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Second Question: I tend to struggle off of the tee because my driver can send the ball in both directions (slice and hook). What scares the devil out of me is hitting a driver from a tree lined, narrow space tee box in order to get the ball to the fairway. I’d like to learn how to play a straight or at least straighter tee shot that will allow me to play from these tee boxes and also to help me drive better in general. What would you suggest I need to do? David W. Greenville, NC

Here’s some good news! With a little bit of practice time, you can likely learn to hit a fairly straight tee shot by making a few simple adjustments that will help match up key ball flight factors to give you a straight or fairly straight tee shot.

Simply utilize your knowledge of the D-Plane as you swing on a Driver horizontal swing plane of 45 degrees, while controlling your Angle of Attack, Club Swing Path, Clubface Orientation at Impact to create the perfect Horizontal and Vertical Launch conditions with just the right spin loft & spin axis to hit a perfectly straight shot! ☺

In English Please?

#1: Decide on what kind of ball flight (shot shape) you desire to hit BEFORE you swing.

So often, I have seen players fail at pulling off this intimidating golf shot because they never committed to what kind of ball flight they were going to hit. In essence they fail because they are playing the inner game of ‘hit and hope’. Tee shots played in this manner become like a box of Cracker Jacks, you never know what prize is going to come out of the box! When faced with a very narrow hitting zone you will want to hit the ball as straight or nearly straight as possible. But, you must commit to trying to play one of your three basic options (straight, a slight fade, or a slight draw) rather than swinging away without a particular ball flight in mind!

#2: Understand what’s important.

Science has proven that there are several ways to hit a straight shot. Assuming a centered impact on the driver face, the initial direction of the ball is dominated by the orientation of the clubface at impact (up to 85%!) with the clubhead swing path accounting for the other 15%. A centered impact is critical because off-center hits (toe/heel, high or low on face) bring a lot of other factors that will influence the resulting ball flight.

You simply need to have three basic elements match up to create the shot you desire. Those elements are:

  1. Clubface orientation at impact relative to swing path.
  2. Direction that the clubhead swing path is moving at impact relative to target line
  3. Angle of Attack (whether the club is swinging upward (+ angle) or downward (- angle) at impact.

#3: Tee Shot: Decide whether to swing Up vs. Down through the ball.

If you are like the vast majority of golfers who swing their Driver at a clubhead speed of less than 104mph, you should make sure that you are swinging your clubhead on an upward angle (+ angle) through the ball. I suggest that you try to swing approximately +3 degrees UP through your tee shot.

#4: Adjust your swing to allow key elements to Match Up for a straight shot.

Now that you are swinging your clubhead on an upward +3 degree angle, you should also match that with a clubhead swing path that is inside to out in relation to your target line by the same 3 degrees.

Your final adjustment will be to deliver a clubface orientation at impact that ‘zero’s out’ to create a straight or nearly straight ball flight.

#5 Practice your adjustments.

So how can golfer do this every time? Give yourself some time on the practice tee to work through these adjustments. If you are looking for a long-term solution vs. a short-term fix, please work through them ONE adjustment at a time and be patient to achieve the end result. Your diligent practice will allow you to learn on your own what to do and how it feels when you do it correctly. Now it’s time to trust what you have learned and take it to the golf course. Simply swing with a mind that is confident, ready, and committed to making a great shot.

5 Responses

  1. I am always tentative and tense whenever I hit driver. I hit my irons well and fairly consistent,but whenever it’s the driver and occasional fairway wood I get anxious and I get inconsistent with my shots with these clubs. I tend to hook most of the time and when I try to adjust then I fade it. Any suggestions you may have to correct this would be helpful. Thank you

  2. I’m a left handed driver and I can never hit the ball straight. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, the ball always slices to the left and goes into the woods. I just want to be a good golfer and not embarrassed to play. I also do the same with irons. 🙁

  3. John,

    Thank you for your question.
    Keeping the ball in play is the primary objective of every golfer. That’s a better goal than trying to hit it straight. Allow yourself a reasonable margin of error and you will start to enjoy the game again.
    Ball direction is specifically related to the position of the clubface at impact as it relates to the path the club is moving. As a lefty golfer who is hitting a sliced ball to the left, your clubface is aimed left of the path it is swinging through impact. Your immediate goal is to correct this clubface error.
    Knowing this I want you to learn club face awareness at impact by hitting bump and run chips with a lower lofted club like a pitching wedge, 9 iron, or 8 iron. Practice hitting with a flat back of the right wrist at impact and experiment with hitting chips straight, then feeling the club face open (pointed to the left) at impact hit chips to the left, then feeling the club face closed (pointed to the right) at impact hit chips to the right. These shots should go no more than 10 yards. Once you get the hang of changing direction on these short shots you will be able to start making bigger swings on the range using the same concept of trying to hit shots straight, left, and right. You said your driver miss is to the left so once you have better club face awareness I want you to feel the club face closing (pointing to the right) through impact as much as possible with the driver. You may start hitting it right but that’s a good thing because you were able to control the club face to make the golf ball travel that direction. Once you get good at hitting shots right you will need to then adjust the path the club is traveling through impact more to the left (with driver) and you will start to see straighter drives that stay in play!

    I hope this tip helps, keep us posted on your progress!


    Matthew Wallach
    Assistant Golf Professional at Duke University Golf Club

  4. Hello, I struggle with my 1 and 3 woods. In a practice session I can go from hitting it really good to really bad. When I hit it good it feels good in the back swing and feels like it sets good at the top. When I hit it bad it feels different as I take it away and does not get the good feel of setting at the top. Sometimes I hit it solid but push it way right, but more often it will hook into the ground at 50yrds due to a severely close club face. All my irons feels good and I hit the great. I have struggled with this for many years. I practice 3 to 4 times a week. I have taken many lessons and asked many people if they have heard of this and how to fix it. Thanks