Good drivers education

KEVIN HAIME

, Last Updated: 2:46 PM ET

The old saying that you "Drive for show and putt for dough" is pretty catchy, but not that accurate.

Golf isn't much fun if you can't get off the tee with some degree of success.

Many golfers I play with get into so much trouble off the tee the rest of their game becomes almost irrelevant.

To have fun and success, you need to get your swing to the point where you can at least swing a driver with some consistency and balance.

The driver is the hardest club to hit because it is the longest club and its club head moves the fastest.

A better drive will only come with a better swing, altough today's drivers are pretty terrific and easy to hit.

Here are six keys to finding a driver you can hit and have fun with:

1. Buy a top name brand

Companies such as Ping, Cobra, Nike, Titleist, Callaway and TaylorMade have dozens of engineers designing their clubs. If you can't afford a new driver from one of these companies, you're better off with a one- or two-year-old model than a new no-name club. There are some incredible deals out there -- a one- or two-year-old top-grade club costs as little as $100.

2. Get enough loft

The worst thing you can do is to try to hit a driver that has too little loft. You'll sabotage any chance of hitting great tee shots. More loft will allow you to swing more aggressively to a full finish. Loft also decreases sidespin, which is always a good thing. Even Tiger Woods hits a driver with 10.5 degrees of loft because he says it's easier to hit.

3. Find the right length

Marketers will say that you'll hit a longer club farther. The reality is you'll hit your longest drives when you make your best swings and hit the club's sweet spot. If a club is too long, you'll miss the centre of the clubface more often, leading to shorter drives. Also, if a longer club feels awkward, you will lose consistency instead of gaining distance.

4. Watch your weight

Again, be wary of advertisers promising that super light shafts can be swung faster. If your club gets too light, you can lose control of it and the sense of where it is as you swing. The club may swing a touch faster, but you'll lose rhythm.Today's graphite shafts are available in weights as light as 45 grams. Most pros use a 65-85-gram shaft.

5. Don't get shafted

When it comes to finding the right shaft, there are other factors besides weight to consider. The shaft is really the engine of the club. As you swing, the shaft flexes, twists and bows. To hit your best and longest, you need to pay attention to the characteristics of the shaft. Look for the correct stiffness, proper amount of torque and flexpoint that suits you and your swing.

6. Test the driver

No matter how expensive, your new driver will be worthless unless it fits you and your swing. You need to test a driver outside before handing over your hard-earned money. If you can't get to a PGA pro or a launch monitor, at least find a demo day put on by a leading company, then write down the specifications of the driver you fit into so you can order or find that exact club.


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