Find Your Driver’s Hot Spot

February 2, 2007

You’ve almost certainly heard Tour players and commentators like me talking about how the sweet spot on drivers has moved from the center to nearer the top of the clubface. The name for this 21st-century sweet spot is the hot spot.

The discovery of the hot spot signals a new era in the evolution of the golf swing. It has happened before: Hickory shafts changed to steel, blade irons changed to cavity back, and wooden clubheads changed to metal–all these changes produced shifts in how players strike the ball. In short, the way the game is played largely depends on the equipment of the day. The huge-headed drivers are here to stay, so here’s how to reap their benefits and start hitting your longest drives ever.

Find your hot spot
Why are the world’s best players hitting the ball longer than ever before? Their secret is clear–in some cases, contact is being made on the top scoring line of the clubface! This produces the high-launch, low-spin ball flight that translates into extra yards.

No matter which brand of driver you hit, the hot spot is above the center of the clubface. But it’s slightly different for each one. To find yours, take an erasable marker and put a circle on your ball. Tee it up with the circle pointing straight back at your clubface at address.

Now hit some drives, and after each one examine the clubface to see the circular mark. When you catch one flush, the mark will be high. That ink blot is your sweet spot.

Drill: Tee low to level out
Ditch those 3-inch tees you’ve been buying. Teeing the ball super-high encourages you to hit up on the ball, which will actually cause you to make contact low on the clubface.

Here’s how to break the habit: Tee up a ball so that the top of the ball is level with the top of the clubface. At first you may hit it fat or top it. But after a few swings, you will be forced to swing the clubhead more level through impact. It might even feel like a slightly descending blow. During play, raise the tee so that about one-quarter of the ball sits above the top of the clubhead at address. This should line up the center of the ball with your hot spot.

Drill: Step forward
Once you groove the level sweep, hitting the hot spot is a matter of making contact while simultaneously moving your weight toward the target. Practice this by addressing a ball, then as you swing back, let your left foot come off the ground at the top of your swing. Start the downswing by re-planting your left foot, like a baseball player does before he smacks a double to center field. This drill will help you avoid hanging back on your right leg at impact–a fault that makes it impossible to hit the hot spot.