Let's face it. The driver used to be placed off the deck a lot more often than it is now. Older drivers not only tended to be smaller, but they also had more loft, which helped golfers get the ball up in the air off the ground a little easier. Also, with the advent of today's fairwood technology, it's safe to assume that some of today's fairway woods are longer than the drivers of as little as 10-15 years ago. That said, hitting a driver off the deck can still be a useful shot, if you know when and how to play it.
Before you decide to hit the driver from the fairway, make sure you have a good even lie (and please, don't try it from the rough). Second, don't position the ball quite as far as you normally would with a tee in the ground. Back up the ball to about where you play your fairway woods. Now's when trusting it comes into play. Too many amateurs try to add loft to the driver by hanging and trying to hit up on the ball. This not only will rarely work, but also can lead to really fat or thin shots. Instead, trust that the design of your driver will do its job. Most driver heads are designed to impart more spin on the ball when struck on the lower half of the clubface. So don't try to lift up on it. Make a smooth, level swing with the driver and let the club do the work!
Try this a few times out on the range before you put this shot in play. The typical ballflight with this shot is a low fade, so plan accordingly on the golf course. You'll soon see that the driver off the deck is a great shot for keeping the ball low and out of the wind, all while flying a long way. Stay level and finish on your forward side.
Jeff Johnson teaches at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California. For more information, visit ojairesort.com.
|THE SWEET SPOT
Today's drivers have the biggest clubfaces ever. No really, they've never been this big, making it easier for more types of players to hit longer and straighter drives. But what's really going on with big faces? Does the sweet spot actually get bigger?
The answer is no. A driver (or any other club for the matter) has a sweet spot located at the precise intersection of the vertical center of gravity and the horizontal center of gravity. What's referred to as a sweet spot should more appropriately be called a sweet point, since it's actually a mere intersection point of two axes of gravity.
When equipment manufacturers refer to a driver as having a bigger or enlarged sweet spot, what they're really saying is the area around the sweet spot has become more forgiving, which in some cases, produces little to no loss of distance or accuracy when contact with the ball is slightly off the sweet spot.
That's not to say missing the sweet spot is always a bad thing. Some better players intentionally make contact above the sweet spot, which not only increases the launch angle and lessens ball speed a bit, but also reduces spin for a more bor-ing ballflight. On the other hand, hitting below the sweet spot will produce drives with added backspin, which helps when hitting drives off the ground.