The Truth About the Driver

In a study of 1,500 amateur golfers, not one with a handicap of 14.0 or higher could hit the fairway 50 percent of the time with a driver. Chances are if you miss the fairway, you’re losing a stroke to par on the hole. So why bother using your driver all day for that one great shot? The way I see it, if the club can’t help your game, get it out of your bag. Seriously, play a round with only your three wood, not only will you get a chance to play different clubs, I’ll bet you’ll keep the ball in play more effectively.


The Truth about the driver

The driver is by far one of the most difficult clubs to hit (next to a 1-iron) and here’s why:

• It’s the lightest club in your bag, and it’s swung at the fastest speed.

• It’s the club with the least loft.

• The lack of loft and swing speed increases the effect of off-center hits.

• It’s the club with the longest and most flexible shaft.

All of these characteristics are potential causes for missed shots and opportunities. The truth is, with a handicap of 14.0 or higher, the driver will hurt your score more often than it will help it.


COR and 3-Woods

COR means co-efficient of restitution; it is basically a ratio to how much energy is transferred between the golf club and ball at impact. For example, if I dropped a golf ball from ten feet high onto concrete, and it bounces back seven feet, the COR of the concrete would be 0.7. The legal limit for drivers as set by the USGA is 0.83. Interestingly though ,this limit does not apply to 3-woods. Manufacturers know this, and make their fairway woods ‘hot’. The term ‘hot’ is used to describe a club that has a COR higher than the legal limit. This means that you can use less energy to make the ball travel further. If your having trouble hitting your driver, or your handicap is above 14, consider switching to a 3-wood.


The 3-Wood Alternative

The 3-wood can be a great alternative to a driver… especially for amateur players, as it makes the game easier. A 3-wood is easier to get airborne and has more backspin than a driver. It also has a lot less sidespin, so miss-hits slice or hook less, leaving you with a playable second shot. It has a shorter shaft, and is typically a heavier club. This leads to more power without a need for additional clubhead speed. It is naturally a more reliable choice for your inconsistent golfer.


More Swing Speed = More Distance ??

Not exactly true; ball trajectory flight plays a big part in the how far the ball will travel and roll. If your swing is not above 90 mph, and you’re using a 9° driver, you’re not maxmizing the distance you could be achieving. Increase the loft of your driver to say, 10.5-14°, and watch your consistency and distance increase. There is a lot less friction in the air than there is rolling on the ground. Try to maximize the time the ball stays airborne; you will see a dramatic difference in your distance.


Once again, another reason to dump your driver for a 3-wood that will actually help your game. Unless of course you don’t want to lower your scores…


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  1. This is not always true. Many people know with a 14 handicap or worse have trouble with there driver but also have trouble with there 3 wood. So most of these people would have to hit a 3 iron in order to stay in the fairway, and that will surely cause them to lose a lot more strokes than it would if they used their driver.

  2. With the “NEW” – “DREAW” DRIVERS !!! You can NOW HIT A DRIVER IN THE FAIRWAY MORE THAN 50% of the Time!!!


  3. Ditto! I preach this to my friends all the time who are just beginning. I did it when I started and it not only helped with my score but helped strengthen my 3 wood and like you said the use of other various clubs.

  4. Totally true… I started with a 3 wood then moved up to a driver and lost 10 shots per round… A half swing with my cheap donnay 3 wood will almost match a full swing with my callaway driver and is a lot more accurate.

  5. Really true, I’ve not long started out and to start my instructor banned my woods all together as they were costing me penalties galore off the tee and had me using 4 iron off the tee instead. I actually found myself beating my friends who I started with even though they all had woods, felt pretty damn good!! I’ve just been given the ok to go by a 19 degree hybrid so slowly working my way into thhe longer clubs now! definetly recommend trying, you’d be surprised!

  6. Well, actually I have a great time with the driver. I have a 32 handicap….been playing 4 years, I’m 64. Few weeks back played with a couple of guys and at the end the single digit handicapper told me “I don’t know why you have a 30 handicap, but its not your driver”. I find that if I’m having trouble I just need to analyze my swing. If I’m slicing, I’m doing an arm swing. If I’m hooking, its no weight transfer. If I’m hitting it straight, its a miracle! I average about 210 yds, with an occasional 250 that begs the question “how’d I do that?” I also use various drivers, between 9* and 12* and 43″ to 45″. Hey, with my handicap gotta make it fun. LOL

  7. Hey Bruce, thanks for the comment. I hear you, you’re not alone with a inconsistent driver. Take some time and work on your short game! I assure you, your handicap will start to drop!

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