Butch Harmon: Best Tips For DrivingFebruary 12, 2018

How to Hit Driver

Butch Harmon's greatest tips for getting off the tee.
Butch Harmon_driving
JD CubanButch Harmon at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, NV on Wednesday October 10, 2012

Golfers of all abilities struggle with how to hit driver. But it doesn't have to be that way. From what I've seen, there are three main issues people have off the tee: they get nervous, they hit a big slice or they just hit it all over the place. In this article, I break down each of these problems to give you the tools to handle your nerves, your slice, or your inconsistency. Follow my tips and you'll be hitting driver with some confidence in no time.


Turn Your Left Shoulder Behind The Ball

If you're someone who gets nervous on the tee box, that mental state is affecting how you physically swing your driver. From what I've seen, nerves typically make the backswing fast and short. It's tough to hit a good drive after making a snatchy move like that. If you're feeling tense—like on the first tee or a tough driving hole—focus on making a full, rhythmic motion to the top. The best thought, even if you don't have the flexibility to do it, is to turn your lead shoulder behind the ball. This thought will help you make a full rotation, instead of stopping your backswing short. You'll also load into your right side so you can shift forward coming down. Making a full turn back and shifting your weight will promote a natural swing rhythm, and you'll get more power if you're shifting your weight correctly.

Remember, the ball's not going anywhere, so take your time swinging back.

Think about this at setup:

Under pressure, the tendency is to freeze over the ball and put a death grip on the club. To combat this, keep some motion in your fingers and feet. Waggle the club back and forth. If you lock up, your nerves will hurt your swing. Moving your fingers and feet will keep you loose and more able to make a good, smooth swing.


Keep Your Back To The Target Starting Down

If you slice it off the tee, you're not alone. It's a very common problem. The slicer usually starts the downswing by forcing the right shoulder out toward the ball. This makes the swing path steep and across the ball from out to in. You need to make sure your right shoulder stays back, allowing the club to drop to the inside as you start down. Your best swing thought is to keep your back facing the target longer in the downswing. Make a full turn behind the ball, and then keep that right shoulder passive so your upper body doesn't spin out. With the club dropping to the inside, you can swing out to the ball, which lets your arms release and square the clubface.

Want more great driving tips? Check out our ultimate guide to driving video series here.

This is the key at address:

If you slice, I'll bet your ball position is too far forward. This opens the shoulders, which limits how far back you turn. An abbreviated turn sets up that early move with the right shoulder coming down. When you set up, play the ball in line with the logo on your shirt. Keeping the ball from being too far forward will allow you to start your swing with square shoulders, giving you the space necessary to make a full shoulder turn going back.

Butch Harmon

Don't Let Your Body Stop Turning

If you tell a player who hooks the ball to turn harder to the left through impact, you'll have some explaining to do. But the fact is, most big hooks come from the body slowing down through the hitting area, which causes the momentum of the swing to flip the club over and snap the face closed. The closed face sends the ball left. The way to avoid that is to keep turning your whole body toward the target. Shift to your left side to start down, feeling like your chest points to the ball, then turn hard to the left. The club won't flip, and you'll fix those hooks.

Think about this when you set up:

Most hookers aim way out to the right. It makes sense, but the club gets to the inside too quickly on the takeaway. It's easy to hook it from there. Set your body lines—shoulders, hips, knees, feet—parallel to the target line, and you'll swing back straighter.


Maintain Your Arm Speed To The Finish

If you're feeling totally lost on the tee, you need a swing key that combats a lot of potential problems. Try keeping your arms swinging at a constant speed through the ball and all the way to the finish. Many golfers swing to the ball and stop; they "throw" the club at the ball. This can lead to misses of all kinds, so picking the proper correction can be confusing. If you keep up your arm speed, you'll create good rhythm and flow through impact. You might be amazed at how things fall into place. Making an aggressive pass through the ball is always better than trying to steer it down the fairway. Remember, you're making a golf swing, so keep those arms swinging.

Think about this at address:

Players who are struggling with hitting driver inevitably start to feel awkward when they address tee shots. If you're feeling uncomfortable on the tee, check your distance from the ball. Set up and drop your right hand off the club, letting it hang . Make sure you can move it straight back to the grip without having to reach. If you feel like you're reaching, move closer to the bal.

Related: Butch Harmon Finding Your Rhythm with the Driver

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