Posts Tagged ‘driver’
Here is an exercise to help you gain a few miles per hour of clubhead speed over time and allow you to pick up that much needed yardage off the tee. The objective is to slowly introduce your body to the increased speed, efficiency and agility necessary to generate additional clubhead speed.
Here is what is required:
- It is important to get loose prior to starting your speed sets
- Using your driver you want to hit two sets of five golf balls with a recovery period in between each set
- There should be little concern for accuracy or even quality of shot – the sole objective is speed
- The first shot in each set should be at your normal driver speed
- Each shot builds on the speed of the previous shot
- The final shot in each set should be the absolute fastest you can possibly swing
If you can do two speed sets as mapped out above 3 times a week for a month I would be surprised if you had not gained 4 mph of clubhead speed when making a normal feeling golf swing. That’s enough for 10 more yards off every tee box!
Additional resources for more distance off the tee:
The above TrackMan screenshot indicates a very typical pattern for the slicer – an overly inward club path (-15.2 degrees out to in) along with a clubface angle that is open/right of where the clubhead is travelling (9.9 degrees). This package results in shots that invariably launch left and curve aggressively right, often shaping across the target line. The end result is a far from optimal tee shot coupled with a healthy fear of any shot that leaks too far into right field!
The video below demonstrates what I did with the “owner” of the slice illustrated above. I have had tremendous success with this technique – primarily, I believe, because it taps into a golfer’s instinct that screams – in order for my ball to not leak right I must swing as much to the left as possible. Essentially the drill gives the golfer a reason, something they’ve never had, to swing to the right. Take a look….
- Tilt the face down 30 degrees (1 hour)
- Take normal grip
- Adjust shoulders and arms to square the face at address
- Swing out to right field
After working on this drill for a while the golfer started to get comfortable and gain a measure of confidence that the ball actually would work back to the left. This is what happened…
As you can tell from the above numbers the golfer has hit this shot more 55 yards longer. Part of that (15 yards) is due to an increase in speed, but as you can see – this player is now swinging from in to out, is hitting far less down on the ball, has substantially less spin and were it not for a slight heel side strike this would have been even longer.
These screenshots were taken during the course of a standard one hour lesson. They indicate an average shot from the player before the change and after. The golfer hit shots that were worse and better than both examples shown. Unfortunately an increase of 55 yards is not normal, but every little bit helps…!
We would all like to drive the ball longer off the tee, yet far too often golfers search in all the wrong places to find more distance. There are three primary factors that will help you hit the ball further: a well fitted golf club; a stronger, more flexible and ultimately faster you; and a swing that delivers the clubhead to the ball in a manner that maximizes the force you are putting into the swing – what I like to call efficiency. Where you get out what you put in. Here’s a great example – on the PGATour David Toms swings at 104 mph and Stephen Gangluff swings at 120 mph, yet they average the exact same distance off the tee….hmmm?
Efficiency is the big fish and the area where most golfers can make the greatest gains. With this in mind I created (with the help of TrackMan) a chart that I like to use to show golfers how far they are capable of hitting the golf ball with their current club speed. The chart ranges from swing speeds of 65 mph to 105 mph and assumes no wind, flat terrain, normal ground conditions, sea level and premium type golf balls. These distances can only be attained with an upward attack angle (+5 degrees) and fairly low spin rates – somewhere between 1900 – 2200 rpm.
Club Speed Ball Speed Launch Angle Carry (yds) Total (yds)
65 mph 96 mph 16.5 136 182
75 mph 111 mph 15.6 157 208
85 mph 126 mph 14.6 193 242
90 mph 133 mph 14.2 209 256
95 mph 140 mph 13.7 225 271
100 mph 148 mph 13.2 242 286
105 mph 156 mph 12.6 259 303
Keep in mind that the above numbers are achievable, but only in a ‘best shot’ type scenario. David Toms was the most efficient driver on the PGATour in 2012 and at 100 mph he would have averaged 278 yards per drive – very good for an average. Regardless of what our swing speed is we are all capable of this highly efficient delivery of energy from club to ball.
How helpful can this chart be to you? If you’re a golf coach with TrackMan technology you can benefit from it immediately. As a golfer you would need to have a rough idea of what your club speed is followed by an honest assessment of how far your ball is travelling in neutral conditions. If you’re noticeably shorter than you should be, seek out the nearest golf coach with a TrackMan and get to work.
You may have heard the term high launch, low spin….well, it really is what you should be after off the tee box.
When I tested my old college driver a few weeks ago my interest was piqued by how close my swing speed with the 43.5 inch club was to my current 45 inch driver. I have heard that altering the shaft length of your driver by an inch can/should alter the club speed by up to 4 mph. This called for a test…..
Using TrackMan my idea was to test the same golfer, clubhead and golf ball, but change the shaft length. I took my current driver, which is the Titleist D3 8.5 degree (B1) with a 45″ Motore F3 70 gram stiff shaft and tested it alongside the same head (B1) with a 43″ Project X 82 gram stiff shaft. Essentially a driver shaft versus a 3 wood shaft. I had recently came across a 42.5″ well kept old Wilson Staff JP persimmon driver with a steel shaft and decided to include that in the testing.
I hit 11 shots with each club and eliminated the data for the poorest shot with each club. I was using fresh Titleist NXT Tour golf balls and it was a perfect 80 degree day with little wind. The results were astounding!
With all three clubs my tendency was to hit up on the ball with a slight in to out club path. My swing plane was very consistent from shot to shot (which surprised me a little actually) and the clubface was almost always slightly open at impact. This path and face relationship led to an average shot shape of a slight draw. Here are the numbers:
45″ Driver Shaft
- Club Speed 101.3 mph
- Ball Speed 151.6 mph
- Spin Rate 2697 rpm
- Launch Angle 11.3 degrees
- Carry 245 yards
- Total 272.2 yards
- Height 76 feet
43″ Three Wood Shaft
- Club Speed 101.1 mph
- Ball Speed 150.0 mph
- Spin Rate 2100 rpm
- Launch Angle 14.0 degrees
- Carry 249 yards
- Total 278.7 yards
- Height 84.3 feet
42.5″ Persimmon Driver with Steel Shaft
- Club Speed 93.4 mph
- Ball Speed 141.2 mph
- Spin Rate 2115 rpm
- Launch Angle 10.3 degrees
- Carry 206.4 yards
- Total 246.4 yards
- Height 48 feet
I couldn’t believe it! I hit my driver with a 3 wood shaft further, higher, with less spin and above all else – straighter. Take a look at how much straighter: (yellow – driver shaft/purple – 3 wood shaft/ white – persimmon)
I also totaled the distance (after roll) the ten shots with each club finished from the center line:
- Persimmon – 182 feet (average 18″ off line)
- Three wood shaft – 234 feet (average 23″ feet off line)
- Driver shaft – 315 feet (average 31″ off line)
On my Andrew Rice Golf Facebook page I asked readers if they had any experience with shortening the shaft of their driver and here are a few of their responses:
“I just went to a 44″ and am loving it! Longer then my 45.5″ and straighter too!” GT
“Went to 44″ and more consistent with no loss in distance” AvS
“44″ Callaway…more fairways AND more distance!!!” CL
“Went to 44″ and I hit it more solid further and straighter” PW
“44″ this year. I agree it is far better. Middle of the face more often.” SF
“I found it made me less steep through attack so I have lowered my spin rate and launched it about a degree higher” AB
By the way – most of the above quotes are from full-time professional golf instructors. So what can we learn from this research?
Having tested a few golfers with shorter shafts it seems to me that each golfer has a ‘threshold’ length – an ideal length that gives them the optimal combination of speed and accuracy. For some that threshold could be 46″ while for others they perform best with a 42″ driver. The only way to find out is to get yourself with a teacher or fitter that has access to Trackman and various shafts.
Another point to note is that while the 3 wood shaft had a slightly slower club and ball speed the shots were longer…why? Notice how the launch angle was higher while the spin rate was lower. A perfect illustration of the term ‘high launch low spin‘. Launch the ball higher to get more out of your tee shots.
What can we learn from the ‘persimmon‘ data? While that shaft was even shorter than the 3 wood shaft it was substantially heavier. I believe the 3 wood graphite shaft was almost 50 grams lighter than it’s steel counterpart which would explain the almost 7 mph difference in club speed. The size, or lack there of, of the head was intimidating in the beginning, but as I went through the shots I became more comfortable. I believe that practicing with a smaller clubhead like this can only be beneficial in the long term for any serious golfer.
My feeling standing over the shorter club was better and almost every golfer I tested reported the same sense. The club feels easier to control and many golfers have reported a feel that they can ‘get through‘ the shot better. I really felt like I could smash it without it going off line – a nice feeling!
Physics says that longer shaft + lighter shaft = faster club speed = more distance. On paper that might be true, but when the human element is involved everything changes. The next time I tee it up it will be with a substantially shorter shaft in my driver…but that’s just me!
My wife encouraged me to clean out the garage the other day and I happened upon an old driver I used in college. I still remember how cool this driver was – it was the latest and greatest and even had a titanium shaft! When was the last time you saw one of those? Just for kicks I placed it up alongside my current Titleist driver and was shocked at the massive difference between the two – the older club looked smaller than my current three wood! How could I have possibly played well with this mini club? This got me thinking about a TrackMan test.
For the record the smaller club was a TaylorMade Burner Plus 9.5 degree with a titanium X flex shaft and my current club is a Titleist D3 8.5 with a Motore F3 70 gram graphite S flex shaft. There is a fairly substantial 1.5 inch difference even though both clubs were standard length in their day. I am not sure about the weight or the true frequency/flex of each club as I did not have the appropriate equipment to check those measurements.
For the TrackMan test I hit 12 shots with each club and deleted the data for the two worst shots. I noted that the attack angle, club path, swing direction and plane were very similar from club to club.
The primary differences seemed to be:
- Club speed 99.7mph vs 101.8mph – I believed that this difference would be greater due to the large difference in length of shafts.
- Ball Speed 145.7mph vs 152.4mph – I put this down to the fact that the smaller head led to more off-center hits and thus a decreased average ball speed and smash factor.
- Point of contact – there was a noticeable tendency for me to strike the bigger club in the heel. This led to more shots missed to the right due to gear effect and an increase in the spin rate 2455rpm vs 2895rpm.
- Height – even though the smaller club launched the ball slightly higher the apex height was lower due to less spin and ball speed.
- Carry and total distance – the smaller club carried the ball almost 17yards shorter, but with less spin and a flatter land angle rolled further to only finish just over 10 yards short of the bigger club.
- Dispersion – the smaller club had more shots finish further from the center line due to a much smaller clubface and substantially lower MOI.
Here are the TrackMan generated dispersion charts (yellow is the smaller club) and averages:
(click to enlarge)
I was amazed at how small the difference between the two drivers, total distance wise, there was. Going in to the test I would have thought that there would be a 15 yard difference at least. I expected the smaller club to spin the ball less and lower the apex which it did, but I was truly amazed at how little distance I lost with it. I did notice a much greater tendency to hit the ball outside the sweet spot with the smaller club and that led to some fairly aggressive gear effect draws and fades.
Driving is not my strong suit and I am always looking to keep the ball in play off the tee. Armed with this new knowledge I am going to try a shorter shaft in my current driver head and see what that does for my fairways hit statistic. I also plan on practicing with the older club – I think it is vital in improving ball striking to practice with smaller headed clubs.
I also think this test might also illustrate that the majority of the distance gains we see on the PGATour today are not equipment based, but primarily due to the ball…..your thoughts?