Driving distances - facts not fiction April 23 2016

Every week we get contacted by the golfer who claims that he hits the ball 300 yards through the air.  It happens so often I was becoming paranoid because I can see on a GC2 machine that I clearly cannot.  What is also strange is that in my time of club selling I have only seen it twice!  Both players are elite playing pros.  

So with the help of a little bit of science lets look at the numbers behind a 300 yard carry.  First we need to get the backspin rate down to what we now know to be an optimal rate.  around 1800 rpm gives the ball the flight we all love to watch.  Looks like a tracer bullet and doesn't balloon.  We need to connect that to a good launch angle.  Lets say 14-15 degrees.  That by the way is the launch that Stenson gets on his preferred driving club (the one that commentators insist on telling us is a 3 wood).  The rest of us get this from our 10.5 degree driver.  

So far so good.  With a little bit of help most players can get somewhere near these numbers.  Hit a little up on the ball and use a modern driver and we are set.

To get the 300 yard carry I now need to generate a ball speed of 173 mph.  Yep that's fast.  

We get this by doing a combination of two things.  One swinging the club fast and two hitting the middle of the clubface.  Most golfers know this.  Either because they have read about it or because they can feel the good ones.  We all know when we get it sweetly.  What they don't seem to grasp is that this in fact the most important factor of the two. More on this in another blog but suffice to say that assuming you do get it sweet how fast then does the club have to be travelling?

To calculate this we need to assume a smash factor.  This is a way of measuring the effectiveness of our strike.  It is calculated by measuring the club speed and ball speed and dividing the later by the former.

A sweet strike is basically going to produce a smash factor of around 1.45.  Lets put this in perspective Trackman confirms that on the PGA tour the average driver smash factor is 1.49.  So that tells us (Ball speed divided by smash factor) that you young sir or madam have to get that club head travelling at around120 mph.  Now lets be blunt here the only way my club head goes that fast is when its in the hold of a 747 on the way to Portugal.

So  science seems to doubt that my customers do in fact carry the ball that far.  But so what I hear you say.  Who cares?

Well if you are a player trying to maximize their performance it may be helpful to know what is and what isn't achievable.  Frustration can be seen in so many golfers I know and it is a major hindrance to improvement.  

If you are an good player and can carry the ball 265-275 then you are doing mighty fine. Go put your efforts into the short game.

If you doubt any of these numbers go look here.