Playing a driver off the fairway

Published 15/11/2008 11:25:55

The driver off the fairway is an extremely effective weapon when used in the correct way. But it should only be played when you can gain a definitive advantage.


The shot produces a low-boring trajectory - ideal when hitting into wind, or for a long running ball to a distant target - but it's also difficult to play perfectly. Only advanced players should attempt this shot - it's not for high handicappers.


Weigh up the risks


Use the shot to reach a long par 4 into the wind or to get home in 2 on a par 5. Yet if there's only a small chance of success and trouble looms near the green, it's wiser to play a long iron and then hit a short iron in.


The lie must be flat or slightly uphill - to act as a launching pad - and the ball must be sitting well, preferably on dry ground. When the ball is lying badly always think hard about hitting the shot even if there is a chance of reaching the green. It's a tricky enough shot to play well without added problems.


Many regard the driver off the fairway as the hardest of all shots, but as long as the lie is good, the risks are mainly in the mind. The fact that most good golfers happily hit a 3 wood off the fairway makes their fears all the more unnecessary.


There is only a slight difference in the degree of loft, the centre of gravity and length of shaft from a 3 wood to a driver. The driver is just a bit more difficult to play.



The technique


The basic technique of hitting the driver from the fairway is the same as from a tee peg. At address, position the ball opposite or slightly in front of your left heel and aim the clubface at the target as normal.


Your feet should be fractionally open - this slightly increases the loft on the driver to help get the ball airborne and to guard against the snap hook. Because you are aligning slightly left and our clubface is square, the ball starts left and moves gently to the right in flight.


Think positively - imagine you are hitting a 3 wood - and swing as normal. Don't over-hit the ball - rhythm is far more important when applying power.


The key differences between hitting off the fairway and from a tee peg is timing. It needs to be spot on to achieve good results from the fairway. It's important to strike the ball at the bottom of the swing arc, and to sweep it off the turf.

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