Category Archives: driver

Do You Have to Hit Your Driver Hard to Hit It Far?

Say you have a room full of people and you want to find out which ones play golf. All you have to do is say, “Who would like to know an easy way to hit a golf ball farther?” The ones who raise their hands before you’ve even finished the question are the golfers. Hitting a golf ball along way is fun with a capital F, and it’s easier to play golf by hitting 8-irons into greens instead of 5-irons. But how do you hit it farther?

Length in golf is expressed by a simple equation: clubhead speed + square contact = distance. There’s nothing more to it than that. Reduce clubhead speed and you hit the ball shorter. Hit the ball off-center and you hit the ball shorter. It takes both.

I’m only going to talk about hitting your driver farther. Trying to hit your irons farther is inviting trouble. These are accuracy clubs. You want to hit them straight. The only club you need to concern yourself with in your quest for distance is the driver.

The title of the article, then, is a question many recreational golfers ask, and I can give you an unequivocal answer to it: yes and no.

Yes, you do have to hit the ball hard to make it go a long way. Have you seen the hard hitters on the PGA Tour swing their driver? You almost hurt yourself just watching. But then there’s Ernie Els, who everyone thinks makes an easy pass at the ball. Watch him live, up close if you get a chance. Nothing easy about it. He hits the ball hard.

That’s the yes answer to the question, but here’s the no. If your driver sends the ball 250 yards through the air, but your slice means that 40 of those yards are spent taking the ball sideways, you didn’t really hit the ball very far.

Yes, the pros swing hard, but they also nail the ball on the dead center of the clubface almost every time. If you could see a wear mark on the face of their driver, it would be about the size of a dime. That is what gets them their distance, that enormous acceleration together with their precise impact. Clubhead speed without accurate contact won’t do.

So where does that leave the recreational golfer? Work on precise contact first. Even at slower swing speeds, you’ll get surprising distance with clean contact alone. At the range, try swinging your driver at half speed, to work only on hitting the ball off the center of the clubface. Build a swing that leads to that result.

Then, work on hitting the ball hard. Take 10 balls and hit each one as hard as you can on the center of the clubface. If you get some pushes or pulls, don’t concern yourself with that for now. Work on hard, centered contact. You’re building clubhead speed into your swing in a controlled way.

Yes, you do have to hit the ball hard to make it go far, but that works only in the context of centered contact. Never forget that.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.

Custom-Made Driver?

Earlier this week I called a club fitter/maker to talk about having a new driver made for me. I had read a book about how important a personally fitted driver is, and I guess I drank the Kool-Aid. Made the call, set up the appointment, hung up, and began having second thoughts.

The first was the price. I won’t get specific, but this would have been a very expensive golf club. That made me think, how much bang for all those bucks would I be getting? Would it really let me hit the ball 20 yards farther? That much straighter? Does my low-90s swing speed really demand a tailor-made club? How many strokes would it take off my game?

That last question is the one. How many strokes would better driving take off my game? I keep track of these things. It takes me 38-39 strokes right now to get the ball green-high in a round of golf. The rest of them are used in getting the ball into the hole from there. My handicap is built on getting down in three instead of two. The driver isn’t going to help me one bit with that.

I had a lesson last fall to learn how to hit those 25-35-yard chips that you have so often on par 5s and sometimes long par 4s. And I’m getting good at that shot. One-putt good.

In addition, this year I added a gap wedge to my bag and started practicing. With my pitching wedge, the gap wedge, and a sand wedge, I’ve got pitches at 10-yard increment down pretty well. Soon I’ll be working in cutting those intervals in half. Now it doesn’t do you any good to be able to hit a pitch on demand 70 yards instead of 75 if you don’t know exactly how far away the pin is. Rangefinder.

I guess I talked myself out of it. I can see the improvements in my short game, along with knowing exact distances, cutting 3-5 shots off my score. Can’t see that with the driver. I can with the rangefinder, though, and that’s where I feel justified in spending the money.

So I guess I’ll be calling to cancel the fitting appointment and hitting more short shots, just like you should.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.