When I first started golfing a few years ago, the first club I purchased was the driver. Why? Simple… chick’s dig the long ball.
But seriously, for whatever reason, the driver is usually the first club we all want to buy because it SEEMS to be the most important and longest club, but can you play golf without a driver? Honestly, the answer may surprise you.
Typically, a driver is unnecessary to play a round of golf. The longer shaft and lower degree of loft make hitting with a driver harder than any other club. Alternatives to using a driver can include a 3-wood or 2-iron.
So if a driver is unnecessary, when is it a good time to use a driver versus not? I did a bit of research based on my experience and got some information from a few experts and found out a couple interesting tid bits…
Can you play golf without a driver?
I do not want to understate the advantage of learning to smash it with a driver, but in reality, learning how to use one versus not learning how to use one can affect the way you play the game. Don’t believe me or your golf swing? Do you see professional golfers use drivers? Of course, it is a great benefit! So there is value in using it and getting used to it.
But with that said, it is something that you should ease into, rather than blitzing it right out of the gate.
Beginners should consider a driver to get used to the feel of the club and how it works. As I mentioned before, a driver is longer than most, making it harder to hit with consistently. So there will be a learning curve, but if you are not careful, that learning curve could discourage you from a driver all together.
For me, if I start off a round on the golf course and the driver is not going straight, making solid contact, and feels like it’s broken in my hands for the first few holes, I will switch to a rare 2-iron simply because I have a better mindset and more confidence in it than I do in the driver at that moment.
It is important to always remember that the right club is the one you practice with and feel most comfortable. Don’t overcomplicate it by worrying about faster or slower swing speed and such… many golfers just consider what feels good in their hands and you should, too!
When should or shouldn’t I use a driver?
Let’s knock out the reasons you shouldn’t use one first. As I stated before, feel is everything in this game. If you don’t feel comfy about moving forward, then you should find an alternative to something that you feel comfortable.
With that said, there are a few reasons I would not want to hit off the tee box with a driver:
A Par 3
The reason that I would not want a driver on a par 3 is because it is almost always overkill. The average shot from a tee box for a Par 3 is less than 240 yards, so a driver would usually result in overshooting the green and likely into the rough stuff, destroying your score.
Good course management would allow you to play without a driver rather significantly.
Course Management and Best Benefit…
The game of golf is so mental it’s crazy.
If you have a hint that you are holding the wrong club walking up to the tee, it will show when the ball lands in the woods. The obvious question would then be, “when do you make the switch if you are struggling with your driver?”
There is no easy way to tell, but after the first 3 holes, if the confidence is not there, I’m ditching it for my 2 iron. I may return to it later if the feeling changes, but again, it is all about comfortability and feeling.
Make smart choices and it almost does not matter what club you use.
If I don’t own one
This is an obvious choice, but worth mentioning. One of the first clubs I purchased was a driver, even though I can certainly play without one. But, I can honestly say that it should have been a putter. Drivers are crazy expensive and I honestly think they are overpriced because you typically will not use one on every whole. So if you are just getting started and only have $300 to blow on something, blow it on a nice putter rather than an overpriced driver.
Do high handicappers need a driver?
I am a high handicapper (currently in the mid teens) and there are a lot of times that I go to the tee without an adjustable driver just because I’m having a hard time controlling it today.
I may have one outing where everything clicks and I’m smashing it 300 yards, then there are other times i take a dunk in the water, sand, or worse, the woods.
So answering the question, no, you do not NEED a driver. However, I at least recommend it because it is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal for both pro and recreational golfers…when it is working.
What can you use if you don’t have a golf driver?
I use smaller irons. My longest drive is about 320 yards (not on average), so I can get by just fine with my 2 iron. But a 2 iron is pretty rare nowadays, it took me a couple weeks to find a good one over on Global Golf.
More common clubs to use would be a 4 iron or my favorite fairway wood, a 3 wood.
You should probably never do a shot off the tee with a wedge. Unless you can smash it off of a very short par 3.
But regardless of what you use, just be sure that it is something you are confident in. Without the confidence, then you will not commit to the strike and the golf ball can go anywhere.
I even have a pretty interesting club called a Thriver. It’s pretty much supposed to be a cross between a driver and a 3-wood, but the weight is different. I found it at a secondhand store for about $5. Can’t get any better than that, am I right?
Is a driving iron better than a driver to play golf?
A driving iron is a club used to hit long drives. As long as your swing is sound, then this club will be the best one to use if you are feeling uneasy about your driver (or if you even have a driver).
Common driving irons I use instead of a driver is my 2-iron.
The best part about using a 2 iron is that you can use it anywhere on the course. Just be careful as 2 irons have a long, stiffer shafts and hitting it off the grass may cause a clump of dirt going flying.
And instead of always having a driver in your bag, you can go with a hybrid when you go up with your tee shot. I dislike using hybrids, regardless of it being on a par 3, par 4, or par 5.
Should I worry about Launch Angles when playing without a driver?
If you are not using a driver, then you should be concerned with launch angles. A launch angle is the angle of attack at which the ball leaves the clubface.
It is measured by the angle between the face of the clubhead and the line connecting the center of the ball to where the ball leaves the clubhead.
The driver is going to have the flattest loft angle. Where other clubs will have a more upward angle, sending the ball higher.
Conclusion and What You Should Do?
The basic rule of thumb is you do not need a driver. You just need to use the golf club of which you feel the most comfortable.
Sure, it feels great to get some extra distance, but your skill level will make an enormous difference whether you are successful with a driver.
But the comfortability comes from confidence, and the best way to be confident in your swings is to get some training.
But I totally understand that few people have $200+ to drop on a few golf lessons, so do something much cheaper and check out the training that I use to add 30 yards to ALL of my clubs, click here to check it out.