BOB KRAUSE -

Have you ever wondered why your new driver that was supposed to offer more distance and forgiveness has you missing more fairways than ever? For many golfers, the reason why is simpler than they might think.

The success of many golf equipment manufacturers is directly related to how many drivers they sell, which is why they work so hard to convince golfers that their latest model is their “longest ever.”

To validate the promise of more distance, manufacturers have added length to their drivers over the years, which can help golfers create more clubhead speed and thus more distance. But longer shafts can cause golfers a lot of problems if they do not make appropriate adjustments to their setup.

Here’s why. In simple terms, the golf swing is a circle. And with longer clubs, that circle gets bigger, which changes the bottom of the swing arc, or the bottom of the circle.

The smaller circle that shorter drivers create necessitate the traditional ball position of “off the left heel” (pictured).

Golf ball position image

But the new, longer drivers require a ball position that is more forward -- off the left instep (pictured) -- which gives the clubface more time to square up.

golf ball position image 1

If your ball position is too far back it will make your swing bottom out too early. The result will be a shot that will start right of your target and probably find its way into the woods, not the fairway. You might even try to correct that tendency by swinging more outside-in, or over the top, which can cause pulls and slices.

Next time you’re at the range, move the ball even with the instep of your front foot so you can get the extra yards your $400 new driver promised you. Here’s another secret. The lengths of today’s 3 woods have gotten longer as well. They’re as long as the old drivers (between 43 and 43.5 inches), so try playing them a little forward, off your left heel.

This little adjustment will help protect that new driver (and 3 wood) of yours from an early and angry death.