How often do you step up to a narrow par four or par five, pull out your driver and try to steer an accurate drive? Demanding too much of your driver usually results in finding trouble. Pros tee off with a 3-wood or 1-iron several times a round, not because they don't have confidence in their driving, but because laying back is the higher percentage shot.
You, too, should be willing to sacrifice some distance when things get tight. Sure, long drives are great, but knowing when to use the driver will make the most of your potential for the long ball.
Study Your Shot and Situation
Being a smart driver begins as soon as you step off the previous green. Is the next hole a long par four or par five? If you're playing a match, how do you stand? Do you need a birdie to stay alive?
If the situation is desperate, grab the driver and go for broke. If not, consider your options. Is the next fairway narrow or tightly guarded by water or sand? Don't flirt with danger: A 3-wood or 1-iron will give you plenty of distance.
Course conditions also should influence club selection. On a particularly windy day, you may benefit by leaving your driver in the bag and taking a smoother swing with a higher-lofted club. You may not get quite as much carry, but you'll have more control with the shorter club, and with less sidespin your shots will hold their line better. Conversely, on a wet day, you might take some chances with your driver: Because the ball won't roll on the soggy ground, you'll need more carry; also, there's less chance of an errant drive bouncing or rolling into trouble.
When the course layout allows you to let out the shaft and make a big swing with your driver, make the most of it. Pick the side of the fairway that sets up the best next shot to the green. Then step up and let it rip. You'll make your best swings when you're not tentative.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.