Over the last year or so I have taken a very different approach to how I approach tee shots with my driver. My goal used to be to step up to the ball and try to hit it as far as I could no matter how long the hole was or what yardage I would be facing for my approach shot. As my mental game has matured I have realized as many better players do, that being in the fairway should be the paramount goal when hitting driver. In other words, accuracy should trump distance. It’s great to hit a drive that sails 300 + yards but how often is there an adequate landing area for that lucky drive? Often time you are rolling through a dogleg into the rough or worse finding a well-placed fairway bunker that leaves you with an odd yardage to the green. My new approach is to swing my driver like a wedge.
Now, I don’t mean swinging a driver like a wedge from a technical swing standpoint, but rather a mental approach. When you have 90 yards into the green you are going to choose a wedge that gives you the best option to stop the ball near the hole. You wouldn’t step up to a shot that calls for a controlled wedge and try to hit it as hard as you can, you would try to hit to a number. This brings me to another key point with this mental approach: Be realistic about how far you drive the ball.
Sure, we can all catch one perfectly that goes 30 yards further than our stock drive, but how can you account for that on a regular basis? You can’t. If you determine that your average driving distance is approximately 265 yards then play the course in a way that maximizes that 265 yards and try to be in the fairway with a comfortable yardage into the green. This approach can also be used with your other woods and hybrids to really improve your course management and allow you to place a tee shot to your perfect number to throw a dart at the flag.
To practice this, I will sometimes play a round from the forward tees. I know I suggest this form of practice often on this blog but I really do think it helps you learn how to think your way around a course and learn how to go low. From a forward tee, driver is usually not the best club choice so you put my above theory into practice and hit a club that gets you to your favorite approach distance. Then, when you move back a set of tees or two, you can still apply this way of thinking but now driver might be the club that gets you where you want to be.
Give this a try, let me know how it works out for you.