When you visit a driving range, the golf club you see most often is the driver. You constantly hear the ping of the balls as they smack off the face of the latest high-tech howitzer. On the course, the driver is probably the second most used club (after the putter), but it’s a difficult club to be consistent with.
It’s hard to hit a driver straight and true because of the length of the club and the low loft. Even the most accurate driver on tour—presently Graeme McDowell—only hits the fairway 71 percent of the time. The hundredth-ranked professional player hits the fairway 59 percent of the time. This means than most accomplished amateur golfers, the guys on the range repeatedly practicing with their drivers, are probably hitting the fairway less than 50 percent of the time.
Since the success rate is so low, confidence can quickly erode, leading a player to tinker with his or her swing. Continuously working on a swing with the lowest percentage club can also affect other clubs, pushing a player into a downward spiral.
The best way to practice with the driver is to hit a set of 10 balls, measuring accuracy on an imaginary fairway. If you achieve a score of seven or higher, put your driver away and move on to another area of your game. If your score is lower and unsatisfactory, change to an easier club—such as a 7 or 8 iron—and continue hitting balls.
Work on your feel for the swing and restore your confidence by making adjustments to your fundamentals. Once you’re hitting the ball nicely, try another round of 10 drives. Keep alternating until you achieve a score of seven with the driver. You will find practicing with your driver less frustrating, and you will build a better driving game instead of destroying your confidence.