For those that have enjoyed the emails, I transitioned them onto my website under the blog tab so you can go back and reread anything you may want. I hope your finding the information helpful and seeing rewards from your practice and improvement in the areas that may need it.
For this article I am going to focus on what has clearly become one of the most important skills in golf: the ability to create clubhead speed. While being able to consistently strike the ball solid and control the contact is the most important skill in the game, speed and distance is the advantage that separates players and results in the ability to shoot lower scores.
In past articles I touched on green in regulation percentage for tour players by yardage. These stats show that tour players will miss a higher number of greens than you may think, even when they have short irons in their hands. If you are consistently having to hit longer irons, hybrids and fairway woods into greens it is not likely that you will hit many of them, even if you are a good ball striker. For those players that do not have many “strikes” but still shoot scores in the 80’s or 90’s, then speed and distance must be the issue.
To gain speed there is a simple answer, it requires you to work at it. Training to go faster and monitoring progress is crucial. In lessons I use Trackman to monitor the swing and see how it is changing, I also use it to chart clubhead speed and distance. Based off of the length of course a golfer plays, there will be a minimum distance that will allow them the opportunity to hit a reasonable number of greens. If you look at the Trackman chart below, you will see what distance each swing speed and angle of attack can produce. When you think of the course you play, and the distance you need to be off the tee, see what speed and angle of attack you need to get to.
There are 4 key components to distance: clubhead speed, angle of attack, contact/club delivery and equipment. I’m not going to talk about equipment, but if you feel like you are doing a lot of things well and not seeing the distance you would expect, it makes sense to get fitted and test your equipment on Trackman.
To work on speed, the first thing you need to do is determine where you are. Not everyone wants to buy a $25,000 Trackman, but there are quality launch monitors that are accurate to track your clubhead speed and give you an idea of distance. I sell a PRGR launch monitor that is $239 and is reliable for tracking clubhead speed. If you would like to purchase one, please contact me directly. Once you know your clubhead speed, then we start the work to improve it. Based on the chart above you can gauge roughly where you need to get to in order to play your current course and tees.
Now the training begins. To improve your speed, you must practice going as fast as you
can. I like to run speed sessions in sets of 5-8 swings, doing 3-4 sets. The intention is to swing as fast as you possibly can. I have no concern as to where the ball goes, only that clubhead speed goes up. You must get as out of control as you can, so that when you go back to what feels controllable, that speed is higher. Each swing should be charted for speed to see how much you are gaining. If a lot more effort isn’t producing any sort of speed gain, then there is a technical issue that needs to be addressed.
The second part that greatly helps with clubhead speed is to get stronger. I personally believe that flexibility is an overrated asset by golfers and mobility and strength are undervalued. As we get older maintaining strength becomes even more paramount. If gaining distance is something you are trying to achieve, a good workout program is incredibly important. If you are lo0king for personal training in Sarasota, Somar Strength is a fantastic TPI certified trainer. For those that like to do it on their own, I personally use the Fit for Golf app by Mike Carroll. I have found it to be very useful with great content and array of programs that help you get into a great routine and continue to build. What I have really learned from Mike are the key components that need to be in each workout: Mobility, Strength, Power and Speed. He has been generous enough to offer anyone that books a 1-year subscription through his app 20%. Use code SARNOLDGOLF at checkout on the site below. You can also follow him on Instagram or Twitter at @Fit_For_Golf.
The final piece of the puzzle for distance is club delivery and angle of attack. As you can see in the Trackman Distance Chart a player that swings the driver at 85 MPH can have a 25-yard change in distance if they move their angle of attack from -5 to +5. To test your angle of attack, put a headcover about a foot in front of your ball, the goal would be to hit the ball without hitting the headcover. If you are hitting the headcover you are either 0 or negative on the angle of attack. The one thing to be careful with in this exercise is your dynamic loft at impact. If you are missing the headcover but the ball is going "too" high, then you are adding loft by allowing the clubhead to pass the hands. In the image below I've illustrated what bad vs good dynamic loft would look like at impact. If you do this with spray on the face to see impact you will get incredible feedback. Also, make sure to pay attention to the height you tee your ball.
Distance is not a thing that just happens. Like any other skill in golf, it requires work and time. The important thing is to have a plan and be able to measure progress. The keys for me would be to practice swinging faster, have a workout program and then build the skill in your club delivery. If you can swing it faster, deliver the club well and hit it out of the middle of the face, the rest of the game will get a lot easier.
I hope you found this article helpful. As always let me know if you have any feedback or questions. The next article will focus on the wedge play and distance control as we move forward trying to build our skills.