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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.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. des

    Aug 9, 2019 at 2:14 pm

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

  2. Steve Pratt

    Aug 8, 2019 at 12:35 am

    Hey Chris,

    I want to know if the correlation goes both ways.

    If I train and improve my shot put/chest press/vertical leap numbers can I expect equal percentage gains in clubhead speed? Let’s say those are the only 3 exercises I do.

  3. Patricknorm

    Aug 7, 2019 at 10:26 am

    I forgot the author’s name, but again people struggle with statistics and their interpretation. I under these charts and can’t really disagree with the numbers based on the number of tournaments I play each year and the broad spectrum of abilities I play with. For example two of my kids ( male and female) played elite hockey and their swing speeds are precisely correct in the upper speed ranges. I’m 65 and play tournament golf and I’m about average for distances and often out driven by much faster swingers.
    I’ve had both knees replaced so, my vertical jump and leg strength is terrible. I know if I strength my legs I’ll hit my driver further. Easier said than done.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Pinhigh27

    Aug 6, 2019 at 6:06 am

    Sample population isn’t representative of average people, maybe high level golfers. Average for 17-29 is 113? Give me a break, maybe among good players. 90th percentile 122?

    Your people are more likely to swing faster to begin with because they’re probably better players and looking to swing faster.

    When talking about average persons potential you need to use data from average people, not a highly skilled subset.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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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The Wedge Guy: Getting more out of your wedges

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When I started SCOR Golf in 2011 and completely re-engineered the short end of the set, I took on “the establishment” and referred to our line of clubs not as “wedges” but as “scoring clubs”—I felt like the term “wedge” had become over-applied to clubs that really weren’t. While I’ve tempered my “respectful irreverence” a bit since then, I still think we are shackled by the terms applied to those high-loft clubs at the short end of our sets.

Think about this for a moment.

It all started with the invention of the sand wedge back in the late 1930s. This invention is generally credited to Gene Sarazen, who famously had metal welded onto the bottom of a niblick to give it bounce, and introduced the basic “explosion” sand shot. Over the next few decades, the sand wedge “matured” to a loft of 55-56 degrees and was a go-to staple in any serious golfer’s bag. In his 1949 book, “Power Golf”, Ben Hogan described the sand wedge as a very versatile tool “for certain shots” around the greens, and listed his maximum distance with a sand wedge as 55 yards.

Even into the 1970s, the pitching wedge was considered the ‘go-to’ club for short recovery shots around the greens. And because the typical pitching wedge was 50-52 degrees in loft, it was very versatile for that purpose. I remember that even as a scratch player in the 60s and early 70s, I would go days or weeks without pulling the “sand wedge” out of my bag—we didn’t have bunkers on that little 9-hole course so I didn’t feel like I needed one very often.

Fast forward into the 1980s and 1990s, people were hitting sand wedges from everywhere and the wedge makers began to add “lob wedges” in the 60-degree range and then “gap wedges” of 48 degrees or so to fill in for the evolutional strengthening of iron lofts to a point where the set match pitching wedge (or P-club as I call it) was 44-45 degrees typically. Along the way, the designation “G”, “S”, “L” and “P” were dropped and almost all wedges carried the actual loft number of the club. I think this was a positive development, but it seems we cannot get away from the pigeon-holing our wedges into “pitching”, “gap”, “sand” and “lob” nomenclature.

So that history lesson was a set-up for suggesting that you look at all your wedges as just “wedges” with no further limitations as to their use. I think that will free you up to use your creativity with each club to increase your repertoire of shots you have in your bag…more arrows in your quiver, so to speak.

For example, long bunker shots are much easier if you open the face of your 50- 54-degree wedge so you don’t have to swing as hard to get the ball to fly further. You’ll still get plenty of spin, but your results will become much more consistent. Likewise, that super-short delicate bunker shot can be hit more easily with your higher lofted wedge of 58-60 degrees.

When you get out further, and are facing mid-range shots of 40-75 yards, don’t automatically reach for your “sand wedge” out of habit, but think about the trajectory and spin needs for that shot. Very often a softened swing with your “gap” wedge will deliver much more consistent results. You’ll reduce the likelihood of making contact high on the face and coming up short, and you can even open the face a bit to impart additional spin if you need it.

Around the greens, your lower-lofted wedges will allow you to achieve more balance between carry and roll, as almost all instructors encourage you to get the ball on the ground more quickly to improve greenside scoring. For the vast majority of recreational/weekend golfers, simply changing clubs is a lot easier than trying to manipulate technique to hit low shots with clubs designed to hit the ball high.

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