Many golfers feel that their driver is the hardest club to hit in their bag. With a longer shaft than any club, it can feel particularly unforgiving on off-days.
Frustratingly, it can sometimes feel impossible to diagnose the reason why your drives might be going shorter than usual. Trust me — I’ve been there!
In this article, you’ll learn the main causes of a sudden loss of distance with the driver, along with the simple fix for each to help you hit longer tee shots with your driver.
Ready? Let’s get into it.
Sudden Loss of Distance With Driver
Sudden loss of distance with driver is often caused by hitting down on the ball, producing a low launch angle with unwanted spin. Lack of width and rotation in the swing also reduces power and distance. Striking the ball in the center of the face is also vital for distance.
Why Am I Losing Distance With My Driver?
Here are four common swing faults which can result in loss of distance:
- Hitting down on the ball
- Not enough width
- Lack of rotation
- Poor strike location
Let’s take a look at each fault in some detail.
Fault 1: Hitting Down on the Ball
One of the biggest faults when it comes to tee shots is hitting down on the ball.
Hitting down on the ball causes the ball to launch at a low trajectory, producing very minimal carry distance. Also, it applies lots of unwanted spin onto the ball.
When you hit down on the ball with the driver, it effectively de-lofts the club. In turn, this launches the ball too low, meaning that it prematurely drops out of the air.
The other downside is that it applies extra backspin on the ball. Put simply, this causes the ball to hold up against any wind — rather than punch through the air.
Fault 2: Not Enough Width
Another common fault is not having enough width in the takeaway.
If your takeaway is too narrow, you simply won’t maximize your energy transfer. This results in less power, less speed into the ball, and less distance.
Essentially, the takeaway is the motion of bringing the club into the backswing. While a narrow takeaway is often preferred for irons and wedges, it’s detrimental for the driver.
Fault 3: Lack of Rotation
Next, rotation is highly important for generating power in the driver swing.
With a minimal rotation of the upper body and hips in the backswing, you won’t be able to build enough power and speed as you return to the ball in the downswing.
Often, a lack of rotation relies on swinging with the arms too much. While it seems logical, it will never generate the power of activating the upper body.
Fault 4: Poor Strike Location
Finally — and perhaps most importantly — strike location impacts distance.
If you fail to strike the ball near the center of the face, you will lose distance. This is because off-center strikes add unwanted spin, with inefficient energy transfer.
Of course, this depends on the forgiveness of the driver. However, even the most forgiving drivers will hit the ball further out of the center versus the toe or heel.
In the next section, I’ll address each of these faults to help you hit longer drives.
How to Get More Distance With Driver
To hit longer drives, there are three key areas to focus on improving:
- Optimize your setup
- Add width to the takeaway
- Improve your rotation
- Make center contact
Let’s dive into the details!
Step 1: Optimize Your Setup
The first step when hitting the driver is to optimize how you set up behind the ball.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and position the ball inside your front heel. Then, add a slight upper body tilt away from the target.
Essentially, this will encourage you to hit up against the ball. While it’s ideal to hit down on the ball with irons and wedges, the driver is designed to strike up against the ball.
Also, drivers have the lowest loft of any club. Hitting up against the ball optimizes the launch angle, preventing the ball from prematurely dropping out of the sky.
Striking up against the ball also helps to reduce driver spin. By keeping spin rates lower, the ball has a better chance of going further without getting caught up in the wind.
PRO TIP: Set the tee height so that the ball’s equator aligns with the top of the clubface. This will help you hit upwards into the ball, preventing the risk of hitting driver low on the face.
Step 2: Add Width to the Takeaway
Another way of maximizing distance is to add width to the takeaway.
When you start the backswing, focus on stretching the club head far away from your body and the target — without any swaying.
The wider you can get the driver moving away from your body in the backswing, the wider the total arc and distance that the club head will travel in the swing.
Put simply, this will produce more energy and power. The club head will travel faster when it returns to the ball, increasing the ball speed and total distance.
PRO TIP: In the takeaway, aim to keep the clubface parallel with the angle of your spine for an optimal face angle.
Step 3: Improve Your Rotation
Next, you should aim to rotate your upper body to generate distance.
As you take the club away in the backswing, rotate your shoulders, chest, and hips away from the target — without swaying side-to-side.
By adding plenty of turn in the backswing, you will generate a coil effect. Essentially, this allows you to maximize power and distance as you return through the ball.
PRO TIP: Try not to have your club too static behind the ball. Adding some movement will free you up in the swing, improving distance.
Step 4: Make Center Contact
Finally, focus on striking the ball with the center of the face.
Improving strike location takes practice. Over time, you’ll learn how far to stand from the ball, and where the club should bottom out in order to strike the center.
Making center contact will launch the ball with the optimal spin conditions, enabling the ball to launch and travel as far as possible off the tee.
PRO TIP: Use Strike Spray to monitor precisely where you’re striking the ball on the clubface with your tee shots.
In the video below, Rick Shiels demonstrates how optimizing your setup and swing will help you achieve more distance with your driver:
In summary, sudden loss of distance with the driver can happen for several reasons:
- Hitting down on the ball — launches low with unwanted spin
- Not enough width — poor energy transfer through the ball
- Lack of rotation — insufficient power in the swing
- Poor strike location — inconsistency off the face
To hit longer drives, focus on these fixes:
- Optimize your setup — ball position forward to hit up into the ball
- Add width to the takeaway — improves energy transfer and power
- Improve your rotation — rotate your upper body for the coil effect
- Make center contact — use Strike Spray to monitor progress
By focusing on these improvements, you’ll be able to hit the ball further, with great accuracy and consistency to repeat it on a regular basis.