Whether to hover or ground your driver at address is a hot debate among golfers.
There have been many players over the years hover their driver with great success including major winners Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and, more recently, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.
With these superstars of the game getting such good results using the technique, it begs the question: should you hover or ground your driver at address?
Hovering your driver at address has some key advantages for golfers including: creating a repeatable set-up each time; promoting a smoother takeaway; preventing the club getting caught on the way back; engaging your core earlier; and helping you maintain good grip pressure. However, some players may find it unnatural and instead prefer to ground their club at address.
It’s hard to argue the significant benefits that come with hovering your driver at address, but that doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all for every golfer.
There are dozens of players on the PGA and European Tours who ground their driver before beginning their takeaway and it hasn’t stopped them winning plenty of tournaments.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and employing whichever technique feels most comfortable for you.
In this article, I’ll explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of hovering your driver at address so you can make an informed decision next time you tee it up.
What does it mean to hover or ground your driver?
Hovering your driver in golf means to lift the club slightly off the ground, behind the ball, while in your address position before starting your takeaway. Grounding your driver means to rest the clubhead on the turf, behind the golf ball, at address and beginning your takeaway from that position.
Essentially, it’s as it sounds. When you hover your driver, you never at any point of your swing let it touch the ground. When you ground your driver, you allow it to rest on the turf before you start your swing.
There are pros and cons associated with hovering your driver versus grounding it, which I’ll go through in some more detail below.
Should you hover or ground your driver at address?
Golfers who struggle to create a smooth takeaway, or grip the club too tightly may benefit greatly from hovering their driver at address. Players who struggle hitting up on the ball or generating a consistent low point in their swing may get better results by grounding their club at address.
No two golfers are the same, so it’s important when considering hovering versus grounding that you choose a technique that suits your own natural tendencies.
Just because hovering the driver may work for DeChambeau, it doesn’t automatically mean it will work for you too.
Below, I’ve outlined the key advantages and disadvantages of hovering your driver to give you a better understanding of why it can help some players, but hinder others.
Advantages of hovering your driver at address
1. It creates a repeatable set-up every time
Hovering your driver at address removes any variables created by uneven tee block surfaces, or the natural slope of the golf course.
This is one of the main reasons DeChambeau, nicknamed ‘The Mad Scientist’ for his attention to detail and obsession with data-driven performance, chooses to hover his driver rather than ground it before starting his swing.
And it does make sense: instead of relying on the turf to be flat, lifting the clubhead off the ground means you can produce the exact same set-up position every time you stand over the golf ball.
Creating a repeatable swing is vital to becoming a great golfer, and hovering the driver at address will definitely help achieve this.
2. It promotes a smoother takeaway
If you’re like me, then it’s happened more than you’d like it to.
Hovering your driver at address, rather than grounding it, removes the likelihood of your clubhead clipping the turf in your takeaway and ruining your backswing.
Similarly, it also helps you take the club away from the ball in a smooth, sweeping motion – rather than a jerking one – which will release tension and encourage a free-flowing swing.
3. It engages your core before starting your swing
Hovering the driver at address also activates your core before starting your swing which, in turn, can help you maintain better posture and shape in your backswing and downswing.
Players who ground their driver can sometimes tend to let the club hang too loosely in front of them – this can result in them slouching or hunching over the ball, rather than maintaining an athletic set-up position.
By hovering the driver, your hands and arms are activated – without gripping the club too tightly – and this, in turns, reverberates throughout the rest of your body, including your core and legs.
What this creates is a stable, solid address position, which will allow you to swing with stability and generate effortless power through a good hip turn.
4. It helps maintain consistent grip pressure
As mentioned above, another positive flow-on effect of hovering your driver is that it enables you to maintain consistent grip pressure right through your swing.
Players who ground their driver at address can sometimes either strangle the club handle due to anxiety before even starting their takeaway, or have an excessively loose hold on the grip (before tightening it once they start their swing).
This change in grip pressure can make it very difficult to generate consistency in your takeaway, and hinge your wrists correctly in the backswing.
Instead, by hovering the club your grip pressure is already stable before beginning the takeaway, making it easier to maintain that same pressure on the club handle right the way through the swing.
Disadvantages of hovering your driver at address
1. It may feel uncomfortable for some players
If you’re someone who has always grounded your driver at address, switching to hovering may seem very unnatural and even uncomfortable.
One of the most common, but useful, sayings in golf is: ‘swing your own swing’.
If you already hit your driver long and straight by grounding it to start with, then there is absolutely no reason for you to change your set-up and start hovering the club simply because you’ve seen Nicklaus, Norman or Faldo do it.
Do what comes natural to you, I can’t stress this enough.
2. It may make it harder to hit up on the ball
As I’ve spoken about in another article, the best way to maximise driving distance is by increasing your attack angle and swinging up on the ball.
If you hover your clubhead behind the ball at address, it may be harder to create that upward arc consistently – especially if you’re a beginner who already has enough trouble finding the centre of the clubface regularly.
By starting your swing with your driver grounded, you might find it easier to swing upward from that position (using taller tees may also help with this).
3. You may struggle to find the low point of your swing
Similarly, hovering your clubhead could make it more difficult to know where the low-point of your swing is.
The ground is a physical landmark that tells you exactly where your clubhead is in relation to the ball as you arrive at impact.
By hovering your driver, you lose that feedback that the turf provides and may find yourself bellying or topping the ball more to begin with until you retrain your brain to know where the clubhead is in space.
4. You may start focusing on the clubhead more than the ball
If hovering your driver isn’t something you normally do, you may find yourself fixated on what the clubhead is doing rather than focusing on striking the ball cleanly.
This may negatively impact how freely you swing the club and even stop you releasing it properly through impact.
If hovering your driver leaves you paralysed over the ball at address, it may be a sign that’s it’s not a technique that will work for you.
How high should I hover my driver behind the golf ball?
You can hover your driver anywhere between a few millimetres to an inch above the ground when addressing the ball – it all comes down to personal preference. However, it should never hover higher than the golf ball as this is likely to encourage a descending attack angle at impact.
Ideally, your driver should only hover a centimetre or so above the turf as this will allow you to swing up on the ball, which is essential for generating an optimal ball flight and maximising distance.
Any higher than that and you may find yourself swinging down on the ball like you would with an iron – a big no-no when hitting driver.
While some professional players – like DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson – hover their drivers rather high at address, this isn’t typically the norm and most will keep their clubheads close to the ground.
If I ground my driver at address, should it be toe up?
Yes, your driver should address the ball with the toe of the club slightly up when grounded. While your driver doesn’t leave a divot like an iron would, the centrifugal force produced during the swing will cause your hands – and the club shaft – to become more upright at impact than at address. Setting the clubhead with toe up helps ensure it arrives square at impact.
Obviously, this may be a little harder to do when hovering your driver and is much easier to implement when grounding the clubhead behind the ball in your set-up position.
I’ve written another article that talks all about how toe-up your driver and irons should be, which you can read here.
Which pro golfers hover their driver at address?
Some well-known professional golfers who hover their driver at address include Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, to name a few. As you can see, hovering the driver has been a technique used for decades and has generated plenty of success for different generations of golfers.
Hovering your driver has many advantages – it can promote a smooth, one-piece takeaway; it can help maintain consistent grip pressure; and most importantly, it can assist you with recreating a repeatable swing time and time again.
Be mindful, however, that grounding your driver at address can be equally as effective if it’s something you’ve been doing successfully already.
Try both techniques out next time you’re on the range, or playing a practice round, and compare your results – this will be the best way to decide which is the most effective method for you.