10 Common Reasons Why You Can’t Hit Your Driver Well
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 13, 2023

Low loft golf drivers are an impressive piece of engineering. They are shaped to produce explosive ball speed and increased forgiveness for maximum driving distance and accuracy. Despite that, many amateurs struggle to launch a big stick.

In this post, I highlight 10 common reasons why you can’t hit your driver well.

There are countless reasons why you cannot make solid contact with a driver. However, it only takes a single error to unravel your setup.

I will pay special attention to the equipment specs, your grip, and distance. Besides highlighting the problem, I have provided solutions to improve your performance with this club.


1. Incorrect Loft

Before I bring out the errors of a driver swing, let us talk about your tools. You cannot achieve your desired launch angle, ball flight, and distance when you do not possess the correct equipment.

The first area of concern is the loft of your driver. If your clubface possesses less loft for your clubhead speed, you will struggle to consistently launch your shots. As a result, you lose, carry, and total distance off the tee.

Conversely, golfers with an accelerated driver club head speed may generate excess spin with a weaker lofted club face. Therefore, their golf ball achieves an abnormally high apex and lands softly, leading to a loss of total distance.

The majority of amateur golfers suffer from playing with strong lofts rather than with the weaker construction. I suggest carrying too much loft on your driver compared to too little.


2. Incorrect Shaft Flex

Like loft, your shaft flex is impacted by your swing speed. Golfers who generate rapid clubhead speed are best equipped for an extra stiff shaft. The reduced flex on your downswing boosts your control over the clubface position through impact. This enables these golfers to produce a straighter shot.

Moving along, we look at players averaging 97 to 104 mph of driver clubhead speed. True Spec Golf suggests that a stiff flex is a way to go. Most average male golfers fall into the category of a regular flex shaft. These are created for swing speeds between 84 to 96 mph.

Golfers who generate less than 84 mph of golf swing speed should contemplate a senior or ladies flex option. These constructions provide maximum flex to help slower swingers increase velocity for an optimal coefficient of restitution (COR) at impact.

My point is that if your shaft is too stiff for your swing, you will not produce sufficient ball speed and spin at contact. That causes your ball to launch low, costing you a significant distance off the tee. Contrarily, a lighter, flexible shaft causes faster swingers to initiate a higher spin and balloon their shots.


3. Longer Shaft

45.75-inches is the length of the average driver shaft, which is over 8-inches longer than a 7-iron. The reason I mention the 7-iron is to show the length’s contrast between the two. This variation requires a different ball position in your stance for a square clubface at impact position.

I will go into detail about ball position in a bit. For now, allow me to explain the other challenges of a longer shaft.

Most amateur golfers let their club rip rapidly from the top, which can throw off their swing tempo, leading to an unflattering smash factor.

Longer shafts are challenging to control, and your driver is the tallest of all of them. This lack of control can cause you to lose distance and slice or hook your golf ball all over the course. If your driver is not working, think about using a 5-wood or hybrid off the tee as a temporary solution.

Visiting a club-fitter to identify your ideal specs is the best approach for long-term fixes. They will address your issues and suggest the equipment that combats your mishits.


4. Heavier Clubhead Weight

On top of the longer shaft, a driver’s head is heavier than other clubs. On the bright side, it means you have a larger surface area to strike the ball and additional mass in the sole. Therefore, they contain a larger sweet spot to impart rapid speed onto the ball and reduce backspin.

However, the problem occurs between the top of your backswing and impact. Due to the added weight, you struggle to get the clubface into a square position for impact. Generally, this results in an open face at impact that produces a slice.


5. Your Grip Offers Limited Control of The Golf Club

Now that club specs are out of the way, let’s address the issue of your grip. This is where it goes wrong for the majority of amateurs. I am not talking about whether you use a Vardon, interlock, or baseball grip. I am referring to the number of knuckles you display at address.

Mark Crossfield explains that the strength of your grip impacts the point that your driver connects with your ball. For example, displaying 4 knuckles represents a strong grip. You need to manipulate your wrists at the top of the backswing to get your clubhead on plane for impact:

In addition, 2 to 3 knuckles represent a neutral grip. They are more comfortable for the average golfer to maintain control of the driver and optimize power and speed on the downswing.

Lastly, a weak grip is where 1 knuckle is visible. Crossfield suggests that you should bow your wrist to close the clubface to a square position with this grip.

A weak grip is expected to cause a fade or slice shot, whereas a sturdy grip can open you up to hooks. In addition, a neutral grip is the best setup to induce straight flight to spend more time on the fairway.

Therefore, think about weakening the grip if you are hooking your shots. Conversely, golfers renowned for slicing their shots may need to strengthen their hold on the golf club.


6. Incorrect Ball Position

Aside from grip, ball position is the biggest non-equipment reason for them missing the sweet spot.

Your driver is the longest club in your bag unless you carry a broomstick putter. This means you need to position the ball closer to your left heel if you are right-handed. As a result, you give yourself the time to square your clubface up for a straighter tee shot.

Aside from the length of the shaft, your golf ball is teed up. Therefore, you need to position the dimples to enable you to strike them on the up. The low point in your swing needs to occur a couple of inches behind the tee. This is to prepare your clubface to launch it high and long.

If you place the ball too far towards your back foot, you will produce a steep angle of attack, causing you to hit down on the ball. Unfortunately, most average golfers do not generate the power and velocity required to launch their ball far into the distance.

Contrarily, some golfers tee their ball up too far ahead of their front foot. This causes golfers to reach for the dimples, leading to their club’s sole bouncing off the turf before it gets near the ball. The likely outcome of this maneuver is a topped shot.


7. You Don’t Rotate Your Shoulders or Hips

Your driver shaft is longer, and the head contains added mass compared to the rest of your clubs. This means you should induce optimal hip and shoulder rotation during a full swing to get your driver on plane for impact.

Reduced rotation causes a loss of power and restricts your ability to produce the desired club path and swing plane. This results in a weak shot and a golf ball that veers off its target line.

When golfers remove rotation from their swings, they rely on their arms to guide the club and generate force. Typically prompting you to cast your club at the top of your swing and attack on an inside line. This leads to an open clubface at impact and a sliced shot.

If you struggle with rotation in your swing, you should review our guide on how much hip turn to induce. These tips simplify the process and help you correct the fundamentals of your lower body rotation.


8. You Lean Back Before Impact

Striking a golf ball with an upward angle of attack is a confusing motion for casual golfers to fathom. It is the opposite approach to every other shot we play. That is why many struggles with executing it.

One way golfers attempt to propel their clubface upward towards the ball is leaning back before impact. This sends the sole of your driver into the turf prior to the impact, leading to a topped shot and lost yardage.

The most common cause of this action originates from the lack of weight transfer from your trail leg to your lead leg. By keeping the weight on your back foot, it prompts you to fall back, and the club bottoms out early,

Rotation is grueling to master. However, if you follow the tips I have provided, you will be capable of enhancing your power, accuracy, and consistency.

In addition, you should review our 9 best shoulder turn drills to ensure that you are executing the task efficiently.


9. You Overswing

This is a challenge I faced for over a decade. Whenever I pulled out the big stick, I had a tendency to lose my mind and attempt to smash the plastic off the ball.

I took my club too far back, which caused it to fly off path at the top of the swing. From there, it was impossible to bring it on plane for contact. The outcome was, more often than I wanted, a nasty slice that propelled my ball well right side off my target.

After years of erratic tee shots, my new coach at the time suggested shortening my backswing. He proposed that this would help me keep the driver on plane and increase the consistency of my strike. I tried it, and it worked like a charm. The downside was that I lost distance, but I would happily sacrifice 10 to 15-yards for accuracy.

I’m not the only one with this problem. I see it frequently with amateurs looking to swing like Kyle Berkshire and accelerate their clubhead speed. However, they do not produce sufficient rotation and fail to keep their clubhead on the path, leading to an inaccurate drive.

Work on shortening your swing at the driving range, and focus on keeping your clubface square through impact. It is astonishing how much more fun golf is when you are playing your second shot from the fairway.

If you find it difficult to stop your backswing ¾ of the way back, try to slow it down. A slower swing makes you more conscious of your club’s position to stop it at the precise moment.


10. You Hit Down on The Ball

The final reason why you may struggle with a driver is that you hit down on the ball. This is the natural approach for shots with your irons and wedges. However, a driver carries a longer shaft and is made to hit teed up golf balls.

If you place it too far back in your stance you are bound to attack the ball from a steep angle. Instead of connecting the ball on the up, you hit down on it, reducing the loft of the clubface. As a result, the low point of your swing comes directly after impact rather than before.

Although this works for some professional golfers, it is not the recommended approach for amateurs. With this setup, you should generate maximum clubhead and ball speed to launch the ball long. That is no problem for professionals who catch the center of the clubface more than amateurs.

When you find yourself hitting down on the golf ball, its position in your stance. Move it towards the inside heel of your lead foot to give you the space to catch it cleanly on the upswing. That will helps you hit your driver consistently high and long.


Additional Reading: Those who can strike their 1-wood but lack consistency should read about our 20-driving tips for longer, straighter results.


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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8