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How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?

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How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs

One of the nice things about having all this new fancy technological equipment like Trackman, Flightscope, ShotLink, etc., at various PGA Tour events is that distance data can be gathered for each of the players.

In case you haven’t come across it already, here are the approximate Trackman carry distance averages for men at the professional level.

Average PGA Tour Carry Distances (yards)

Club Carry
Driver (Total) 289
Driver (Carry) 269
3-Wood 243
5-Wood 230
Hybrid 225
3-Iron 212
4-Iron 203
5-Iron 194
6-Iron 183
7-Iron 172
8-Iron 160
9-Iron 148
PW 136

 

Pretty cool info. Perhaps they hit it farther than you might have thought…or maybe they hit less than you may have been lead to believe based on what you’ve seen on TV, read on the internet, etc.

Since I deal a lot with swing speed training and helping people in general hit the ball farther, a relatively common question I get is, “How far should I hit my clubs for my swing speed?”

Well, since we also know that the average driver swing speed on Tour typically runs around 112 to 113 mph, using a bit of algebra and the above distances we can approximate a guide for how far you could expect to hit the ball (assuming fairly consistent and solid contact) given your personal driver swing speed.

Here are those carry distances.

Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed (mph)

 Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed (mph)

I took the ranges down to 60 and 70 mph because those are swing speeds I’ll encounter when working with some amateur women and seniors. I also went up to 140 mph because numerous long drivers I’ve trained can get their drivers up that high (RE/MAX World Long Drive champions like Joe Miller, Jamie Sadlowski and Ryan Winther can actually reach over 150 mph).

Aside from using the chart as a general reference point, here are a few other things that I think are worth pointing out:

First, these numbers are based off how the average Tour player strikes the ball. Although Tour players are overall good ball strikers with all their clubs, most of them are actually not as efficient (the Tour average is about 2.58 yards/mph of swing speed) as they can be when it comes to distance with their drivers because on average they hit drives that launch too low and with too much spin.

LGPA Tour players (2.65 yards/mph of swing speed) and Professional Long Drivers are actually more distance efficient with their drivers…but that’s a topic for another article. The good news for you is that greater carry and total-driving distances can be achieved at all the range of swing speeds shown above if you are a more efficient driver than the average male tour player at 2.58 yards/mph of swing speed.

With a 2-degree change in driver loft and some minor adjustments made to his swing path, angle of attack, etc, one of my amateur students went from being an already above-average efficient driver at 2.61 yards/mph to an extremely efficient one at 2.75 yards/mph. So with no change to his 102 mph swing speed, he increased his driving distance average from 266 to 280. Then after some swing speed training, he got up to 112 mph and can now hit drives around 307 yards with that same efficiency of 2.75 yards/mph. That’s 41 more yards!

Second, the club distances are based on the driver swing speeds that you would get from a system like FlightScope and Trackman. So if at all possible, get yourself checked on one of those. Otherwise, if you measure with something like a Speed Stik (which measure higher in my experience), you could get a false sense of how far you might expect to hit the ball.

As another example, Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radars (SSR) also read faster. It should be pointed out that SSRs are still a great personal training aid, and because of their accuracy and relative affordability and portability, they are actually the radar I recommend in my swing speed training programs.

However, the Doppler radar in an SSR measures the fastest moving part of the club head (typically the toe) versus a Trackman or FlightScope, which each have proprietary algorithms to calculate the speed at the center of the club face. For this reason, SSRs will read about 5 to 12 percent faster, depending on how you as an individual move the driver through impact. If you have an SSR, just hit 5 to 10 balls with it and a Trackman or FlightScope at the same time and you’ll find out your personal difference for sake of comparison.

Third, the above numbers can be useful for a good general reference, but like I mentioned in my article about understand distance variance, recognize that carry distances can vary a lot depending on conditions. Slopes, wind, temperature, altitude, etc., are all things that can affect how far the ball flies, so remember to factor that in.

Fourth, keep in mind potential loft differences between your clubs and the ones here. As a general rule of thumb, club manufacturers have made their club lofts (especially in the irons) continually stronger over the years as a way of marketing and selling consumers the new clubs.

Many top Tour players are being paid to play the latest clubs, which could mean they might also be playing irons with stronger lofts than the set you are playing. This isn’t always the case, however, but it’s another thing to be aware of.

Last, once you start approaching less than 80 mph with the driver, notice how the distances start bunching up between clubs.  At this point, you start getting to an area where you really don’t need a full set of 14 clubs. If this is you, perhaps you might also find that you hit a 3-wood or 5-wood further than a normal driver.

My wife is very strong and athletic, however, as a beginner who doesn’t play or practice very much, she hasn’t developed much swing speed. For that reason, we got her fitted for a 9-club set of Wishon 730CLs, a set that is designed specifically for men and women with less than 80 mph of club head speed.

The shafts are very light, the driver is 16 degrees and only 42 inches, the fairway woods are 20 and 26 degrees (versus the commonly used 15- and 19-degree fairway woods), and the remaining hybrids/irons are gapped out in 6-degree loft increments (compared to the normal 3- or 4-degree). Also, since many beginners, lesser skilled players and those with slower swing speeds can struggle with really high lofted wedges, the highest lofted wedge in the set is 54 degrees.

All of these things combine to provide a driver that can actually be hit in the air for distance, clubs that have substantial distance gapping, plus it’s just less clubs in general to lug around and choose from.

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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the co-creator of "Sterling Irons" single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27. He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also holds the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs. The Swing Man Golf website has more than 8,000 members and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s website members and amateur and tour player clients will pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training. You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons here: Websites – JaacobBowden.com & SwingManGolf.com & SterlingIrons.com; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – Facebook.com/JaacobBowdenGolf & Facebook.com/SwingManGolf & <Facebook.com/SterlingIronsGolf; Instagram - Instagram.com/JaacobBowden YouTube – YouTube.com/SwingManGolf – More than 2.8 million video views

105 Comments

105 Comments

  1. Wileetoyote

    Mar 10, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Your chart numbers are pretty accurate for me… I’m a 51 yr old with a single digit handicap and an avg (semi-aggressive) swing speed of 105mph. I bounce between your 100-110 number up and down the scale depending on a pure hit vs a toe hit and if I’m looking for a smooth hit at 80% or going after it at 90%. Anything overly aggressive (beyond 90%) would result in a miss hit half the time so I try to avoid that.

  2. Dave

    Feb 14, 2018 at 6:58 am

    I just saw a video of you on you tube using both the swing speed radar and ,i think, a flight scope and the flight scope swing speeds were higher yet in the above blog you stated that the swing speed radar was most likely to read higher.
    Did that you tube video change your mind about that information as perhaps the swing speed radar readings are apt to be LOWER than one of those more expensive swing speed measuring devices

  3. SV

    Jan 5, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I just reread this article. The chart confirms something I noticed years ago, and that is my distances do not conform to the norm. On longer clubs, such as driver, fairways and hybrids I am less efficient. With an average driver swing speed of 95 my longer club averages are closer to a 90 SS or a little lower. My iron distances are closer to the 100 SS averages. I would think a lot of people are similar unless they are a plus handicap.
    Thanks for the information.

    • chris

      Apr 26, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Chart is not perfect and everything is subject to centeredness of contact.

  4. Travis

    Jan 2, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Interesting article but these numbers are way off. Understanding that the same swing speed can produce a variety of distances based on strike, AOA, etc these numbers still same significantly lower than the expected results. A 90 mph 7 iron is easily getting 170 carry on a quality strike. This chart has it at 138!!! That just does not add up. I think TM or GC2 have charts that provide more accurate information.

    • Golfarn84

      Jan 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Re-read the header of the table, “Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed”. You will likely have about a 110 mph driver SS to have a 90 mph 7iron SS. The 110 mph column shows a 169 yard carry for a 7 iron.

    • andy

      May 15, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      90mph swing carrying 170yds, are you on crack????

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  6. Tom

    Apr 23, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I disagree with the second chart. It’s way off. Using traditional loft of a 6 iron I have an average recorded speed of 76mph and an average carry distance of 140 yards. I would consider my trackman recorded data as more accurate vs the equation based chart you use.
    Other than that great read, says a lot about distance and what you should expect. A lot of people over exaggerate what their average is.

  7. terry Langaard

    Apr 19, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    I had to change my swing because i have 2 blown discs in my back. so this year i changed my swing with a draw on it.maybe. maybe 1oomph, how far should my clubs go. driver 3wood 7 wood 4 hybrid 5 6 7 8 9 p 52 56 60. just something to go on. thanks terry l

  8. Other Paul

    Feb 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Jaacob. I spent some time with your exercises. And it helped. I went from 97mph to 107. Then i read Kelvin miyahiras work and swing at 115-120. I found your exercies made me more explosive. I also deloft more now so ball speed is up. Swinging my 7 iron about 97MPH and hitting it 190-210 depending on shot shape. Golf is a different game knowing any hole under 340 is reachable with a good bounce or two.

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  11. Ron

    Apr 22, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Jaacob – Great article! Lots of information in both the article itself and the detailed responses to questions and comments. A lot to digest here. I’m a 75 year old 4-handicap with a measured driver clubhead speed of 92-94 mph – and your distance chart scales pretty well throughout the bag. Specific distances will vary with lofts, attack angles, conditions, type of shot (draw, cut, knock-down, etc.) and all the rest – but at first blush, when you go to pick a club for a particular shot, that’s a good place to start. (And most of the time, we would be pretty happy with a ±5-10 yard variation in distance to a tight pin!) Nice work.

  12. John Doefield Jr.

    Jan 19, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I would be interested to see what the yardages were on the shorter clubs: Gap, 56, and 60. Other than the driver I have about the same distances as those listed yet my 60deg is about 65 yards and my 56deg is about 95 yards. I could have sworn I hear on TV pros using 60deg from 100 yards out. I wonder why my distance falls off so much more…?

    • chris

      Apr 26, 2018 at 7:46 am

      100 yard 60 degree is definitely in a pros wheelhouse. Probably more like 90-100 yards.

  13. Felipe

    Nov 21, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Hey guys

    just curiosity.
    As soon as the SLDR came out i bought it and i was driving it 280-85 total.
    67 gram stiff shaft 9.5
    Today im playing with the Cobra bio cell + and im driving it 290-300 when very solid. Stiff 9.5 65 gram

    Is it suppose to change so much distance ?
    Sorry if any miss spelling haha im not american

    Thank you

  14. Ryan

    Nov 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    My swing speed is 95-98 mph and I drive the ball 225-250 yards. I hit my 7 iron 145 ish. My father has a swing speed of 70 mph but he hits a club further than me. Is this just all in my timing or is he an exeprion?

    • alex

      Apr 2, 2015 at 10:22 am

      i bet you are casting. and hitting shots off the toe/heel. smash factor is the number everyone need to look at

    • Mark

      May 25, 2018 at 1:20 pm

      Ha! My swing speed was just tested with my new ping G400’s and I hit 9 iron 150 and g25 driver avg 260-280 so what’s wrong with this picture?

  15. larrybud

    Nov 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I realize this is old, but distances are not linear to swing speed because the ball is not hit in a vacuum.

    A 150mph ball speed is going to go more than twice as far as a ball with a 75mph ball speed.

    • truth

      Jul 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Air resistance actually hinders the faster ball proportionately more… in a vacuum, the 150mph ball would travel much further, proportionately, than the 75mph ball.

      The reason distances are not linear to swing speed, then, is because kinetic energy equals half of mass times velocity _squared_.

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  17. J. T. Parker

    Sep 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    My ball speed is about 142 with driver and 2000 spin. How far should my drive carry at 11 degree launch

    • Jeff

      Nov 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Depends on your smash factor, how close to the center of the face you hit it and on what path, with that low spin your distance will be quite a bit more than just your carry

      • larrybud

        Nov 14, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        Jeff, his smash factor and face contact is irrelevant, since JT is going you ball speed, not clubhead speed.

    • MHendon

      Nov 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      just a guess J.T. but I’d say your carry should be around 240yds. Roll depends on surface conditions.

  18. mistermann

    Aug 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Jaacob,

    I’m 47, and can hit 7 iron about 155-160 consistently. My driver is a Ping 8.5 loft. My distance with it is not good at all, in fact it’s about on par with my 3wood distance. Do you think a shorter driver shaft and higher loft would help? The trajectory looks decent, not excessively low or high, but the distance isn’t there. Also, any ball recommendation? harder or softer for best distance?

    • GolfWRX2

      Aug 20, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Yea . I suggest lofting up and trying a light weight shaft, with a high kick point for low spin, which wouldn’t the height because of the new loft you would be trying out. But it could mean you have a steep swing, rember to hit up on the ball
      And yes I’m not a pro but have lots of experience.

    • LeoLeo

      Nov 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      I’d recommend you check out a lower spin driver. Get your back spin down to 2200 rpm with the driver and see how that works for you. Don’t concern yourself with loft or shaft length. The Ping I series should have less spin than the G series but don’t be afraid to try other manufacturers. Personally, I tried a lot of drivers and shafts and lofts until I fooled around with some low spin drivers in a launch monitor. My driving distance has gone way up. A 10.5° loft low spin driver goes lower and further for me compared to a 9° higher spin driver which goes higher and shorter.

    • Bob Pegram

      Dec 23, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Get a driver with more loft. Woods uses a driver with 11.25 degrees of loft and he hits it a lot harder than you (or I) do. The newer balls (not wound) don’t spin as much and so need to be hit higher to start. They start losing trajectory right from the tee – an arcing trajectory, not like the older balls that would go in a straight line or even rise until the apex of the shot.

      • Derek

        Sep 8, 2016 at 6:12 am

        I also was using a driver with around 8 deg as i play links in Scotland and thought that was the ideal for low flying drives but after learning alot from trackman and local pro’s im now up at 11 deg and have learned to hit it low if required, i had huge spin numbers before this change, i suspect you have the same.

  19. tlmck

    Aug 1, 2014 at 3:35 am

    The driver/wood/hybrid numbers appear to be about right, but I must be insanely efficient with my irons. At 78 mph, my Titleist AP2 6 iron carries 150 according to GC2 hitting indoors off a mat(actually 155 on the course). The remaining irons are approx. 10 yards apart. All are stock loft/length/lie. I also strike the ball very well which may be the difference.

  20. FlagHi

    Jul 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Hi. There is a really useful piece of technology that exists that can help you understand how your stock carry numbers change with different playing conditions. It definitely compliments launch monitor technology and its outputs.

    FlagHi app calculates the effects of the playing conditions on the carry number for each of your clubs.

    You guys (and ladies) have known forever that the ball goes farther when it’s hotter. Or that when playing at higher elevation it goes farther. Or when it’s dry, less far. But did you know the effect? To the number?

    With FlagHi you dial in all your carry numbers then before you play you just enter the weather forecast for your round and the elevation above sea-level of the course. Take the app with you in a recreational round and swipe to see all your clubs’ updated numbers. Or just write down the adjusted numbers if it’s a tournament and you can’t bring your phone. That’s what our touring pros do.

    The FlagHi PRO app does the club-centric calculations but it also does something even cooler. If you enter the distances of a shot, it tells you the distance that the shot “actually plays”. Meaning if I’m from San Diego playing in Denver and I’ve got a 189 yard shot – FlagHi can tell me that the shot “actually plays” 170. Meaning I hit my 7 iron, which is my San Diego 170 club. Because of Denver’s thinner air the ball will sail an additional 19 yards and land – you guessed it – FlagHi.

    Without FlagHi telling me this I would be totally guessing when I play in Denver. Hence why college teams and pros are dialing in their numbers with the app.

    It’s on the apple app store and android is coming shortly. We normally price it for $4.99 but we like to play with the #’s and even right now FlagHi is only $0.99.

    Our users tell us they love the app. There are no ads and it’s super easy to use. Used by touring pros, college teams, amateurs.

    Hope this helps – thanks. And we’re golfers first (and last) and just a couple of guys who came up with this app idea so pardon the “commercial” tone here but honestly and humbly we think you all might find value in knowing how conditions affect how you flight the ball.

    Thanks,

    – The FlagHi Guys

  21. Ronney

    May 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    My driver SS dropped from 115 in my mid-to-late 30’s to 80 in at age 42. The weird thing is that I am in far better shape now than I was then. My core is stronger and I’m more flexible. I’ve gained a bit of it back, but my best swings are no more than 90-95 if I really go after it now. I’m still looking for the answer. I hit the ball straight and high and I have a good short game, so I still play well, but lack of distance sometimes gets me. I am a sweeper.

    • MHendon

      Jun 26, 2014 at 12:53 am

      That is strange why you would have lost 35 mph of club head speed makes no sense to me. I’m 44 and in about the worse shape of my life but still swing just as fast and hit the ball just as far as my early 30s. Did you quit playing for several years then recently pick the game back up? If not I might consult with a doctor.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Being stronger or fit doesn’t mean you will be fast.

      For example, when I competed in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships and was doing more explosive swing speed training exercises, I maxed my SSR out at 155 mph, which is probably around 139-143 mph on a Trackman.

      However, when I started doing little to no swing speed training and more endurance running, which was required to finish 5th at the Speedgolf World Championships, my SSR speeds dropped down to 118 on the SSR (110’ish on a Trackman). Arguably I was more “fit”, but I wasn’t near as fast.

      So it’s conceivable that something like this could have happened to you.

      Have a look at the swing speed training programs at Swing Man Golf. With a bit of swing speed training, there’s no reason you couldn’t get your speed back up again.

      • Matt

        Sep 28, 2015 at 1:37 am

        Jaacob,
        I’m a 24 year old, athletically built male who just took up the game 6 months ago. I took a few lessons and have gotten my average scores down to the high 80’s from the 100’s since I began. Based on your chart, my club head speed is somewhere between 100 and 110. My distances are as follows:
        Driver – 270
        3 wood – 255
        5 wood – 240
        4 hybrid – 210
        6 iron -180
        7 iron – 165
        8 iron – 155
        9 iron 145
        PW – 135
        My question is this, much like other posters, I my distances were much lower when I first started out, and as a result I purchased all regular shafted clubs. Should I now be considering stuff shafts for my driver and fairway woods? I’ve never been fitted and don’t know exactly what that entails…is there any cost/obligation to purchase that comes with getting fitted? I’m in the military and play on a pretty tight budget right now but want to be hitting the right clubs…and advice is much appreciated!

        • Sam Carson

          Nov 21, 2015 at 4:39 pm

          I think you are kidding yourself on with those yardages unless you have the worst short game around you would be in the low seventies with those distances.

          • Bob Pegram

            Dec 23, 2015 at 8:24 pm

            Sam – He didn’t say he hit them all straight. He said he hit them that far. Hitting a crooked shot far acually would get him in more trouble, not less.

            • Jack

              Jan 17, 2016 at 4:13 am

              Also there is a difference between an average shot versus a perfect shot. Pointless to list perfect shot distances. That’s a recipe to missing the green every time. Unless as a mid handicapper he is a great ball striker.

    • Jeff

      Aug 12, 2014 at 12:20 am

      How tense is your grip, do you release the clubhead? You must be doing something really inefficient

    • GolfWRX2

      Aug 20, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Hey Ronney you could just be loading the club to fast causing over hip rotation just like in the commercial. Just take up smooth then create power with your legs coming done and crush it.

  22. joseph

    Apr 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    thanks. well written article, very helpful.

    my swing speed is just about a 100 and the numbers are perfectly accurate on your chart for me. i play on a course with practically no roll and a 250 drive for me is good.

    the one thing that puzzles me is that i hit my wedges really far. my 60 degree is my 100 yard club, my PW is about 135. these aren’t exaggerated. these are carries on the course. sometimes i think i just have so much more confidence with the wedges that it frees me up. i hit them really high too, which is weird given the distances.

    any thoughts as why that would be the case? who carries his driver 240 but hits hits his gap wedge 125?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

      Hi Joseph,

      It’s difficult to tell without seeing you in person, but a scenario like this where short irons go longer…and longer irons, hybrids, and drivers go shorter…is possible if your clubs are de-lofted quite a bit or you perhaps have an excessively downward angle of attack.

      With the driver in particular, catching it on the upswing could in all likelihood net you some more carry and total distance more along the lines of what you might expect.

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  24. JCorona

    Jan 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    would love to watch someone swing a PW 140 mph…. and crack a rib or 4 in the process 😉

    • momo

      Jul 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      The 140 swing speed number is driver only. He isn’t swing his PW 140.

      You know that right?

  25. jc

    Jan 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    question…if I use teh 80 mph swing speed as my driver guide..the numbers appear to be very close…but if I were to adjust my 10.5 driver to 10.0 or 11.0 or go to a 12.0 driver, same shaft, would I get less or more yardage?
    I have been playing with adjustments on my 10.5 and can’t quite figure which is the most beneficial, initial trajectory or roll, etc.

    • Joel

      Jan 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      If your swing speed is 80 MPH, you would most likely get more yardage with more loft.

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Jun 29, 2014 at 8:20 am

        Hi jc, Joel is right. You would more likely get more distance with more loft.

        At 80 mph, for maximum carry I would target you for about an 18 degree launch angle and 2600’ish on your spin.

        For maximum total distance, I would say around 15 and 2000 would be the goal.

        What I would recommend would depend on the type of course(s) you play. For tighter courses, soft fairways, when you have to carry trouble, or where there are doglegs you don’t want to run through…I would say to favor the carry side of things. For more open courses with harder fairways and the like, going for total distance might be better.

  26. Gary Jones

    Dec 21, 2013 at 12:14 am

    How does the Foresight GC2 compare against Trackman and the SSR?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:54 am

      I forget off the top of my head about the GC2, however, in my experience an SSR generally reads slightly faster than a Trackman. Both have Dopplar radar but the Trackman has an additional algorithm built in to it to calculate speed at the center of the face whereas an SSR will pick up the fastest moving part of the club head (usually the toe).

      It varies from person to person depending on how that person moves the club through impact. Last I checked, I was around 8% faster on an SSR. Most people I’ve measured are between 5-10% faster. Once you know your personal difference (from hitting with an SSR and a Trackman at the same time), you can get a really accurate idea of your Trackman speeds using an SSR.

      Making sure you have the SSR placed correctly also can make a difference.

  27. RoddyM

    Dec 18, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Great article Jaacob and thanks for sharing the stats against swing speed and carry distance. I have a swing speed close to 110mph and I can see some very close comparisons to my measured yardage with my MP59’s (which don’t have too strong a loft)and your figures. I believe the C-taper shafts give me a few extra yards due to lowering the ball spin. You mentioned today’s stronger lofts, but do you see much variance in the type of shafts used?
    I have seen some inconsistency in my carry yardage across my short irons.
    Sometimes when using short iron, I have gone up a club thinking I’ll swing it “softer” and it will go a bit shorter, but have over hit my target. I must be swinging at the same speed and still getting the same yardage.
    This also answers part of the question why I hit an occasional drive or 3 wood 20 or 30 yards longer than my standard yardage. I know I get a faster swing speed on my driver and 3 wood, but I always saw it as clean tempo or a centered impact, I wasn’t thinking about swing speed.

  28. Billy

    Dec 17, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Does the extra 20 yards carry due to the course conditions? More roll than a public course.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Driving distances vary quite a bit depending on the course conditions.

      For example, the Tour average for the last 10 years generally has ran between 285-290. However, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the average driving distance was 268 yards. At the Wachovia Championship, it was 297 yards.

  29. Ronnie

    Dec 16, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    I find my distances are pretty close to the 80mph swing. when i hit it good its usually 280 right down the middle

    • Jack

      Dec 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      So you normally hit driver 206 and when you hit it solidly you hit it 280? Or your irons are shorter but driver longer distance?

    • Dave

      Feb 13, 2018 at 7:08 am

      280 right down middle sounds like 100 mph not 80

  30. melrosegod

    Dec 14, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Great article! Interesting that my short irons play to the pga distances but I start to fall off around the 6i, probably has to do with contact.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:45 am

      It’s difficult to tell without seeing you in-person, but it’s possible you could have an excessive amount of shaft lean with your clubs. That scenario could make shorter irons go farther and longer irons, hybrids, and woods, fly less than expected.

      • GZ

        Jul 2, 2014 at 5:19 am

        Great article! So more shaft lean in woods creates less distance?
        Why is that?

        I have been tinkering with my swing and have created quite a bit more shaft lean then I had previously. I have noticed that all my irons have increased in distance by about ten to fifteen yards. but my driver & 3 wood have kind of stayed the same, or in a lot of cases I’ve actually lost distance.

        So should I go back to less shaft lean for driver & 3 wood?
        But keep it for the irons?

        I have noticed more consistency with my irons regarding target lines, but I am struggling more with the woods for that consistency now.

        Appreciate your feedback, and thanks again for the article, very informative.

  31. Geoff

    Apr 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I need to figure out why my irons are consistently matched to the 105mph swing speed i.e. 4i = 190y & 9i = 140y, but my driver carries 220ish. With especially good contact, I have carried to 240, but it’s rare. I think I just have a lot more misses with my driver, maybe ???

    • Geoff

      Apr 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      PS Great article.

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Apr 26, 2013 at 4:17 am

        Thanks, Geoff.

        Hmmm, what you mentioned about more misses could certainly be part of the shorter driver carry distances. Get some impact tape and/or foot powder for your driver face so you can make sure you’re hitting it consistently on a good spot on the face.

        Also, by chance do you know your average launch angle and spin rate with your driver?

        It’s possible you could be launching it too low and/or with too much spin to carry it that far.

        At 105 mph, my target for you would be about 13.4 degree launch and 2445 rpm spin.

  32. Paddy

    Mar 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hey Jaacob,

    Would you mind sharing your math? I want to customize based on my avg iron distances.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Mar 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Sure thing, Paddy.

      The chart is based off the PGA Tour average carry distances that were reported by Trackman (see the first chart in the top of the article), the average total driving distance from the PGATour.com website (about 289 yards), and the average PGA Tour swing speed (about 112 mph).

      Using all that data, I calculated the percent difference from the Tour average swing speed (about 112 mph) to whatever swing speed I wanted. For example, a 90 mph driver swing speed is 80.4% of a 112 mph (90 / 112 = 0.804) driver swing speed.

      Once I knew the percent difference, I went down for each club from the Tour distances and multiplied each one by 0.804 to get the 90 mph distances.

      For example, 80.4% of a 289-yard total drive at 112 mph is 232 yards (0.804 * 289 yards = 232 yards), 80.4% of a 269-yard carry at 112 mph is 216 yards (0.804 * 269 yards = 216 yards), etc.

      Then it was simply a matter of repeating all that for the different swing speeds.

      I made the original chart in Excel and just copied and pasted the formulas to each cell.

      Make sense?

      • Paddy

        Mar 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        Yep, using your logic, I could do the same math off of the average distance of my 7 iron vs. the PGA pro 7 iron distance. I’ll try this, thanks!

  33. jason

    Mar 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    For swing speed training, what do you suggest/recommend?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Mar 8, 2013 at 3:54 am

      Hi Jason, have a look at my Swing Man Golf website. If you have any further questions after that, just send me an email through the contact form and I’ll be glad to help however I can.

  34. Kyle

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Ryan Wither has been clocked at 167. which is the fastest ever. I know cuz I gave him lessons and watch alot of his swings.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Feb 17, 2013 at 5:59 am

      Hi Kyle, do you know what type of radar was being used?

      Speeds vary depending on the radar.

      For example, although they are accurate, Sports Sensors swing speed radars usually read 5-12% faster (depends on the person and how they move the club through impact) than a Trackman because they measure the fastest moving part of the club head…which is normally the toe. Conversely, a Trackman or Flightscope X2 have algorithms to calculate the speed at the center of the club face…and thus read slower than an SSR.

      If I remember correctly, the last time I heard from Ryan, the fastest he has posted on a Trackman was at the PGA Show…156 mph. The fastest that was recorded for him on Trackman at the 2012 World Championships was 149.4 mph.

  35. cody

    Feb 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    this is a weird article becasue i recently got fitted for irons and they said i swing 72 mph with my irons but i hit my 7 iron like 130 average

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Feb 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Cody, the speeds above are based on driver swing speeds…not iron swing speeds. Do you know what your driver swing speed is?

      • cody

        Feb 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        not really sure , i hit a taylormade r7 superquad with a stiff shaft, i dont swing fast at all i think i get like 230 consitent off my drives

  36. Pingback: Golf Swing Speed and Distance

  37. Augustine

    Jan 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Great article and very imformative! I’ve had those PGA and LPGA charts for a while and most recreational golfers (single handicap and above) should be looking at LPGA numbers for each given iron rather than PGA, even if they swing faster than the LPGA averages beacuse most amatures have low smash factors so even if they are able to swing close in swing speed to the PGA averages, the lower smash will result in lower ball speeds and carry distances of the LPGA.

    Basically my numbers are exactly one club more than the PGA pros, given my swing speed and smash factors are not as optimal as theirs.

    I think your chart (estimated potential swing speed and carry distance projected from the PGA average) is also a good indication of what our potentials are. That is, if you swing 100mph driver with 255 carry but the rest of your clubs fall more into the range projected down from the 90mph driver swing speed then you know you work on those clubs and tighten the yardage gaps….

  38. Nick

    Jan 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Jaacob, thanks for posting this; I’ve been looking for a comparison chart with different speeds like the one you posted. My distances appear to match up quite closely with the 100 mph, just slightly less, with my 7 iron going 150, 8 140, 9 130, etc, but I think my irons are a bit strong. However, I hit my 4 iron 180 (as I should if the chart is right), but sometimes use it to hit 190-200 (probably because I never actually swing 100% when hitting my irons because I’m afraid of blading etc) since I do not have a 3 iron. My main concern is that for some reason I only hit my driver about 200. I’m not sure why, I must never be hitting the center of my driver, because I should be 240 carry. Every shot feels good, and when I hit a really good one, it still maybe will reach 220. I’m not sure what to do, any tips?
    Thanks,
    -Nick

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Sure thing, Nick.

      To answer your question, can you get on a Trackman or Flightscope X2 and hit a few drives?

      I’m curious to verify your swing speed…and also know your launch angle, spin rate, and smash factor.

  39. Tom Allinder

    Jan 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Jaacob, I enjoyed your article and received some significant insight regarding measurement of swing speed given the number of sensors on the market.

    One area I am particularly concerned with is those of us over 50 years of age. Many of my golfing buddies feel that loss of distance is a natural result of aging. I disagree to an extent with that attitude. We seniors can hit the ball plenty long if we work out, stretch, do some yoga etc. I think a good diet is part of it too.

    While it is inevitable that we lose speed with aging, we don’t have to give in completely. A little work, proper fitting and improved technique can get a lot of yards back and get longer than we ever were in our youth!

    Another thing we seniors benefit from in competition is we are now playing competitive rounds on courses at 6400-6600 yards. Wow, golf is fun again because I don’t need to hit driver on many of the par 4s and still have only a wedge left to the pin! The par 5’s are reachable again too!

    Again, great article and I will be a regular reader from now on…

  40. G

    Jan 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Awesome Data stuff, Mr Bowden!

    Would it be possible to expand this article to full size analysis of everything mentioned so far, in much much more detail with proper tables and graphs and charts, just as everybody wants, with all the big tours’ averages and modern club loft standards, etc? Then it would be the perfect bible.

    Awesome, nonetheless, and helps me illustrate my points to students and friends alike who just cannot believe the scientific numbers of averages out there, who all still believe that more than most Tour guys bomb it past 300 with their drivers and hit their 6 irons to 240 yards LOL

  41. Chris Wehring

    Jan 16, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This article is pretty interesting! I found some things that don’t match up with my swing. It could just be my weird swing. As of last year, my swing speed was around 95 but I carry my 8 iron almost 150 on a good strike. Maybe my course’s markers are just off. I don’t know. Haha maybe my swing is similar to the LPGA swings in being more efficient with my swing speed. I really liked the article though.

  42. Frank

    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Great article, thanks! Would also be great to know LPGA and Champions averages, just for comparison…

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Frank.

      Here are the LPGA Trackman numbers (in yards). Unfortunately, I don’t have the club lofts…which would be useful. Although, like I mentioned in my comment reply to Andy and David, a rough estimate of those could be calculated similar to how I did it above.

      Driver (total) – 246
      Driver (carry) – 220
      3W – 195
      5W – 185
      7W – 174
      4-Iron – 170
      5-Iron – 161
      6-Iron – 152
      7-Iron – 141
      8-Iron – 130
      9-Iron – 119
      PW – 107

      Let me check on the Champions Tour numbers…

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Jan 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm

        I didn’t find anything for the Champions Tour, but let’s see what we can come up with.

        The mean driving distance on the Champions Tour for the 2012 season was 273.4 yards. Assuming that Champions Tour players have the same driving efficiency as regular PGA Tour players at 2.58 yards per mph of swing speed, that would mean the average swing speed for a Champions Tour player is about 106 mph.

        Using the same algebra that I did in the article, here would be the carry estimates in yards:

        Driver (Total) – 274
        Driver (Carry) – 255
        3-Wood – 230
        5-Wood – 218
        Hybrid – 213
        3-Iron – 201
        4-Iron – 192
        5-Iron – 184
        6-Iron – 173
        7-Iron – 163
        8-Iron – 151
        9-Iron – 140
        PW – 129

        • Paddy

          Mar 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm

          Hey Jacob,

          My numbers are a BIT different. Any chance you’re willing to share your math so I can apply this to my average distances for certain clubs? Thanks!

          Paddy

      • dave

        Mar 4, 2013 at 8:01 am

        Jacob,

        Great article…good to see some hard #s to compare. I personally am coming off double hip replacement surgeries in 2012 and watched a lot of LPGA golf last year during recovery/rehab…I personally found that I now relate more to the yardages the top women players have than the elite men college or pro level. Also, the women have impeccable tempo and always seem to swing “within” themselves.

  43. Brian Cass

    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Important for folks to also realize the PGA Tour and Nationwide follow the sun AKA usually playing in optimal conditions with super tight fairways affording 20 plus yards of roll. Buddy of mine who is a caddy who knows web.com guys said their distances went up immediately upon playing more manicure courses in 70-80 degree weather. Yeah they still hit it great/far/better than us!

  44. Martin Signer

    Jan 16, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Jacoob

    interesting good article.

    Have a nice day,

    Martin

  45. Andy Cook

    Jan 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Instead of listing the club name how about listing the name and the loft? My 9i is 41*. Does that map to the 9i on the chart or one of the other clubs? Thanks. -Andy

    • David McElroy

      Jan 16, 2013 at 9:13 am

      I agree, it would be nice to see loft along with those figures.

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Jan 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        You guys are both right. This data is much more useful with the lofts.

        I was actually curious about this as well so I looked up what 30 PGA Tour players “say” they are playing on their websites, from “What’s in the Bag” videos and articles, etc…and then looked up the specs from the company’s websites for each of those club models.

        It’s only a small data sample and perhaps there is a difference from each player’s actual club specs versus what is listed in the places I looked, but here are the averages I came up with:

        Driver – 9.0
        3-Wood – 14.4
        5-Wood/Hybrid/Long Iron – 19.2
        4-Iron – 23.9
        5-Iron – 27.0
        6-Iron – 30.5
        7-Iron – 34.3
        8-Iron – 38.3
        9-Iron – 42.4
        PW – 47.1
        GW/SW – 53.9
        LW – 59.7

        • Jaacob Bowden

          Jan 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

          Oh, regarding the chart with the PGA Tour Trackman averages…it says 15-18* for hybrid.

        • nik d

          Dec 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm

          its funny how strong lofts are on modern irons. I have a set of circa 1980 titleist tour models, and the stamped loft on the pw is 49 degrees and 9 iron at 45 degrees. I bent them strong to the modern lofts much similar to the loft chart you posted. the only problem? the stronger they are bent, the more offset they are and the higher they seem to fly and the more they hook.

          • jc

            Jan 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm

            in the dave pelz short game bible, what was a pitching wedge of 50 is now a gap wedge on almost all sets..

  46. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    They are interesting numbers Jacob. I’ve no doubt the touring professionals have these tested to the very inch. At their level getting the right distances are absolutely vital and often the difference between winning and losing.

    I only wish we had this sort of technology available in Australia. Hitting at the golf driving range is fine but it doesn’t really give you exact carry distances as the target is too far away and no way of seeing where the golf ball actually lands.

    Would you know of how the average golfer can work out these numbers?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Troy, I’m not sure what part of Australia you live…but the locator tool on the Trackman website shows there are some Trackmans in basically all the major cities like Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane.

      As for the SSRs, unfortunately Sports Sensors doesn’t presently have a frequency license for the radar in Australia and thus they won’t ship there. However, sometimes you can find someone on eBay that is willing to sell and ship to Oz.

      You might also check your local golf shop or golf course. Often times, they will have a launch monitor of some sorts. If you can find out the name of the launch monitor brand, there are usually articles out and around on Google comparing and contrasting different brands and how they measure swing speed versus.

      As for working out the numbers without a radar or someone to help you see where the ball lands…hmmm, there’s a number of ways to do it. Here’s a couple.

      If you have a range finder, laser the distance to a flag within short iron distance from the fairway. Choose a club that you think will get you close to the flag with a full swing, hit a shot (or a few if you aren’t holding anyone up), and then add or subtract how many paces the pitch marks are relative to the flag from the distance you lasered in the fairway.

      Without a range finder…find an open hole, drop a few balls, and step them off by foot to get a rough average distance. From there you can estimate the other clubs.

      • Jason

        Jan 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm

        Just a quick question, probably not an easy or quick answer… If my yardages are way off of that, say out to 165 for a pitching wedge… Say out to 190 some days with a 7… Only swing speed I know is my driver @ 114-115 consistently… Am I swinging too hard or
        possibly delofting my irons at impact?

        • Jaacob Bowden

          Jan 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

          Hmmm, well distances can vary based on the conditions. That’s one possibility. Check out my other article for more on that aspect -> http://www.golfwrx.com/54875/understanding-distance-variance/

          Delofting, like you mentioned, could be another possibility. More specifically, you may be decreasing your spin loft…which is the difference between your angle of attack and the dynamic loft of the club.

          So say your friend hits down 2 degrees on the ball and the dynamic loft is 30 degrees…then you take the club, swing at the same speed, and hit down 2 degrees but have a dynamic loft that is 26 degrees from having your hands further forward at impact…your ball would probably have less spin, a greater smash factor, and go farther. Depending on the person and other specifics of their game, this scenario could be good or bad.

          As for swinging too hard, that would depend on if you feel like you can control your shots. If you feel under control hitting those distances, I’d say it’s no problem.

          • momo

            Jul 9, 2014 at 9:37 pm

            Love this kind of information. Great article.

            how can i get faster swing speed. I am in the 100 category give.

            Would you advise switching to REGULAR flex?

  47. Kris

    Jan 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Good article. Curiously, where my SS of 98-100 (as measured at GolfTown-who knows if accurate, though their flight numbers are close to what I see on course-don’t trust their roll #s as they have my wedges rolling 10+ lol) seems to fit your long club carry numbers pretty well, it’s not close with my scoring clubs. My irons from 8i down to my 64° get very little roll. My 58° goes at least 100, my PW 140, and 8i 160. even my 8i rarely rolls more than 10 ft from it’s landing spot. And I only hit my mid-irons/wedges with an abbreviated swing, I’m not trying to kill them. As you can see, if a green involves a hazard carry of >170, I lay up.

    My distances are (including roll I play on average, amount of roll given)~:
    D-270(30), 3w-240(25), 5w-215(20), 4i-200(20), 5i-190(15), 6i-180(10), 7i-170(10), 8i-160(<5), 9i-150(<5), PW-140, 52°-120, 58°-100, 64°-80

    • Kccheadpro

      Jan 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      I’m a big hitter with a fast swing speed and I also carry a 64* wedge. I used to hit about 85-90 yards max, which gave me something to brag about, but I believe hitting a 64* wedge 80 yards is not ideal. I changed my approach of wedges about two years ago and I lost 25 yards off my 64* wedge, but my accuracy and pinpoint placement has improved. Also I feel that instead of just launching the ball high and having it land with 4′ of check! I can play my 64* with a much better angle of approach.
      Glad to hear you’re swingin’ a 64* though, not too many people carrying them around.

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Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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