Bonita Springs —What if I told you that you could gain distance and improve accuracy without working out (although we could all benefit from a little exercise), and with less effort than you are putting into your swing now?
Secrets to longer and straighter golf shots are primarily from two factors, solid contact and club head speed.
Most golfers understand that you cannot get the maximum yardage from your shots if you don’t make solid contact, also known as the smash factor. The smash factor for a driver is the golfer’s club head speed multiplied by 1.50. This total is the maximum ball speed you can get from a legal USGA approved driver. It has been tested that you can try to swing as fast as humanely possible but unless you strike the golf ball directly on the sweet spot you will be losing energy, thus distance. In fact for every 1/4” you miss hit off the center of the club face you will lose up to 16 percent of the energy. One way to increase the frequency of striking directly on the sweet spot, is by playing a shorter length driver. A popular misconception is that you will gain swing speed by using a longer driver, but the truth is, it will cause most golfers to lose distance and accuracy.
The idea behind the longer length is to generate more club head speed for more distance but in fact you lose the additional energy because it is much harder to make perfect contact with the sweet spot. Another influence on solid contact and club head speed is the club’s shaft flex and weight. If the shaft is too flexible for your swing style and timing, it will be nearly impossible to repeatedly square the club face up at impact. A shaft that is too heavy will theoretically slow your swing speed down, however if the shaft is too light for your timing, you will lose control of the club.
Once you can consistently strike the ball near the center of the face you can start to focus on increasing your club head speed. Average club head speed equation for a driver is around 20 yards gained for every 7 MPH increase in speed, when hit at the correct smash and launch angle.
One cause of slow club head speed is tension. The tighter your hands and arms, the less you can feel the club head and the slower the swing speed. Picture the club as a lever, if your arms and hands are too tense the club cannot hinge correctly.
Unfortunately the less you hinge the club, the lower the ball flight will be and again it will slow down your club head speed. An easy way to relax the upper body and hands is to squeeze very tightly on the grip for about 3 seconds, and then relax, lose the tension and swing. I would advise you to check your driver length, shaft flex, weight and grip tension if you are struggling with accuracy and distance.
Josh Musselman is a PGA professional, 2008 Horton Smith Award recipient, 2006-2012 “World’s Top 100 Club Fitter” recipient and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.