By Paul Myers
Are you a golfer that automatically reaches for the driver as soon as you get to the tee on a par four or par five? It’s okay to admit it – you are certainly among the majority. However, you might be better served to employ a two-golf-club approach to your game off the tee. When you have two options, your driver and one other club (even another driver designed for a different type of shot), you may be more able to make good decisions and get your ball in play in an ideal position as often as possible. Sure you may sacrifice some distance by using another golf club on some holes, but as long as you aren’t giving up too much distance you can be rewarded with better accuracy and fewer balls in trouble or lost for penalty shots.
Picking which golf club you are going to use as your other primary driving club should be pretty easy. The two most obvious options are either your three wood, or your favorite hybrid golf club. The three wood will provide the most distance of all of your other clubs aside from the driver, while you might have the better control over the hybrid. Think about your comfort level with either of these clubs and decide on the one that you like best.
If you want to do a second driver, you might build one for a fade and one for a draw, one for distance and one for accuracy, etc.
When do you pull the driver?
Of course, you may still want to hit your driver(s) as frequently as possible while making good decisions. You don’t have to shy away from hitting the driver all round long, but be smart about it at the same time. On a short par four with a narrow fairway, there really is nothing gained by hitting the driver, so why take the risk when there’s a great chance of getting in trouble? Use your other golf club and get the ball safely in play to set up a good approach shot.
A good rule of thumb for making golf club decisions off the tee is looking at what you will gain by hitting the driver, and work backward from there. The most obvious answer is distance, so on long holes, the driver will usually be the right choice. As long as you have enough room to hit the driver comfortably, and have a little margin for error with your target, swing away with confidence.
Not All Driver Swings are the Same
In addition to using another golf club off the tee from time to time based on the kind of hole that you are playing, you should also understand that not every driver swing has to be 100% max effort. In fact, you would benefit from taking some less-aggressive swings with your driver on holes where you don’t need your full distance to set up a good approach. Practice on the driving range taking swings at something less than full speed to get used to the idea of hitting an ‘easy’ driver down the fairway.
For that matter, possibly no golfer can swing at 100% and hit the ball consistently well. Maybe going 90-95% would be better. Some professional speed golfers can hit their drivers at many speeds. They don’t carry a full bag of clubs, so they need to be able to hit the driver at different distances. It’s a good skill to have.
Anyway, you don’t have to have a huge repertoire off the tee, but even just having one additional golf club (beyond your driver) that you are comfortable with or being able to hit the driver at various speeds could be a huge help. That way, when you step on each par four or par five tee, you can pick the best shot, pick a target, and hit a smart shot.
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