Trying To Get More Height With My Driver Off The Tee

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, April 22, 2011

In my last post I mentioned that I was having trouble getting any loft with my driver. I am hitting it pretty straight, but I am not seeing the height that the pros get when the unleash the big stick.

This was actually a good thing during my last round because many of our tee shots were into the wind. My playing partners assumed that I was keeping the ball low on purpose to help cut through the wind. I just went along with it, pretending to know what I was doing. The fact of the matter is, that's all I've got with my driver. My 3-wood needs some work as well.

I was trying to work it out on the range yesterday, but I couldn't figure it out. After my session, I jumped on youtube to find some tips, but surprisingly, there isn't much. There's a lot of "hit longer", "hit it straighter", "cure your slice", but not much on hitting it high or low.

I decided to delve into the archives of my virtual swing coach's blog, Ruthless Golf. After a few minutes of searching, I came across this post by Mike and I think we may be onto something.

In this post, Mike says that amateurs are better off learning about trajectory rather than trying to learn to shape the ball. He says...

"Players think that draws fly farther than fades, and fades stop quicker than draws. That's only partially right. The way most people hit them, draws travel farther because they fly lower, and fades stop quicker because they fly higher. But if you hit a high draw, it will stop faster; if you hit a low fade (sometimes called a power fade), it will fly farther."

A golfer has to have complete control of their swing in order to pull of a proper draw or fade. Professionals hit fades and draws all the time and are successful because they know exactly how to execute these shots under the right conditions. Most amateurs don't have this "touch" and end up hitting the wrong shot for the situation.

After reading Mikes post and viewing the video that he posted(see below as well), I think my problem is ball position. I may have the ball a little too far back in my stance which causes a lower ball fight. This will be fine for now because the fairways in Arizona will be firmer due to the extreme heat. The ball tends to roll out after hitting the turf. So even if I only have a carry of say 210 yards, it can still get out to 250 yards before it comes to a stop.

If the fairways are soft or I have to carry water or desert to get to the fairway, I will be in trouble if I don't get some height on my tee shot. Under these conditions, my ball will not roll out as much because the grass is moist. If there is water to carry, then I have to hit a good one, or hope that my ball skips across the water to make it to the fairway. If I hit into the desert, it's a ball lost, because there might be rattlesnakes. I'm quick but not quick enough to dodge a snake strike.

I'll work it out on the range over the next couple of days and get back to you with the results. The loft on my driver is 10.5 so I don't think that is the problem(although I was never fitted for my driver). Hopefully the fix is just moving my the ball slightly forward. That would be much better than having to buy a new $300 driver. Have a great round and always hit your target.



Photo found here.

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Comments (13)

  1. April 23, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    How high you tee the ball also affects the trajectory, Dex. Remember when I told you not to worry about your driver when you were first getting rid of your over-the-top move, and I suggested you completely remove the driver from your bag for a while? This is why.

    Here's a quick lesson on driver trajectory.

    To hit the driver high, you do three things:
    1) move the ball slightly forward in your stance
    2) tee the ball so its midline is even with the top of your driver
    3) swing slightly upward

    Unlike a iron shot where you want to hit down on the ball, or a fairway wood shot where you want to hit slightly down or catch the ball at the bottom of the arc, you want to catch your driver slightly on the upswing. This is very different from your other shots -- no divots with your driver! -- and it's the reason I suggested ignoring the driver while you regrooved your swing.

    To hit the ball on the upswing, obviously you have to move the ball forward and tee it higher than when you hit down on it. Having half the ball above the top of the driver is standard advice you'll find everywhere. But you only move the ball a little forward -- you don't want it so far ahead that you flip the clubhead and pull the shot because your swing arc has started back to the inside on your followthrough.

    Remember all that advice you hear about setting up so your head is behind the ball for a drive? That's so you'll hit upward on the ball. Think about it and you'll see the logic.

    3-woods have more loft than drivers, so teeing the ball that high isn't as critical. However, you still need to tee it high enough that, when you move the ball a little forward and swing upward, you hit the ball on the face of the club and not the bottom edge. I think I'd still get at least a third of the ball above the top of the 3-wood for a high tee shot.

    And obviously, to hit low drives you do just the opposite -- tee it lower and move it slightly back from the regular driver position. You want to catch it at the bottom of your swing in this case, not on the upswing and certainly not on the downswing!

  2. April 23, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    BTW, it's also possible that you'll do all these things and still not get the ball high enough. In that case, you probably don't have enough loft on your driver.

    The correct driver loft is determined by a number of things which I won't try to explain -- that's a long, long tale! But in general (and bear in mind that when I say "more loft" I mean numerically higher -- 10 degrees is more loft than 9 degrees):

    1) A slower swing speed usually dictates more loft. Someone with a swing speed between 80-90 mph might even get more distance with a 3-wood than a driver.

    2) Your ball affects things. Soft balls spin more and rise higher, so they need less loft to get them up in the air.

    3) If you naturally fade the ball, you can probably use less loft than someone who draws it. All things being equal, fades fly higher than draws.

    This is the kind of thing that needs to be determined by a club fitter and, as low as you were hitting your drives, I'd bet it's your technique rather than your driver. But if you change your technique and still can't get higher tee shots, at least you know what to try next.

  3. April 24, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    I still want to get fitted for my next set of clubs but I don't think my problem is with the equipment. It was with my ball placement. I went out and did everything that you said and it worked well. There was definitely more height and more distance. Actually, on one shot, I hit it so well, that I kind of just stood there, holding my follow though in amazement. This is the feeling I want to have all the time.

    I do see what you mean about placing the ball too far up in my stance. I hooked these shots badly. Exactly what you said would happen.

    I also set up with my head behind the ball as you explained. While watching all the slow motion shots of the pros this past weekend at the Heritage, all of them set up this way. And yes, I see the logic.

    In my last two rounds I have set out a specific game plan for how I should play the course. I don't need driver for most of the holes. At least from the tees that we play from. But when the fairway is wide open, I would like to take advantage and get as close as I can to be able to use my short irons. My G.I.R. % is pretty dismal.

  4. April 25, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    I certainly don't see a problem with you using your driver now, Dex. You've gotten good enough control of your swing that the slight difference in technique won't be a problem.

    From a strategy standpoint, how often you use the driver all depends on how well you hit it. If you control it as well as Jim Furyk, you can use it on almost any hole longer than a par 3. If you're wild with it, you'll only want to use it on holes where missing the fairway won't penalize you. You know enough to make that assessment, so go with your gut.

    And yes, a well-struck drive is one of the greatest feelings in golf. ;-)

    I'm glad the guidelines helped you. Ball position is one of the most overlooked fundamentals in golf, largely because it varies a little from person to person. Your setup and how you move during your downswing both affect exactly where you should position the ball for the best results. You seem to be figuring that out pretty well.

    Now let's see if we can't improve your GIR. First question: Do you generally miss the green to the side, or do you miss it short and long?

  5. April 25, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    In Miami, most of my misses were to the sides. Mainly to the right. Recently I have been missing long and short. Very indecisive with my approach shots.

  6. April 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    OK, here are a few quick thoughts that you can experiment with and tell me what happens. We can set up a plan of attack from there.

    This may be "duh!" territory, but often we screw up because we overlook the obvious. The place to start is with the basics:

    When you miss your shots to the sides, you're having aim problems. These can be caused by path errors (such as swinging in-to-out when you intended to swing straight down the line) or manipulating your hands (too much forearm rotation is one example). It's also possible you're having balance problems that cause you to tilt forward or backward during your swing.

    When you miss your shots long or short, you're having distance problems. These can be caused by mis-clubbing (more common than many golfers think) or an inconsistant swing (some swings are longer or faster than others). It can also be caused an inconsistent angle of attack, which takes a bit of explanation. If you saw The Golf Fix tonight, Breeder referred to this problem during one of his "Power of 3" segments.

    Basically, angle of attack is the same problem you had with the driver. You change your trajectory by changing your angle of attack. If you hit down too sharply, you "deloft" the club; do this with a 7-iron and you may actually hit the ball with 5-iron loft, causing the ball to fly much farther than intended. This can happen if you get tilted forward on the downswing, for example.

    At the same time, if you hang back or reverse pivot, you might add loft to the club. In this case, you might turn that 7-iron into an 8- or 9-iron; the ball pops up, then drops short of the target.

    Just knowing this much can help us determine the primary cause of your problem. When the ball doesn't go where you expected, ask yourself, "how did my swing feel?" Did you get ahead of the ball? Did you fall back? Did you push the shot? Did you hit a big hook? Once you can attach a feel to the result, we can figure out why you hit the shot you did.

    And once we know that, we can make a plan of attack to improve your GIR.

    Just scribble notes on your scorecard when you hit a bad shot. Note what happened -- long, short, left, right, or any combination of them -- and how you felt -- you fell forward, pushed the shot, whatever. Do that for each approach shot, then we'll look for patterns.

    Once we know the pattern, we'll know what the problem is and how to address it.

  7. April 25, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    So I was just looking at my stats. I keep them at stracka.com. My GIR percentage is 12.99. But here's something that is interesting. My overall putts per hole is 1.89. When I get to the green in regulation though, it goes up to 2.25. So it looks like I have to work on my putting as well.

    I detected one of the problems. Most of the greens I hit in regulation are on the par 3's. During my last round at Dove Valley, I hit 3 out 4 of the par 3's in regulation. The 3 greens that I hit, I 3-putted each of them. This is where I am losing valuable strokes.

  8. April 26, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Let me guess... you've been listening to all that crap about "accelerating the putter through the ball."

    That's a sure way to destroy both line and feel.

  9. April 26, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Isn't that what all the pros say? "Accelerate through the ball and then hold the follow through."

  10. April 26, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    I smell a new post... check my blog tomorrow. ;-)

  11. April 26, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    I'm waiting with bated breath:-D

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