Total Driving

Sean O'Hair's coach helps you hit it long (and down the middle) every time

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So what is Total Driving? According to the PGA Tour, it’s how long and accurate a player is off the tee. It’s not an easy stat to master, but I think it’s absolutely vital to master if you want to be a good player. After all, good driving will boost your confidence.

In early March, one of my students, Sean O’Hair, put on a master class in Total Driving at the PODS Championship. (The Tour computes Total Driving by “totaling a player’s rank in both driving distance and driving accuracy.”) For the week, Sean finished T15 in driving accuracy and 8th in driving distance, averaging 282.6 yards. Sean won that week—his second Tour victory—and earned a trip to the Masters. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Sean’s driving was key that week, in particular because Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course was playing incredibly difficult. By getting the ball in play, he could avoid the trouble that other players were getting into. 

Although leading the Total Driving category doesn’t guarantee success on the PGA Tour, driving the ball long and straight (particularly, straight) will help players of all levels knock strokes off their handicaps. Although you could argue that the world’s best player doesn’t rank high in this category, Tiger does put his ball into play most of the time, and when he finds a bit of trouble, he gets out of it—fast.

The key point I want you to take away from this article is first to drive the ball in the fairway and then maximize your distance. After all, good drives allow you to play your next shot from a position that will let you make some birdies and pars.

1 Find The Perfect Posture
Stand Tall. The first step to good driving is to have a perfect posture. Without it, you’ll have to make compensations in your swing to deliver the club on its correct path. In this photo, I’ve taken my driver and am holding it parallel to my spine and flat against my back. I want the grip end of my clubshaft against my tailbone and the clubhead just above my head.

Bend From Your Hips. I often see my students misunderstand this next step, so I’ll be very clear: Bend from the hips while the club touches your back and head. If you round your shoulders or keep your legs straight, the club won’t stay in place, so flex your knees into an “athletic position.” If I were to let go of the club, I’d look like a shortstop awaiting a ball.

Perfect Posture. The club is back in my hands, but I haven’t lost my athletic posture. My back is flat, my knees are slightly flexed, and the angle between my chest and the club is 90 degrees. Also, notice how my belt and clubshaft are on the same plane. Use these references the next time you photograph or record your swing, or simply check your posture in a mirror.


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