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Swing speed: How do you compare?

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How fast a golfer swings the club has had an increasingly higher correlation to how much money the top PGA Tour professionals make in recent years—this is no secret.  

What has been a secret, until now, is how fast other golfers your age swing and how you compare. No one has known, or if they have, they didn’t share it. We are going to reveal in this article, based on the research and data we have been collecting for over six years, where you stand compared to where you could be. No longer will you be held captive to father time and the belief that you are doomed to get worse with age!

After reading this article, you will see what is possible for you, depending on where you are in your golf life based on the cold, hard facts of science. The data sample we have is almost 800 golfers large and ranges from ages 10 to 80.  The really cool thing about this article, though, is that we aren’t stopping there. We are then going to dive into the top three tests that you can do at home that correlate to clubhead speed at an incredibly high level.  

If you find yourself in the 25th percentile for club speed but 90th percentile for the power tests, you have more speed in you right this second, we just have to get it out of you. It might be figuring out which of your four rotary centers are locked up or could be a simple nervous system fix such as over-speed training. All it takes is a simple assessment and application of the correct fix and you are good to go!

If, however, your swing speed is in the 75th percentile and your power numbers are only in the 25th percentile, you are swinging faster than your body can handle. The only way you are getting faster and minimizing the risk of injury is by improving your physical abilities.  

You are likely already maximizing your equipment and technique as far as they will take you at this moment. Your low-hanging fruit is in either the mobility or the power quadrants of speed. This is again easily determined with a simple assessment so that you can apply the correct fix to your problem. If, however, you skipped the assessment and just started over-speed training or something other than what you actually needed, your likelihood for injury is probably quite high.

So let’s get into it…

STEP 1 – Power Assessment

The three tests that we measured in our research to look at their relationship to club speed were standing shot put from both sides (6 lb medicine ball), seated chest pass (6 lb medicine ball) and vertical jump. The correlations for each test to club speed for the entire sample are below. A correlation of 1.0 means that there is an exact relationship between the two variables, a correlation of 0.0 means there is absolutely no relationship. As you can see, vertical jump had the lowest correlation while shot put right (strong side) had the strongest correlation.

Shot Put R 0.822

Shot Put Left 0.809

Seated Chest Pass  0.802

Vertical Jump  0.644

For a more in-depth look at each test’s correlations to the club speed within each specific age group, I would encourage you to download the entire free report here.  

Below are the charts for the power tests and their percentiles for each age group (click the image to expand) 

Each of these tests is the first step for you to take to objectively assess where you are in terms of your ability to produce power.  Complete each test, write down your numbers and then write down what percentile you fall into.  

The next step is putting in your swing speed, assessing the relationship and then coming up with a plan.

Step 2 – Swing Speed Assessment

This is the one everyone is excited about.  Find your age group bracket and see where you fall in the percentiles.  Write this number and your percentile down and compare it to your power numbers.  See anything interesting yet? 

Swing Speed Data Table

Percentiles 25th 50th 75th 90th 99th
10-13 years old
Males 73.0 82.0 90.1 98.0 104.6
Females 70.7 77.3 82.6 87.9 95.1
14-16 years old
Males 98.5 103.9 107.8 111.5 115.1
Females 85.0 87.2 92.2 96.4 101.8
17-29 years old
Males 108.8 112.9 117.3 122.1 127.2
Females 87.0 93.4 96.6 98.8 102.3
30-39 years old
Males 102.2 107.9 112.3 118.3 128.5
Females
40-49 years old
Males 97.0 100.8 106.1 110.4 114.5
Females NA NA NA NA NA
50-59 years old
Males 96.5 100.2 104.0 109.4 114.3
Females 72.7 73.9 80.9 86.0 87.4
60-69 years old
Males 87.6 94.0 97.8 100.2 104.0
Females 71.9 73.5 75.2 76.7 79.6
70+ years old
Males 84.6 93.7 96.9 100.2 107.5
Females 69.1 71.1 72.1 72.9 73.0

Step 3 – Asses Mobility

This is the most important step but also the least exciting. In order to complete step four, which is going to be coming up with your plan, you need to know how your mobility is at your four main rotary centers. Normally we charge $10 for this at-home assessment, but since you are reading it here at GolfWRX we are giving it to you for free.

Click here to download the free assessment.  

Once you complete these simple mobility tests, we’ll give you the email to send your results to so we can send you some simple fixes complementary.

Write down your mobility results next to your power numbers, swing speeds and your percentiles for all categories. At this point, you should have a simple yet clear picture of you as a golfer.

Step 4 – Your Plan 

This is where the magic happens.  At this point, you have done more than 90 percent of golfers, golf instructors, and golf fitness gurus. You assessed objectively where you are today, all the major physical quadrants of your power profile. And it should not have taken you more than 15 minutes.  

Now, look at all your numbers and first, identify any mobility restrictions you have. These are the most important ones to address first. Without question. Do the fixes we send you.

Next, take a look at your power percentiles vs. your club speed percentile.  

Three Possible Outcomes

More RPM Under the Hood

If your power percentiles are higher than your speed percentile, you have more speed in your tank right this instant, we just need to let it out!  

Fix any mobility restrictions you have and that will gain you speed. If you had no mobility restrictions, solutions such as over-speed training could be huge for you! That being said, avoid high volume protocols. We have found in some of our other research that you can gain the same speed numbers with a lot fewer swings.  If you’re interested in learning more about these, stay tuned. I would also recommend looking at your equipment for ideal fit and your technique for maximal efficiency. Your solutions could lie in those areas as well.

The Ticking Time Bomb

If your power percentiles were lower than your speed percentile, you are swinging faster than your body wants to.  You likely have optimized your equipment and technique to a degree. You are essentially defying nature. This sounds great until you understand the injury risk potential that exists for you.  

Making sure your mobility is up to par is step one. If you want a sure-fire way to assure injury, swing faster than your body is capable of handling and do it without rotational mobility. Guaranteed poor outcome in that situation.

The next thing you need to do is get involved in a golf performance program of some sort that works on the specific areas of detriment that were identified in the power testing.  

This doesn’t mean to start training the tests, however. This means that you should be implementing exercises and drills that train up the skills necessary to maximize power output in a pushing, rotational and vertical manner. Depending on your training experience and background, oftentimes seeking out help from a professional in designing this part of the solution is a wise move. 

The Balanced Golfer

If you find that all your percentiles were pretty much the same, congratulations! You are a balanced golfer. As with the other two types, check your mobility and make sure you close any gaps there first. The next step for you will likely be a balance approach of technique, equipment, mobility, and strength conditioning for golf.  

Once you figure out where you land, you likely will have questions about where to go next. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for complimentary calls to discuss your results and give you suggestions of what to do next.

Happy speed gains!  

 

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Chris Finn is the founder of Par4Success and a Licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Titleist Performance Institute Certified Medical Professional and trained to perform Trigger Point Dry Needling in North Carolina. He is regarded as the premier Golf Fitness, Performance & Medical Expert in North Carolina. Since starting Par4Success in 2011, Chris has and continues to work with Touring Professionals, elite level juniors & amateurs as well as weekend warriors. He has contributed to numerous media outlets, is a published author, a consultant and presents all over the world on topics related to golf performance and the golf fitness business.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. des

    Aug 9, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Why stop at 70? How about us 88 year olds.

  2. Brett

    Aug 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Are these all scratch players? Watching club fittings I rarely see people as fast as your 50% category

    • Chris Finn

      Aug 9, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      Thesea are handicappers ranging from scratch to in the 20’s. The biggest thing to consider here is that the 50th and ups generally are involved in a golf performance program which increases their speed and power numbers. These is your normal country club golfer spectrum

  3. Revanant

    Aug 6, 2019 at 11:37 am

    These numbers seem way out of proportion.

    If I’m in my 20s and in average shape, I should have tour average swing speed?

    • Chris Finn

      Aug 9, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      “Average” shape in your 20’s would put you in the 105-113 range most likely. Remember, though, there are 4 main factors that impact speed (equipment, technique, mobility & power). From a physical standpoint, most “average” shape guys in their 20’s likely have the ability physically to swing this fast, but technique and power output coordination will likely keep them short. It is important to take note of this sample size that the 17-29 year old sample size is mostly Div 1 golfers and professionals.

  4. Skeptic 123

    Aug 6, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I’m guessing that it is just a statistical anomaly that the 99th percentile swing speed for 70+ is higher than for a 60-69 yr old. 107 for a septuagenarian is pretty unbelievable.

  5. Large chris

    Aug 6, 2019 at 4:35 am

    The comparison between power output and swing speed percentiles is useful definitely, but the absolute percentile swing speed figures are ridiculous.

    These presumably are just test results of serious golfers who have been at your facility. No way the median 50% of male golfers in their thirties (of all golfers) is 108mph lol

    • Joe Frigo

      Aug 6, 2019 at 6:23 am

      lol totally agree with this! im 31 and my range is usually 108 – 112. When I play with my friends im definitely the fastest swing and the other 3 are around 100. optimal launch and spin being considered, that means half the men in their 30’s can potentially hit 300 yard drives

      • Large chris

        Aug 6, 2019 at 7:43 am

        And the top 1% (eg a million players if there are a hundred million male golfers in their thirties on the planet) are swinging at 128.5mph so they would all be longer than anyone on the PGA tour. BAHAHAHAHA.

        Better explanation of who has been tested is required.

        • Joe Frigo

          Aug 6, 2019 at 8:14 am

          hahahaha seriously…. an explanation on who was tested is definitely needed!

          I worked at a pga superstore and fitted for 3 years. I know my 108 – 112 avg isn’t the fastest by any means. but it was very very rare for someone to come in and swing faster than that

        • Chris Finn

          Aug 6, 2019 at 10:00 am

          tour average is 113 mph…exactly the same as our 17-29 year old demographics. The top tour players can swing in the high 120’s and some of the younger guys do top out in the 130′ if they go after it.

          • Chris Finn

            Aug 6, 2019 at 10:02 am

            the guys swinging in the 90-99th percentiles are not your average players, but the cool thing is that this data shows you what is possible at different ages and stages in the golf career.

            • Large chris

              Aug 6, 2019 at 1:05 pm

              Well the golfers in the 90-99% percentile should be the top 10% of all swing speeds for all golfers.
              Not some undefined mysterious elite…. if this is a breakdown of mini tour players (figures still sound high) then please edit the article to say so.

    • Judge Smails

      Aug 6, 2019 at 9:10 am

      And there is no way that the median for 70+ is 94MPH. I remember Gary Player – one of the best athletes in the history of the game – saying his clubhead speed at age 75 was 93MPH. There are probably 50 super seniors at our club, and not one of us can get anywhere near 93. Most of us would be happy to hit 93MPH of BALL SPEED!

      • Chris Finn

        Aug 6, 2019 at 10:04 am

        This is just the average for 70 year olds who are participating in a targeted golf performance plan. most 70 year old golfers aren’t doing that which is why they don’t swing as fast. Hopefully this helps to give hope back to the guys in the 70’s who are in the 70’s and 80s mph that other guys are doing it and they likely can do better than where they are now.

    • Chris Finn

      Aug 6, 2019 at 9:58 am

      definitely the sample size is of golfers who are playing more than 4 times per year. These are players who practice and on average play 30ish times per year or more

  6. MattM

    Aug 5, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    Sweet so I’m 99th percentile in all power categories just need to get the swing speed to catch up then.

  7. Luke A Gentry

    Aug 5, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    When measuring the distances the medicine ball is thrown, do you include roll or mark the spot that it lands.

  8. Ashton

    Aug 5, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I find myself in the 90th+ percentile in all categories except vertical leap.
    I’d say that coincides directly with the amount of beer consumed and the waste size increasing.
    I’d be curious if there’s another test that is more efficient than vertical leap – say leg press/squat.
    What was the reasoning behind vertical leap? it takes into play the core and leg strength effectively, but would you say it also is a good indication of ability to fire the lower half in the swing?

    • Chris Finn

      Aug 5, 2019 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks for the read Ashton! Swing speed is an expression of power while squat and leg press are measures of strength…2 different but related physical skills. There is some research showing a weak relationship between squat and swing speed. The best relationship is actually based around how high you jump and how much you weigh. If a 100 lb person jumps 20″ and a 200lb person jump 20″ the heavier person is creating more power and will likely swing faster. We are currently building up our database with all that information, but this is a great start with the absolute data of just how high.

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Opinion & Analysis

The coveted FedEx Cup Top 30: Why making it to the Tour Championship really matters

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This week at the BMW Championship held at Medinah Golf Club in Chicago, the top 70 players left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs are looking to seal their spot in the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

Not only does getting into the top 30 mean a chance at winning the FedEx Cup and a cool $15 million bonus for winning the event, but heading into the 2020 season, being in the top 30 comes with some big perks. This top 30 threshold allows players the opportunity to build their schedules around the biggest event in golf.

Let’s take a look at what punching a ticket to East Lake really gets you

  •  An automatic invitation into every major in 2020: The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, and The Open Championship. For many players qualifying for these events, especially The Masters in a lifelong dream.
  • Invitation to all the WGC Events: There are only a few event on tour that get you an automatic paycheck and FedEx Cup points. Being eligible for the WGCs shows that you are a world-class player, and with these events on the schedule, you don’t have to worry about qualifying through world rankings.
  • Invitation to all limited field events: This includes the Genesis Invitational (formerly Genesis Open / LA Open), The Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial, and The Players Championship.

If a player was to play every one of the qualified events that would put them at 12 events for the season—to maintain a card for the next year a player has to play in at least 15 events. If you conclude that many of these are also winners and will play in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii that would put the players at 13 events.

This is why being in the top 30 is such a vital line in the proverbial sand—it gives these top players the ability to pick and choose their schedules for the 2019/2020 season without the stress of worrying about what events they are in. Although not to the same extent, this is also why every cutoff is so crucial for each player, whether it be the PGA Tour top 125, PGA Tour 125-150, or those players that gained their cards through the Korn Ferry Tour. Every dollar and every point earned accumulates towards playing opportunities for the next season!

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Opinion & Analysis

WRX Q&A: NewClub’s Matt Considine

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A friend of a friend pointed me to NewClub’s website. Having never heard anything about the effort previously, my first impression of NewClub was a product of its homepage, which looks something like (OK, exactly like) this.

“Sounds great,” I thought. “But what the heck does all of this mean practically?”

To get the answer to that question, I got in touch with founder and CEO Matt Considine, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about the venture.

GolfWRX: Let’s start with a little bit about your background in golf…

Matt Considine: As Lebron likes to say “I’m just a kid from Akron” and like many Midwestern kids, I’ve loved playing games with my friends, especially the game of golf. I grew up working and playing at area clubs, munis, and driving ranges. I always had a club in my hands — my mom will attest to all the divots in her carpet and repaired windows in our house. My first internship in college was with IMG Sports in Cleveland and that was my first formal introduction to the golf industry.

WRX: How did arrive at the concept for NewClub?

MC: Golf societies have been around since 1744, so I’m not sure I can take credit for conceiving anything. We took an old idea and made it new again, something that would mesh with the life of a modern golfer.

The first time I was introduced to a golf society was in 2005, and I haven’t been able to shake the concept since. Like many people I’ve talked to, I was burnt out and frustrated with golf, so I quit my college team and shipped off that summer to study at University College Cork in Ireland for 9 months.

I left to get away from golf but it was my experiences in Ireland that introduced me to a whole new way of enjoying the game. After getting laughed off Cork’s Hurling team (Ireland’s native sport) they found out I could play a little bit of golf and offered me a spot on the club team (league rules permitted one American per squad). My dad shipped my clubs over and I was back in business. Because their University teams operated on a lean budget, we would play matches against local societies and clubs in between the college matches to keep the competition sharp. It was those matches and people I met that taught me a whole new way to look at, appreciate, and enjoy the game of golf. It was a miraculous blessing looking back on it now.

Fast forward 10 years, I was living in Chicago working in business development for a technology company. I kept meeting people who were self-proclaimed “golfers,” but not playing much golf. So a small group of friends took a trip over to Scotland where we had an especially enlightening experience playing the Old Course and hanging out at The New Golf Club of St. Andrews after our match.

It was our experience there that was the final spark that NewClub needed. We enjoyed our lunch while The New Golf Club members file through the entrance, four golfers at a time to reminisce about their game on one of the seven links courses available to them through the St. Andrews Links Trust and their golf society membership.

We met teachers, bankers, architects, grocers, police officers, accountants, and fishermen. We heard stories about legendary members like Tom Morris and Sandy Herd. The New Golf Club of St. Andrews is a magical place where any golfer in their community, anyone in good standing with a passion for the game could make their golfing home.

When I returned to Chicago from that second pilgrimage in May of 2015, I decided it was time to start enjoying golf again. Just like the way I used to as a kid, the way those clubs and societies did in Ireland, and the way those members did at The New Golf Club of St. Andrews. That summer I started a standing game every Saturday at any compelling course I could find and my golf society was born. Then in 2017, we made NewClub official with 50 founding members and 5 clubs in Chicago willing to host the society.

Matt Considine

WRX: What’s happened since launch and where you are now?

MC: The society has grown to over 300 members and we have relationships with over 50 private clubs and golf courses that we find fun and compelling places to play the game. We have standing tee times every Wednesday to Sunday throughout the golf season and host five tournaments and three trips every year. Next Spring, we have our first NewClub trip scheduled to back to Scotland.

We’ve also introduced an ambassador program for people from all around the country. It’s been amazing how many people we’ve met who are eager for something like this in their own community, a golf society that they can genuinely be proud of.

WRX: Anything more about what members are saying and what the feedback is been like?

MC: In a lot of ways, we’ve set up this really unique society golf experiment, so we’re not afraid to try new things and see how people respond. Our members have been incredibly helpful with feedback. We’ve been listening a lot, watching how they use the mobile app, how they play their golf, learning about things they need, things they don’t. It all has helped us get to where we are now.

Overall, we’ve found that people have enjoyed the access and discovery of new and exciting courses, but the more pleasant surprise has been how much our members enjoy meeting new people and playing with each other. Nobody ever thinks (or admits) that they need golf buddies. But what we’ve found is that people are far more likely to play a round if they know they’ll be playing with someone they actually want to play with.

We’ve also learned that match play is very unappreciated in our country. Members love the matches, and match play is one of our core principles at NewClub.

WRX: What’s next for NewClub?

MC: We have plans for our second market launch in 2020 and will continue to grow our ambassador program to show us the road ahead. People are starting to stand up and say “this is how I want to experience golf,” so we know there is a serious need out there and we want to make sure we are meeting the demand by growing in the right way.

WRX: What do prospective members need to know?

MC: We have a really straightforward and proprietary application process on our website. Every prospective member needs to complete the application before being considered for membership. We look for applicants who possess a high quality of character, passion, and respect for the game of golf, and always leave the course in better shape than they found it.

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Opinion & Analysis

Slow play is all about the numbers

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If you gather round, children, I’ll let you in on a secret: slow play is all about the numbers. Which numbers? The competitive ones. If you compete at golf, no matter the level, you care about the numbers you post for a hole, a round, or an entire tournament. Those numbers cause you to care about the prize at the end of the competition, be it a handshake, $$$$, a trophy, or some other bauble. Multiply the amount that you care, times the number of golfers in your group, your flight, the tournament, and the slowness of golf increases by that exponent.

That’s it. You don’t have to read any farther to understand the premise of this opinion piece. If you continue, though, I promise to share a nice anecdotal story about a round of golf I played recently—a round of golf on a packed golf course, that took a twosome exactly three hours and 10 minutes to complete, holing all putts.

I teach and coach at a Buffalo-area high school. One of my former golfers, in town for a few August days, asked if we could play the Grover Cleveland Golf Course while he was about. Grover is a special place for me: I grew up sneaking on during the 1970s. It hosted the 1912 U.S. Open when it was the Country Club of Buffalo. I returned to play it with Tom Coyne this spring, becoming a member of #CitizensOfACCA in the process.

Since my former golfer’s name is Alex, we’ll call him Alex, to avoid confusion. Alex and I teed off at 1:30 on a busy, sunny Wednesday afternoon in August. Ahead of us were a few foursomes; behind us, a few more. There may have been money games in either place, or Directors’ Cup matches, but to us, it was no matter. We teed it high and let it fly. I caught up on Alex’ four years in college, and his plans for the upcoming year. I shared with him the comings and goings of life at school, which teachers had left since his graduation, and how many classrooms had new occupants. It was barroom stuff, picnic-table conversation, water-cooler gossip. Nothing of dense matter nor substance, but pertinent and enjoyable, all the same.

To the golf. Neither one of us looked at the other for permission to hit. Whoever was away, at any given moment, mattered not a bit. He hit and I hit, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes within an instant of the other. We reached the putting surface and we putted. Same pattern, same patter. Since my high school golfers will need to choose flagstick in or out this year, we putted with it in. Only once did it impact our roll: a pounded putt’s pace was slowed by the metal shaft. Score one for Bryson and the flagstick-in premise!

Grover tips out around 5,600 yards. After the U.S. Open and the US Public Links were contested there, a healthy portion of land was given away to the Veteran’s Administration, and sorely-needed hospital was constructed at the confluence of Bailey, Lebrun, and Winspear Avenues. It’s an interesting track, as it now and forever is the only course to have hosted both the Open and the Publinx; since the latter no longer exists, this fact won’t change. It remains the only course to have played a par-6 hole in U.S. Open competition. 480 of those 620 yards still remain, the eighth hole along Bailey Avenue. It’s not a long course, it doesn’t have unmanageable water hazards (unless it rains a lot, and the blocked aquifer backs up) and the bunkering is not, in the least, intimidating.

Here’s the rub: Alex and I both shot 75 or better. We’re not certain what we shot, because we weren’t concerned with score. We were out for a day of reminiscence, camaraderie, and recreation. We golfed our balls, as they say in some environs, for the sheer delight of golfing our balls. Alex is tall, and hits this beautiful, high draw that scrapes the belly of the clouds. I hit what my golfing buddies call a power push. It gets out there a surprising distance, but in no way mimics Alex’ trace. We have the entire course covered, from left to right and back again.

On the 14th tee, I checked my phone and it was 3:40. I commented, “Holy smokes, we are at two hours for 13 holes.” We neither quickened nor slowed our pace. We tapped in on 18, right around 4:40, and shook hands. I know what he’s been up to. He understands why I still have a day job, and 18 holes of golf were played—because we both cared and didn’t care.

There you have it, children. Off with you, now. To the golf course. Play like you don’t care.

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