Hit Your Driver Straight: A Checklist

Recreational golfers shoot good scores by getting the ball in the fairway off the tee. By going through the following checklist before you swing, you will increase your chances of hitting good shots with the hardest club to hit well.

Straighter shots begin when you set up to the ball. Most golfers set up aimed to the right of their target.

Either the ball goes right, or a subconscious correction sends the ball pretty much anywhere, only sometimes where you intend.

Practice your aim every time you go to the range. It is a skill that cannot be learned for good; it must be refreshed at every opportunity.

Ball position counts, too. With your driver, you want hit the ball slightly on the upswing.

Lay an alignment stick on the ground pointing from your stance toward the ball (at a right angle to your target line). When the stick points to the ball, and inside of your left heel lies against the stick, the ball is in the right place.

The following traits can be easily built into anyone’s swing. They help keep the club under control so you can return it to the ball square and in line.

1. Grip down about a half inch from where you normally do. This will give you more control of the club.

1a. Slow down. I want to say this before you even step up to the ball. Slow down, make an easy swing at the ball. When you try to clobber it, your swing gets out of sequence and the clubface goes in funny directions. Don’t worry. Distance is built into the club. Think of chipping the ball off the tee, but with a full swing.

2. Take the club back straight. It’s hard to take the club back outside, but easy to take it back inside. Have a friend stand down the line behind you to give you feedback on getting this right.

3. Do not swing the club back too far. Take it back only as far as when you hit your 9-iron and see what happens.

4. Start your downswing by turning your body. Let the arms and hands go along for the ride until the momentum of the downswing, on its own, unleashes them into the ball.

5. Keep your body turning. A common error is to slow down your body turn near impact so can apply a hit.

6. There’s a race between your hands and the clubhead to get to the ball first, which your hands have to win. Keep pulling your hands through the impact zone.

7. Suppress the urge to clobber the ball with your right hand. Swing your arms and hands through the ball with your body turn.

2013 update: This summer I have been hitting my driver exceedingly straight. I attribute that to the work I have been doing on making sure my hands are ahead of the clubhead through the hitting area.

Bonus: Until you can hit your driver straight, tee off with the longest club that you can hit straight.

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