Gaining Distance Off The Tee
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Club Head Speed + Solid Contact = Distance
Swinging hard does not necessarily correlate with greater club head speed. In fact, it often decreases clubhead speed. Have you heard someone say "I barely swung at that ball and it went farther than my normal one."" Why is that? When someone feels they swing within themselves and stay on balance, they have better timing and usually hit the ball more solid. It is important to always swing to balance in order to create speed. Always maintain the ability to hit the ball solidly. A club head speed of 130MPH hit on the bottom of the clubface won't go very far.
- Clubhead Speed
- Solid Contact
Imagine you're holding a golf tee vertically between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. If you punch the tee as hard as you can with your right hand it won't fly very far. That is what happens when you try to hit a golf ball "hard". You spend a lot of energy and the ball doesn't go very far. However, if you were to flick the tee like you were flicking an insect off your arm the tee would go soaring through the air. That is what creating distance is all about. It is not about how hard you try to swing. It is about generating clubhead speed at the critical moment.
Allow the energy in the golf club to be stored and released at the perfect time like cracking a whip about a foot past the golf ball. If you were trying to crack a whip, your hands and wrists would be relatively relaxed and fluid throughout the swing, not rigid. And above all else you would have to remain on balance to deliver the strike. You would have no chance of cracking the whip with significant force if you were off balance. Use this image next time you play to create maximum speed in your swing.
Swinging with speed creates maximum distance when you hit the ball on the proper spot on the clubface. The sweetspot varies slightly from driver to driver. Very rarely is it on the exact center of the club. For most drivers today the sweetspot is above the center and slighly towards the heel or toe of the club, depending on the brand.
High Launch + Low Spin Rate = Distance
The ball that carries the farthest with the least amount of spin will produce the greatest total distance. Most Launch monitors measure club head speed, ball launch angle, and spin rate. The idea is to match the three of them when fitting a driver. Ideally, you want a high launch with low spin. Most average golfers have a 9 degree launch angle with over 4,000 RPM’s with the driver. Most PGA Tour players have a 12 degree launch and with 2,400 RPMs of spin. They launch it higher and spin it less. Make sure when you are fit for a driver that you are working on increasing launch angle and decreasing spin rate. Here are some ideal numbers for gauging the proper mix of launch angle and spin rate:
|Ball Speed||Launch Angle||Spin Rate (RPM's)||Carry Distance|
|170 mph||11.5-15.5 degrees||2000-2400||289 yards|
|160 mph||12-16 degrees||2200-2650||271 yards|
|150mph||13-16.5 degrees||2300-2800||252 yards|
|140 mph||14-17 degrees||2350-2950||233 yards|
|130 mph||14.5-17 degrees||2400-3100||215 yards|
|120 mph||15-17 degrees||2500-3300||196 yards|
Tee Height Matters
The way the modern drivers are designed, you need to get your tee height correct to maximize efficiency. Old persimmon woods had a much lower center of gravity than today's drivers. You had to hit the ball lower on the clubface to get it to go up in the air. Today's drivers are maximized when you hit them high on the clubface. Tee your ball up so the equater of your golf ball is in line with the top of your clubface at address. This will encourage you to catch the ball on the upswing. It is not a good sign if you break a lot of tees with the driver throughout the round. Sometimes breaking tees is unavoidable on firm playing surfaces but it's something to look for if you start driving the ball poorly.
Shallow your angle of attack
If you are afraid teeing the ball that high because you might pop the ball up, it probably means your angle of attack is too steep! You don't have to change your golf swing to do fix this. Simply move the ball up in your stance and put a little bit more weight on your back leg at address. This will change your angle of attack, making it much shallower without having to change your swing. The best way to reduce spin on the driver and hit it more solidly is to “pick” the ball off of the tee. You should feel like you “leave the tee in the ground” after you hit it. This means you have swung on a nice level plane thus reducing spin.
Improve your Strength and Flexibility
This is not always our favorite. However, you can do a few things every day to help improve your strength and flexibility. If you do 15 minutes a day of stretching, sit ups, and pushups your strength and flexibility will improve. Also, training aids can actually be very helpful for improving your strength and flexibility. One of the best products for increasing swing speed is a “Swing Fan”. Tom Kite gained 12 MPH on his driver in the late 80’s swinging one. It actually works!
In summary, there are three ways to increase your distance: change equipment by getting better fit for a driver, improve your swing technique, or getting stronger and more flexible. You can pick the one or one(s) you think you need the most, but usually a combination of all 3 helps you get the distance you are looking for.