How to Hit a Driver

Key Differences vs Irons & Wedges

Do you ever wonder if you should modify your ‘typical’ golf swing when you use your driver to hit drives from the teeing ground? Afterall, the appearance of your driver (and fairway woods) versus that of your irons and wedges is quite different. 

For example, your driver shaft is longer than the shafts you find in your irons and wedges. And if we only look at the differences in the design of the clubhead, it’s clear that the two types of clubs are built to do different things. Moreover, drives are hit with the ball held up from the ground on a tee whereas shots using your irons will usually find the ball lying directly on the grass.

Follow the golf tips below for the key differences between your driver swing and setup versus your irons’ swing and address position.

Driver vs Irons: Ball Position in your Stance

How to hit a driver - ball positionThe first difference to consider in your golf setup and address position is the ball position. Specifically, we are looking into how far forward the ball should be in your stance, relative to the center line.

When using your driver, you should position your feet in order to see the ball located just along the instep of your forward (left) foot. This is in contrast to your wedges which are inviting a ball positioned squarely in the middle of your stance, equal distance between your two feet.

How to hit a driver - hit up on the ball vs hitting downSince the ball is held up from the ground on a tee, your driver should strike the ball as it moves upwards from the bottom of the swing arc, in what golfers call “hitting up on the ball”.

Conversely, golf shots hit with irons and wedges should produce divots, meaning that the clubhead should strike the ball before digging into the ground. Note that you should not be taking divots whenever using your driver.

More on: Correct ball position for each golf club

Driver vs Irons: How Far Away from the Ball

How to hit a driver - how far from the ballBecause of the differences in club shaft length between the two types of clubs, the ball won’t be the same distance away from you either.

The driver, usually the club with the longest shaft in your golf bag, will require you to position yourself furthest away from the ball than any other club.

In contrast, your wedges – and short irons – will see yourself standing much closer to the ball.

Whatever you do, remember to position your club behind the ball at address in a way that allows for the sole of the club to lie flat on the ground. Failure to do so may invite a slice or a hook.

More on: 

Driver vs Irons: Bodyweight and Spine Angle at Address

How to hit a driver - body weight and spine angle at addressWith the ball located forward in your stance whenever using your driver, you will notice that most of your body will be positioned behind the ball. 

And in order to address the club behind the ball you should notice that your spine angle is tilted away from the target slightly.

This will promote some of your bodyweight to be positioned on your back foot. In fact, you should aim to see 60% of your weight on your back foot at address in order to match what your spine angle is doing to your weight distribution.

With your irons and wedges, things are a little simpler. Your bodyweight at address should be split equally 50/50 on top of your two feet. And there should not be any angling of the spine angle. Instead, your upper body should be positioned forward.

More on: Proper posture and spine angle at address

Driver vs Irons: Swing Length

How to hit a driver - longer swing lengthWhenever you are using a driver from the teeing ground it usually means that you are looking for distance out of your golf shots, first and foremost. It also means that the area in which you can safely send your ball is rather large.

In light of all of this, you will likely see your longest, fullest and fastest swing when you have your driver in hand.

In contrast, iron and wedge play will reward precision over distance. You have several of these types of clubs in your bag with each club corresponding to a stock distance. You therefore do not need to ‘swing for the fences’ when you hit iron shots into the green. 

Therefore you may find that your iron swing might not be as wide and as long as your driver swing.

Swing Plane

How to hit a driver - shallower swing planeFinally, because of the shaft length difference between the driver and the irons you will also notice a difference in your swing plane.

Indeed a driver, with its longer club shaft will position you further away from the ball. As a result, that angle of the shaft will be shallower, inviting a flatter swing plane. 

Your irons on the other hand will position you closer to the ball. This closer position over the ball will invite a steeper, more upright swing and progressively so as you use shorter clubs.

More on: Swing plane

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