Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Golf Swing Speed

In our initial interview with the students of the United States Golf Academy we ask a number of questions about the new student’s goals. Without exception the most common request is for more club head speed. Longer drives and using shorter clubs into the green is the desire of just about every player we meet. While finding more club speed is a good thing, I normally suggest it is easier to be more efficient with the speed they create.

Using the data from our Trackman ball flight monitor we know at sea level, with no wind and normal ground conditions a player with 90 mph of club head speed under optimal conditions can hit a golf ball 256 yards with a driver. It is a very rare occurrence that the average player comes anywhere close to that distance. In other words they can generate the club speed just don’t use it very well.

A great measuring stick to check the efficiency of your swing is to find a facility that can accurately measure the golf ball speed at impact. The ratio of club head speed to golf ball speed is commonly called the smash factor. For example, at 90 mph the fastest ball speed obtainable is 135 mph. The smash factor is then 1.5 as 135 is 1.5 time faster than 90. Under perfect launch conditions this would create the 250+ yard drive. However, the average smash factor at the Academy is probably closer to 1.4. So the 90 mph player with a smash factor of 1.4 creates a ball speed of 126 mph rather than the 135 for a distance of 239 yards or 11 yards shorter with the same club head speed.

The slower ball speed can come from a variety of reasons. But all of the reasons come from what is most simply described as a glancing blow at impact. The clubface is open to the path, the angle of approach is too steep, or you just don’t hit the ball with the center of the club or any combination of those factors and others.

So the solution is not to look for more club speed

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