Get Faster Off the Tee

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:

Getting More Out of Your Driver | Andrew Rice Golf

Hitting Up or Down? Here's How to Set Up | Andrew Rice Golf

Hit Up On the Driver: Here's a Great Drill - YouTube

Can You Get Better in 20 Minutes?

I recently ran an interesting promotion where I offered golfers an opportunity to gain 10 yards if they participated in a twenty minute TrackMan session. The cost was $50 and if they didn't gain the yardage their session was free. This meant I had to be on my game and I had to make simple and effective upgrades to get paid...it's not often a golfer can take a lesson and only have to pay for the lesson if they see immediate results!

My reason for running the promotion was primarily to create interest and excitement in the new TrackMan unit and to give the Berkeley Hall membership a peek at what this technology can do for them.

I had eighteen golfers, eleven men and seven ladies sign up and I encouraged each of the participants to focus on the driver. In case a participant wanted to work with an iron I had them each bring their driver and a seven iron along.

When hitting the driver I try to get my students to have an attack angle of somewhere from 1 - 5 degrees up along with a club path of somewhere from 1 - 5 degrees from in to out.  I prefer that most golfers hit out and up on the ball creating a high launch, low spin trajectory with the driver. We all could benefit from a few extra yards, no?

Here is a compilation of points of interest from the day:

  • The average swing speed for the men with the driver was 83.9mph. The top speed achieved was 96.1mph while the slowest was 70.1mph. Keep in mind that this event was promoted as a "distance" event and as a result the golfers who came out tended not be the longest of hitters.
  • The average speed for the ladies with the driver was 65.6mph with the top speed being 73.4mph and the slowest being 60.3mph.
  • Before any changes were made 11 out of the 18 golfers hit down on the ball at an average of 1.6 degrees with the driver.  After the changes had been made the same 11 golfers averaged 0.6 degrees up on the ball. Not bad...
  • Before any changes were made 7 golfers (a surprisingly low number in my opinion!) hit from out to in at an average of 3.3 degrees with the big stick. This means that their club path was travelling 3.3 degrees left (for a right hander) of the target at impact. After adjusting, the same 7 golfers averaged 0.8 degrees from in to out - a very positive change.
  • Prior to any changes 4 golfers hit too much (in my opinion) from in to out at an average of 6.6 degrees. After the changes they averaged 2.2 degrees in to out - a far more respectable number.
  • Not every golfer gained yardage, although the majority did.  A few golfers actually lost some clubhead speed while they were working on the changes which were primarily in the address position.  It was interesting to note how some golfers adapted and changed easily while others had a tough time.
  • The golfers with slower swing speeds tended to be more efficient, something I had already noted from the PGA Tour stat on Total Driving Efficiency and as a result it was quite difficult to get them make the "required" yardage gains. They were quite close to optimal already...
  • Similarly, I found the ladies to generally be more efficient in transferring the energy they created to the ball than the men. I've also noticed that LPGA golfers also tend to be more efficient than their PGA Tour counterparts, particularly with the driver. The mantra seems to be "the more energy you create, the more likely you are to waste it!" It does not have to be that way though.
  • Every golfer who attended the event improved in an important area regarding how they deliver the club to the back of the ball. Quite a few golfers did not gain 10 yards, but they all left feeling like they had the knowledge and feel they needed in order to realize longer tee shots.
  • One lady had a fantastic golf swing with very efficient numbers, but, primarily due to her petite size, she was unable to generate much clubhead speed. She had an older, heavy driver with a 70 gram shaft and so I spent most of our time talking to her about what equipment (lighter = faster) suited her best and what exercises (Momentus woosh) she could do to increase her speed with the driver.  I'll be interested to see how she does with the new club.
  • Almost all the participants commented that while the "numbers overload" from TrackMan was overwhelming at first, once we had isolated a particular problem (attack angle, club path, spin axis etc.) it seemed very simple. They were able to key in on one area and get a feel for how much change was required in order to reach their goal - all without much in the way of complicated, positional swing changes.
  • The twenty minute time format worked well for the students and for me. They did not get overloaded with information and I had be concise and clear (for a change!) in what they needed to upgrade.

So, back to the question, "Can you get better in twenty minutes?" I would have to say an emphatic yes. With the right feedback mechanism, which TrackMan certainly is, and a simple approach, you can make fairly substantial changes in a short period of time. The important thing moving forward is that you practice the changes in order to gain a measure of comfort and confidence in them - and as we know, that takes more than twenty minutes.

Thanks for reading.

How Far Do You Hit It?

The PGA Tour has a new stat titled Total Driving Efficiency .  The stat measures how many yards each player is able to squeeze out of their driver clubhead speed- how much are they getting out of what they put in?  We should all be looking to be  as efficient as possible, particularly with the big stick.   The stat is quantified by how many yards per mile per hour of clubhead speed a golfer extracts from their driver and there is a minimum of 25 driver shots required.

The current leader is David Toms who works with noted instructor and Trackman user Brian Manzella.  Together they understand the ins and outs of what it takes to be as efficient as possible with the driver.  Brian says David's path and face are right around zero (which means straight at the target) with his attack angle being about 2-3 degrees up on the ball.  Read more here.  David's YTD averages are:

  • Ball Speed - 159mph
  • Launch Angle 12.6 degrees
  • Spin Rate 2300rpm
  • Carry 260 yards

Keep in mind that the new stat is an average and thus includes balls hit on firm and soft fairways, into and down wind, and of course good ones and less than stellar ones.  The numbers below indicate the best (Toms), middle of the pack (Scott) and bottom (Driscoll).  As you view the distance they would hit the ball at various clubhead speeds keep in mind that some players prefer to not be optimal.  In other words, some players just prefer to hit a higher spin cut shot out there as they know it'll stay in play.  Also keep in mind that most of the golfers who do well in this stat tend to swing the driver at less than 110 mph - they need to be efficient to keep up!  The vast majority of us need to do the same. Read THIS to learn how to be more efficient with your driver.  If you know what your clubhead speed this is where your average tee shot would end up. If you are similar to Toms' number keep it up, if you are in the Driscoll category we need to talk...

David Toms (best)

  • 100 mph - 269 yards
  • 95 mph - 256 yards
  • 90 mph - 242 yards
  • 85 mph - 229 yards
  • 80 mph - 215 yards
  • 75 mph - 202 yards

Adam Scott (average)

  • 100 mph - 258 yards
  • 95 mph - 245 yards
  • 90 mph - 232 yards
  • 85 mph - 219 yards
  • 80 mph - 206 yards
  • 75 mph - 194 yards

James Driscoll (worst)

James Driscoll

  • 100 mph - 244 yards
  • 95 mph - 231 yards
  • 90 mph - 219 yards
  • 85 mph - 207 yards
  • 80 mph - 195 yards
  • 75 mph - 183 yards

Where do you fall?

It would be interesting to see what would happen to James Driscoll's efficiency if he spent an off season working on getting more out of his driver...

The Driver and Distance (Part 1)

We all want to hit the ball straight and far of the tee don't we?  In more technical terms our goals with the driver are to achieve the highest ball speed possible (distance), along with the desired flight pattern (accuracy).  We want cake and we want to eat it too!  There are numerous elements built into most drivers that often assist us in achieving these goals, yet so many of these small factors almost go unnoticed.  Almost...

Factors in driver technology that influence distance are: length of club; shaft weight; head weight; loft; face material and thickness (CoR) and roll (vertical gear effect).  Distance comes from our ability to convert clubhead speed into ball speed - often referred to as smash factor.  Smash factor is an indicator of our efficiency at impact - are we getting out what we (our driver included!) are putting in?

  • It seems to be fashionable these days for club companies to stretch the length of their drivers to 46 inches and claim that they are "superfast".  The laws of physics indicate they are faster, but in my hands any speed gains are sacrificed with a loss of control.  Ben Hogan used a driver that was 42.5 inches long and nowhere have I ever read that he was a short hitter.  Personally I am not a fan of anything over 45 inches as this seems to be my threshold where distance decreases and control and centerdness of hit diminishes. I believe beginning golfers could use a 43 inch driver with far better results.
  • Over the last decade shaft technology has come a long way and the most notable upgrade has been shaft weight.  Miyazaki makes an incredible 39 Series driver shaft that can be as light as 44 grams - if you you cannot swing that faster then we have a problem.  Barring feel and control issues I am a big fan of lightweight shaft technology and know it is something we should all take advantage of - even Keegan Bradley did.
  • In pursuit of the "lighter is faster" formula a few companies have sought to reduce the weight of the clubhead.  Cleveland Golf has their Ultralight line of drivers that are the lightest on the market today.  A little known fact is that we could actually hit the ball further with a heavier clubhead (with speed being equal).  By increasing the mass ratio of clubhead to ball you can increase ball speed, however the problem here is that as you increase weight you decrease speed, so once again there is a threshold to consider.  The good news is the club companies have done all the research for us and most driver heads fall somewhere between 197 and 212 grams - something we can all manage.
  • The loft of your driver is something that should be determined by an expert (someone who does this for a living!) fitter.  A nice option with the new adjustable heads is that you can now alter the loft of your club without buying a whole new club. The more loft you introduce to the ball at impact the more spin and less ball speed you will create.  The lower the loft, the more ball speed. One problem however - we would like to get the ball in the air and so, once again, there is a trade off.  When it comes to loft, where possible, I encourage a golfer to go with less loft and show them how to overcome the reduction in launch angle by learning how to hit up on the ball.  The golfer does most of the work here, but a reduction in loft can help with distance.
  • The coefficient of restitution (CoR) is the spring like effect the face has when it collides with the golf ball.  As you  might expect the highest CoR on the face is in the center with lower numbers working out from the there.  Golf's governing bodies have made it a rule that this spring like effect cannot be higher than 0.83 and as a result all club companies have made sure that their equipment is right up against the limit.
  • The final, and perhaps most interesting, factor that increases the distance your driver makes the ball go is due to roll - no not roll on the ground, but roll on the face.  Roll is the curvature of the face from top to bottom or crown to sole. Manufacturers include roll into the face design in order to create vertical gear effect on hits that are below or above center.  A ball that is struck above center will actually spin less due to gear effect and as a result launch high with low spin - a winning formula for the long ball.  Of course balls hit low on the face will spin more, but they more than likely need a little more air time. Please see Part 2 of this article for a full explanation of gear effect.
  • I know of no face design or treatment that increases distance - unless you're working the Chapstick for more than just your lips!

The most efficient a golfer could be with the big stick would be to have a clubhead and shaft that fits them in every way, hit the ball from the inside with an ascending blow and strike the ball slightly above the center of the face and a touch towards the toe.  The reason to favor the toe -  the toe of a driver travels about 14% faster than the heel of the club!

I love this PGATour stat that measures how efficient each player on tour is with the driver.  It quantifies  a player's average distance divided by their average swing speed. It also shows each players average swing speed - an interesting read.

Check back soon to learn about what the driver can do for your accuracy....

How to Hit it Longer Than Ever

Here are a few clues - do not swing harder or get a new driver or change your shafts!  Although all of those ideas might help, the best, and simplest, way to hit longer shots is to strike the ball better.  Plain and simple!

Here is the heads up from Trackman, the premier radar technology for swing and ball flight analysis:
Generally speaking, to maximize ball speed (which translates directly into distance) it is more important to improve centerdness of impact than to increase club speed.  An off-center impact is less efficient in transferring energy from the club to the ball, thus some of the power of the club speed is lost, resulting in a lower initial ball speed and consequently less carry distance.
While increasing the velocity of the clubhead would increase distance, I'm sure we are all well aware what happens when we swing harder - perhaps increased speed, but far less control and very often a less centered hit.  This is where smash factor comes in.  Smash factor is a measurement where the ball speed is divided by the clubhead speed and essentially is the efficiency of the hit - how well was the energy of the swing transferred into the golf ball to make it go.  The more centered, or solid, the hit, the further it will go.  And, being aware that most of us do not have the ability to measure the smash factor of our shots it is important to be aware that if you want to hit it longer (and I've only ever met one person who didn't!) the direction one should take should be in search of a better hit and not necessarily a faster clubhead.
A few good drills and articles to improve the quality of your ball striking:

Impact Drill: How to Stop Scooping | Andrew Rice Golf

Hip SlideGood or Bad? | Andrew Rice Golf

Hands Forward at Impact | Andrew Rice Golf

The moral of the story - focus on hitting it better and you'll hit it longer.  Now get to work.......

TrackMan: Definitive Answers at Impact and More

Here are a few very interesting facts that I have learned with the help of TrackMan. TrackMan is a radar unit that measures both club delivery and the full trajectory of any golf shot – essentially it measures almost everything pertaining to a golf club striking a ball. This might shed some light on, or dispel, a few of golf’s oldest myths:

For PGA Tour golfers (please note that these are averages):

  • All clubs, on average are struck with a descending blow from a PW (-5.0 degrees) to a driver (-1.3 degrees).
  • Every club in the bag hits the ball at the same height 30 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with the Driver is 112 mph; ball speed is 165 mph and carry distance is 269 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with an 8-iron is 87 mph; ball speed is 115 mph and carry distance is 160 yards.
  • Clubhead speed increased by 2 mph from club to club.
  • In conditions that eliminated any roll, an average PGA Tour player would hit a driver and a 5-wood 500 yards; a driver and a 7- iron 441 yards; and a driver and a PW 405 yards.
  • The Carry distance difference between each iron is 12 yards (8-iron 160 yards and 7-iron 172 yards).

For LPGA Tour golfers (please note these are averages):

 

  • All clubs are on average struck with a descending blow other than the driver which is 3.0 degrees upward.
  • Every club in the bag hits the ball the same height25 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with the driver is 94 mph; ball speed is 139 mph and carry distance is 220 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with an 8-iron is 74 mph; ball speed is 100 mph and carry distance is 130 yards.
  • Clubhead speed increased by 2 mph from club to club.
  • In conditions that eliminated any roll, an average LPGA Tour player would hit a driver and a 5-wood 405 yards; a driver and a 7- iron 361 yards; and a driver and a PW 327 yards.
  • The carry distance difference between each iron is 11 yards (8-iron 130 yards and 7-iron 141 yards).

General information:

 

  • Shot accuracy is primarily determined by a combination of face angle, club path and point of contact.
  • The ball launches PRIMARILY in the direction of the club face - approximately 75-85% on full shots.
  • For putting, shot accuracy is determined primarily by the face angle - the softer the hit (as in chipping and putting) the greater the effect of clubface. In putting the face accounts for 95+% of where the ball goes.
  • Face angle (largely) determines the launch direction while shot curvature/shape is mostly determined by the club path relative to the face angle – the opposite of what has been taught for years. Think of it this way: when a ball is struck with a descending blow, i.e. ball first, divot second, the attack angle is down, yet the ball goes up. The ball goes up due to the angle/loft of the face!
  • The initial ball direction falls between the club face angle and club path - remember that it greatly favors the face angle.
  • The further apart the club face and club path diverge from each other (basically - point in different directions) the more the ball's spin axis tilts and the more curvature exists on the shot.
  • By the way - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SIDE SPIN - it is merely back spin on an axis and the more the axis tilts, the more the ball flight curves.
  • The only way to hit the outside of the ball is to have the face closed relative to the target line and to hit the inside of the ball the face must be open relative to the target line. Path plays very little role in what part of the ball we hit.
  • The highest recorded clubhead speed on the PGA Tour in 2009 was Bubba Watson at 128 mph while the World Long Drive Champion, Jamie Sadlowski used a clubhead speed of 145 mph (418 yards!) to win. The average male golfer swings a driver somewhere between 82 and 90 mph.

  • A carry distance of 100 yards for ladies is equivalent to a carry distance of 130 yards for men; 200 yards for ladies is equivalent to 250 yards for men.
  • A par four of 350 yards for ladies is equivalent to a par four of 430 yards for the men.
  • The most important factor in increasing carry distance is clubhead speed. For every 1 mph you can add to your swing speed you stand to gain almost 3 yards.
  • An increase of 1” in the length of a club can increase the clubhead speed by as much as 4 mph.
  • The quality of the hit is very important as it relays clubhead speed into ball speed. Smash factor is calculated by dividing the ball speed by the clubhead speed. The maximum smash factor is just above 1.5 (e.g. 100 mph clubhead speed divided into 152 mph ball speed) and indicates an ideal transfer of energy to the ball. A smash factor of 1.5 is most often only attainable with a driver.
  • The ball spends 1/2000th of a second on the clubface. That means it would take a scratch handicap golfer almost 28 rounds of even par golf to have the ball be on the clubface for one second!

Something to keep in mind is that no golfer should discard accuracy in search of distance as there should always be a balance between the two. It is, however, possible for just about any golfer to significantly increase their distance with only a marginal decrease in accuracy as a result of a sound, long-term plan coupled with commitment and discipline.

Interesting stuff - any thoughts or questions?

To hit it like a Tour player check THIS out!