Hit Up to Kill the Driver!

The driver is unlike all the other clubs in your bag—you really don’t want to hit down on the ball at all. In fact, the average Angle of Attack (AoA) on the PGA Tour is 1.2 downward, but Rory McIlroy hits up 2-3 degrees and Bubba Watson hits up 5 degrees and they KILL it! The AoA is simply a measurement of whether the club head is moving upward or downward through impact. Hit up 1 In the photo, my student is working on the Towel Drill to help him stop hitting down on the ball. The driver doesn’t work well when you’re hitting down on the ball with it—just ask Tiger how that’s going. This student was hitting down as much as 7 degrees, causing all kinds of problems with ball flight control. But there’s more. You can lose as much as 5 yards of carry for every degree you hit down on the ball. So unless your club speed is really high, hitting down is a very bad idea, indeed. I rolled up a towel and placed it about one foot ahead of the ball and said, “okay, don’t hit the towel!” Well, as you might expect, the towel went flying the first couple of shots. Then I added a bit of instruction, “raise your belt buckle as far away from the ground as possible and stretch your left shoulder as far away from the ball as possible, and do so well before impact.”   Hit up 2This photo  shows fantastic execution of both moves, and as a result, his AoA improved dramatically to .6 upward. His ball flight also straightened out considerably. He is on his way to becoming a great driver of the ball. And, as a very, very good iron player, Look Out when he gets that driver working! The Towel Drill (plus the simple instructions concerning how to miss the towel) is a very effective way to improve your driving distance and accuracy. If you’d like to hit it farther and straighter, get to it!

Hit ‘em Great!

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4 Responses to “Hit Up to Kill the Driver!”

  1. Don SterkelMay 10, 2015 at 4:04 PM #

    Thanks for a great tip on using towel drill to increase AA on tee shots. I’m 72, with 90 swing speed, but only 200 due to -3 and across -5. Will be working on this. Very practical and easy to practice.

    • John DuniganMay 11, 2015 at 1:08 PM #

      Don, very happy to help! You might want to take some practice swings that go right over top of the ball and slightly out to the right. A whiff. Then try to recreate the same up and out feel and pick the ball cleanly off the tee.


  2. JPAugust 12, 2016 at 7:46 AM #

    HI, I just stumbled upon your website and really find it very helpful. Can you pair this article and your article on foot pressure to answer a question? Clearly, your student is in best pos’n there. I’m a 3hdcp and on 3w through wedge hit very straight and long as I get to my left foot and heel very well and square the club easily. With the driver, that doesn’t work. Should I ‘hang back’? Does the foot pressure still get left? If so, how to get left and a positive aoa? Basically, I hit huge blocks or I hang back and spin out/flip, which hurts my right foot….Thanks in advance for helping! You’re articles are very informative.

    • John DuniganAugust 17, 2016 at 7:42 AM #

      Hanging back to hit up is dangerous. It can cause the path to move left and the face to move left as well. Bad combination. Perhaps you are getting left too early on your driver? That said, many pressure traces with the driver “back up” meaning that there is an unweighting of the lead foot and or an extra push from the trail foot causing the pressure to move backward in what we call a power trace. It’s important to know that pressure and weight are totally different. You can have the weight forward while the pressure is not as in what I’ve described above. You can improve the AoA by using your legs to push into the ground and lift your belt higher as you approach impact. You can make sure your chest is rising up to the finish like nearly all tour players. And you can use the path of your hands pull the handle up, from low to high through impact.

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