Are you a hooker? Or a slicer? Do you prefer to call it a draw or a fade, because that sounds like less curve? Do you hit 300-yard drives, but unfortunately it is only 180 yards forward and 120 yards sideways? Sounds like you need to keep reading so you can pick up some tips on how to hit a driver straight every time.
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Do you get so frustrated with your driver, that you give up on it by the 5th hole and start trying your 3-wood or a long iron just to keep it in play? By the back 9, are you worried you might run out of balls before you can finish the round?
How can you possibly shoot a good score, if your tee shot is always in the woods, creek, or deep rough? The wild tee shot can be frustrating and take the joy out of the game. The feeling that the hole is over after one swing can cause a golfer to want to quit and go home.
Don’t give up – there are solutions for these common misses. With a little practice, you can start finding more fairways.
What is your Miss?
Before you know how to hit a driver straight every time, the first step is to know your game. Every golfer occasionally hits a hook or a slice, but what is your predominant miss? Think about your last few rounds – how many drives missed right versus left? Next, how did the ball get there? Did it start out that direction or did it curve?
Ultimately, there are 4 misses off the tee.
- Hook – the ball curves from right to left
- Pull – the ball travels relatively straight but starts left of your target
- Slice – the ball curves from left to right
- Push – the ball travels relatively straight, but starts right of your target
Note: these are based on a right-handed golfer. If you are left-handed, simply reverse everything. Your “hook” would curve from left to right, your pull would start right of your target, etc.
Once you identify your miss, there are some adjustments you can make to help improve your score. Every swing is different, so try these tips out at the driving range to determine which ones work for you.
Tips for the Left Miss – Hookers & Pullers
Do your playing partners and friends call you Captain Hook? The golf ball typically hooks because you are swinging from the inside, out. There are many different reasons why golfers hit a hook, but here are some quick tips to straighten out this shot.
- Can you play it? A hook isn’t necessarily bad, if it ends up in the fairway. Instead of fighting it, maybe you should embrace it. If you aim down the right rough, can you get it started over there and let it curve back to the fairway?
- Check Your Balance – do you find that you fall backwards after your drives? Many players hit a hook because they don’t get their weight through the ball. Practice hitting shots where your primary focus is finishing on balance. Hold your pose after every shot.
- Take it Outside – the origin of the hook can be right at the beginning of your backswing. You might be jerking the driver inside quickly. Try taking the club back slowly, to the outside, along the ground. This will get you swing started in a better position.
Now what about the Pull? The ball doesn’t curve, but just starts left.
- Check Your Alignment – could it be simple – you are aimed left and don’t realize it? Put a club down on the ground and use it to align your feet to the target. Is the ball still missing the target?
- Transition too Quick – the transition is the top of your swing – when you transition from back swing to down swing. Being too quick, will cause a pull. You can practice slowing down, by making yourself stop at the top for a second, before swinging down. The other drill is to count “1-and-2” slowly during your swing. 1 is you back swing, and is your transition (slight pause), and 2 is your down swing.
Tips for the Right Miss – Slicing & Pushing
Golfweek published a poll that 70% of amateur golfers struggle with the Slice. The slice comes from cutting across the ball at impact (swinging from outside in). If you struggle with the slice, here are some things for you to try:
- Move the ball Forward in Your Stance – if you are slicing your driver, try moving the ball forward in your stance – this will promote an upward motion and will help straighten out your shot.
- Drop the Driver from the Top – many slicers come “over the top”, which means they start their downswing by pulling the club with their arms – this causes the club to go outside and you cut across the ball. Instead, start your downswing by “dropping the club”. Once you reach the top of your swing, use your lower body to start the downswing and just let your arms (and the club) drop back to the ball. Don’t pull with the arms.
- Strengthen Your Grip – a weak grip can cause a slice. To strengthen, turn your left hand more to the right. Instead of your left thumb being directly down the shaft, twist it to the right.
- Read this – Best golfs balls for reducing a slice
Your ball doesn’t curve too much to the right, but just starts over there? Some quick tips for the Push.
- Don’t Slide – the push can be caused by sliding your body in front of the ball before contact. Focus on trying to stay behind the ball until impact. Keep your head still.
- Check Your Alignment – could it be simple – similar to the pull, you may not have a swing problem, but are simply aiming too far right.
Like fingerprints, no two swings are identical. Some of these tips will help you hit straighter drives and others may make it worse. Try them on the driving range to learn which ones work with your unique golf movement.
One key to becoming a better player is being able to make adjustments during the round. Having 2 or 3 swing thoughts that you practice on the range that you can go to when times get tough on the course will reduce frustration. For example, if you hit a couple hooks, really focus on your balance for the next few drives.
The ability to recover from a couple bad drives will improve your score and help you have more fun on the links.