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How Much do You Prioritize Driver Practice?


Hugh Jars
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This thread is pretty good at a starting point for practice ratios. 

 

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Unless you count Speed Sticks, or exercise aimed at distance, I pretty much don't practice driver explicitly.  Every now and then I'll hit 2-3 tee shots on the driving range when I go to one for practice, and that's mostly checking my setup.   I really can't hit anything longer than a hybrid in my indoor practice area, so 4W and driver (despite being so many shots in a round, not that that's the metric that matters) end up not getting practiced.  Yet I hit them well enough.

As for how much you should... well, your long game should be about 2/3 of your practice.  See the link from @saevel25 above.  That one gets it right.

-- Michael | My swing! 

"You think you're Jim Furyk. That's why your phone is never charged." - message from my mother

Driver:  Titleist 915D2.  4-wood:  Titleist 917F2.  Titleist TS2 19 degree hybrid.  Another hybrid in here too.  Irons 5-U, Ping G400.  Wedges negotiable (currently 54 degree Cleveland, 58 degree Titleist) Edel putter. 

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Kinda depends. If you can't get off the tee, you're starting every hole IN the hole, so to speak. Very little chance at GIR and nGIR.

But I know some people who only love to hit drivers at the range, and others who never do.

How much exactly depends on a lot of factors. But, the answer is "not exclusively" and "not never."

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@Andy Capped That's a very good question. It forces me to think about my practice schedule. 

Currently I've been working on my driver a lot. When I'm hitting it well, I usually just hit the last 5 balls of every practice session into an imaginary "Fairway". I try to get 5 out of 5 into my imaginary fairway. That's usually enough. But if my driver gets squirrelly I will practice it more often. Which is where I am right now. 

This off-season will be another off-season of speed-training for me. 

@saevel25 linked a great thread about practice above. 


If I'm honest I'd say my practice breaks down like this. 

  • 75% approach shots. 
  • 20% putting.
  • 3% driving
  • 2% chipping 
  • 0% non-full-shot wedge play
  • 0% sand shots

Which is not to say that's the proper thing to do. That just happens to be what I do. Oddly, my sand shots are normally pretty okay. Even though I devote exactly zero time to practicing them. My driver has streaks where its really good and streaks where its a total disaster. Lately its been getting more practice time as I'm trying to improve it. (Seems to be paying off). I really should devote some time to my wedges. There's probably definitely some low-hanging fruit there. 

Again, good topic 👍

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13 hours ago, Andy Capped said:

And how much should we?

 

Depends on how you're doing, and what you need to work on, what are you thinking needs work? Me lately I've been holding back on driver full swing due to keeping reps down with an injury.  So my driver practice lately has been very short sessions, focused primarily on control

My goal is to be the old guy who frustrates the heck outta people by hitting it 230 yds down the middle of the fairway every single time. Said only partially in jest.

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53 minutes ago, mohearn said:

My goal is to be the old guy who frustrates the heck outta people by hitting it 230 yds down the middle of the fairway every single time. Said only partially in jest.

Of course you're kidding here;  we all know your goal is really to be the old guy who frustrates us all by hitting it 250 yards down the middle of the fairway ;-) 

-- Michael | My swing! 

"You think you're Jim Furyk. That's why your phone is never charged." - message from my mother

Driver:  Titleist 915D2.  4-wood:  Titleist 917F2.  Titleist TS2 19 degree hybrid.  Another hybrid in here too.  Irons 5-U, Ping G400.  Wedges negotiable (currently 54 degree Cleveland, 58 degree Titleist) Edel putter. 

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Realistically it depends on your current swing and golf game. If your drives are costing you lots of strokes, either in penalties or because you're stuck having to "recover" from a bad drive the majority of the time it could seem obvious that you should practice with a driver more. The problem is that this answer of, "practice with a driver if your driver costs you strokes" isn't even necessarily universally correct.

If the driver problems are caused by a major swing flaw that is present throughout your entire bag then a lot of the time it's easier to start fixing that problem swinging shorter clubs that are easier to control. I personally find swing changes easiest to make if I start by hitting a wedge or short iron at 50% effort focusing almost entirely on how the corrected motion feels, utilizing frequent video feedback to make sure what I'm working on is actually corrected, then work my way up to higher intensity swings and longer clubs from there. This means if I'm having driver problems caused by an obvious swing flaw I like to start with a shorter club to work on the desired change more efficiently and give myself a better foundation to work from rather than pounding away with a driver using incorrect mechanic. I still will hit my longer clubs (usually including the driver) towards the end of a range session to see how any progress I've made translates throughout the entire bag, but if making significant changes I will continue to focus heavily on clubs that are easier for me to control and correct until the changes are well ingrained. 

Generally speaking though it won't hurt your tee shots to have more practice with intent while swinging a driver, but it won't necessarily be the best or more efficient path to improving your golf game. The key there is that practicing with intent will give faster and larger results than mindlessly beating balls until you're tired. If you're working to fix something in your swing you need to focus on fixing the swing instead of how well or poorly you're hitting the ball. Utilize frequent video feedback because feel isn't real and most people are walking around with a 120fps or better video camera in their pocket nowadays. Focus on the process even if it means hitting shots that look, feel, and objectively are bad during the process of making an improvement because it will usually get worse for at least a couple swings (and sometimes a lot of swings) before it gets better.

Practicing with intent is easy once you get the hang of it, but the hard part of figuring out exactly what you should be practicing is the reason that GOOD golf instructors are so valuable. Anybody can look at their golf swing and spot the differences between it and Adam Scott or other pros with really good looking swings, but it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to assess a golfer's current swing and game to accurately determine what the top priority for that golfer's practice should be. That's why it's impossible to give one universal answer to how much you should practice with a driver, because that answer is different for everybody and it depends on your swing, what works best for you when changing your swing, and the overall strengths and weaknesses of your golf game as a whole.

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I stick to the 65/20/15 ratio. I very rarely work on my driver individually. I normally work on something in my swing and I move throughout my bag working on all my clubs. That being said I spend much more time working on my short irons than I do on my longer clubs. 

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There are more qualified people who have already responded in this thread about overall practice, but I think you should prioritize practicing the driver if you have a short warm-up before a round. Like if you hit 15-20 balls (as I often do), I prioritize the driver because it's going to give me the best prediction of my ball flight that particular day. As far as overall practice goes, I'll defer to other answers.

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On 8/10/2022 at 12:13 PM, mohearn said:

My goal is to be the old guy who frustrates the heck outta people by hitting it 230 yds down the middle of the fairway every single time. Said only partially in jest.

Damn, I could've written that :-$

As for the OP's question: I don't.  Or, more accurately: Won't.  Currently training to rebuild my swing from the ground up. Only difference between driver and irons is setup: The ball placed somewhat more forward--off the heel of my lead foot, and a slight upper-body lean away from the target. Swing is the same. So, if I'm hitting my irons the way I want, I should be hitting my driver the way I want.

 

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4 hours ago, SEMI_Duffer said:

Only difference between driver and irons is setup: The ball placed somewhat more forward--off the heel of my lead foot, and a slight upper-body lean away from the target. Swing is the same. So, if I'm hitting my irons the way I want, I should be hitting my driver the way I want.

I wish this was the case for me. being just shy of 5'-9" I find that the driver swing is much different that say my PW. With the PW I am standing much closer to the ball and my swing plane is more vertical. My driver seems much more horizontal and I also work to hit up on it. Maybe I am too 1-plane? I know it might be a little off-topic.

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18 hours ago, Carl3 said:

I wish this was the case for me. being just shy of 5'-9" I find that the driver swing is much different that say my PW. With the PW I am standing much closer to the ball and my swing plane is more vertical. My driver seems much more horizontal and I also work to hit up on it. Maybe I am too 1-plane? I know it might be a little off-topic.

The swing is mostly the same. What you’re describing are setup changes.

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I don't because I'm not back to that point yet. I'm re-working my swing from years past. I'm still working with my irons.  I can poke it down the middle and keep up with guys spraying the fairways if I have to.  But I'm not planning any competition until I've got the driver working well again too.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Wade Patton said:

I don't because I'm not back to that point yet. I'm re-working my swing from years past. I'm still working with my irons.

I'm in the process of re-working my swing from the ground up and I'm not even back to swinging anything, yet.

Had the neighbor that got me into golf ask me, yesterday, "Have you gotten out yet?"  "Nope."  "You need to get out there."  "Nope.  Did that last year, before I was ready, and you remember what a train wreck that was, right?" He had to concede the point :-$

But I do expect that, once I have my swing right, it'll be as right for my driver as it is for my irons. It is my firm belief the reason a lot of people have so much trouble with their driver is because they expect trouble with their driver and it becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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On 8/12/2022 at 2:36 PM, Carl3 said:

I wish this was the case for me. being just shy of 5'-9" I find that the driver swing is much different that say my PW. With the PW I am standing much closer to the ball and my swing plane is more vertical.

Far be it from me to try to tell somebody with a 6 HC how to swing a club :-$, but that seems... wrong to me. If your clubs' shaft lengths are suitable for you, your being 5'9" should be no different than my being 6'4". (Except I'll get more club head speed--all else being equal.)

As for swing plane: I'm currently still in training to rebuild my swing from the ground up, but my belief is my swing plane should be the same regardless of the iron?

Yes, the ball will be closer for my PW than it will be for my 5i, but in each case I take the club straight back to P2 (take-away), then (ideally) begin to fire my hips and legs while my torso continues to rotate back.  I don't raise the club, so much as it follows my arms, which follow my torso, which, because of my stance, makes it appear I'm "raising" the club.

 

On 8/12/2022 at 2:36 PM, Carl3 said:

My driver seems much more horizontal and I also work to hit up on it. Maybe I am too 1-plane? I know it might be a little off-topic.

Again: I'm certainly no authority on swing motion, but it is my understanding it should not be necessary to work to hit up on the ball with a driver? Difference from swinging an iron is you start, during setup, with a slight torso tilt away from the target and otherwise swing the same. That, combined with the ball being further forward and up on a tee, should result in hitting up on the ball, using the same swing as with irons, without having to consciously work to do so?

If I've any of this wrong, I'm sure somebody will be along shortly to show me the errors in my thinking :-$

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Prioritising driver practice in the last 4 weeks or so is part of a practice plan I've been implementing to get better. And I really feel its starting to pay off. I just had my best ever round of 9 holes yesterday evening with a 40 (daily handicap is 15 at this course so its not particularly challenging), and on the weekend I broke 90 for the first time in competition with a 89 and 35 stableford points (playing handicap 17).

I went through a period of months using my woods off the tee, but after doing a lot of reading into strokes gained and similar stats I'm now convinced in the merit of gaining distance off the tee as opposed to just focusing on hitting fairways. 

My driving hasn't been amazing, I'm hitting less 40% of fairways, but most of the time its staying in play or at least giving me a chance of advancing my second shot closer to the hole, and overall is giving me a better scoring average per hole compared to my woods. My good drives are getting around 240m down there, compared to about 200m with my 3 wood. I'll keep working on my driver with a lot of block practice as I feel this is the best way to utilise range time - simulating tee box conditions is a lot more attainable on the range than continually playing approach shots off a perfect lie, which Im finding has much less transfer to my actual game.

Correlating to my scoring improvements has also been putting in hours of short game practice. Im making more up and down, and am not afraid to miss the green anymore. This has also been huge.

So at the moment my practice can be divided up like this:

Driver: 50%

Approach shots: 15%

Short game: 35%

Putting: to be honest - 0% lol. In fact, Ive felt just not overthinking my putting has helped me.

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27 minutes ago, Andy Capped said:

Prioritising driver practice in the last 4 weeks or so is part of a practice plan I've been implementing to get better. And I really feel its starting to pay off. I just had my best ever round of 9 holes yesterday evening with a 40 (daily handicap is 15 at this course so its not particularly challenging), and on the weekend I broke 90 for the first time in competition with a 89 and 35 stableford points (playing handicap 17).

I went through a period of months using my woods off the tee, but after doing a lot of reading into strokes gained and similar stats I'm now convinced in the merit of gaining distance off the tee as opposed to just focusing on hitting fairways. 

My driving hasn't been amazing, I'm hitting less 40% of fairways, but most of the time its staying in play or at least giving me a chance of advancing my second shot closer to the hole, and overall is giving me a better scoring average per hole compared to my woods. My good drives are getting around 240m down there, compared to about 200m with my 3 wood. I'll keep working on my driver with a lot of block practice as I feel this is the best way to utilise range time - simulating tee box conditions is a lot more attainable on the range than continually playing approach shots off a perfect lie, which Im finding has much less transfer to my actual game.

Correlating to my scoring improvements has also been putting in hours of short game practice. Im making more up and down, and am not afraid to miss the green anymore. This has also been huge.

So at the moment my practice can be divided up like this:

Driver: 50%

Approach shots: 15%

Short game: 35%

Putting: to be honest - 0% lol. In fact, Ive felt just not overthinking my putting has helped me.

I'm glad you see the virtue of distance over fairways.  The latter are overrated, and as your full swing improves (good on you for focusing on full swing with 65% of your practice, that's about the right fraction), you'll get those fairways, too, as your dispersion will decrease, even with the longer shot ... and that's ignoring that your driver is probably more forgiving than your fairway woods. 

I do want ask something about the fourth paragraph.  Since you're practicing driver, I would bet your iron shots are improving too, even more than the 15% practice time you're putting in (since you're still working on full swing 65% of the time, and that's assuming none of your "short game" practice is full swing mechanics).  Are your misses getting better, relative to where they were from the same distance in the recent past?  I'll bet they are.   I would also bet that as your full swing improves (and as you're closer to the green on your second shot than you were when hitting non-driver off the tee), you're getting better at missing the green in a preferred spot.  

Congrats on the first sub-90 round in competition.  That's always a special moment.  

Andy has this figured out -- which makes us all happy.  Anyone else reading this far that isn't sure what I meant about practice time, please check out the thread linked in the second post of this thread (the "65/20/15 rule"). 

Edited by Shindig
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-- Michael | My swing! 

"You think you're Jim Furyk. That's why your phone is never charged." - message from my mother

Driver:  Titleist 915D2.  4-wood:  Titleist 917F2.  Titleist TS2 19 degree hybrid.  Another hybrid in here too.  Irons 5-U, Ping G400.  Wedges negotiable (currently 54 degree Cleveland, 58 degree Titleist) Edel putter. 

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