Driver Vs 3 Wood Off The Tee – What’s The Better Option For Golfers
There is no feeling in golf like pulling out the driver and smashing one 250 yards down the centre of the fairway and leaving a nice short pitch or chip onto the green.
Well, that is how you would like it to go anyway but as I’m sure you are aware, it doesn’t always turn out as good in reality as it did in your head.
The driver is the hardest club in the bag for beginners to perfect and the common problems high handicappers have with their driver off the tee is topping the ball, hitting it too low or the dreaded hook or slice that is going to send you into the rough, bushes or water. Plenty of beginners find that they are able to hit their 3 wood higher, more accurately, straight and even sometime further than their driver.
The Driver For Beginners
When we get started in golf, the driver is naturally the first club in the bag that we think about pulling out and giving a swing at the driving and it may account for 60% of our shots too as we try desperately to improve.
Sometimes we hit it sweet and it flies perfectly straight out towards the 200 yard markers and beyond but most of the time as a beginner, we are either going to have a slice, hook, top the ball and shoot it too low and watch it hit the ground early and kill its momentum.
Once we get tired of the driver, we might pull out the 3 Wood, just to see what its like and lo and behold, we are hitting it straight, high and sometimes even further than we were hitting out good shots with the driver.
So, while the driver will definitely offer more distance once we get better with the club, for many a 3 wood can outperform it in every way, especially for beginners.
*It’s important to note that accuracy is far more important than distance in golf, especially when starting out. If you can hit a 3 wood straight and accurately but struggle with the driver, then absolutely use the 3 wood and try to improve your driver game at the range or with lessons from a coach. Playing well with the 3 wood is going to boost your confidence, reduce your scores and help you to improve your game overall so don’t hesitate to use what works for you.*
Reasons Why The Driver Is So Difficult To Hit Well
There are plenty of reasons why the driver is the most difficult club in the bag to hit including:
The driver has the longest shaft out of any club in your bag. The advantage of this is that it helps you to hit the ball further, the disadvantage is that it makes it more difficult to hit the sweet spot on the head of the driver and send the ball into orbit.
You are standing, naturally further away from the ball and need to exercise a greater control over your swing to hit the ball correctly with the driver.
They Are Lightweight Clubs
Drivers nowadays are built with lightweight, Graphite shafts and this is going to allow you to generate more swing speed, clubhead speed, ball speed and distance.
That is, of course once you make a good connection with the sweet spot, which is easier said than done, especially for beginners but even for mid to low handicappers, it is difficult to achieve every time.
Once of the things that trips people up the most is the low loft of the driver, even if you do everything else right if you are not on an upward trajectory as you hit the ball with your driver, the ball is going to start out on the right flight path and might not get enough height to achieve the required distance with the driver.
The reason we can’t hit the driver as well as we would like, ultimately comes down to swing mechanics, one way or another.
Inevitably, there is something breaking down in our swing, causing us to hook, slice or top the ball and not hit the fairways in regulation that we want.
Nobody wants to be losing a ton of golf balls or slowing down the game with a shoddy performance with their driver and the best thing we can do is to correct our swing as quickly as possible.
Whether you want to get some lessons and practice hard or record your clip and send it to a pro for analysis, the quicker you can improve your swing, the better you are going to be with the driver.
The Case For The 3 Wood Off The Tee
Some people are going to hit the driver well off the tee as a beginner and this article is definitely not for those people. Eventually everybody should be hitting with their driver off the tee but for some, they are not quite at the stage just yet.
All of the reasons that is difficult to hit your driver off the tee are slightly mitigated with the 3 Wood.
The shaft length is generally shorter on a 3 Wood and that ensures that you have a little bit more control over your swing, which can lead to more hits on the sweet spot and more straight shots.
With the shorter shaft it is going to reduce the flaws in your swing and lead to better performance. In other words, the driver will highlight the flaws in you swing a lot more.
Less flaws in the swing means less hooking and less slicing, which should equal more fairways in regulation.
One of the biggest issues we see with the driver is not being in an upward trajectory when they reach the ball and not getting the right flight path.
3 woods have a lot more loft than a driver and that should eliminate this problem for you and is one of the reasons why so many people are hitting their 3 wood more accurately and even further than they are their driver.
Another Option To Think About From The Tee – The Driving Iron
When I started out playing golf consistently as a teenager, I was able to get a ton more accuracy off the tee with my 3 iron than I could with a driver or a wood.
Looking back, my clubs might have been too long and was causing the wicked slice that I used to get with the driver and less so with the 3 wood.
The 3 iron became my go to club off the tee when I needed accuracy over distance and that was the right thing to do, I could almost guarantee hitting the fairway with my go to club and the loss in distance was more than made up for with the excellent position on the fairway.
I wasn’t aware of what a driving iron was back then but it is basically a three iron on steroids.
The shorter shaft, nice open face and perfect loft of the driving iron means good distance and for some, deadly accuracy.
Playing off the tee, for a beginner is all about finding your ‘Go-To’ club. We all have them, the club you are confident that you can hit well 9 times out of 10.
Whatever that club is for you off the tee, whether it is a wood, a driver or a driving Iron, go with and watch your overall game, scores and handicaps improve consistently.
Difference In Shaft Length Between Driver And 3 Wood
While all clubs and manufacturers offer different shafts lengths and variations on their clubs.
A typical standard sized driver is going to be around 45”.
A standard 3 wood is going to have around 43 inches of shaft.
With the world focussing on distance more and more it is not uncommon the see drivers with shaft lengths of 46” and 47” nowadays and 3 Woods a bit longer as well.
The typical gap should be around 1.5” to 2” which is less length to control with the 3 Wood and hopefully more accuracy.
Some Tips For Improving With The Driver
Increase The Loft
Increasing the loft on your driver can help to solve the problem of not getting the ball high enough with your driver.
Plenty of pro’s will use a 9.5 degree loft but as a beginner you can see a lot better performance with 10.5 degree or even a 12.5 degree driver loft.
It’s worth thinking about changing the loft on your driver if you aren’t getting enough airtime currently.
Stand Closer Or Further Away From The Ball
You might think your stance and positioning is perfect for your driver and not consider that it might be causing some problems for you game.
At the driving, try take a half step further away and a half step closer to see if it feels better when you strike the ball.
Small changes can make a big difference to the accuracy you are able to generate from the tee.
Tee The Ball Higher
If you are not getting the trajectory right with the driver, teeing the ball a little bit higher might do the trick.
Improving with your driver is a game of trial and error and whatever can bring some improvement is definitely worth trying.
Use A Driver For Beginners
The better drivers on the market tend to optimize for swing speed and distance rather than hitting straight shots for beginners
If you get a drive that has a massive sweet spot, you will likely see your drives going further and straighter more often.
Get A Fitting
A fitting is the ultimate way to get the clubs that are most suited to your game.
You will normally hit a ton of drivers on a simulator like Trackman and based on your performance with each one, the club pro will be able to tell exactly what the best driver is for you to improve your game.
Get A Lesson
While you are getting your fitting, you have the perfect chance to ask for tips about how you are swinging your driver and what improvements to make.
If the pro notices some big flaws you could book a couple of lessons to help iron out the errors and get you swinging better and more accurately with the longest club in your bag.
Practice, Practice Practice
It take 10,000 hours to be a master at anything and driving is no different.
Once you get your swing and club right, it is just a case of drilling over and over again and once you do that, it is inevitable that your golf game and your driving off the tee is going to improve progressively.
The driver is going to give you more distance off the tee without question once you are hitting the correct club correctly.
If you notice that you are hitting your 3 wood further and straighter, it is more than likely down to a flaw in your swing technique.
My advice would be to use the club you are most comfortable with off the tee and work on bringing that driver to heel at the range, with lessons or in your spare time.
The driver and the 3 wood are the most popular clubs of the tee but that doesn’t mean you should rule out the trusty driving iron either.