Tips on Hitting Driver From the Fairway

This Difficult Shot Is Also Called 'Hitting Driver Off the Deck'

Rickie Fowler uses his driver from the fairway during the 2016 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Hitting driver from the fairway — also known as "hitting driver off the deck" — is a specialized golf shot that you don't see much anymore even among the best golfers, and is a shot that mid- and high-handicappers have a lower chance of pulling off successfully.

Reasons That Hitting Driver Off the Deck Is a Tough Shot

There are various reasons why hitting driver off the ground is such a touch shot for all golfers, but especially those who aren't among the best:

1. Driver is the toughest club in the bag to hit for mid- and high-handicappers, even when the ball is teed up. It's much, much more difficult to successfully hit a driver when the ball is sitting on the ground. (The same is true of irons because, as Jack Nicklaus once explained about whether to tee up an iron shot on a par-3 hole, "air offers less resistance than ground.")

2. Driver clubheads have gotten much larger today than they were in the golf era when hitting driver off the fairway was a more commonly scene shot. Back when driver clubheads were below 200cc in size, the odds of making good contact with a driver off the fairway were much better. Remember that the original Big Bertha driver was only 190cc in size. Today, most drivers are at or very close to the maximum size allowed under the rules, 460cc. That huge size makes putting the face of the driver onto the golf ball in a good position so much harder when the ball is sitting on the ground rather than on a tee.

So, as that introduction above stated in other words, hitting driver off the deck is a very difficult shot and one that recreational golfers should probably stay away from. But, hey, we all enjoy trying to pull off those high-degree-of-difficulty shots, we all want to "take a shot" at those shots, so to speak.

So if you really want to hit your driver from the fairway to try to reach that par-5 hole in two strokes, what's the technique?

How to Hit Driver Off the Deck

1. Set up to the ball with the ball forward in your stance. Play the ball slightly more forward than you would for a teed-up driver.

2. Align a little bit left of the target (for a right-handed golfer); the ball position and driver loft will work to create a fade ball flight, so accommodate that in your set-up position. (If you are someone whose normal shot is a draw or, especially, a hook, set up with an open stance.)

3. Choke up a little on the driver, this will help add a little more control to your swing.

4. Make a smooth swing — don't try to kill it, don't overswing. And think more along the lines of your fairway wood or hybrid swing: sweep into the ball, visualizing an extremely shallow divot or no divot at all.

How to Optimize Your Chance of Success When Hitting Driver Off the Fairway

1. Only try driver off the fairway if the green you are aiming at is open in front, to allow the ball to roll up.

2. If you are not a low-handicapper, then only try driver off the ground if the hole is clear of major trouble up ahead (water, nasty rough).

3. Never try to hit driver off the deck if your ball is on a downslope or is sitting down. The odds of success are much, much better when the ball is sitting up nice and high, and, especally so, if the ball is on an upslope.