What is a few miles per hour of club speed worth? In terms of distance, can more speed really translate into more yards? Yes, it does. Technically speaking, every increase of clubhead speed by one mile per hour means about 3 additional yards.
But the real answer is more than math.
Quality of impact with the ball is the single most important factor when driving. Club speed accentuates flaws in the swing and in ball contact, so base mechanics must be solid before gains can be made. Some golfers will swing the club too slowly because they were instructed to do so. This is likely because they were losing control of the ball and slowing their swing seemed to improve accuracy. Problem is, if you slow down a fast bad swing all you have is a slow bad swing. The ball still goes left and right; it just travels a shorter distance. Some might say at least that keeps the ball in play and that’s fine, but your form must be correct to succeed. Once you have done this, if you want to improve and excel at this game, then you must add club speed.
How Does this Improve Score?
There are many reasons why golfers who swing the club faster would play better. One of the main reasons is that they can change the par of the course with their distance. They can turn Par 5’s into Par 4’s, so someone who is able to reach two of the four Par 5’s in two shots has effectively changed the par of the course from 72 to 70. They will essentially have a two shot advantage against the field before they even tee it up on hole 1.
The best players on the PGA Tour have an average swing speed of between 110 and 115 mph. Big hitters like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson add 10 to 15 mph and play just about every course as a Par 68, giving them a 4 shot advantage over a player who doesn’t have as much distance like Tim Clark. To add to that point, Dustin Johnson has 11 wins on the PGA Tour as compared to Clark’s 1 with Johnson playing in half as many events over his career.
“If you slow down a fast, bad swing all you would have is a slow bad swing.” So, now what?
If you add 1 mph of swing speed you can gain 2-4 yards with your driver, (as long contact remains the same). A 5 mph gain can amount to a 10-20 yard gain off the tee, which can be the difference between you hitting an 8 iron or wedge into a green. Which do you think you will hit it closer with? Distance also makes you more accurate because you will now be hitting shorter irons into greens.
Fine. So How Do I Swing Faster?
The first thing to do is start swinging the club head faster. That sounds simple and obvious, but before we even get into anything technical, you need to try and swing the club as fast as you can.
To get an idea of how your club speed is, hold your club upside down so that you are holding onto the club head end, then swing it and attempt to make a loud whoosh throughout the whole swing. If you only had a whoosh in a certain part then you are not moving the club fast enough throughout the swing. Speed it up in your backswing and speed it up in your downswing. If you do feel like you are speeding it up and the ball starts going right then you are not speeding the club up you are speeding your body up. It is imperative that you first speed the club up not your body.
After you feel like you are moving the club as fast as your technique will allow you, we can start gaining speed through improving your technique.
We are going to start with your hands. They are directly attached to the club and if we can get them to move quicker we can increase club head speed. Take a few pillows and put them on the ground up against the bottom of your couch. Now take a golf club, flip it upside down again and get into your impact position with your body. With the middle of pillows being your target, hinge your wrists up just as you would in your swing, only moving your wrists and hands, and then unhinge them to square the club into the pillows. Don’t worry; this won’t hurt the pillows since you are hitting them with the grip end.
The goal is to hit the pillows as fast as you can only using the hinging and unhinging of your wrists. You keep doing this until you can hit the pillows repeatedly, in a matter of seconds, with a full hinge and unhinge of the wrists. We do this here at the academy out on the range with impact bags. First left hand only, then right hand only and then both hands together.
If you already have quick hands, then we can add speed by making your transition more athletic. There will not be a backswing and then a downswing, but rather they will blend together in one smooth motion. You will start your downswing with your lower body before your club has reached the top of the backswing. If you watch tour pros swing, you will see that they all start their lower body moving while the club is still going back. This will help you to add ‘lag’.
Work hard on these few tips and you should see the ball going further the next time you play, and your scores getting lower.
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