Kyle Voska Golf

PGA Certified Instructor

How To Stop Hitting Pop-Ups With Your Driver


Popping-up your tee shots can be very frustrating and perplexing.  You’re standing on the tee of a Par 5, ready to hit your longest drive of the day.  You rear back and unleash the fury onto the ball.  You anticipate watching your ball soar down the middle of the fairway only to see head straight up towards the clouds.  The ball then lands only 80 yards from the tee.  Frustrating, right?  Was the ball teed up too high?  Did you swing up on the ball too much?  Ball placed too far forward in your stance?  Most likely, none of those caused that pop-up.

When you pop-up your driver, you’re getting too much underneath the ball, but it’s caused by coming down too steeply into the ball.  Simply, your swing was more of a “V-shape” rather than a “U-shape”.  To hit the driver properly, it’s imperative to come into the ball much more shallow than you would with your irons.

Potential causes of the pop-up:

  1. Standing too close to the ball
  2. Ball too far back in your stance
  3. Picking the club up too abruptly on your backswing – not turning your shoulders enough
  4. Coming out of your posture
  5. Swinging too hard
  6. Hands getting too far away from your body on the downswing (outside-to-in downswing)

Pop-up cures:

  1. At address, make sure the end of the grip is pointing to your belt buckle, AND is about 5 inches away from it
  2. Ball position should be about one inch off your left heel with your driver
  3. Start your backswing turning your shoulders level, not picking up the club with your hands
  4. Maintain your knee flex to remain in your posture
  5. Try to have a smooth transition into your downswing resisting the urge to hit it too hard
  6. Keep your hands closer to your body on your downswing

These are not all the causes and cures for pop-ups, but they are some of the most common.

A different way to think of a pop-up is thinking about skipping rocks off water.  When you skip a rock, your right arm will drop low and you will release the rock low so it skips along the surface of the water.  Popping-up a tee shot would be the same as taking that rock and just throwing it straight down into the water.  It was too steep.  Skipping a rock requires a shallow angle to the water when the rock is released.


Here’s a simple drill to shallow out your downswing when hitting your driver:

  1. Tee up your ball and take your normal stance
  2. Take your normal backswing
  3. On your downswing, swing the club one foot over the ball – don’t hit the ball!
  4. Continue swinging about one foot above the ball for a few swings
  5. Finally, go ahead and hit a few

This drill will shallow/round-out your shoulders making it much more difficult to hit pop-ups.  It’s actually a great drill to hit your driver better even if you’re not popping it up.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

May 7, 2010 - Posted by | Golf Tips | ,


  1. this happens to my drives once in a while. i’m getting a new r9 taylor driver with 10.5 degrees loft. if my swing speed is fast enough would a driver with 9.5 loft be appropriate. i wish to express my deeply felt gratitude to you for your wonderfully presented group lessons. i’m playing 1-2 times per week & practicing the same. you will definitely see jean & i again. hopefully before too many bad habits enter our games. best wishes, john

    Comment by john wood | October 6, 2010 | Reply

    • John,

      There’s not a huge difference between 9.5 and 10.5. I’m not sure which one is better for you, without seeing you hit them side by side. If a pop-up rears it’s ugly head once in awhile, take some practice swings hovering the club a couple of feet off the ground, similar to the baseball swing. This will round your swing out and hopefully take away the steep angle of attack that causes the pop-up.

      Good luck and keep playing/practicing.

      Comment by Kyle Voska | October 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. I have steadily increased playing over the past few years. Initially I had some issues with slicing with my driver. I remedied that a few years back and was hitting solid straight shots for almost two years and lowering my score. Then last year I started to hook with driver and pull shots with my irons. It appears that I am hitting the end of the driver or blade on irons as if I am closing the club head at contact, otherwise I dont think I could hit the ball with that part of the driver. Then even sometimes I try to compensate and hit popups at the end of the driver on the top of the club. I just can’t seem to remedy this problem like I did with the slice a few years back. Is there a few drills that may assist?

    Comment by B Cole | May 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Bryce,

      From the description you gave me, it appears you’re still swinging outside-to-in (over-the-top) on your downswing. This causes pulls and slices. You fixed your slice by rotating the clubface prior to impact, but I’m guessing your swing path was still a little outside-to-in. This swing path will also cause pop-ups because the path is too steep.

      Here’s two drills to try to remedy this: 1) Take a few swings with your driver hovering the club 2 feet above the ball. Don’t try to hit the ball. Make a few of these “baseball-like” swings. This will round out your swing a bit which will help you eliminate some of the shots you’ve been hitting. After a few rehearsals, hit some balls trying to feel a more rounded swing with your driver.

      2) Here’s a drill for your irons to help out with your swing path. Place a ball on the ground, then grab 2 extra balls. Place them on the ground about 4″ apart on each side of the ball. Then, move the ball closest to you 4″ towards the target. Then, move the ball furthest from you 4″ away from the target. The 3 balls will be in a row angled at 45 degrees. I want you to hit the middle ball without striking the outside 2 balls (swing through the gate). It will appear the ball will go right, but this is the correct swing path. What this drill does is stop the outside-to-in swing path.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

      Comment by Kyle Voska | May 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the suggestion to swing over the ball while gradually lowering. That and the point at belt buckle, going to try those been playing 50 years and recently the pop up has crept into my game which has me frus trated

    Comment by Dave | June 23, 2015 | Reply

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