How To Hit Driver In Golf (5 Key Stages)

Ping G400 Driver and Headcover laying on grass

By Steve

Consistently hitting long drives and splitting the fairway is a high priority on any Golfer’s wish list.  But how do you do it?

Being able to hit the Driver, the longest and most difficult golf club in the bag, requires a quality swing action. This is a combination of a Good Grip, Posture, Stance, Alignment, Speed of swing and good timing. It requires practice and a hint of patience is required as well.

The fundamentals of the golf swing have been proven over the ages and when you hit a golf ball, one thing always remains constant: The Five Laws, which represent how the club-head is delivered to the golf ball at impact.  

These laws are what cause the ball flight and spin.

  • Law 1 – Club head path though impact
  • Law 2 – Angle of attack
  • Law 3 – Club face angle – open, square or closed
  • Law 4 – Strike on club face heel, center or toe
  • Law 5 – Club head speed

If we therefore work on improving these Laws by changing how the club is travelling around your body it will improve the ball flight.

The aura and sense of achievement that surrounds good drives somewhat overshadows other elements of the game. 

The fact is driving off the tee only accounts to about 25% of your game and if the ball isn’t in play its tough to improve your scores. 

With this in mind, my first goal was to portray my swing beliefs and share with you important information I have accumulated in my role as a Professional Golf Coach.

I believe each position during the swing is only as good as the position or movement that has gone before it. 

Linking these positions seamlessly together and creating a powerful, rhythmical and free flowing swing.

So let’s get started!

The Five Key Stages To hitting Driver In Golf

Including the MAGIC MOVE for Big Drives

  • Key Stage 1 – The Take Back, creating the all important 1st link
  • Key Stage 2 – Completing the Back swing, turning movement into Power
  • Key Stage 3 – The Down swing Transition, slotting the club into place
  • Key Stage 4 – The Magic move, just after impact
  • Key Stage 5 – Swing Completion, holding a solid and balanced finish

Key Stage 1

The Take Back, creating the all important 1st link

With a great set-up this move can prove to be simple.

As you move the clubhead away from the ball your main objective is to keep the clubhead travelling inside the ball to target line but outside of the hands

Continue until the shaft reaches a point where it is parallel to the ground and on the line of your toes, which coincidently is also parallel to your ball to target line.

The butt end of the club at this point should be at a point directly above the big toe of your back foot and your hands at a height that is level with the middle of your thigh. 

The legs will have moved very little (or not at all at this point). 

The leading edge of the club should be very slightly toed in anti clockwise from the vertical.

From this position you are ready to start the chain reaction

Key Stage 2

Completing the Back swing, turning movement into power

As you pass through Key Stage 1 turn your shoulders to complete the backswing

As you do this the position of the clubhead should now begin to travel slightly behind the hands and the arms should lift with some very gentle clockwise forearm rotation.

This will give the feeling that the shaft is now pointing slightly to the left of the target (laid off) and the hands opposite the right shoulder. 

This is an ideal position to deliver the driver on a powerful path towards impact.

The farther I swing back = the longer the ball will travel

This is a common misconception.

The length of the backswing is really relevant to your bodies’ flexibility, mobility and strength. 

So the length of your swing should not be going any further than your body can cope with.

Let’s imagine your flexibility is fairly limited. 

Your swing starts ok, it gets halfway back then as you try to swing that little bit further another part of your body gives in to compensate.

For example

The back knee might loose its flex and straighten up. Your head and torso lift up higher than the level it started at address.

Both of these movements will allow you to swing further but at a cost.  Suddenly you have lost your power generator.  The turning of you top half against a stable lower half with good ground force.

What I mean by ground force is that it’s the pressure pushing down through your feet into the ground. 

Without this build up of resistance their will be no effective energy to transfer towards the target as it will dissipate even before you have completed your backswing. I will go into this in more detail shortly.

It’s also very easy to fool yourself into thinking you are making a good upper body turn in the backswing. 

When in fact all you are doing is allowing the shoulder blade or blades to move forward within the backswing and rub on the chest wall, known as scapular protraction

To test this, put the club behind your back to bring your shoulder blades into the correct position. 

Then attempt to make a turn. Feel if there is any difference to your normal motion.

Most things we constantly do day to day doesn’t help this correct shoulder position.

Sitting at a computer or driving a car for long periods of time promotes the shoulders to come forward, often making the muscles between the shoulder blades to become elongated and weak.

A quick test to check if this might be an issue is to stand relaxed in front of a mirror with your arms down by your sides and check to see how turned in your hands are. 

The more you can see the back of your hands, the more the shoulder blades are protracted forward.

Reverse ‘K’ Verses Reverse Spine Angle

The swing generally works in opposites. 

Allowing the spine to fall back on it’s self towards the target during the backswing will encourage the opposite to happen on the through swing. 

This seesaw motion can cause long term damage to your body, often resulting in topped and erratic shot patterns, with any energy dissipating up towards the sky rather than towards the target.

The Reverse K can also be a difficult position to swing through from as the body gets too far behind the ball in the back swing leading to two main problems.

The first is that the opposite will happen during the through swing. Where the torso is moved forwards towards the target, loosing all the elastic energy build up between lower and upper parts of the body. 

This type of motion requires amazing timing as it is difficult to move the hub or breastbone of your torso the exact amount from behind the ball and then forward to return to where it started at the same moment you make contact with the ball. 

It’s easy to get your upper body in front of the ball much too early before impact.

Secondly from this Reverse K position, it is easy to also allow the lower half and mid portion of your body to lead the downswing with too much lateral movement towards the target. 

Again long term injury and erratic results will follow. 

The ideal spine position would be a midway point between these extremes where the spine stays relatively centralised. 

A great way to achieve the feeling of this position is to stand on your left leg only and use the toe of the back foot by resting it on the ground to help keep balance. 

Make a backswing and use this to get the sensation that you are now more on top of the ball and centered, which is neither a reverse spine angle nor a reverse K.

As you reach the top of your swing with a good shoulder turn and gentle forearm rotation, your back elbow should appear check in a mirror that your right elbow is slightly lower than your front one.

This will provide the link to Key Stage Three

Key Stage 3

Down Swing Transition, slotting the club into place

With a great backswing position you can slot into the down swing with ease. 

If you have retained good ground force in Key Stage 2 you can change direction from back swing to down swing knowing your body weight will be ready to transfer into the front foot in a split second.

This provides a firm and planted left side to hit against and a natural energy transfer giving more power.

Be warned the downswing and impact happens so fast it would be detrimental to try and control it too much.

The body weight settles into the leading foot as the transition into the downswing takes place

The back foot initially stays planted then starts to roll inwards so the instep stays touching the ground and the out-step lifts up causing the cleats on that side to be off the ground. 

Only after this initial foot movement has occurred the whole foot can continue turning up and around onto its toe.

Working on correct foot movement helps to transfer weight correctly and helps keep the right side of the body momentarily held back and provides space for your arms to swing down towards the ground, for an inside approach on the ball. 

There are 3 sub key elements that you can adopt to promote a correct inside attack on the ball (law 1)

  • Sub key 1 Right shoulder back/right hip back
  • Sub key 2 Visualise inside approach of club head
  • Sub key 3 Ice cream cone

A large percentage of golfers who don’t hit straight often allow the right shoulder to come forward too soon (over the top) causing the arms to travel down to the ball on a different path (law 1) and the angle off attack (law 2).

Key Stage 4

The Magic Power Move, Just After Impact

It is important with the driver to keep the acceleration or head speed (law 5) increasing as it travels through impact. 

Once the ball is struck the swing isn’t over. 

Although the impact position is something you don’t really want to control. 

You can work the position just after impact.

This magic move involves getting the toe end of the driver face looking up to the sky quite soon after impact.

The leading edge toed open slightly clockwise from the vertical and picture that portion of the clubhead touching the underside of an imaginary table.

The club shaft again along the line of your toes and parallel to the ground but not touching the table.

The wrist motion will have a limited amount of rotation with the left wrist staying quite flat through impact. 

This flat wrist will engage a bigger shoulder turn on the through swing. The right shoulder will now travel through impact fairly low down under the chin.

Looking down the line in this position you can also still see the butt of the club, back on the line of the toes like a mirror image to the take back Key Stage 1.

If the forearms are allowed to rotate over each other through impact it can lead to very erratic shots as it’s difficult to repeat a square clubface on impact. 

You can again use a mirror and try to also see some air through the arms at the completion of this stage as you view it from face on. 

Notice how my left leg also straightened up or reduced in its amount of flex from impact to the end of Key Stage 4. 

Helping to stabilise and give more of a solid left side to swing through against, acting as an anchor.  

Players who suffer with lots of ankle roll, where the weight falls onto the outside of their leading foot, could benefit from working on this.

At address we talked a lot about correct hip tilt. 

Throughout key stage 4 the neutral hip tilt will be utilised and move into a posterior tilted position where the belt buckle points more up to the horizon. 

This happens due to the lower body rotating open, transferring weight simultaneously onto the left side and the whole right side of the body is free to fire into the ball. 

Watch the worlds top golfers; it’s a common trait they all seem to possess.

This key stage 4 will allow you to hit the ball without holding anything back and giving up control of where the ball might go which leads you nicely on to…

Key Stage 5

Swing Completion, holding a solid and balanced finish

Always try to get a balanced finish with a minimum of 90% of your body weight on your left side, evenly positioned between your heel and ball of your leading foot.

Being mindful of holding a balanced finish for at least 3 seconds will help to encourage you to complete your swing and keep that head speed up and increase your control and distance.

A great finish position and rhythm will be a bi-product of linking all the other keys together.

The reverse is also true.

The more you work on holding the correct finish for a few seconds regardless of the outcome of the shot it will encourage a better motion that has gone before it.

Particularly with the driver, you may also develop what is known as recoil. This is a bi-product of creating greater club head speed through impact and beyond.

With such power going through impact it’s tough to hold your finish so this recoil or bounce back action is perfectly natural and is where the club is brought back down in front of you at your finish. If this recoil starts to happen don’t fight against it.

It’s good proof of generating great club head speed and acceleration.

As you travel on your journey to improving your own game, be assured I will be with you in spirit and also continuing my journey in the search to find more ways to make this wonderful game easier to play throughout all its facets.

Good luck and happy driving

Rich and Steve Signature Image