“Drive for show, putt for dough”. What a lot of nonsense! The ability to drive the ball well is a huge asset for any golfer.
When he’s in full flight, I don’t think there’s a better driver of the ball than Rory McIlroy. And McIlroy was certainly driving the ball brilliantly in his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the weekend. The crowd were rooting for Tiger Woods to record a comeback win but, ultimately, in contrast to McIlroy, Woods’s driving let him down.
While Rory McIlroy’s power may be beyond most of us, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to become good drivers of the ball; consistently hitting powerful and accurate tee shots.
Here are my 10 Top Tips to Improving Your Driving:
1. Start with a clear picture of the shot you wish to play and have a precise target: You must always have a clear intention with your shots. Look for a precise spot where you want the ball to finish, and then look for a target in the distance to start your drive on; taking account of the wind, how you see the shot curving, and the slope of the fairway. Line up to that starting target. Always make the target precise.
2. Know your shot shape and go with it: If you consistently curve the ball left-to-right or right-to-left, don’t fight that tendency on the course. Instead, use that consistency to your advantage, as many great players have done. Even on holes that dogleg away from your natural shape, be wary of altering it. Don’t attempt to hit a shot that you don’t feel comfortable playing. There will be very few tee shots where you must hit a certain shot shape.
3. Eliminate your "big miss": To become a better golfer, eliminating the tee shots that run up the high numbers is vital. If you have a recurring “big miss” in your game, then it’s time for a lesson so that you can understand why it creeps in and how to avoid it.
4. Stay loose and relaxed: Especially under pressure, keep a check on your grip pressure and ensure it’s not too tight. A tight grip leads to tension up through the arms and into the shoulders, which is not conducive to a free-flowing swing.
5. Keep your rhythm and tempo consistent and swing in balance: Aim to maintain the rhythm and tempo of your swing throughout the round. Finishing in balance is another good, simple thought to take to the course.
6. Set up behind the ball and stay behind the ball through impact: Position the ball around level with your lead heel. You should have close to a straight line running up the club shaft and to your left armpit (the blue line). You must stay behind this line until you're past impact.
7. Allow the club head to release: Avoid the temptation to steer the ball into play. Instead, allow the club head to release freely through the shot. With the club head travelling at over 100mph through impact, we can’t consciously manipulate the club face on to the ball with any sort of consistency. Instead, feel that the ball simply gets in the way of your swing.
8. More distance requires more speed: The key ingredient to long driving is club head speed, specifically club head speed through impact. And we create more speed by feeling looser and allowing our hands and arms to move faster. To feel that, practice swing with the club a foot or so up off the ground and try to hear a swoosh noise through and past impact. The louder you hear the swoosh, the faster the club head is travelling. The feeling you want to achieve is fast club head speed with little strain.
9. Preparing for the course: Work on your driving as if you were out on an actual course. Be specific about your target and look for markers to represent the edges of a fairway. You can even picture a tee shot on a course you know. To add a little interest, take 10 balls and see how many you can hit into your “fairway”. Keep a note of your score and look to improve on it as you progress. Can you get to 10/10?
10. Finding a good driver: Your driver is a key club, so it’s worthwhile investing some time and money into finding one you like. And when you do find a driver that works well for you, look after it and be very reluctant to part with it.
For help with your driving, please contact me to arrange a lesson.