How do LPGA Tour players hit their drives so straight?

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As a teacher, I have had the privilege of coaching both men and women golfers through the decades, and I’ve found that there are both similarities and significant differences in the approach to teaching golf to each gender.

When coaching male golfers, I often need to keep tabs on the amount of strain used in the swing, especially with the driver. On a scale of 1-10, the strain level used should be around 3-4 to get a velocity and compression of 7-8. Think about it as your second serve in tennis. Tom Watson was an expert at this. 

When I ask my new male students to rate their level of strain, they often answer 8-10… and that is after I describe 10 as a separated rib (which, by the way, you see more often than you would think on the professional tours). Using this level of strain is the equivalent of flooring a race car on a wet track; there is a red line there for a reason! It’s the same with your body; you need to be aware of your limits.  

Because men generally have more muscular density than women, they can take a golf club and yank it around like a big dog with a rag doll. This is generally not the case for women. They respond to the weight of the golf club and flow with it, rather than against it. As a result they develop better timing and rhythm in their swings, which leads to them hitting more fairways.

Like a lumber jack with a heavy axe, all golfers should learn to use the weight of the golf club to deliver the blow. Watch the video above to learn more.

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Shawn Clement is the Director of the Richmond Hill Golf Learning Centre and a class A PGA teaching professional. Shawn Clement was a 2011 and 2015 Ontario PGA Teacher of the Year nominee and was also voted in the top 10 (tied with Martin Hall at No. 9) as most sought after teacher on the internet with 65 K subscribers on YouTube and 29 millions hits.

17 COMMENTS

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  1. Shawn, thank you very much for the Driver lesson. I’m looking forward to the long iron/fwy lesson. I’m a ~10 hp golfer and hit my mid and long irons decent, but struggle with fairway woods from the turf. I’d really like to see a lesson on fwy’s from the turf. Thank you.

  2. With no disrespect at ALL to the women on the LPGA tour, they are sharp and incredibly talented and could beat most everyone from any tee box…but the reason the women hit it straighter is because they swing way slower. Its simple math. Who has the potential to hit it more crooked, the 22 year old who carries it 330, or the 75 year old who nukes his driver 200? Clearly the latter. Also, next time you go to a tough golf course play it from three tees up from the tips. 99% of courses lose their intimidation factor off the tee box when your tees are so forward. You are closer to the fairway, don’t have gorse or valleys to carry, and it’s just a more comfortable shot to hit. So yeah….when you’re swinging your driver at 95 MPH it’s pretty hard to put too much gnarly side spin or block / pull it off the planet. Plus the tee boxes are relatively stress free from a mental stand point. Again, the women on the LPGA tour are incredibly talented, and once off the tee box it squares up with with the guys. But it goes without saying that they play an easier game off the tee box.

    • The LPGA tournaments are not played from three tees up as you say – they typically play 6,800 yard tracks which will be akin to longer courses than you play in the monthly medal. This week in China at Mission Hills it’s 7,300 yards and they’re still shooting 65s.

      The rationale about women’s golf at the elite level is misunderstood (my daughter is 16 years old and plays off +3 and carries her drives 255 on the fly…270 with run-out most typically yet averages 67 around a 6,100 ladies course /6,990 men’s course). Like all elite ladies/girls she thinks her way around and uses the right clubs to yardages which she knows like a pro. She can beat me (and I’m off +1 handicap) playing off level from the men’s tips more often than I beat her.

      Amateur men (that’s not the elite variety but you and your mates) typically try to emulate Dustin or Rory as it’s all about swagger. You’ll think you hit your irons farther than you actually do and you don’t course-manage very well at all. It’s quite simple really, it’s not all about distance. My nephew is 20 years younger than me and averages 320 yards off the tee with driver (with a 3 handicap) but despite being 40 yards past me most times never wins even when in receipt of 5 shots. Why? Because he tries to power his irons and rarely hits better than 40% GIR…I manage 70% GIR and therein lies the difference. Wake up and realise it’s not all about distance off the tee or hitting your 56* wedge 140 yards.

      • Trackman tour data: LPGA average driver carry distance 218 yards v PGA Tour average 275 yards. Swing speed averages LPGA 94mph and PGA Tour 113mph.
        LPGA courses set up on average between 6200 and 6600 yards.

      • The ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills had several tee boxes forward of where I had to play a golf channel am tour event at 6400 yards. It was a phenomenal event but the course was setup around 6500 yards for a MAJOR. If you are correct Ian Muir, which I know for a fact you are not and if the LPGA played a course at 7300 yards Inbee Park would need 3 shots to reach every par 4 since she carries the ball around 210 yards. Thats awesome your Daughter can drive it 260 yards that will put her near top in distance on the LPGA and still dead last on the PGA Tour and Senior PGA tour. LPGA players are more accurate because they are about 60 yards shorter on average. You can hit the ball much further offline and still hit fairway the shorter you hit it.
        http://blog.trackmangolf.com/trackman-average-tour-stats/

      • Stopped reading after you talked about the yardages they play from, not even close. Please don’t think that what the card says is what they play, even more so in wet weather where the Ladies get no roll. Then you’ll see some events played at or below 6300 yards. Typically sub 6500, and even when they announce 6500, its usually below that.

  3. Rubbish. PGA tour clubhead speed stats show average and max clubhead speed within a few mph of each other. Gotta go after it to generate speed. Swinging easy is a bandaid for other swing flaws. Additionally with less distance you’ll pick up phony accuracy due to the geometry of a shot. The same percentage offline miss at 250 in the first cut is in the trees at 310.

    • I don’t think you understood what the writer said. There is a point of diminishing return when swinging a golf club, specifically a driver. Most pros will tell you they swing at about 80% because they want to be under control. Occasionally they swing harder but nothing near 100%. That’s reckless , especially if this is the way you earn income. Besides, if pros swung at or near 100% all the time their careers would be very short because of injuries or….too many missed cuts.
      Watching the Arnold Palmer Invitation today, Frank Nobilo pointed out that Brandt Snedeker was hooking the ball too much because he was swinging too hard. Like I said before, there is a point of diminishing return. That was what the author was trying to say.

  4. The point matches up to experience. Speed and accuracy are at a nexus. Try hammering a nail. If you want to hit the nail dead center on the head with the middle of the hammer, the slower you swing the hammer the more accurate.

    Next, try hitting the nail with as fast as swing as possible. The chance of controlling swing path and therefore accuracy will diminish. For one thing, you’ll have to grip the hammer more firmly the faster you swing to compensate for centrifugal force pulling the club out of your hand.

    Tighter grip means tighter forearms and bigger muscle groups taking over. These are strength muscles and not fine motor skill muscles. This all translates into less control of swing path and face to path which factor into where the club face meets the ball. The latter are what determines accuracy to target.

    Course management involves knowing what your maximum driver distance off the tee is with enough accuracy to have a decent line into the layup or the green. My bet is that most casual golfers would do better on par 5s hitting 3w, 6i, 7i, W and two putting for bogey than Driver, two shots out of the trees, 3w, 7i, W and two putt for a triple.

  5. I’m not sold on the assumption. You need to measure “straightness” by degrees off line with similar swing speeds. If I hit it 230 off the tee and am 5 degrees offline, (which is 20 yards from center), and I “straighter” than if I hit it 330 off the tee and 4 degrees offline, which is 23 yards from center?

    Obviously if you hit it farther, it will go more offline with the same degrees of inaccuracy.

  6. It seems that the women with higher swing speeds have the same issue of being a bit more inaccurate. Might be something to be said about new equipment and slower swing speeds to go along with their tempo and rhythm

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