitting a driver, setting your feet a bit more than shoulder-width apart. Tee the ball up so half the ball sits higher than your driver's clubface, and align the ball opposite your left heel, if you're a right-handed player. Hit the ball with a sweeping swing; the clubhead should be rising just before impact.
Loosen Your Grip
Some golfers become nervous when they hit their drivers, because of the club's risk-reward nature. As a result, they may grip the driver too firmly, tightening their muscles and preventing a fluid swing. Golf instructor Susie Corona recommends finding the perfect grip pressure by first holding your driver in front of you, vertically, using the lightest possible grip. Pause a moment, then lower the driver into a horizontal position and notice how much more firmly you must hold the club to keep it from slipping. Your ideal grip pressure is midway between the two examples, or about equal to the pressure needed to maintain the club at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
Avoid the Skied Drive
With the ball set on a tee, it's possible for the top of your driver to strike the bottom part of the ball, if your swing angle is too steep. The ball then pops high into the air -- hence the term вЂњskiedвЂќ drive, because the ball flies straight up toward the sky -- but it doesn't fly far. Avoid the skied drive by hitting the ball on the upswing. Begin your swing by taking the club back low and slow to promote a wide backswing. Return the club along the same shallow path on the downswing.
Avoid the Topped Drive
Topping the ball occurs when you literally hit the top of the ball with the bottom of your club, resulting in a shot that rolls forward on the ground. Any shot can be topped, but the problem is most common when you're swinging a metal wood, such as a driver. The problem often occurs when a golfer lifts out of his address position before contact. If you tend to top your drives, golf writer Steve Newell recommends practicing without a ball. Place a tee in the ground and address it as if you were teeing off. Swing your driver and try to hit the tee. When you can hit it consistently, put a ball on the tee and try to recreate the same swing.
Fix Slices and Hooks
Slices and hooks are caused when you apply sidespin to the ball. There are several reasons why this might occur. One common cause of sliced or hooked drives, however, is a faulty grip. If you tend to slice your drives, grasp the club, then rotate your hands slightly clockwise to strengthen your grip. If you hook your drives frequently, rotate your hands counterclockwise to weaken your grip a bit.