Whatever standard of golfer you are you should be looking to maximise your distance off the tee.
Whatever the myths you may have heard about the short game’s overriding importance over all other aspects of the game increased driver distance is critical to improving your scores and without getting more distance off the tee there will be a ceiling to how much you can improve.
While acknowledging that every golfer and every swing is of course different, and as unique to them as their own voices, when it comes to driver distance certain general principles apply and with these in mind we’ve listed below 10 top tips to help you hit the ball further off the tee and maximise your distance.
“How important is your average golf swing speed? It’s very important. Simply put the more swing speed you have the farther you’ll hit the ball.”Jaacob Bowden, Senior Writer at GolfWRX, PGA of America Top 100 Most Popular Instructor.
1. Increase Your Driver Clubhead Speed
Driver distance comes from a golfer’s ability to translate clubhead speed – often also referred to as swingspeed – into ball speed.
And while ball speed – the speed of the golf ball immediately after impact – is the biggest factor in how far a golf ball actually carries club/swingspeed – the speed of the clubhead’s geometric centre immediately prior to contact with the ball – is the key factor for determining a golfer’s potential driving distance.
To get more distance off the tee therefore one of the best things you can do is increase your clubhead speed.
An average clubhead speed of around 114mph for example delivers an average total driving distance of just under 300 yards on the PGA Tour while the average male amateur manages a distance of only 219 yards approximately with his much lower average driver swingspeed of 93.4mph.
And how could you go about increasing your clubhead speed to increase your driver distance? Here are 3 top tips you can try:
- Increase the speed of your backswing – As a general rule a faster backswing results in a bigger hip and shoulder turn which then helps to lengthen the swing and gives golfers more time to generate more speed on their downswing.
- Practice harder practice swings – To be able to increase your swingspeed you need to practice so a simple way to start is to practice moving the club faster in your practice swings. If you work to increase the woosh noise your driver makes through the air with your practice swings the more club speed you’ll be generating which will then improve your potential for increased distance when you hit your drive.
- Speed train – As every regular golfer knows all too well golf is about practice and when it comes to getting more clubhead speed it’s no different and you can practice increasing it by following specialist training programs or hitting the gym. All the top pros in the modern game are using fitness regimes to develop increased swingspeed and amateurs can easily choose to do the same to support their quest for more distance.
[Top tip: Improving your fitness and swing speed will make a huge difference to how far you hit the ball and has the potential to add 20 to 30 yards to drives and an extra club throughout the bag. If you want to know how you can achieve this check out two of the best ‘golf training’ programs that can get you there:
- The Stack System
- Fit for Golf (Use discount code GOLFINGFOCUS20 for 20% off annual subscriptions!)
2. Focus on Strike To Improve Your Driver Efficiency
It is all very well for us to say you need to generate more swingspeed to increase your driving distances however for many golfers it is not an option because of time and often physical constraints.
So if you are in that category and still want to make the golf ball go further off the tee another way you can do it with the exact same club/swingspeed as you have currently is simply by improving the consistency with which you strike the golf ball.
To highlight how poorly the average amateur typically strikes the ball Jaacob Bowden, one of the leading experts on swing speed training, points to the following data.
The average driver clubhead speed on the PGA Tour hovers around the 114mph mark and with that they post an average drive of approximately 296 yards which gives them a ‘driving efficiency’ close to 2.6 yards per one mile an hour of swingspeed.
The average male amateur golfer with a handicap of between 14 and 15 meanwhile posts a driving efficiency of only 2.34 yards per mph based on their average drive of around 219 yards with a driver clubhead speed of 93.4mph.
And the primary reason for this difference is the quality of the strike based on the skill difference between these players.
By striking the ball badly with glancing blows creating slices and hooks, amateurs lose lots of energy at impact when swingspeed gets converted into ball speed and as a result lost distance.
Striking the ball more consistently than you do currently will therefore help you increase your driving distance irrespective of your driver swingspeed.
So as we can clearly see a consistent solid strike will help you get more driver distance and if you are one of those average amateurs you could turn that average 219-yard drive into a 242-yard one simply by striking your drives better.
Further if you are wanting to absolutely maximise your distance off the tee, and wring every yard out of every mph of driver swingspeed you can muster, target a strike slightly above the center of the face and towards the toe.
And the reason to favour the toe of the driver is that it travels 14% faster than the heel of the club according to Golf Digest’s top 50 Teacher Andrew Rice, which means more swingspeed potential to translate into increased ball speed and therefore distance!
Pro tip: Ball speed is often judged by ‘smash factor’ which is calculated by dividing ball speed by club/swing speed. The closer the smash factor to the perfect score of 1.5 the better the energy transfer from the club to the ball.
3. Move the Ball Forward to Hit Up On It
Another way to get more distance off the tee without swinging faster is to make sure you are hitting up on the ball.
Thanks in part to the introduction of launch monitors, and as PGA teaching professional and USGolfTV Director of Instruction, Todd Kolb states – “we know without a doubt that in order to maximise distance when hitting the driver, based on whatever your clubhead speed is, that you want to hit up on the driver.”
And what this means is in practice is that large number of amateurs are not hitting the ball further off the tee because they are losing power by hitting down on the ball and creating a ‘negative attack angle’ at impact.
As Kolb explains “when you come in contact with the golf ball and the club is traveling in an upward motion toward the ball what that does is it increased launch – which is a good thing – and it decreases spin.”
You may have already heard the phrase ‘launch it high and spin it low’ when it comes to trying to maximise driver distance and this is exactly what hitting up the ball as opposed to down lets you do to make your drives go further.
Because too much spin with a downward hit drive, even when it is struck well, can reduce the distance your ball will roll.
And one of the reasons I know this well is because I have found this myself and to my own cost.
In a recent lesson with my coach we found that when I hit down on the ball with my driver creating a -2.4º angle of attack at impact I lost over 32 yards of carry distance and 43 yards of total distance compared to driving with a positive 2.3º attack angle with almost comparable swingspeeds of just over 100mph.
So if you want to make your drives go further make sure you are hitting up on the ball, and according to Kolb a great way to start if you’re not already doing this is to check your ball position at address with your driver.
Chances are you will have the ball too far back in your stance and by moving it forward, probably more than you think you should or feel comfortable with, you will be more likely to hit up on the ball with your driver and as a result get more distance.
Because swinging up on the ball with your driver is one of the secrets to higher launch and potentially more distance.
4. Tilt Your Shoulders in Preparation for Launch
When your goal is to get more distance off the tee one of the keys as we have just noted is to hit up on the ball with a positive attack angle.
According to Trackman an average male golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 95mph, who hits their drive with a positive +7º attack angle, will reach a carry and total distance off the tee in excess of 30 yards compared to a player with the same swingspeed but who attacks the ball at a negative -7º angle.
I think we can all agree that hitting a drive a total distance of 262 yards compared to one of 229 yards would make an enormous difference to the average golfer as a result of hitting up on the ball rather than down and is therefore something worth aiming for.
And a great way you can try to achieve this is to use your shoulders when you set up to hit your drives.
At the same time as moving the ball forward in line with the instep of your lead foot – your left foot if you’re a right-handed golfer – tilt your shoulders back and away from the direction in which you are hitting the ball so that your lead shoulder (left again for a right-hander) is higher than your trail shoulder.
A great demonstration of how this should be done is shown in the image of Rory McIlroy above standing ready to hit his driver and in this example from his recent interview with Me and My Golf alongside GolfWRX he demonstrates both the ideal starting position of tilted shoulders and the ball set forward in his stance.
This setup helps golfers to have a proper swing path so that the driver is ‘launching’ the ball up at impact and although it is likely to look and feel odd when you try it at first if you can get it right it will help you to get more distance.
This article was originally published on GolfingFocus.com. If this content is published on any other site it has been done without the permission of the copyright owner Golfing Focus Limited.
5. Tee it High and Let it Fly!
When it comes to making your drives go further you may already have heard the phrase ‘tee it high and let it fly.’
And the simple reason for that is teeing the ball higher when you hit your driver is a well-known way of helping golfers increase their distances off the tee, especially if they, like a large number of regular golfers, hit their drives with a negative attack angle and strike the ball on the lower portion of the face.
In a recent robot test conducted by Golf Magazine’s Jonathan Wall, golf technology expert Gene Parente and True Spec’s master fitting professional Kris McCormack, they discovered that such golfers could potentially gain 25 yards simply by raising the tee.
Adjusting the tee height for such players, as the graphic above illustrates, could help them get more driving distance as it would result in the impact location of their drives moving from the lower half to the upper half of the driver face.
Now all golf swings are of course unique and for some simply teeing it higher will not be an automatic fix as when they start teeing it higher and still come with a negative angle of attack they can start delivering too much loft at impact, hit it off the top of the face and make bad contact.
But when one thinks that the average male amateur golfer has a negative attack angle of -1.6º and a driver swingspeed of 93.4mph according to Trackman it suggests that there are a very large number of golfers out there who could gain some serious distance benefits by experimenting with teeing the ball a bit higher.
Rory McIlroy certainly seems to think so.
“If someone is looking to optimise their tee shots what do you think is a good place for them to start, it they are trying to hit up on the golf ball?” (Me and My Golf) “Tee it up higher. It’s so simple but I try and tee the ball up as high as I am comfortable with … Tee the ball up and get it up in the air. It’s all about carry and it’s a big thing for me.” (Rory McIlroy)Rory McIlroy talking to Me and My Golf
[Editor’s note – If you don’t know if you hit the ball with a negative angle of attack and teeing it too low simply take a look at how your ball flies when you hit driver. If the golf ball starts out low and rises and then gets very little roll that’s a great way to tell if it’s worth some tee height experiments.]
6. Use the ‘Ground’ Force
When it comes to maximising driver distance there is usually a lot that can be learned from the top pros and in terms of driving distance Rory McIlroy has consistently over the last decade proven himself to be one of the best and longest drivers of the golf ball.
And one of the key things he says he focuses on to hit his drives well and long distances is to ‘use the ground’.
In simple terms to hit the ball further off the tee you need to effectively shift the pressure into your back or trail foot during the backswing and then transfer that pressure back from your trail leg back to your front or lead leg during the downswing and follow through.
As any regular golfer knows though that is often easier said than done and in an effort to do this many players make the mistake of shifting their body away from the target during the backswing in the effort to get their weight onto their trail side and then lunging back towards the target through the downswing.
As a result they lose power and therefore distance.
If you want to get more distance off the tee however it is important not to make this mistake and instead ‘use the ground’ to gently move your weight to put pressure into your back leg in the backswing before transferring that pressure into the front leg on the downswing.
You have a lot of power in your legs so to make your drives go further be sure you use them.
“I use the ground a lot. I maybe use my legs a bit more than other guys do. I like to have a really stable base. So I probably set up feet apart a little wider than shoulder width just to give me a really stable base and then I just think of width on the way back.”Rory McIlroy talking to Me and My Golf
7. Wide Swing Arc = More Distance
Renowned international golf coach and on-course analyst for PGA Tour Live and CBS Sports Mark Immelman states that “every great golf swing possesses a consistently wide arc .. throughout its journey.”
And one of the main reasons for this is that assuming the driver clubhead is being well controlled the wider the arc around which it travels the further the go ball will go.
As Rory McIlroy’s quote above highlights, this is something the top pros are constantly working on and while power and distance are key components of why they do this a wide arc has additional benefits which include how it helps golfers maintain good tempo and timing.
If you’re a right-handed golfer the left arm controls the width of the backswing while the right arm does that job in the downswing and simple drills like swinging the driver holding it in one hand and then the other are a great way to help golfers practice a swing that feels wider and more powerful.
Recognising the importance of width in a golf swing is a key component for those wanting to increase their driver distance and something the greats of the game have long acknowledged and been aware of.
8. ‘Launch It’ To Maximum Distance Off The Tee
Driver distance is determined by 3 key elements – ball speed, launch angle and spin rate – the latter two of which are frequently termed as a drive’s ‘launch conditions’.
Setting aside the launch monitor jargon for a second what this means in brief practical terms is for a golfer to maximise their distance off the tee they must get the ball up in the air as quickly as possible and not have much spin in it.
The ideal mix of ball speed and launch conditions is different for every player and is dictated by their clubhead speed and attack angle at impact but the same thing holds true for every single golfer whatever their standard.
To achieve the maximum carry and total distance you must convert as much swingspeed as you can into ball speed while launching the ball at the optimal angle and with the spin rate that produces the best flight trajectory.
So what you need to take away from this is that whatever your club/swingspeed you will maximise your driving distance off the tee if you get your ‘launch conditions’ spot on.
As we can see from the Trackman launch monitor data of former European Ryder Cup player Eduardo Molinari above, pros are superb at generating power and distance.
But all this example again shows is that they are aiming to do exactly the same thing as we all should be targeting – getting their launch conditions within the correct range for their swingspeed and attack angle.
Golf coaches all over the world are frequently quoted saying that the most common fault among regular amateur golfers is that they don’t launch the ball high enough and as a result lose distance.
Therefore if you are looking to hit your drives further there will more than likely be more yardage on offer for you without swinging any harder if you simply target ‘launching’ the ball within the optimum range.
And to help with what those ideal ranges may be, here are the numbers that True Spec Golf says are preferred when it comes to these stats for varying swingspeeds.
|Less than 72 mph (ladies)||72-83mph (Slow)||84-96mph (Average)||97-104mph (Fast)||105mph+ (Very fast)|
|Angle of descent||27-31º||31-35º||32-36º||33-37º||34-38º|
If your numbers don’t fit neatly into these ranges however just remember that these guideline numbers can only very be just that – a recommended guide.
The above data for example does not highlight the different angles of attack that they cover and as such if you find yourself not fitting neatly into these buckets it doesn’t automatically mean your current launch angles and spin rates are wrong when it comes to working out what will let you hit the ball as far as you can.
That being said though if your launch monitor stats are outside the ranges below, and you are determined to hit the ball further off the tee it may be time to take a look at your equipment or your swing to discover what ‘optimal’ is for you.
And a great way to do that is to head to an experienced and good club fitter.
[Note – For an in-depth look at the ideal launch angles and spin rates for maximising distance off the tee including a detailed analysis of the best launch conditions for individual driver swingspeeds check out our great article on this topic here.]
9. Get Fitted
Golf club fitting is discussed a lot in modern golf and at times it can seem like it is simply another way to get regular players to spend ever more amounts of money on a game that is already expensive.
But when it comes to trying to increase your driving distance it is something we would advocate you get done or at least seriously consider.
Every golfer should be fitted to achieve the optimal balance of launch angle and spin rate based on their club/swing speed and ball speed.Trackman
Because with all the technology that is available these days, both in terms of drivers themselves and the associated equipment such as launch monitors, there are all the tools there to help golfers of every standard choose a driver which is suited to them and allows them to hit the ball as far as they can.
One of the reasons you may not hit your drives off the tee far could very well be that you are using the entirely wrong driver.
For example golfers frequently get the loft of their drivers wrong as they incorrectly assume that to hit the ball further you automatically need a low lofted driver because they naturally assume less loft means more distance given the more lofted clubs in their bag don’t go as far.
But when they make these decisions they forget about ‘dynamic loft’ – the amount of loft on the driver face at impact with the ball created by a player’s individual swing – which is different from the ‘static’ loft number actually stamped on their driver at impact.
In other words golfers may start with a driver that is 10º when they address the ball because that is the loft stated on the club but by the time they hit the ball they actually have added an extra 10º of loft due to the way they swing the club and as a result have in reality turned their driver into a 5-wood (i.e. 10º static loft + 10º added loft = 20º of dynamic loft!).
“If a golfer’s attack angle, dynamic loft, face to path numbers, and impact location are good, then I will definitely question if the equipment is the correct fit. If these items are not optimal then I will educate the player to understand what we are looking for.”Richard Woodhouse, Former Australian PGA Teacher of the Year.
An experienced club fitter will help you understand whether a different driver, with a different loft or centre of gravity for example, will increase your distance off the tee.
Or they will let you know that your current driver is fine and it is your swing that needs a bit of adjustment to get you into the ideal launch condition ranges we were talking about earlier.
And that’s the real bonus of going to see a good specialist club fitter.
They will give you a lesson at the same time and if you choose one who is both a qualified pro and club fitter they definitely will!
[Note – If you are interested in finding out more how driver loft affects distance check out our detailed look into this subject here. And if you are ready to get started looking for a great clubfitter near you take a look at our complete guide to the best places to get fitted for clubs across the USA, Canada & UK here.]
10. Use the Best ‘Distance’ Ball for You
In a game of seemingly infinite variables there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of things that regular golfers can actually control when it comes to their game.
But in the same way your clubs are, and whether you have the right ones for you can easily be determined by an expert club fitter, any player on the search for increased driving distance should be paying attention to whether they are using a golf ball that is the best ‘distance’ option for their own game.
After all, given it is the only piece of golf equipment every golfer or every standard has to use for every single shot it surely makes sense to make sure you are playing the type that will help you get as much distance as possible.
And while many may think it doesn’t matter which ball you use, or that golf balls that are marketed as ‘distance’ balls must automatically be the best ones for maximising distance, the reality is a bit different.
Because all golf balls do not go the same distance because distance is affected by the ball’s hardness, it’s weight, size, symmetry, and also of course by the swing of the golfer hitting it.
If you look at golf balls from a compression perspective for example (i.e. how hard or soft it is) as a whole golfers with higher swingspeeds will get more distance with harder, or higher compression ones.
Conversely players with lower swingspeeds of less than 80mph typically hit it further with soft or supersoft golf balls due to the higher launch and hang time these balls give them.
In-depth robot testing by MyGolfSpy and Today’s Golfer on dozens of different golf balls has found certain balls go further than others by up to 10.2 yards which is a far chunk of distance to gain simply by choosing the right golf ball.
If you are serious therefore about getting some extra distance off the tee it would seem a good idea to ensure you are taking advantage of all tech out there and playing the right golf ball for your swing!
[Editor’s note – If you want to know where to start experimenting with which golf balls could give you more distance and whether new or old, harder or softer, heavier or lighter, bigger or smaller ones go further than the others check out our article here.]
[Note – Just so you know, and we are upfront as an affiliate program participant, Golfing Focus earns from qualifying purchases made through links on this page.]
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- How Far Should You Hit a Driver? FULL GUIDE By Age, Handicap etc.
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- Why Don’t Your Drives Go Far? Slow and Steady Loses the Race
- How Far Should Your Ball Speed Go? 100mph All the Way to 210mph!
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- Should Beginners & High Handicappers Use a Driver? Yes & Yes
- Can You Get Your Existing Golf Clubs Fitted? Complexity = Cost!
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