by Frank Peter
If you're having trouble in consistently driving the ball and sometimes slice it, hook it or hit the ball too high or too low, maybe it's all because you don't pay enough attention to your tee height. This short article will discuss the effect that different tee heights have on your drive.
First some technical background: Your driver, like all woods, doesn't have a flat club face but is actually curved both horizontally and vertically. The horizontal curving is called 'Bulge', and the vertical curving is called 'Roll'. This curvature has to do with the stability of the club face and prevents it from collapsing upon impact with the ball.
Bulge comes into play when you hit an off-center hit. Let's say you hit the ball with the toe of your driver: the horizontal curvature of the clubface will impart a corrective spin on the ball that will reduce the amount that the ball slices. This is called 'Gear Effect', and it works also if you hit the ball with the heel of the club, thereby reducing the amount the ball will hook. In short, Bulge is your friend.
Roll, as mentioned above, is the vertical curvature of the club face. In contrast to Bulge it is not your friend, and here's why: Suppose you have a 10 degree driver, this loft is only 10 degrees in the center of the club face where the sweet spot is. Let's say you hit the ball just half an inch too high: now you're actually hitting the ball with 12 degrees (or more) loft. This sends the ball high into the air and robs you of distance. Even worse, if you hit the ball just half an inch too low you're hitting an 8 degree (or less) driver. This ball may never get up into the air and will instead just roll along very fast - the so-called 'Worm Burner'.
From these points it becomes quite obvious: if you're teeing up too high you will be hitting the ball above the sweet spot and thus high up into the air; if you're teeing too low you'll hit the ball below the sweet spot and 'burn the worms that stick out of the soil'.
In addition to the points above tee height has also a great influence on slicing or hooking the ball:
If you tee up too low the golf club has to come in at a steep angle in order to hit the ball. This often results in an open club face at impact, which in turn will result in a slice.
In contrast, if the golf ball is teed up too high the club face has to come in at a flat angle. This often results in the clubface being closed on impact causing a hook to the left (for RH players).
As you can see from the above points, a good balance has to be found between the four effects your tee height influences. Spend some time on the driving range and experiment with different tee heights. Once you find the one that results in long and straight fairway shots note down the exact height, and mark all your tees accordingly for a more consistent driving.
As a last note: with some experience you can actually use different tee heights (and the resulting effects) as tactical weapons to your advantage, depending on the course layout. How to do this is best explained in a video, and the best one available can be found here: PurePoint Golf Driver DVD
NOTE: If you have trouble hitting your clubs correctly there is a good chance that your clubs don't suit you properly.
The reason for not improving your game may well be is due to badly fitted clubs. Think about it: people come in all different shapes and sizes, but most golfers simply buy their clubs off the rack in the golf shop.
Unless you are completely 'standard' and 'average' you should consider custom fitting for your next clubs. This can be done online, and it is free, quick and easy (and doesn't hurt a bit). Visit these two sites for free online club fitting, just follow the instructions given there:
'Club Fitting Wizard' at Pinemeadow Golf
'e-fit System' at GigaGolf