The Driver

I figured it made sense to get this fortnight long segment off by starting with the club that people place most importance on, have the most trouble with and something I am known the most for.

I thought a lot about this and went back and looked at the ESPN telecast from when I won the National Long Drive Championship and I was reminded of what I was thinking.

Let me digress by stressing the importance of something that comes very natural to me. In hitting a driver straight and far, I can’t say enough about the importance of balance. My winning swing had too much arm swing, was off plane and I had a huge lateral move. However, I was in perfect balance, which allowed me to hit the ball straight under the immense pressure and very high club head speed.

This brings me to my second point of what I was thinking when I hit the winning drive and it goes along with my stance against “just swinging easy.” I had just hit my third ball in play and took the lead. There was one hitter left and I wanted to get one way out there to make it tougher for the last guy to beat me, so I was going to swing as hard as I could. I had one thought and one thought only.

“Let the club set before you change direction.” I thought back on every great drive and every bad drive I hit under pressure and there was a common factor. The good ones had good tempo where I set the club…the bad ones had bad tempo where my change of direction was poor.

This is on the subject of tempo. You can swing as hard as you want as long as your swing is in tempo. Tempo doesn’t mean a slow back swing (which I find horrible). Good tempo just means your swing has a rhythm to it. It can be fast or slow, but an ultra slow back swing usually creates bad tempo as the transition at the top is too fast.

Each individual must find the proper tempo that works for them. Ultra slow back swings and “just hit it easy” down swings cause terrible tempo and too much control of the club with the hands. You will all need to find your own pace, but I like to use the 1-2 beat of a grandfather clock pendulum.

To prove my point about slow back swings and “just hit it easy” down swings being bad, just look at all the PGA Tour players with the best tempo.

Off the top of my head, Fred Couples, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have beautiful tempos. None of them have ultra slow back swings and all three of them take a good hard swing at it.

To sum up. You can swing as hard as you want at driver as long as you have two factors. Good balance and good tempo. Good tempo doesn’t mean a slow back swing or an easy down swing. It means a good transition form back swing to down swing.

Balance and Tempo are the big ones, but setup issues can be an issue as well. Many, many people setup with bad posture. Bad posture will not allow you to turn properly. There are three main ones you need to check in the mirror. One, You want your spine to be fairly straight and not rounded. In other words, you want the back of your head and your tailbone to be almost a straight line. Two, you don’t want your shoulders to be too rounded like they would be if you reached too far for the ball, nor do you want them up in your ears. Roll them back and down and you will be able to turn better and you won’t be as sore after playing golf. Three, because of the way you grip the club, one hand is lower than the other on the club. If you are right handed, the right hand is lower on the club, so to be in a neutral position, your right shoulder needs to be lower at address. A large % of golfers address the ball with shoulders that are parallel to the ground (The above paragraph pretty much applies to all clubs except putter).

I have had ball position issues the last few years, playing the ball too far back in my stance. That is a band aid that I am not alone in using. It is my opinion that somewhere between the instep and heel is the proper place to hit driver.

I also see issues with people trying to help the ball in the air and don’t turn their shoulders level. Go back in the archives of “instruction and advice” on the right side of the page and find the posts on level shoulder turn. Not having a level shoulder turn is the biggest physical mistake people make in trying to hit driver.

Oh yea and read the posts on releasing the club properly, that is the one thing I am working on right now.

The last and most important thought. DO NOT work on all of these things at once. Working on one thing at a time is how you get better at golf. Start with balance, move on to tempo, then worry about moving on to setup and swing changes.




  1. meateater

    Do you play an OEM driver or a custom one? Do you work with a launch monitor? How crucial do you think shaft selection is?

    • Monte Scheinblum

      I have a Titleist that was custom made by their tour department. I have worked with a Launch monitor, but feel I can judge spin and launch angle adequately enough by looking at the ball flight.

      Shaft is CRUCIAL.

  2. Big Ben

    What is the best way to figure out what the ideal shaft might be? I know most good players play an Stiff or Extra Stiff shaft. I know I am a stiff shaft, however without going thru countless shafts and spending a fortune, what’s the best way for me to figure out what weight might be best, and what type of stiff shaft might be best??

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Go to a demo day of a major manufacturer at your local course and they will have drivers with more shafts than you’ll be able to try. You will find a flex and brand you will like.

    • tweaky

      As a clubfitter/maker I must insist that the BEST way to find the right shaft is to go to a clubfitter/maker who does their own independent testing or is at least familiar and understanding of the way shaft profiling works. Demo days are fine but only if you buy the club that you just hit so well, not another LIKE it, I mean THAT PARTICULAR ONE YOU ARE HOLDING IN YOUR HANDS THAT YOU JUST HIT.

      • Monte Scheinblum

        That’s actually an excellent point. Thank you for contributing. For the last 20 years I have just been able to go to the manufacturer I was on staff with hit 4 or 5 drivers they setup for me and used the one I liked best. I’m Spoiled.

  3. torpet

    A couple of things on learning: Work on one thing at a time, you say. It isn’t easy to ‘let go’ of a specific issue you’ve been working on for some time, I’ve found. In your experiece; if one drops an issue and starts working on another, will enough of the first ‘move’ stay when one starts working on another? Henry Cotton (the British champion player/teacher of yesterday) used to say that eventually you will start overdoing whatever ‘fix’ your’e working on.

    On learning how to hit irons: Most golfers have a problem hitting the ball in such a manner that a divot is taken after impact. I have this problem myself. ‘Hit down on the ball’ everyone says. I’ve found that this makes my hands ‘lock up’. When I tell myself ‘to let the club come from from above’ I hit it better. Any comments on this?

    Your blog agenda for the coming fortnight looks very promising. I’ll collect all items in a special folder for easy access in the future.

    PS As you already have understood my first language isn’t English.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      I think your English is excellent, I would not have noticed if you didn’t tell me.

      I agree with Henry Cotton on overdoing things.

      You have to be monitored or monitor yourself. You only need to work on something until your muscle memory takes it on as natural. That is when you will start to overdo it as Henry Cotton said. The amount of time will vary.

      If your hands lock up when you hit down you are not starting your release soon enough.

      In my experience, as soon as I adopted the “work on one thing at a time” method is when I started to lose all of my bad habits and play better again. That was this year.


Leave a Reply

Share This