This is kind of a follow-up to last Friday's post about working with the junior players, who all seem to want to just swing as hard as they possibly can. What I was trying to impress upon them is that the golf swing can be a very powerful transfer of energy from the body, through the club, to the ball, but it is an action of grace and timing, not brute strength or application of power. The simple goal is to have the clubhead moving as fast as possible at the moment of impact (not all the way through the swing) and that process has been studied and perfected long before now.
When it comes to making the golf ball go a long way, there are a lot of elements at play. We know, for example, that hitting the ball in the dead center of the clubface ... right on the single tiny sweet spot ... optimizes the transfer of energy. Even a miss as small as 1/2" can cost 8-12% in distance loss on a driver. That's the equivalent of at least 15-25 yards for the average length player. So, the quickest way to add 20 yards to your drives is to slow down and hit the ball more solid.
Another thing we know – thanks to the modern launch monitors – is that optimizing spin and launch angle also have a dramatic effect on how far a driver can propel a golf ball. And research shows that average or typical golfers are not launching their drives anywhere close to the optimum numbers. Their launch angles are too low or too high and almost all have spin rates that are much, much higher than the tour professionals. That's mostly a matter of technique.
Another key factor is the golf ball itself. I've been told by golf ball "experts" who really know their stuff that only about 5% of recreational golfers generate the clubhead speed necessary to compress the "tour" golf balls that represent well over half of total golf ball sales. In other words, for the vast majority of you, that 'premium' ball you are playing is also costing you distance. The Bridgestone approach to the RX and RXS is in the right direction.
But, all those elements taken into consideration, it comes down to clubhead speed at impact. And the majority of golfers are not optimizing that variable. In my opinion, that's mostly because they are swinging so hard that they do not get the clubhead moving as fast as it could at that prime moment in the swing. The good news is that this is one of the easiest things to work on by yourself. One of the best drills for learning how to unload the club at precisely the right moment is to reverse the driver in your hands, holding it just below the head, and swinging it to hear the "swoosh" right at impact. If you do this over and over, you'll figure out how to build up to that point, so that you can literally hear the acceleration of the club to that magic moment.
Most golfers that are swinging too hard try to get the club moving too fast at the start of the downswing, so they will hear an elongated but less dynamic "swoosh" that lasts most of the downswing. Those that have a more fundamentally sound swing — beginning the downswing by a shift of their weight to the left/lead side, followed by a strong rotation of their body core, pulling the arms, hands and club through impact — will hear a more compressed and louder "swoosh" in the impact zone.
This little drill of holding the club backwards and learning how to compress and optimize the "swoosh", can do more for your driving distance than just about anything. It allows you to experiment with trial and error until you get the audible results you want.
Try it and see if it doesn't change your perception of just what the golf swing is all about.
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What ball would you recommend?
Let's call it a "whoosh" instead and leave a certain OEM out of this discussion. Not like they need the free plugs.
No matter how much you try to resist, sometimes you have to swing hard off the tee. My experience is that when I do the ball shoots off the club and ends up smack in the middle of the fairway .... of the hole to the right of the one I am playing.
Check out Whippy TempoMaster, a company that's been around for a long time. And for good reason.
Corduroy Says: Swizz-swizz! For you Beef...
But seriously, the first pro tournament I ever went to was the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in about 2000. I can still distinctly remember the distinct sound that Tiger, Davis, etc. made with their club compared to Mark Grace, or Clint Eastwood. Swoosh doesn't quite capture it. And you can't hear it on TV. It was a very high-pitched [weesh] kind of sound. I let me know right away that the swing speeds were incredible, and the move to the ball was fast, not strong.
Later, playing with a launch monitor, I tweaked my mechanics to increase swing speed. I found fast speeds close to 120mph with both long and short backswings, but that it wasn't what you'd expect - or could discern without the monitor. My order of move toward the ball, timing or weight transfer, and straightness of my left elbow would play into, for example. Swinging hard would send the numbers plummeting! Weesh!
Regarding the ball, I am a Bridgestone fan, and like what they are doing with their ball fitting, and honest advertising that tells you that their tour ball probably isn't right for you. And yes, I like "whoosh" better than the term I was using. Consider me corrected.
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