Lipping Out No 24 Stages of Driver Grief

The Stages of Driver Grief

When you can't snap out of it

Do you hit your driver fairly well? Get it out there with good consistency? Congrats. Some of us are in hell. 

I’ve been tormented by an inability to get off the tee for longer than I’d care to admit. It’s been a plague of low, snapping hooks that land somewhere around 100 to 125 yards in front of me and roll to varying distances. Sometimes they hold the fairway, but far too many end up far too left. Playing golf this way, again and again, is an exercise in frustration, disappointment, wonder and, as of this writing, resignation.

I obviously don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can’t feel where my swing goes completely haywire, but I do know the clubface of my driver is coming into the ball shut down and slanted at such an angle that it kind of looks like I’m hitting topspin forehand ground strokes from the tee box. To combat this issue, my body has begun to contort itself in such a way as to get low, inside and behind the ball as much as possible—a subconscious firewall erecting itself in my downswing to try to fend off the insidious virus infecting my clubface.

You’ve heard people say their swing feels like a “folded-up lawn chair”? This expression now makes a ton of sense to me. I find myself yearning to hit the biggest booming block off the tee just to see something different. (Variety is the spice of life, after all.) Not getting remotely through the ball with my body is an awful feeling, and it makes my back ache. 

The human body is a miraculous machine, though, and I’m surprised at the number of fairways I actually hit, at least at the friendly public courses I like to frequent. (The idea of playing a pumped-up track with forced carries currently makes me want to quit the game forever.) My playing partners will even offer a meek “Nice shot” when it’s apparent my screamer will hold the fairway. A resigned “Thanks” is all I can muster, for I know, and feel, how bad the shot truly was. 

So how does one escape this reality? I wish I could tell you. I take solace in the fact that I’ve been here before, survived and found a way out. At the depths of the snap hooks, finding deliverance feels like having to slip out of a straightjacket while submerged in a tank of water. I question every little thing about my grip and setup, scrounge YouTube for a quick new feel and log loads of mental reps in my living room while watching TV. I don’t know when things will flip, or how, but I’m confident I’ll win this game of driver hide-and-seek. As painful as it is, the only way to do it is to keep getting back out there. 

Phil Landes (aka Big Randy) is a founding member of No Laying Up. He’s been a Broken Tee Society member since 2017.