For most of us, the driver is THE golf club. That is the one which the professionals use to hit that ball off the tee right down the fairway. This is where the glamour and the fun lies.
But then reality kicks in. If you have tried to use a driver, you will know that it is a hard club to control. So, what do you need to do? Our beginners guide to golf drivers will set you right.
What is a golf driver?
The driver is also called the number one wood. It will work alongside your swing to get the ball moving a long way. You are going to need to work on your swing as well as choosing a good driver. Try this video to get you started. It is a gentle introduction to the mystery of the golf swing.
Your golf swing will be very individual to you, and you should choose your driver based on how your swing develops.
The golf driver is a long club, the longest in your golf bag. It is the one you need to get a distance down the fairway. You need skill and control to use it well.
Some beginner golfers and golf coaches prefer to ignore the driver altogether. They will tell you that you do not need a driver when you start out. You will find some new golfers prefer to use a hybrid club and get a driver later in their golfing career.
Others say that you will never be a real golfer until you master a driver. They will advise that it is best to get started sooner rather than later.
There are golfing pros and cons on both sides of the argument. It is undoubtedly true that many players start out and enjoy the game without purchasing a driver. But I would advise that you do consider a driver reasonably early in your golfing life. Get used to the driver, and you will develop your game more quickly.
Using a driver well will enable you to hit the ball a long way. And if you are going to be a good golfer, you will need to do this. If you are a man you should be aiming to get the ball 230 yards down the fairway, if you are a woman a little less, about 200 yards. You are unlikely to make these distances when you start, but you are likely to need a driver to get there eventually.
The construction of the golf driver
Before you make your decision about whether or not to get a driver, it is worth understanding how it is constructed.
Golf club manufacturers have put a tremendous amount of work into the design and technology of drivers for beginners. All this work is to ensure that new golfers can use them more easily. The most noticeable aspect of this technology is the golf club head. In a nutshell, the bigger the head of the driver, the faster the ball will go. If you look around the market, you will notice there are some drivers out there with huge heads.
Make sure that your club is legal
Be very careful before you buy. There is a catch. Golf has rules, and you need to stick to them if you are going to advance in the game and eventually get a handicap. And one of the relevant regulations is the size of the head of the golf driver.
Most golfers will regard using an illegal driver as cheating, and you will get a bad reputation if you bring one to the golf course. Also, there is no point in getting practice with an easy to use, colossal, head driver if you are then going to have to change to a legal one later.
Remember, if you are going to play to get a handicap, or play in tournaments your golf clubs must adhere to the rules.
A legal or conforming driver is one which has been approved by one of two bodies. So, who makes the rules? Two bodies decide these things, one based in the United States and one based in Scotland, in the United Kingdom. The rules of the United States body, the United States Golf Association, or USGA, can be found here.
The British organization has a much better name. It is called The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (shortened to the R & A). Here is its website.
Both organizations enforce the same rules. They each publish a list of legal or conforming golf drivers on their websites. Just to be on the safe side check that the club you are thinking of buying is on their lists before you go ahead.
What do I need to look for in a driver?
You want a club which will give you the power behind your shot and this will give you speed and distance. Within the rules above, go for a big head on the club.
The maximum size of a clubhead on a legal club, also known as conforming club, is 460 cc. As a beginner go for the maximum or something very near this.
As well as giving you power, this will also give you a club with more forgiveness. Forgiveness is a bit of golf jargon which you will hear a lot. It means that if you mis-hit the ball, you still have a chance of getting the ball roughly where you want it. It is all to do with the size and location of the sweet spot on the club head. A big head on the club will give a bigger sweet spot. That is the place on the club where you need to connect with the ball to transfer maximum energy from your body to the club, to the ball.
There is so much technology which goes into making golf drivers more forgiving. The shape of the head is essential. The materials used are also crucial. And the flexibility on the shaft of the club matters a lot too.
Golf drivers are expensive items. But this is an area where it is worth spending. You get what you pay for and some advantages you need as a beginner are costly. For example, I would strongly advise you to get a titanium head on your driver. It will be lighter.
Weight matters with a golf driver as it is such a big club anyway. If you are going for a big head, and you should be, then this will add weight. So, a light construction is desirable. And this will usually be titanium. Lighter is better in the golf driver for a beginner. It means you can conserve energy and also get more control as you hit the ball.
The shaft of your driver should ideally be graphite or a graphite compound. I would strongly recommend graphite. When you are a beginner, you need a club which is not too stiff in the shaft as it will be easier to use.
Many professionals prefer a steel shaft because it is more precise than graphite. But at this stage, you will find a steel shaft hard to control, so it is better to go for graphite. The amount of flex you need depends on several factors. Your strength, your height and your weight as well as your skill level. I would recommend trying out clubs with a variety of flexes until you find the one which suits you.
Another factor to consider is the loft of the club. The loft is the angle of the head of the club. As a beginner, go for a high loft. In a driver, this will be an angle of around 10.5. However, the loft you choose will depend on the speed of your swing. If your swing is slower than average, then you can go up a bit to a higher loft. Say to an angle of twelve degrees.
You might be asking why the loft on the driver matters. It is all about getting the ball in the air. A high loft means the ball will rise high in a lovely curved arc. As a beginner, this is a good thing. It is the easiest way to get your ball to travel. As you develop your game, you will change. Then you will want to keep the ball lower which will then be faster. But for the moment aim to get the ball high.
Beginners guide to golf drivers be prepared to change
You might now be thinking that your first driver is probably not going to be your last. This is true. As you develop, you may want less flex, a smaller club head and a lower loft.
Welcome this when it happens. It is a sign that you are on your way to becoming an excellent golfer. And remember there is a lively second-hand market for golf clubs so you will get some of your money back.