Traditional wisdom says its crazy to hit driver in the fairway. Most times traditional wisdom is probably right—but not always. Hitting driver off the deck is a difficult shot. Besides, you have other clubs designed to hit the ball off the fairway. They’re called irons (or hybrids). It makes sense to use them on the fairway. Master these clubs and you can chop strokes off your scores and your golf handicap.
But if the driver is your best club, it’s hard to leave it in the bag except on the tee. You like to use it. And you hit it well. So why not use it? Most times you’re probably better off reserving the driver for the tee box, which is what we recommend to ne students in our golf lessons. There are a couple of situations, however, where experienced golfers can hit the driver off the deck. Below we describe two of those instances with golf tips on how to play them.
A good time to try this shot is on a long par 5 when you have long shot into an open green. In this case you want to get the ball as close to the green as possible on your second shot. From there it’s a short chip or pitch into the green. But to get that close to a green on a long par 5, you may have to hit the driver.
The key to this shot is your lie. You need to a good lie for this shot and a flat or slightly uphill fairway. If you have a sidehill or downhill lie, forget about it. Another key to this shot is to set your spine a little more vertical at address. Your shoulders should be almost level. This address position encourages more of a descending blow. The shot is similar to hitting a hybrid or long iron. If you take a divot, that’s even better.
But there is one thing you must control with this shot, we tell students in our golf instruction sessions. That’s your tendency to help the ball in the air. Instead, make a typical swing and rely on your setup adjustments to get the ball airborne. But be careful. When you hit this shot, you can expect some trouble. The ball comes off at a slightly lower, more penetrating trajectory. You can also expect it to run a good distance when it hits.
Another instance where you can use a driver is when you’ve missed the fairway right and you’re lying in some light rough, behind a tree, with about 250 yards to go. The tree prevents you from hitting the ball straight. The only way you’re going to get the ball close to the hole is by hitting an intentional slice around the tree with the driver.
Fortunately, the driver is the easiest club to slice. But you have to make a couple of adjustments at address to do it, as we tell students in golf lessons. First, open your shoulders, hips, and feet so they’re pointing well to the left of the tree. Now push your hand slightly ahead of the ball. These changes encourage you to keep the clubface open through contact. All you have to do now is make your normal swing.
The adjustments do most of the heavy lifting on this shot. They’ll impart enough left to right spin to curve the ball around the tree and back toward the green. Don’t try this shot if you find yourself aiming out of bounds or you’re hitting into a hazard.
There you have it—two key situations where you can hit driver off the deck. Or should we say where hitting driver of the deck isn’t an insane idea. You may want to drive hitting the driver off the deck at the range a few times to get the feel for it.
But knowing how to hit the driver off the deck may pay off some day. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hitting a hybrid or long iron, either. Doing so won’t cost you strokes on your golf handicap. But hitting driver might give you a shot at a birdie.