The driver is the #1 club in your golf bag. But that doesn’t mean it should be your first choice to hit off the tee. It has the longest shaft of all the clubs and is the hardest to consistently hit well. Because it may give you the most distance you may may be tempted to use it on almost every hole (exceptions would be those short par 3s), but it is not always the smart club to choose.
When you step up to the tee box on the first hole of your round, consider your options. Most golfers, especially beginners, love to grab their driver and bang away at the ball, getting as far down the fairway as possible. But because the driver is the hardest club to hit, there’s a good chance that you may hit a slice or a hook and ended up somewhere other than the fairway. Unless you’ve been putting a lot of practice time in on the range, the smartest move might be to use your 3 wood off the tee, especially on a par 4 with a narrow fairway.
For example, if your first hole is a 274 yard par 4 and you typically hit your driver 180 – 200 yards, that would leave you with a 75-80 yard pitch shot to the green— provided your first shot lands on the fairway. If it doesn’t, which often happens with a driver, then you have trouble shots out of whatever bush you’ve hit into. If, on the other hand, you choose to use your 3-wood, a much easier club to hit, and you typically hit it 150 yards, you are left with a distance of 124 yards to the hole, which might just be the distance you can hit one of your long irons. You are still on the green in two (which on a par 4 is regulation), and with a lot less risk of landing in a gully.
The best time to use your driver is on those par 5s when there is a wide fairway, few trees and no pond to deal with. Otherwise, leave the driver in your bag, use your fairway woods, play smart and lower your score! If you are having trouble hitting your driver well, try using just your 3 wood off the tee during your next round of golf and see how things go.
The most important thing to remember when you use your 3 wood off the tee, is to set the tee to the right hand for your club. This video explains it all.
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To learn how to hit your golf driver read our previous post: The Right Way To Swing A Golf Driver
Do you play smart golf and sometimes leave your driver in your bag? Why or why not?