Ping Max G430 driver head
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For many golfers, I would hazard to say, the driver is the most important club in the bag. Known by the nom de plume, the big dog, we all long to let the dog out and howl at the moon. Tee it high and let it fly. The one wood starts most par 4s and 5s. These thoughts on hitting driver are fundamental to the very nature of the game of golf. Driver sets the stage for how a hole is going to play out. Getting off to a good start is pretty important in golf. Fluffing your lines with the big stick puts you in trouble and in a foul mood to boot.

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Striking The Driver Is Thought Sexy

Drivers are sexy pieces of equipment. If you have ever bought and sold clubs, you will know there is more excitement around one woods, especially newish models, than any other type of club. Guys, in particular, love drivers, as they are long with big heads – a state most blokes covet. The head of a new driver gleams like the shiny surface of a late model car.

These clubs are the high tech wonders of the golfing world. They easily boast the biggest price tag and command a healthy resale figure. Drivers have names like Stealth, Paradym, Launcher, and Big Bertha. They even have their own head coverings to protect their sheen.

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Launching The Driver To Acclaim

Golfers who can launch prodigious drives are afforded great respect within the golfing fraternity. Length and size does matter in the game of golf. 18 holes of golf is like a ballet or an opera. A complex arrangement of ritualised moves through a maze. Driving the golf ball is the signature dance that starts things off on most holes. If you watch a good golfer prepare to tee off with one wood in hand it is a thing of grace and beauty.

There is an air of confident preening prior to the actual swing. An economy of action then propels that small ball vast distances in the desired direction down the fairway. Oohs and aahrs, often, accompany such feats of prowess with big stick in hand.

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Wielding The One Wood

To walk tall on the golf course you must be able to wield the one wood with fearlessness. Drivers demand daring and grit. That long shaft means a longer swing process. You have to commit to the whole thing with ballsiness and gumption. There are no viable short-cuts with the driver swing. It is boldness or bust. I must admit that sometimes I am less than ready to hit driver. By that I mean my mental state falls short of what is required in the moment. The result is a sawn-off back swing and rushed transition, which mostly ends in calamity. I do have commitment issues in my relationship with the driver, it seems. One would think two divorces in my lifetime were enough but perhaps not.

The terrible thing about teeing off with the big dog is that when done well it is the best feeling in the world. Unfortunately, things can also go terribly wrong.

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The Nameless Fairway Club

You meet golfers on the golf course for whom the emotional scar tissue has become too much. These sad individuals use three woods to mount their challenge on long par 4s and par 5s. For them the club with the big head and sock like hat has become a no go zone. For these golfers the very word itself is only ever mentioned in relation to their four wheeled vehicle. The big dog remains chained up and rarely ever howls at the moon. Shorter shaft and smaller head makes more sense to these individuals on the golf course.

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Troubles With Driver

Thoughts on hitting driver must cover the full gamut of the golfing universe. I would posit that most golfers go through periods where they struggle with the driver. Indeed, from my own knowledge I know that it is the number one reason why most golfers go for a lesson. Struggles with hitting that most iconic of golf clubs is par for the course around the traps. It may be sexy when it works but like a bad marriage it stinks in the sack when we lose our way with it. Why is this so? I reckon it is all to do with timing and tempo. Long shaft equals longer swing. When we circumnavigate that process for whatever reason we find ourselves in trouble. Everything is magnified by that shaft length and flatter face. Club manufacturers have done everything they can to mitigate these things. The gear effect and big head are both designed to make hitting driver somewhat easier. However, many golfers just do not comprehend what the gear effect does.

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Understanding The Gear Effect

The gear effect, put simply, corrects strikes by creating a convex or bulging surface on the face of the driver. From heel to toe and top to bottom the face of the one wood bulges out in the centre of the face. Thus, striking the golf ball out of the heal with for a right handed golfer makes the ball go to the right. Toe strikes move to the left.

“Gear effect is the term used to explain how and why hitting the ball off-centre changes the ball flight. When the ball makes contact with the heel and toe it will cause the club face to change the direction it was pointing and will affect the spin, the ball will turn towards the Centre of Gravity. This is because during the impact the ball and face are interlocked like two gears, this is why it’s called ‘Gear Effect’.  So if the club’s COG is further apart from the golf balls COG the more gear effect takes place, resulting in ball flights you’re not expecting. It is worth noting ‘Gear effect’ affects Driver and fairway wood shots, the affect dramatically reduces as you go in to your irons and through to wedges.”

I know that some golfers play without bothering themselves with too much technical stuff but with the driver it pays to understand the nature of the beast. Tether your camel for best results in the desert i.e. know your equipment and how it works.

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My Advice For Driver Problems

The simplest and best advice for those times when your driver is misbehaving is slow things down. It is like the IT person at work telling you to restart your device for best results. Slowing the swing down puts us back in touch with what is required by that long shaft. Slow backswing and smooth even transition into the downswing. The very width of the swing arc created by the one wood generates power and therefore distance with a solid strike. We get faster with our driver swings during our rounds of golf via confidence from hitting it well. We can, however, get out of sync and find ourselves in the wrong spots at the wrong times. Some of us try and force things in reaction to poor swings and outcomes – this only makes things worse in most cases. Frustration builds and we get down on our selves with negative thoughts and emotions. We then form a narrative or story about how we can’t hit driver and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, slow down and swing smoothly.

Some Of The Other Driver Dilemma Issues

In my own experience on the journey to become a better golfer I have encountered a few other problems with and around using the driver on the golf course. For instance you may be focusing on a particular issue within your driver swing. Instructors often breakdown parts of the golf swing to help their students. You may have been guided in this way or you may have been self-instructing via YouTube. As many golfers will well know you can find what seems to be a secret move or swing thought that delivers results for a bit. Then, however, what happens is that we over-focus on that part of the swing to the detriment of the whole and things get out of kilter. Golly gosh, golf can be a frustrating game. In my own recent experience I have been working on my backswing moves and somewhere along the way I have lost the plot with the most important part of the golf swing, which is striking the ball. Talk about disappearing up your own fundament.

The antidote has been getting back to basics and just focusing on hitting the ball. This in combination with the slow smooth swing is paying dividends with satisfying long drives again. It is oh so easy to lose your way with the driver. Oh that sexy long club can have you wrapped up in all sorts of tangled poses and mishit moments of madness.

Driver Fixes For Golfers

  1. Hit the restart on your one wood swing by slowing everything down.
  2. Think slow back & smooth slow transition in the downswing.
  3. Trust the golf club to hit the ball & length of shaft to generate power.
  4. Don’t force it with the driver in hand – it rarely works.
  5. Uncoil, unleash with grace.
  6. Don’t write stories in your head about your golf.
  7. Broken swing thoughts need to be discarded.
  8. Go back to the basics & just hit the ball.
  9. Long shafts require staying down & getting through the ball with your driver swing.
  10. Fake it till you make it – the dance of driver golf demands commitment!

Words fit for the driver and golfers driving the golf ball – daring, pluck, audacity, dauntlessness, mettle, boldness, resolve, moxie, fortitude, nerve, and courage.

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of The Stoic Golfer: Finding Inner Peace & Focus on the Fairway.


How To Play Golf Like A Winner by Robert Sudha Hamilton