The key to hitting the ball farther with the modern driver and golf ball (which spins much less off of a flat face than balls of the past) is high launch angle combined with a low spin rate. Our goal is to get enough spin to achieve lift, while minimizing (hopefully eliminating) drag.
Tee the Ball Higher
The old adage has always been that the top of the driver should be about halfway up the ball when it is teed up. However, with a 460cc driver, I like to see you set the ball high enough on a peg such that the top of the driver is no more than one-third of the way up the ball. Of course, this means that the standard 2 1/8-inch tee will not be long enough to accommodate. You will need a tee at least 3 inches in length, but likely a little longer than this.
• Related article: Tee it high to hit it farther
Move the Ball Forward in Your Stance
(Towards your left foot for a right-handed golfer)
The notion of playing the ball off of your left heel is no longer valid. We want to hit the ball on the upswing, thus increasing launch angle and decreasing the ball's spin rate. In order to do this, we must move the ball forward in our stance. For some golfers, it will be enough to play the ball off of your big toe, while for others it may be necessary to move the ball all the way up so that it is positioned outside of your left foot. Experiment with different ball positions – but, whatever you do, move the ball forward in your stance!
Set Up to Hit the Ball on the Center of the Face
Most golfers set their driver on the ground at address. This results in a high percentage of driver shots being hit on the heel-side of the face, especially when we tee the ball higher. Test yourself this way: The next time you are at the range and set up to hit your driver, once in the address position stretch your arms out and move the club up to the ball's height. Notice where the ball is going to contact the face of your driver? On the heel side – or possibly the hosel – of your driver.
This is a very common problem for golfers – and it's an awkward adjustment. The solution is very simple, however. Instead of setting your driver behind the ball such that the center of the face is aligned with the ball, move backwards a couple of inches (towards your back) such that the toe of your driver is aligned with the ball. Now do the test again. Stretch out your arms and pick the club up to the ball's height. Is the ball aligned with the center of the driver face? If so, put the club back down and fire! If not, keep moving back until it is.
Don't worry that once you set the driver down it doesn't align with the ball. The ball isn't on the ground - it's three inches above the ground!
Hit the Ball on the Upswing
The driver is now a specialty club, much like a putter. Our set-up, ball position – everything is different from any other club in the bag. You shouldn't be hitting the ball at the bottom – or apex – of the golf swing like a fairway wood. The ball should be struck past this point, on the upswing. This will lead to a higher launch angle and lower spin rate – which is how we are going to hit the ball farther than we ever have before.
• Related video: Driver fundamentals
About the Author
Kevin Downey began his career in the golf industry as a club professional, but later turned to the equipment side. After working with Slazenger and Callaway, Downey launched Innovex Golf in 2004 (Innovex was later acquired by Rife). He is also the author of the book, The Art and Science of Breaking 90: A Guide to Modern Golf Course Strategy and Equipment.