Tips on Hitting Driver From the Fairway

Rickie Fowler uses his driver from the fairway during the 2016 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Hitting driver from the fairway - a k a, hitting driver off the deck - is a specialized shot that you don't see much anymore even among the best golfers, and is a shot that mid- and high-handicappers have a lower chance of pulling off successfully.

Reasons That Hitting Driver Off the Deck Is a Tough Shot

The reasons we say that are these:

1. Driver is the toughest club in the bag to hit for mid- and high-handicappers, even when the ball is teed up. It's much, much more difficult to successfully hit a driver when the ball is sitting on the ground.

2. And driver clubheads have gotten much larger. Back when driver clubheads were below 200cc in size, the odds of making good with a driver off the fairway were much better. Remember that the original Big Bertha driver was only 190cc in size. Today, most drivers are 450cc or higher. That huge size makes putting the face of the driver onto the golf ball in a good position so much harder when the ball is sitting on the ground rather than on a tee.

So, as that intro should tell you, hitting driver off the deck is a very difficult shot and one that recreational golfers should probably stay away from. But, hey, we all enjoy trying to pull off those high-degree-of-difficulty shots, we all want to "take a shot" at those shots, so to speak. So what's the technique?

How to Hit Driver Off the Deck

1. Set up to the ball with the ball forward in your stance. Play the ball slightly more forward than you would for a teed-up driver.

2. Align a little bit left of the target (for a right-handed golfer); the ball position and driver loft will work to create a fade ball flight, so accommodate that. (If you are someone whose normal shot is a draw or - gasp! - a hook, set up with an open stance.)

3. Choke up a little on the driver, this will help add a little more control.

4. Make a smooth swing - don't try to kill it, don't overswing.

How to Optimize Your Chance of Success When Hitting Driver Off the Fairway

1. Only try driver off the fairway if the green you are aiming at is open in front, to allow the ball to roll up.

2. If you are not a low-handicapper, then only try driver off the ground if the hole is clear of major trouble up ahead (water, nasty rough).

3. Never try to hit driver off the deck if your ball is on a downslope or is sitting down. The odds of success are much, much better when the ball is sitting up nice and high, and is on an upslope.

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