How to Hit a Longer Driver

By M.L. Rose
Bubba Watson hits a tee shot during the 2012 World Golf Championships.
Bubba Watson hits a tee shot during the 2012 World Golf Championships.

In golf, everything begins with the tee shot, and almost every golfer -- including the pros -- wants to hit the ball farther. As long as you don’t land in a hazard, a longer drive offers the advantage of a shorter second shot, allowing you to use a more lofted and accurate club for your approach to the green, or your second shot on a par-5 hole. Except for short par-3 holes, the driver is the club typically used off the tee.

Choose the driver that is right for you. PGA Tour pro and noted long hitter Bubba Watson believes that long drives often begin with the right equipment. For most casual golfers, Watson says, “The quickest shortcut to more distance is getting a driver with more loft.” He also notes that a driver custom-fitted by a professional club fitter “can easily give you 20 yards overnight.”

Gain more distance by managing the tee box. Three-time major championship winner Nick Price recommends playing the ball farther forward in your stance, particularly if your driver has a long shaft. He also suggests trying to tee the ball higher to be sure to catch it on the upswing. Additionally, find a level area within the tee box, even if you must move back a bit, to avoid playing a sidehill lie that can cost you distance.

Shift your front foot when you set up. Watson notes that rotating your front foot about 45 degrees forward, relative to the target line, helps you clear your hips and move your lower body faster on the downswing. Watson says that Tiger Woods employs this technique off the tee, allowing him to generate "tremendous power.”

Turn both your hips and shoulders as far as possible on your backswing, Watson says, rather than focusing on one area or the other. The combined motion “means a longer swing, more clubhead speed and big distance.”

Learn to hit a draw -- which moves from right to left for a right-hander -- off the tee, say Price and Watson say. Price advises aiming left, swinging from the inside and making sure your driver's club face is open on impact. "You'll compress the ball more, and the shot will bore through the wind better,” Watson says.

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