How to Increase Driver Distance
If there is something that all golfers want more on the green, it’s DISTANCE.
Don’t get me wrong.
Other aspects like speed, accuracy, swing angle, etc. are essential for your success on the course. However, mastering your driving distance is not only fun, but it also makes your entire game a whole lot easier.
If you consistently hit long, accurate drives, you are in a great position to perfect your golf swing in other shots.
1. How can I improve my driving distance?
There are many aspects you can work on to improve your driving distance but let’s focus on the most important ones.
They depend on your physical ability, how good you are on the course and the driver used.
Some factors include ball height, stance, ball position, and spine angle, which we will cover below.
a) Ball Height
Your driver comes with an enlarged clubface to maximize impact and contact when hitting the ball. As a general rule, the center of the ball, also known as the ball equator, should be directly in line with the top of the clubface when you set it up.
When using the driver, your goal should be to hit upon the golf ball. Teeing the ball to this height helps you to achieve an upward strike that translates to increased distance.
How important is it to hit the center?
When working on your driving distance, focus on hitting the ball directly with the center of the clubface. This is the area where your club creates the most significant impact.
Hitting the ball one inch off center translates into between 11-12% losses in the distance. But by hitting at the center, I quickly gained between 20-25 yards off the tee.
How do I ensure that I always hit the ball at the center of the clubface?
b) Posture, Stance and Swing Balance
Your ideal posture should be the one you are most comfortable in as a player. Players’ postures differ, so practice before hitting the ball using your driver.
The driver is the longest club in a set, and if you want to increase distance, you have to have the right golf stance.
If you have a comfortable golf stance, you can maintain balance and make accurate swings that will allow you to hit the ball at the center of the clubface.
Your ideal stance will enable you to take centered golf shots that will give you more distance.
What is the ideal golf stance?
Generally speaking, you want to stand ideally bend your knees just slightly so your body has a solid base. You do so by ensuring that the outer part of your shoulder extends down to inside part of your feet.
Each player has their ideal stance, so you should practice your stance every time you are on the course.
How do I gain my ideal stance?
Practice makes perfect and the more you practice, the better the results.
Put your feet as wide as your shoulders and take some practice swings. The focus should be to complete your swing in a balanced and comfortable follow-through position.
c) Ball Position
After identifying your most comfortable stance, it’s essential that you place the ball in the right position to make an accurate hit at the center to gain more distance.
Your stance should guide you to identify the best position to place the ball when using different clubs in your set. When hitting with irons, for example, the ball should be placed at the center of your stance. When using your driver, the ball should be placed a few inches in front from the middle of your stance.
Why is this important?
Placing the ball in the middle of your stance affects your shoulder’s movement when swinging your driver, and changes the path of the club. This results in a strike down, which reduces distance. With a driver, a strike down makes the ball spin excessively, increases its height and shortens the distance gained. For maximum distance, you must strike up on the ball.
How do you strike up on the ball?
- Place the ball on the inside of the forward foot.
- Ensure your clubhead bottom is out to Ensure that your upper body, i.e., spine and shoulders are slightly tilted away from the target. For a left-handed golfer, the right shoulder should be slightly higher than the left shoulder at address and vice-versa.
- Hold your driver’s grip at your sternum as the clubhead rests directly between both knees.
- Tilt away from your ball until the club head touches your lead leg. This enables you to identify the best angle to tilt when hitting the ball.
- Hit the ball on the upswing. This should give you a comfortable swing and shot due to the positive attack angle.
What is an ‘Angle of Attack’ and how important is it in gaining distance?
d) Angle of Attack and Face Angle
The angle of attack is precisely what the name suggests.
It is the angle at which you hit or attacks the ball. It includes the loft angle, which dictates the position of the club that hits the ball during the attack.
By using a launch monitor, you can identify the most effective attack angle, which translates to more speed and distance.
To gain distance, you need to ensure that you hit an upward strike on the ball with your driver.
Let’s consider a PGA Tour player like Justin Thomas, who has the highest launch angles averaging at 14 degrees when he hits the ball using his 9.5-degree driver.
This means that Justin hits up almost 5 degrees at impact. This enables him to attack the ball at the point of the clubface with the most impact.
To control your clubface, ensure your hands are well placed in the dominant and comfortable position on the club.
How can this be done?
Ensure that you can see between 2-3 knuckles of the left/right hand (according to how you hold your club) when hitting the ball. The hand that controls the release at this point is in a dominant position and should give you more distance.
2. Can I use technology to help me in the process?
The driver is most likely the most expensive single club in your bag.
This is because the driver gets you off to a great or poor start on any given hole. Because of this, many golf companies invest a lot in the technology of designing and manufacturing drivers to provide the best results.
For most avid players, upgrading your equipment does not necessarily result in an improvement in your skills. A vast majority of professional golfers improved their distance off the tee by focusing on improving their swing mechanics and speed.
If you feel however that your driver needs an upgrade, then your selection depends on your skill level. If you are a high handicapper, take a look at this selection of drivers for a high handicapper. If you are already more advanced, take a look at our selection for mid handicappers.
A player like Lee Westwood, for example, has used his PING G10 Driver for over six years on the European Tour.
Over the same period, the company has designed and launched new drivers with new technology like the G15, G20, and G25. Lee only upgraded his driver to the PING G30 Driver recently.
Both players have been able to achieve over 300 yards with their first clubs without the need to upgrade in search of more distance.
3. How important is my swing speed for longer drives, and how can I improve it?
The speed of your swing determines the distance achieved when you hit your ball. Generally, every 1 MPH increase in clubhead speed increases by about 3 yards in the distance assuming all launch conditions are constant.
One of the most important aspects that help boost club speed is the weight transfer and balance of the swing. This is achieved by allowing your body weight to turn into the right leg, which enables you to create coil and leverage: the critical elements to generating speed.
The loft angle you take allows you to hit the sweet spot’, reduce the spin rate and increase speed and distance.
How do I increase my swing speed?
Well, the answer is simple. PRACTICE
- Grab an alignment stick and swing it five times as fast as you can. Ensure that you do so in your normal or most comfortable stance.
- After the swings, grab your driver and swing another five swings with your normal stance.
- Repeat the same exercise 3-4 times on both hands. Your focus should be on accelerating your club through the impact area. Ensure you hear the “swoosh” sound of the club.
- Practicing two times or more per week should result in increased club speed, due to improved fast twitch muscle fibers of the body that enable you to achieve great distances.
4. What are the common mistakes that kill distance?
Let’s talk about the make you’re most likely to encounter make, which translates into the reduced distance when you tee-off. They include:
- Placing the ball too close to the middle of your stance. It should be placed on the inside of the forward foot to increase club swing and allow you to hit the “sweet spot’.
- Hitting the ball off the center of the clubface which results in slicing, increased spins, and reduced distance
- Standing in an uncomfortable stance that reduces swing speed and affects your striking ability. A weak strike results in poor distance coverage by the ball.
- Hitting the ball at a reduced loft angle during impact, which affects the height achieved by the ball. Too much height without the right ball impact results in reduced speed.
- Maintaining the wrong posture when hitting the ball. The ideal posture should be comfortable and suit your height and the length of your Driver.
- Finally, PRACTICE. If you think that upgrading your equipment is the only way to gain more distance on the fairway, you are wrong. Despite the driver you use, frequent practice is the most effective way to increase distance gained at address.
The distance achieved in your game determines your result and your chances of a birdie or eagle.
Distance is, therefore, one of the most influential factors in the game and should be treated as so.
Many players are unable to achieve great distances on the course due to the failure to use simple tricks and drills like maintaining the right posture, placing the ball at the right position, hitting closer to the sweet spot,’ maintaining the right stance, swinging the club in the right manner, etc.
In this article, the above techniques can go a long way in helping you to achieve more distance if you use them.
Practicing the drills, we have mentioned can help you achieve distance on the course. It will also help you identify your most comfortable stance to hit the ball using the club’s sweet spot, which results in improved distance coverage.