Leave Your Golf Driver In Your Bag?

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.

Using a driver off the tee.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?

  6 comments for “Leave Your Golf Driver In Your Bag?

  1. December 21, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    After finding no success using my driver, I have decided to just leave it out of bag and use it only for practicing for improvment in technique. I also found my irons much easier to use.

    • January 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      The pros and instructors are always telling me the driver is the hardest club to master. So if you find your woods are working for you, I say, go for it and leave the driver in the bag!

  2. Jim North
    October 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    My wife and I are avid tennis players, but about five years ago as my knees started to suffer from pounding the hard courts, I started to golf. A couple of years ago I convinced my wife to join me, “Come on baby, the water’s fine!” As she started to play I noticed that she struggled with her driver, and based on her athleticism on the tennis court I knew she was not getting her full potential with her driver. In fact, she probably hit her 7 iron off the tee as far as her driver.

    For the first year we just worked on making solid contact and building confidence getting up and down the fairways. In the second year, she joined a weekly league and got a ton of experience playing with her friends (new and old), and received a lot of advice from them. However, despite gaining a lot of skill with her irons, wedges, and hybrids, her driver continued to be a problem.

    It seemed curious to me that her driver was the only club in the bag that she really struggled with, so to make a long story a little shorter, we ran down to the local golf shop with a shot trajectory range thingy, and spent the time to go through several drivers identified as ladies models – lighter more flexible shafts, etc. The results were amazing. She picked up nearly 50 yards off the tee and started slamming them down the middle of the fairway. Suddenly, she was the long driver in the group even when she was playing with ladies in the A, B, and C groups (she is currently a ‘D’ player).

    Since then, she went on to win her D division in her league, and her emphasis has shifted away from improving her game off the tee to her short game. Besides being proud of my wife and loving the fact that we now have a sport to look forward to when we can no long hobble around a tennis court together, I believe that equipment matters. While I don’t believe it is necessary to try to ‘buy’ golf skills, I do believe it is necessary to be observant enough to tell when equipment is a limiting factor. This can be a little tricky, and people can feel ‘false positives’ at the golf shop only to get out on the course and have the same old problems. No equipment is a substitute for solid mechanics. But I would encourage any player who is stifled by a single aspect of their game to at least consider that their limitations may be equipment related.

    • Pat
      October 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks Jim for sharing your story. It’s really true that the wrong equipment can mess up your game. When something isn’t working, best to have it checked out, get an objective opinion, and try options. Congrats to your wife on her tenacity and success!

  3. mel4t
    August 11, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I’m a newbie to golf. I’ve tried to use my driver but am getting nowhere fast. So I don’t even keep it in my bag. Working on using my irons which are easier to hit. I don’t go too far, but at least I hit straight. How long does it take to get good at the driver?

    • Pat Mullaly
      August 12, 2010 at 9:36 am

      Mel – don’t despair of using your driver. Practice at the range using all your clubs, including the driver. Take a lesson focused on the driver alone. You will see improvement. Guaranteed.

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