Hitting Driver Too High? Causes and How to Fix It

If your ball flight is too high off the tee, whether you’re skying it or the ball is ballooning in the air, I’m going to explain:

Common reasons for hitting the ball too high
How you can diagnose the issue
Steps you can take to fix the problem

But first, you should understand whether your high trajectory is a real problem. A good high trajectory can help you achieve maximum distance, but too high and you start losing distance and roll.

How High is Too High?

We’re not asking Cheech & Chong…

Optimal peak height numbers are dependent on your swing speed. If you already have a good idea of your driver swing speed, perfect, otherwise you can estimate it with this calculator.

Here are the optimal peak height and launch angle parameters based on swing speed.

Swing Speed (mph)Launch Angle (degrees)Peak Height (feet)
105+10 – 16100 – 120
95 – 10412 – 1685 – 100
85 – 9413 – 1670 – 85
75 – 8414 – 1960 – 70
74 & below14 – 1945 – 60

Here is a chart with 3 drives I hit in the simulator. You can see that too high and too low will result in less distance.

Chart displaying 3 golf ball flight patterns, one with too high trajectory, one with too low trajectory, one with optimal trajectory

My swing speed is 105+ and you can see the longest ball I hit from this example went roughly 40 yards high, which is 120 feet and right at the top end of the “ideal numbers” for my swing speed.

How do you determine what your peak height is?

Finding a local golf shop or driving range with launch monitor or shot tracer technology would be ideal. You can compare your numbers to the chart above.

Otherwise, you can use tree height as a frame of reference. Observe your ball flight and make a good estimate comparing it to the chart above within your swing speed range.

Reasons Your Ball Flight is Too High

Hitting driver too high can be due to a few different reasons, including:

Angle of Attack
Skying (Hitting the ball high on the club face)


Ballooning is when your ball suddenly starts climbing high in the air, then seemingly falls out of the sky. It can be diagnosed by simply observing your ball flight. A ballooning ball flight pattern looks something like this:

Chart displaying a ball flight pattern that is ballooning

Your ball will take off seemingly normal, then all of the sudden it will just start climbing higher in the air, shooting straight up.

Ballooning is usually caused by excessive backspin, and can be worse when hitting into the wind.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to address the cause for excessive backspin. Too much backspin is typically a result of too much loft. But too much loft can be caused by a poor angle of attack, too much flex in your shaft, an incorrect loft setting on your driver, or a combination of the above.

Lets look at Attack Angle first…

Angle of Attack

No doubt you’ve heard – “you want to hit up on the ball with a driver”. While this is true, too much can be bad.

Angle of Attack is the up or down movement of the club head at the time of impact. “Hitting up on the ball” is when ball impact is made on the upward part of your swing arc.

When you hit a ball with a 4 degree angle of attack, and you have a driver loft of 12.5 degrees, you are delivering much more than that 12.5 degrees to the ball on contact. But it’s not as simple as adding the two together, other factors that affect dynamic loft include shaft bend, release, open/closed club face, and where the ball makes contact on the club face.

In general, the higher your angle of attack, the lower you’ll want your driver loft to be. This can help reduce backspin.

How to determine if your angle of attack is too high?

Aside from getting time on a launch monitor, you can take a video of your swing from a face-on angle. If you see yourself “leaning back” (away from your target) as you deliver the club at impact, you’re likely generating too much of an upward angle.

Checking your ball alignment at setup can also be a good indicator. From that same face-on camera angle, you should see the ball aligned with the inside if your front foot. If it is past your foot, closer to the target, this can also lead to a higher than desired attack angle.

How to fix it?

If the ball position is too far forward, simply bring it back to the inside of your front foot. It may take a few swings to adjust, especially if you’ve been setting up this way for a while. You may hit a few with an open face and push/fade/slice. But you’ll adjust after a few practice shots. More on proper alignment.

Golfer standing with a driver and alignment sticks displaying proper ball position aligned with the inside of the front foot.

If you find yourself “leaning back” at impact, simply work on transferring your weight forward as your club moves through the impact zone. With a driver, you still want to be “behind the ball” at impact, but its much more subtle than leaning away from it.


Skying the ball happens when you hit the ball at the top of the club face. You may be catching it at the crown of the club, which will cause the ball to immediately jump high in the air and typically only travel 1/4 of the distance you would normally get..or less in really bad shots.

And trust me, I’ve hit my fair share! We all have…

Skying it can be caused by either:

Tee height is too high
Hitting down on the ball

Tee height seems obvious, but hitting down on it? Yes, when your impact point on the swing arc comes at the low point, or just before, the leading edge of the club is the top of the face. Usually resulting in hitting the ball at the equator with the top of the club.

How to determine?

First, check your tee height. With your driver placed behind the ball, the top edge of the driver should align with the center of the golf ball. If you tee the ball higher than that, it can lead to skying.

Driver with golf ball teed at the proper height

Next, check your ball position in your stance. From a face-on view, the golf ball should be aligned with the inside of your front foot, left foot for you righties. If the ball favors the middle of your stance, you’re likely hitting it on the way down in the swing arc.

Putting it All Together

If you’re skying it, the fix is typically very simple. But for ballooning, I mentioned it could be due to a combination of factors that result in excessive backspin.

If you looked at your angle of attack and find that you’re not leaning back in your swing, and the ball is aligned properly, but you’re getting too much height, let’s look at the loft setting and shaft flex for your driver.

Shaft Flex: If your club feels “whippy” in your hands, its likely too flexible. This can lead to a lagging club face at impact and present the leading edge causing you to sky it. It can also lead to the opposite, where the club has “whipped through” before impact, leading to a higher angle of attack and a ton of backspin.

You can also go through our driver selector tool, it asks you a handful of questions and will provide you with a recommended shaft flex based on your estimated swing speed. .

Loft Setting: Most drivers are adjustable and can go up or down 1-2 degrees. Experiment on the range by lowering your driver loft and observing the new ball flight. If you have access to a facility with launch monitor, you can spend some time yourself adjusting and finding the right setting for optimum flight.

Final Thoughts

If you’re hitting driver too high, it can be frustrating and lead to less distance off the tee and higher scores all around. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to diagnose and correct.

The easiest, and most telling, thing to do is – take a video of your golf swing from a front-on view. Check your tee height and ball position…then watch your body position throughout the swing.

It is very difficult for many amateur golfers to hit the sweet spot consistently, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Diagnose the problem, fix one thing at a time, and take a long-term approach to the game and your improvement.

Good luck on the course!

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