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Carry Distance vs. Swing Speed Chart



Per a suggestion in the comment section of my last article called “How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?“, the purpose of this post is to summarize all of the carry distance versus swing speed data that was being discussed in to a summarized reference chart.

Several things to note about the data in the chart below are:

  • The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour numbers were pulled from the Trackman website in 2010.
  • The Senior Tour numbers were calculated by taking the 2012 mean driving distance of 273.4 yards per drive on the Senior Tour and back-calculating the other numbers based on the PGA Tour’s average driving efficiency of 2.58 yards per mph of club head speed.
  • The average estimated PGA Tour club lofts were taken from 30 players by gathering 2010 club data listed on player websites, what’s in the bag articles and videos, and specifications numbers listed on manufacturer websites. It’s not listed on the chart, but for your interest, the average GW/SW was 53.9 degrees and average LW or highest lofted club was 59.7 degrees.
  • The 19.2 degrees that is listed for the 5-wood, hybrid, and 3-iron is an average of the club(s) each player used that was between the 3-wood and 4-iron.  This was done because there is such a large variance of wood/hybrid/iron club choice to fill this distance slot from player to player.
  • All remaining carry distance data (60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130 and 140) was calculated based on the average PGA Tour carry distances.
  • The LPGA Tour Trackman data didn’t have numbers listed for a hybrid or 3-iron.  Rather they listed a 7-wood carry distance of 174 yards.
  • There are limitations to the data gathering, calculations, etc., listed here, so please just use it as a rough guide for yourself.

Here is the chart.

Carry Distance vs Swing Speed Chart

Carry Distance Swing Speed Chart

I hope you find it useful!

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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 – & &; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – & & <; Instagram - YouTube – – More than 2.8 million video views

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  1. Matt

    Sep 28, 2015 at 1:33 am


    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!

    • Gregory Sparks

      Oct 8, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      if you swing 105-110 your driver, woods, and hybrid should be a stiff flex. If your irons shafts are graphite, then you should have stiff flex also. If they are steel then you might get by with a reguar flex because they are heavier built than graphite. I swing 125-130 and have xx-flex (2x) shaft in my driver. On flat ground on a good hit i can poke it 340-355. I have Callaway x-20 irons that are uniflex steel. They are probably too flexy, but the hit pretty good.

    • Kevin

      Feb 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      any pro shop should offer free fitting when purchasing clubs. with today’s drivers a faster speed does not automatically mean a stiffer shaft it all depends on the construction of the club head and what you want to achieve from your driver ie forgiveness/workability/distance. it can also come down to your attack angle and how that might affect your spin rate and launch angle. all of this will get tested during the fitting, but be careful some places with puke bollocks about what you need and what you should have just to get you to buy what they want you to. do some basic research first and decide what you want out of your next driver.

  2. Charles Christian

    Sep 15, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I find this all very interesting and it seems pretty accurate first of all most people are not going to swing 120 mph and hit the ball 310ish yards. The pro’s can do it because they have been practicing most of their lives and have equipment that is exactly fitted to them. Plus, the fairways are in better condition and give them lots of roll.
    I can relate to one of the golfers who stated he can relate more to the LPGA golfers. I personally think they have more skill because the just do not smash the ball all over the course and over all the obstacles they actually play the course – but of course a lot better than any average player.
    Personally, according to this I swing 75-85 mph. I have never actually had my swing speed taken which I should but it seems to be about right with this. Sometimes I hit a driver 180 or 210 yards with a good roll etc. I often find myself in the fairway while the other golfers drive it further but into the woods and they have to hack their way out.
    I also had a playing lesson with my female professional and she could hit her 7 iron about 140 which is about the same as the LPGA players, so I am guessing her swing speed is 90-93 ish. I would believe that teaching pro’s have about the speed as a lot of touring pro’s do. Even though I could not hit it as far as her I found the distance not to be intimidating.
    A 9 foot put is equal in score to a 300 yard drive. I would say improve your putting !!

  3. Straightdriver235

    Jan 20, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I’m wondering what the lofts were for the senior and lpga? Why only give the PGA tour lofts? From this data it seems like s.s. efficiency is around x2.40 for carry, and x2.58 for total rollout, but many of us play on conditions that are far different from tour courses… this starts to show up clearly that many on the lpga really require some roll out. In my case there is no roll out, the course is carved through a swamp, so what I am after is maximum carry. I’m wondering what set ups on courses like that are for the pros? Do the pros switch out drivers based on the conditions, and if so, what do they do for that? According to this data, if they don’t switch out drivers for situations maxing out carry, or situations maxing out the value of roll they are losing strokes. Of course, drainage at many of the tour courses minimizes this issue, but not always. If they do switch, what switches do they make, and are these switches fairly universal? To me all of this data must take into consideration turf conditions, and hardness of fairways contrasted to how punitive is the rough; i.e., an old fashioned U.S. Open course where roll out is not really desired much. It would seem the need to switch would be particularly acute on the LPGA tour… if the fairways are wet for these gals they are going to play a very different course than when it is dry… considering for them follout constitutes 1/7th of total distance they must have numbers that will allow more carry, or more roll on the conditions. Same for you on long drive competitions. Correct?

  4. derek

    Jan 1, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Hey Jaacob, r u still using the 1 iron golf system? all clubs? I have a set and have had great shots but haven’t fully commitred yet. Your thoughts? Do u have the new pro line clubs?

  5. Ben

    Nov 8, 2014 at 2:44 am

    According to this, my speed is above 120 with my normal 295 carry. According to science and launch monitors and swing analyzers, I’m 117. I don’t think this chart takes into effect being perfect fit for a club. If you optimize, you can beat the chart. I’m living proof of that. Also I don’t fly my 7 iron 184. More like 177 to 180 range to be exact.

    • TJ Horton

      Mar 22, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      That’s funny, i carry my 8 175 but i cant carry a driver over 285… i need a fitting.

  6. JEFF

    Nov 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Why look at this? How will this help? STUPID!

  7. jed

    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I see this discussed all the time, but I have been playing golf since I was 5 yrs old with a cut-down 5 iron my dad gave me and am now 34 and my swing speed has not changed since I was on the high school golf team, which was 86mph. Now, I’m not sure if the equipment I’ve used over the years could be wrong but i’m always right around 86mph and carry the ball 260-270 yds on average. How is this possible with such a slow swing speed?

    • 1badbadger

      Nov 11, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Jed, I think one of two things is happening…either your swing speed is higher than you think it is, or you’re not hitting it that far. Mathematically, the ball can only go so far with a given swing speed. If things like elevation changes, wind and other atmospheric conditions are eliminated, an 86 mph swing speed with a driver will be right about 215 yds. Real-world distance is going to be approx. 10-15 yds longer, so 225-230 yds is realistic for an 86 mph swing speed. It’s possible to hit a 260 or 270 yd drive, but if you’re averaging that distance your clubhead speed would be over 100 mph.

      • don butler

        Dec 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

        there are a lot of comments stating my driver swing speed is this or that. My swing speed based on one of those ssr radar things ranges from mid 80’s to mid 90’s depending on how warmed up i am and i play at sea level. One thing is that a lot of courses one only uses his driver say 10 times so the 18th hole you’ve finally warmed up enough to max out your speed but by then if you’ve been walking and its warm out you might also be a little fatigued.
        When I have brought my radar thing with me to the course and max out my speed say about 93-95 I still do not get 235 or whatever, more like 225 and that’s with about 10 yards of roll. I’ve tried teeing higher and smacking it on the upswing but this causes some swing problems and not as consistent of a square hit. Of course around here there is always about a 10-15 mph wind and seems always either cross or in your face. When there is finally a downwind hole tend to get all juiced up and wind up popping it 200 yards

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  13. gregory suto

    Jun 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    110 swing speed
    285 carry

    8 inches

  14. Beneoo

    May 21, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Jaacob,

    Can you re-post the chart? I am not able to find any chart in this page.

    Thank you.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:22 am

      Hi Beneoo, yes, I’m not sure where the chart went.

      I’ve sent the editor an email and asked him if he’ll get it re-posted.

  15. James

    Apr 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I went in for a club fitting last week and I was hitting a 7 iron 177, 186 with roll, and had a club head speed of between 88-90 MPH.

    • gfds

      May 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

      haha no way, unless your topping your balls or have the most super strong frip in the world making that 7 iron a 1 iron lol.

      • CD

        Jun 2, 2014 at 4:34 pm

        That’s easily possible – 7i, 86mph, 175.9 carry, 183 total, smash 1.41 was me Saturday. 6″ tall and 80kgs

        • Uphill both ways

          Nov 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

          How big are your hands if you are 6 inches tall? Are your clubs standard length, if so how flat are they?

      • louis

        Oct 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

        how do you figure it is impossible?

    • Uphill both ways

      Nov 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Bullshism. if you swing hard enough to hit it 177 in the air, its not gonna roll anywhere let alone 9 yards. Get off the stupid computers and go play on grass. then you can actually see how far it goes, see “repair hallmarks”.

      • MHendon

        Nov 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        Yeah that’s launch monitor numbers for you. But it’s calculating based on a hit into a firm fairway not to a receptive green.

  16. Louis DeSantis

    Mar 7, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Although it’s fun to watch the guys on the pro tour hit the ball as far as they do, I find myself watching more and more of the LPGA tournaments as I can relate to the clubs they are hitting. And your chart confirms this as well as I’m just about exactly in line with their numbers and recently was averaged at 93 mph driver swing speed. I guess that in my mid 50’s that’s not too bad after playing only 3 years and if the ladies can shoot the low scores they do hitting the clubs they do, I should just concern myself with getting better and more accurate than worry about gaining distance as it seems many are preoccupied with. I also find it interesting that when I’m paired with other fellows at the course, there are often claims of being able to drive the ball 270 yards, and I often find I’m out driving these fellows with what I know are my 235-245 yard drives. Any way, great article and thanks so much for compiling and sharing this information. Louis

  17. jt

    Mar 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    The yardages on the chart are dead on for my SS of 112. I am within a yard of every stated yardage on every single club.

  18. Joey cosper

    Feb 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    According to your chart my swing speed is 110. I was fitted a year ago with the 913d2 driver with a regular shaft. At the time i was a 26 handicap and much lower swing speed I am now down to a 10 handicap. My swing has changed a lot and my drives now ballon. I have a average swing tempo, what shaft would you recomend? A stiff flex or a x flex? I am currently looking at the fujikura fuel shaft beacuse it is a low launch and low spin shaft.

    • Cullan

      Mar 5, 2014 at 2:02 am

      110 is right on the line between stiff and extra stiff shafts. Some companies are set up stiffer than others, and it also depends on what type of feel you like in the shaft. I’m not as familiar with Fujukura shafts but I know that a swing speed of 110 would fall within the extra stiff category for Mitsubishi Rayon and would fall in the stiff category for Aldila shafts.

      If you enjoy your current shaft you could always have it tip trimmed for some extra stiffness.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Hi Joey,

      My friend and fellow GolfWRX writer Tom Wishon maintains a list of reputable and qualified custom club fitters.

      See if you can find one close to you. They’ll be able to get you a much better recommendation with an in-person evaluation.

  19. nick rumpza

    Feb 14, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Jaacob.. 2 questions..1. I live in south dakota where its arctic tundra 6 months a year.. What can i do to keep my swing on point during winter months? 2. I was recently at a pro shop simulator that told me my club head speed was anywhere from 118 to 128.. I didnt feel like i was swinging hard but those numbers seem high.Im 6’4 if height matters, just wondering your thoughts on it..

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:33 am

      Hi Nick,

      There are a number of things you can do…for example, working in front of a mirror indoors, stepping outside briefly with a video camera to check-in on your swing, visualizing for a few minutes each day, hitting balls in to a net in your garage, etc. Perhaps there is an indoor range near you. Hitting balls on the pro shop simulator you mentioned is also an option.

      If you want to work on your swing speed, the winter time (or any time really) is a great time to do that. It seems like you already swing fast (typical amateurs are around 93 mph, Tour players average about 113, and top long drivers can average in the mid-140s), but it’s always nice to have more. Check out Swing Man Golf for more info on swing speed training.

      By chance do you know what kind of radar it was?

      Trackman and Flightscope X2s are generally considered quite accurate. The Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar is also a good at-home option (although they read slightly higher because they measure the fastest moving part of the club head verses having an additional algorithm to figure out speed at the center of the club). Those are available at Swing Man Golf as well.

      Hope that helps a bit!

    • ron bleau

      Dec 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Any relation to Gene?

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    Oct 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

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  22. David Burge

    Oct 22, 2013 at 6:33 am

    G’day Jaacob, from Sydney, Australia.

    We don’t seem to have the same freely available technology that you guys have in the States. We also use metres, but I’ll convert to yards.

    I reckon my carry distances are:
    Driver: 215m = 234 yards

    6 iron: 148m = 161 yards
    7 iron: 140m = 153 yards
    8 iron: 130m = 142 yards
    9 iron: 119m = 129 yards
    Wedge: 110m = 120 yards

    So I reckon my swing speed is probably high 90s according to your chart.

    I’m a fairly good golfer and play off very low single figures but don’t hit it far enough to be any better.

    Any idea what I should be looking for in terms of spin rates and launch angle and perhaps even the best equipment for my swing speed? I’m using a PingG15 driver with a stiff TFC149D shaft and irons are oldish – Taylor Made Tour Preferred with Dynamic Gold SL s300 shafts. Any shaft tips particularly would be much appreciated.

    Great blog by the way. Came across it by accident but I’ll check out your other articles too. The best thing here down under is that we get to play 12 months of the year!

    • Bob

      Oct 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm


      I think our games are similar and the numbers you listed were very close to mine so I thought I’d share what I’ve recently learned from a professional who is fitting me.

      We tested several drivers and shafts. At our swing speed a stiff shaft produces less distance. My pro says a player should use a shaft with as much flex as they can control. For me the best results come from a regular flex shaft and 10.5 degree loft. I went from 235 yards of carry with a stiff 9.5 degree to 250 yards of carry with a regular flex 10.5 degree (a used Nike SQ DYMO STR8-FIT 10.5° Driver ProForce AxivCore Regular Flex).

      Of course the only way to be sure is demo some clubs. I was able to do it with an assistant pro and a Trackman.

      I have the same distances on my irons but they are big soled Calloways, which were nice when I was a 17 handicap but 5 years later I’m a 7. The bigger the sole the higher the launch angles and as I’m improving I am hitting my irons really high, so I’m upgrading irons but again will go with regular flex.

      BTW I tested last year’s Taylor Made RBZ 3 wood and it was 15 yards longer than anything new. That club is going in my bag!


    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Hi David,

      I’ve never been to Sydney but I have been to Canberra and Melbourne. Australia is a great place.

      For club head speeds in the high 90s…

      – For maximum carry distance, I would target you at a 15-16 degree launch angle and 2500-2600 rpm for spin rate.
      – For maximum total distance, I would target you at a 12-13 degree launch angle and 1900-2000 rpm for spin rate.

      So what I’d tell you depends on how you want to optimize. Higher spin rates are generally more accurate, so that would be good for tight courses. If you need to carry trouble or not run through dogleg fairways, I’d favor the carry numbers. If you have hard fairways and an open course, perhaps going for total distance is better.

      For equipment recommendations, my friend and fellow GolfWRX writer Tom Wishon maintains a list of reputable club fitters here -> See if you can find someone in your area. They’ll be able to work with you in-person to get you dialed in.

      Hope that helps!

  23. Aaron

    Sep 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Jacob, thank you for sharing this.
    I just came from Scheels where the simulator said I had a swing speed of 80mph. I don’t really know if I was doing a partial swing, but all my clubs play at a 110-113 mph swing speed distance (I hit my 9i 150yds all day, my 3W 250, and my driver over 270 if I don’t slice). I use 1995 knock-offs clubs, with oversize irons.
    Is this possible or did I happen to use a partial swing in the simulator?
    I am in the market for new irons and am debating shaft flex options.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Sep 25, 2013 at 6:07 am

      Yup, no problem.

      Do you know what kind of simulator it is?

      Have you ever tested yourself before and got speed numbers closer to what you’d expect given your distances?

  24. Scott

    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Jaacob, do you have the distances for the gap and sand wedge for these different speeds?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

      Hi Scott, no I don’t have numbers for a gap or sand wedge…partly because there’s so much variance in the lofts for those clubs. Plus, a lot of guys don’t take full swings with gap or sand wedges.

      But if you want to play around with a little algebra and plot your numbers in Microsoft Excel, you could probably get a pretty good estimate though.

    • Matt

      Oct 19, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      Hey Scott, just to give you an idea I have a SS average of 101 and I’ll hit a 50 degree GW 105-110y; a 54 degree SW 90-95y and a 58 degree LW around 75 but I very rarely hit a full LW in a round.

  25. Gary

    Jul 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    My irons fall into the 113 category, but my driver and fairway woods fit in the 100 category. Any idea what could be causing that? Whenever I play I find myself being outdriven by my playing partners, but hitting less club off the tee on par 3’s and such.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 11, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Hi Gary, without knowing any other information, my first guess would be that you de-loft your clubs more than most. Possibly your ball position is too far back, your hands too far forward, or something related.

      Excessive de-loft is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could cause your irons to go farther by bringing down your trajectory.

      Similarly, your driver and wood trajectories might also be below your optimal launch angle for maximum carry and roll given your particular swing speed.

  26. Brian Copp

    May 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks a lot for the Chart!

    My irons are almost dead on the 100mph for distance, but my Driver is around the 90-93mph speed, which could be for a lot of reasons I’m sure.

    But, I’ve always been interested in knowing what my swing speed is and your chart at least gives me a rough idea. I’ve always wondered if I should be using a Stiff or Regular Flex shaft and I don’t really have any way to check my swing speed living in the middle of nowhere.

    I once asked the closest Fitting Center if they would let me hit 2 or 3 balls on their machine so I could find out my swing speed incase I should be using a Stiff shaft and they said they could, but it would cost me $150. I said forget it! My clubs are Regular Flex and if I’m between 90-100 I think they are probably fine.

  27. Brian Copp

    May 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks a lot for the Chart!

    My irons are almost dead on the 100mph for distance, but my Driver is around the 90-93mph speed, which could be for a lot of reasons I’m sure.

    But, I’ve always been interested in knowing what my swing speed is and your chart at least gives me a rough idea. I’ve always wondered if I should be using a Stiff or Regular Flex shaft and I don’t really have any way to check my swing speed living in the middle of nowhere.

    I once asked the closest Fitting Center if they would let me hit 2 or 3 balls on their machine so I could find out my swing speed incase I should be using a Regular or Stiff shaft and they said they could, but it would cost me $150. I said forget it! My clubs are Regular Flex and if I’m between 90-100 I think they are probably fine.

  28. Michael

    May 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Hey. I have about a 115 mph driver swing speed and my clubs fit in between the 113 and 120 mph distances. My problem is I can carry my driver 280, but I get zero roll. There is always a ball mark and when soft my ball has spun backwards. I also hit the rest of my clubs much higher than normal. I swing up on the ball, rather than down which I guess doesn’t help. Any Ideas?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      May 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Hi Michael,

      If I have a driver with too much loft, I actually have that problem too.

      So my initial thought is that if you want to optimize your driver for distance, you’ll likely need a lower lofted driver.

      At 115 mph club head speed, to maximize carry and roll I would try to get you averaging around 12.1 launch angle and 2234 spin.

      Do you know your spin rate and the exact loft (not what’s stamped on it) of your driver?

      If you know those, you can do some algebra to estimate the theoretical loft you would need to get your spin to the 2234 mark. Then it would just be a matter of making some setup/swing tweaks to get your launch angle dialed in at that spin.

      • Michael

        May 18, 2013 at 9:23 am

        I have a Ping i15 8*, but it is actually 9* x-stiff proforce shaft. The driver is 45.5″ and my spin was 2574 and launch between 13-16*. I recently had cut ii down to 44″ and improved accuracy, but still hit it high.

        • Jaacob Bowden

          May 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

          Okay, yeah, that makes sense now. You’re launching it a little bit too high (which makes it land a little too steep) and you’ve also got a bit too much spin.

          I would recommend that you get exactly a 7.8* driver (some companies like Wishon Golf will hand select the lofts if you ask them). That should bring your spin down to 2234 which will help you get more roll.

          Also, with 1.2 degrees less in loft, your launch angle should come down to the 12-15* range, which is better for your swing speed than 13-16* but still a tiny bit high.

          From there, with the 7.8* head, you could move the ball back in your stance and tee it lower in very slight increments until you get to a point where you’re still swinging freely and hitting the ball solidly but launching it 11-14* or 10-13*…basically, whatever gets you averaging around 12.1*.

          Do that and you should get more roll and pick up some additional total distance. 🙂

  29. Gary Q

    May 13, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Hello. Has anyone ever heard of someone who can only carry their driver 215, can only carry their 3 iron 180-185, but carrys their 9 iron 155. I’m looking to buy al new gear soon, but don’t have a clue where to begin. I feel like I should be carrying a driver around 240-245, and a 3 iron around 195-200.

    Is their something fundamentally wrong with my swing, or do I have the wrong technology?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      May 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Gary, it sounds like you de-loft your clubs at impact more than most people.

      This could be from having your hands too far forward at impact, having the ball too far back in your stance, hitting the balls a little too much on the downswing, etc.

      It’s not necessarily wrong and it’s not a problem if you can hold greens with mid/long irons or you play courses where long carries with woods/driver aren’t necessary. But if that’s not your situation, it might be worth changing…be aware that you would probably give up distance with your short irons and hit them higher though (also not necessarily bad).

      How fast is your swing speed with your driver?

      Also, do you have a rough estimate on your launch angle and spin rate?

  30. Steve Smith

    May 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    The only other distance charts on the web (where you can put in your driver carry, or 5i distance, and they output the rest of the clubs) were just way too volatile, and seemed to have exponential differences in there, i.e. if I put in a 250 carry drive / 185 5i, which puts me right around the Sr. Tour distances, they would always have my PW around 100 yards instead of the ~130 I actually hit, which is just silly. It’s good to know that my distances are actually consistent with what they should be.

    Great chart and thank you.

  31. dennis

    Feb 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Do you have a reference table also for “ideal” launch angle & spin rates?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Mar 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

      I do! Perhaps I’ll do a future article about this.

      Shoot me an email through one of my websites and I can send them to you.

      • dennis

        Mar 9, 2013 at 5:40 am

        I will today. Thanks. I don’t think John Q Public knows as much about it as we shoule. One example is you explaining why we should move the driver ball forward & raise the tee height so we have a slight ascending swing. it sure pays off.

  32. Jim

    Feb 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Help. I have my first club fitting today with my Taylormade RBZ driver. I had always wondered why it hit differently than my last regular shaft TM driver. We put it on the flex machine . . .and I find out that my regular shaft is really an
    Xflex. Wow. I guess Joe Public hasn’t figured out that club manufacturers mismark clubs with regularity. And it doesn’t seem to be just a comparison from mfr vs mfr either. The same clubs don’t seem to be the uh, same clubs.

    I also figured out that I need two inches to be cut off the club but if I do that, the swing weight will change.

    What do I do? Give TM a bunch sh. . t about it?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Feb 14, 2013 at 5:11 am

      Hi Jim, you might look in to the clubs made by a friend of mine named Tom Wishon, who is also one of the other Featured Writers here on the GolfWRX site.

      His entire club lineup at Wishon Golf is geared towards custom fitting. If you work with one of his fitters, they can usually hand-select a particular loft to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. He also designs the heads with multiple weight ports in the head and hosel to accommodate building drivers of various lengths at whatever swing weight you like.

  33. Pingback: Golf Swing Speed and Distance

  34. Kris

    Jan 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the reply Jaacob. Good to know the spin/launch numbers I should be aiming for. Some day when I can afford lessons I’ll be sure to talk to them about my issue and the D Plane (interesting concepts). For the record, I tee it low (<1/3 of ball above driver face), about level with my front big toe, and hit it sweet or a bit high. I've tried teeing it further forward, to get the upswing, but inevitably slice when I do. My normal shot is low or a low draw. Miss is a weak slice when I don't release the club (usually hits on the toe too).
    P.S. Any sign of new Srixon balls being released? Have heard nothing about the new Zstars despite then being on tour for over 6 months :(. Love my Zs, though thinking of going XV once I run out of stock.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 29, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Sure thing, glad to help.

      Don’t know anything about the Srixon balls.

      When you say you slice…where is the ball starting off? Left of target, at target, or right of target?

      Most of where the ball starts off is where the club face was aimed at impact…then assuming a center face hit, the ball curves right due to the club face being open to the path.

      So for a pull slice, the face would be left of target and swing path even further left (path and club face issue). A slice that starts out at the target would have a face near the target but path too far left (path issue). A push slice would have the club face pointed right of the target and path at or near the target (club face issue).

      In any case, the face-to-path relationship would be what’s causing the curve. There are any number of ways to fix get the face-to-path more closed…one that you might try would be turning your left hand grip a little clockwise on the grip.

      • Kris

        Jan 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

        When it’s my normal weak slice miss, It’s a push slice (I should add for my ego that this miss occurs only about once a round with driver, and maybe twice with irons. Too much, but not constant, and usually when trouble is left). When I move the tee up with my driver trying for the higher launch angle, it’s a pull slice. My left hand is neutral, but my right hand is very strong (to the point I can see all my fingernails easily). My grip is the first thing I’ll be working on once the snow clears up, I’ll keep the left hand in mind too (tend to ignore it). I’m thinking of switching from interlocking to overlapping because I’ve tried fixing my grip repeatedly and it never sticks with me long. Thanks 🙂

        • Jaacob Bowden

          Jan 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm

          If that push slice is mostly when trouble is left, that sounds more like a mental thing. There’s multiple ways you can address that but just for starters I would make sure to consciously recognize when you think that situation might arise and just simply remind yourself right beforehand to make your normal swing. It may take a number of tries to have the courage to make the normal swing under the danger-left circumstances, but the fact that you are recognizing what is happening is a good start to changing how you respond.

          While you’re waiting for the snow to clear, look up the d-plane. Since golfers swing on a tilted arc it’s normal for some people to have a path that ends up too far left when trying to catch the ball on the upswing. You either have to adjust for that by setting up a little more aimed right, forcing your swing path more to the right, or something along those lines. Basically, something that works for you that gets your driver path more rightward (which can be somewhat counter intuitive). Again, look up the d-plane and that might make a little more sense.

          As for the face-to-path, making that left hand grip a little stronger might be enough to do the trick. Whether you interlock or overlap should be fine.

          • Kris

            Feb 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm

            Bought a covert today. Have been working on my grip, setup and swinging [very] lightly inside. Only change I’ve tried so far is lowering my back shoulder (so that I can almost touch my knee with my hand). However, when in store today (almost 2hrs!) I started hitting my old gamer, and while my ss was still ~103, and my spin ~2900, my angle was about 13°! Was amazing. And carrying almost 270. Hit literally every new driver, and the Cell, XHot and covert were all giving me ~108 ss, but all nearly 4000 spin 🙁 . About to give up and forget a new driver when the fitter brought me a Covert Performance head with 60g X silver shaft from the Tour head. Immediately noticed huge improvement. Launching 13-14, about 3000 spin, but every shot dead straight and carrying 280-285 (set 10.5° open). I’ll still be researching D-plane, but thought you’d be curious to hear my experience. Looking forward to spring! Cheers.

          • Steve Davis

            Mar 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm

            Jacob, I am asking cause I am always trying to learn this game. Do you think Kris should work on fixing his swing path? I am a scratch golfer and I get the best ideas by asking questions

        • Steve Davis

          Mar 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

          Kris, May be none of my business, but it sound like your swing path is off bad, Should be In to In, Sounds like yours is getting outside, which is a common problem, Not to argue with what Jacob says, cause grip is an issue too, Somewhere along the way you have compensated for this swing path with a strong right hand grip, I bet your stance is closed also. This set=up leads to a low draw, or high weak slice on a miss. My suggestion would be to work to correct the swing path some at least, If you do you will find you can hit the ball further and with less misses, Do you hit short irons lower than normal? Jacob is right about what causes the curve and proper grip help that, but until you correct that swing path, you will be compensating for it in your swing,

  35. Pingback: Carry Distance vs. Swing Speed Chart | MattiTours

  36. Justin Greene

    Jan 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Great article…..thank you

  37. Augustine

    Jan 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    AWESOME! My numbers have always been 1 more club than PGA average and now that there is a Champions Tour average as well they are exactly my numbers!

  38. Dusty

    Jan 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Its nice to see there is someone that knows about golf, keep up the good work.

  39. rich

    Jan 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I swing at about 108-110. All my iron swing speeds are about 5-10 yards longer then the average but my driver comes in at about 5-10 yards shorter. anyone else got that problem?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Rich, it sounds like you hit the ball lower than a typical Tour player would in proportion to your swing speed. This could cause the irons to carry farther from the lower trajectory…but also cause the driver to carry shorter from having too low of a trajectory.

      Perhaps you are catching the ball fairly steeply on the downswing and/or having your hands excessively forward at impact. Neither is necessarily a bad thing. However, it could cause the situation that you are describing.

      By chance do you know your launch angle and spin rate with your driver?

      • Tom

        Jan 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

        I actually have a somewhat similar problem, according the the golf galaxy simulators my driver swing speed is about 107-108 but on the course I launch it low get only about 240 carry. On the other hand, the rest of my yardage numbers are right in line with the PGA tour average of 113mph club head speed but I hit my irons between 30-35 yards high at the apex. I’m a high spin player, but no ballooning.

        • Tom

          Jan 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

          scratch that, last time I hit on a simulator the apex was hovering around 40 yards

          • Jaacob Bowden

            Jan 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

            Tom, do you know your launch angle and spin rate with your driver?

            At 107-108 mph, I would target you somewhere around 13 degrees on the launch angle and about 2400 rpm spin for optimizing overall distance.

      • Kris

        Jan 27, 2013 at 7:20 pm

        Wow Jaacob, I read your reply and said ‘that’s me’. I normally get about 270 drives on the course with my Superfast 1.0 Stiff 9.5, but it goes low, as do my irons. Using your chart I get above average short/mid iron distance, but lower driver. I hit a bunch of shots at my local GolfTown sim, and with my driver I was averaging 8-9 launch, and 2900-3000 spin, and 260-280 total. I came home and looked it up and I’m thinking I should be trying some higher lofts or high launching shaft (poor-ish supply teacher so using stock lol). Cheers.
        P.S. Hit every new driver but TM and Nike (super pumped to try Covert), and every driver from last year, all in stiff 9.5 and 10.5, and none came close to my 4+ yr old driver. All gave near or over 4000 spin, not as straight, and sub 10 launch.

        • Kris

          Jan 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

          Oh, and 102-104 ss

          • Jaacob Bowden

            Jan 28, 2013 at 4:39 am

            Kris, for you at 103’ish, to optimize your distance efficiency I would try to get you around 13.5-14.0 degrees launch and about 2500 spin.

            It would require changes to accomplish…which you’d have to decide whether or not it’s worth it.

            But assuming you already hit the center of the face (hitting low on the face can raise the spin), it would probably mean going to a lower lofted driver (to bring down the spin)…and moving the ball more forward in your stance and teeing the ball up a little higher (to catch it on the upswing and get the higher launch).

            If you don’t understand the D-plane (there’s quite a bit of info about it on YouTube, Google, etc), it may help to find an instructor that understands the concept to help you with the changes because when you catch the ball on the upswing with a driver it typically requires swinging a little bit more out.

            Hope that helps. Let me know if you need any further assistance or guidance.

    • Steve Davis

      Mar 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      All distances have to do with set-up, grip, attack angle, and many other factors, I am a scratch golfer, and swing at 115 mph. Several years ago I could hit a 7-iron 215 yards with good height, I was playing my irons way back in my stance and really pinching the ball, thus de-lofting the club to a 3-iron, The discrepancy in your distance are probably due to ball position. a little far back on irons, a little far forward on driver; Find the club that you hit the right distance for you, set up to as usual, place a club along your toe line then 1 next to the ball 90 degrees with the other. After finding that position, position all other clubs in relation to it, ball moves a little far forward as clubs get longer, This should help you get consistency all the way to your driver

  40. Barrie Taylor

    Jan 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    The great mystery of driving figures is what shafts were used when looking at swing spoeeds. I dont mean R S or other I would like to see golf Shaft manufacturers and people like yourself produce figures by brands giving us distances for swing speeds on the shafts produced for comparison.

    I have swing speed of 105 ,the only way to test shafts is to buy them. If manufactures list swing speed with Distance then this would help the Club golfer choose more acuratly the right shaft for his/her swing speed.

    What can you offer us !!!!!

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Barrie, you might check out some of my friend Tom Wishon’s GolfWRX articles. His profile link is

      He’s written several pieces about shafts and shaft fitting and is as knowledgeable about equipment as anyone I’ve ever met in the golf world.

      On his Wishon Golf website, there’s also a shaft selection tool that you might find useful…his S2S (Shaft to Swing) Shaft Fitting System.

  41. bo

    Jan 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    was there a tempture gague used to compile these stats?

  42. G

    Jan 20, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Thank you for this! You’re awesome.

  43. Tom Allinder

    Jan 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Jaacob, thank you for including Senior stats too. As I mention in a previous comment, this is an area of interest for me.

    One of the items you covered before and in this article is the PGA Tour Average Driving Efficiency (2.58 yards per mph of club head speed). It is clear, and you point it out that LPGA driving efficiency as well as long drivers is higher.

    It would strongly suggest that the men on the PGA Tour have yards to burn in the distance department for the sake of accuracy or what “fits their eye” with regard to trajectory. Items that increase driver distance (less spin, higher launch, hitting the ball on the upswing) are of less importance when your swing speed is 110+. Getting the ball into tight fairways and the ability to work the ball is more important.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Tom, I saw your other comment, thanks. Glad you are finding the numbers useful.

      I agree that this is certainly the case in some instances on the PGA Tour. A lot of these guys have been playing a certain way for a very long time.

      Even with all this new technology that is coming out these days to help assess how efficient guys are with their driving distances, it doesn’t mean it’s worth making swing changes and risking losing their tour card just for a few extra yards. Like you say, if a certain flight “fits their eye” or is comfortable and the idea is to score as low as possible, you don’t need to be the most efficient driver…provided you have “enough” speed and distance. Although it’s not an absolute, guys are showing that 104 or 105 is an adequate amount of swing speed to play on the big Tours.

      I would expect the driving efficiency for the men at the pro level will improve with the upcoming generation, though. With teachers and kids having access to this kind of information, they can get all those swing changes engrained early on.

      • Tom Allinder

        Jan 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm

        Jaacob, Absolutely agree that the younger generation is getting more out of the equipment. They learn all about equipment at an early age and they learn what numbers mean, what center of gravity means and all sorts of other terms that did not even “exist” (they did, I just wasn’t aware of them) 20 years ago.

        Match that up with fitness and you have really long and accurate players… hard to argue with that combo!

        I am really enjoying your articles. Thanks so much for your contribution to the golf community!

  44. d.chu27

    Jan 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I swing around 120 mph with my driver. The numbers seem accurate. But my irons are similar to the 113mph distances. Is that normal and does anyone else have this problem.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Hi d.chu27, I actually experience a similar thing. For me, it’s from having a little bit of a flip-type of release (even with the lead wrist being flat at impact) combined with a somewhat vertical shaft at impact.

      To use the kinesiologic terms, a flip-release would mean a dorsiflexion of the lead hand through impact and a palmar flexion of the rear hand.

      It’s not necessarily a bad thing or something that is critical to change.

      Flip-releases are generally pretty good for hitting the ball with some pop and yet with less deviance in ball flight curvature. For me, this release combined with the more vertical shaft causes some extra spin and a higher shot height (can be good or bad depending on the person) from the increased spin loft. The downside is the ball speed and smash factor can go down a bit. Depending on your trajectory, that could possibly mean some carry distance loss.

      Does this sound like what happens for you?

      Alternatively, what device are you using to get the 120 mph number?

      For example, in my testing Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radars (SSR) tend to run 5-12% higher (depending on how you move the club through the hitting area) because the Doppler radar measures the fastest moving part of the club versus a Trackman or X2 which has an additional algorithm to calculate the center face speed. If you were using something like an SSR, your actual Trackman speed would be a little bit slower…which could also explain part of the discrepancy.

      • Alex Hom

        Apr 6, 2013 at 12:49 am


        I also have a flip type of release/swing. That’s also probably why I use 2 gloves. It does give me a high ball flight, but also a great degree of accuracy. It’s hard, because the golf instructors always try to change my grip to get rid of the flip.

    • Mike

      Jun 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

      It’s not a problem – it’s normal – check out this link: – on average on the tour clubhead speed drops 2 mph with each club.

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Opinion & Analysis

The numbers behind “full scholarships” in NCAA men’s college golf



If you are in the world of junior golf, you’ve probably heard about a young man you know who’s getting that coveted full ride to college, maybe even to a Power-5 school. With all the talk in junior golf about full scholarships, and a lot of rumors about how many are available, we decided to poll coaches and gather some real data about “full scholarships.”

So, what did we find out? In total, we got responses to a voluntary online survey from 61 men’s D1 coaches, 19 men’s D2 coaches and 3 NAIA coaches (83 total). On average, the coaches in the survey had 11.8 years of coaching experience. Of the coaches that responded, 58 of the 83 coaches reported having zero players on full ride. Another 15 coaches surveyed reported having one player on full ride. This means that 69 percent of the coaches surveyed reported zero players on full scholarship and 18 percent reported one player on full scholarship, while another four coaches reported that 20 percent of their team was on full ride and six coaches reported between 2-3 players on full ride.

We then asked coaches, “what percent of golfers in Division 1 do you think have full scholarships based on your best guess?” Here’s what the responses looked like: 25 coaches said 5 percent and 36 coaches said 10 percent. This means that 73 percent of respondents suggested that, in their opinion, in men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA, there are less than 10 percent of players on full ride.

Next, we asked coaches, “what was a fair scholarship percentage to offer a player likely to play in your top 5?” The average of the 83 responses was 62.5 percent scholarship with 38 coaches (46 percent) suggesting they would give 30-50 percent and 43 coaches (52 percent) suggesting 50-75 percent. Only two coaches mentioned full scholarship.

The last question we asked coaches, was “what would you need to do to earn a full scholarship?”

  • Top-100 in NJGS/Top-250 in WAGR – 41 coaches (49 percent)
  • 250-700 in WAGR – 19 coaches (23 percent)
  • Most interesting, 17 coaches (20 percent) noted that they either did not give full rides or did not have the funding to give full rides.

The findings demonstrate that full rides among players at the men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA levels are rare, likely making up less than 10 percent of total players. It also suggests that if you are a junior player looking for a full ride, you need to be exceptional; among the very best in your class.

Please note that the survey has limitations because it does not differentiate between athletic and academic money. The fact is several institutions have a distinct advantage of being able to “stack” academic and athletic aid to create the best financial packages. My intuition suggests that the coaches who responded suggesting they have several players on “full rides” are likely at places where they are easily able to package money. For example, a private institution like Mercer might give a student $12,000 for a certain GPA and SAT. This might amount to approximately 25 percent, but under the NCAA rules it does not count toward the coach’s 4.5 scholarships. Now for 75 percent athletic, the coach can give a player a full ride.

Maybe the most interesting finding of the data collection is the idea that many programs are not funded enough to offer full rides. The NCAA allows fully funded men’s Division 1 programs to have 4.5 scholarships, while Division 2 programs are allowed 3.6. My best guess suggests that a little more than 60 percent of men’s Division 1 programs have this full allotment of scholarship. In Division 2, my guess is that this number is a lot closer to 30 percent.

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Opinion & Analysis

Oh, To Be An (Oregon) Duck



A few weeks ago I flew into Eugene, Oregon on a mission. I’d come to work with one my students who is a member of the Duck’s varsity golf team. I had never been further south than Seattle or further north than Monterey, so this part of the world was new to me.

What I did know was that the Bandon Dunes area had become a destination for some of the greatest golf in the world, rivaling other famed resorts around the country. The resort is just outside the quaint town of Bandon, which is a good two-hour drive from Eugene. The resort’s four courses — Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails, Pacific Dunes, and Old McDonald — each have their own personality, but at the same time they have one thing in common: the four architects that designed them took full advantage of the natural topography, deftly weaving holes in and out along the Oregon coastline.

I was looking forward to playing two of the courses before leaving: Pacific Dunes and Old McDonald. You may find this hard to believe, but those two rounds would be my first and second of the year after a busy summer season on the lesson tee. And for that very reason, I had no expectations other than to make a few pars and enjoy the scenery.

After retrieving my luggage from the turnstile, I made my way toward the exit with luggage in tow. My rental car was just across the street in an open-air lot and as I pushed through the airport doors, I was greeted by a gust of wind and a spray of rain. “Welcome to Eugene,” I thought to myself.

The sudden burst reminded me of playing in Scotland, where the rain gives way to sun only on occasion. I surmised that the weather in the Eugene would be similar. “Don’t forget your rain suit,” a fellow professional reminded me when I told him about my trip. As it turned out, that was good advice. He had been there before around the same time of year. “You’ll be lucky if you get one good day out of three,” he said.

As I drove through the area to my hotel, what struck me the most were the large hills that commanded the landscape and the thick white clouds that seemed to cling to them like giant cotton balls.  I found a comfortable hotel just outside Eugene in the small but quaint town of Cottage Grove. In charitable terms, you could characterize my hotel as “a tribute to the past.”

I woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning, dressed and made my way downstairs to the lobby. The rain had continued through the night and as I prepared to leave the hotel,  it started to come down even harder. I stood in the lobby, waiting, while listening to the rain drops pounding on the roof,  a steady beat at first, then rising and falling like a conga drum.

I’d agreed to meet my student at 10 a.m. for a practice session and then he was slated to play nine holes with the team later in the afternoon. Based on the weather, I was concerned that the day might be a total rain-out. What I didn’t know at the time was that the school has a portable canopy that allowed the team, rain or shine, to practice on natural grass. I ran to my car ducking rain drops. The forecast called for a chance of sun in the afternoon. And this time the weather man was  right.

That afternoon I was invited to watch my student and the rest of Casey Martin’s boys play a quick nine holes at Eugene Country Club, the team’s home course. The layout is one of the most unusual that I’ve ever seen with giant trees bordering every fairway. The tips seemed to stretch up and up into the sky, piecing the low-hanging clouds above, as if they were marshmallows on a stick.

The Ducks have fielded a strong team the past two years, winning the NCAA Division 1 Championship in 2016 and then finishing second this year. A good deal of credit for that accomplishment goes to Casey Martin, who has coached the Ducks since 2006. For those who are too young to remember, Casey Martian was a teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford University. He later competed on the Nike Tour. Casey earned his PGA Tour card in 1999 by finishing 14th on the Nike Tour, but his earnings through the 2000 season were not enough for him to retain his card, relegating him to once again to playing on the development tour. He played sporadically up through 2006. The following year, Casey assumed the job of Head Coach, which brought him back to his native Eugene.

In earlier years, Martin’s play career as a professional was hindered by the fact that he could not play 18 holes without a golf cart due to a birth defect in his right leg. The PGA Tour Board ruled against his use of a cart, maintaining that the physical act of walking was considered an integral part of the competition. Believing that he was in the right, Casey filed a suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. His case made its way to the Supreme Court where he won. As for his competitive record, by his own admonition, he is disappointed that he didn’t play better as a professional. A primary focus of his coaching then, as he conceded, is to teach his players not to make the same mistakes he did in his own career. What struck me as unique was the passion and intensity with which he coached. I would venture that it’s the same level of intensity that he brought to the golf course when he competed.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to watch a closed-door, defensive-team practice at Duke University with Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) on the floor. He had divided the team into two groups with one at either end of the court competing against each other. His legs straddled the center line as if he were Colossus with his head swiveling back and forth as if on a stick. The impression was that he saw everything and be never missed anything. And then when he saw a player make a mistake, he would blow his whistle sharply. The players would immediately stop moving as if they were frozen in place. And then, in peg-leg style, he would hobble across the floor favoring one leg over the other. He was clearly in need of a hip replacement at the time.

I’ve had both of my hips replaced, so I could easily imagine the pain that he was experiencing as he peg-legged it from the center of the court to either end. I suspected that he had decided that surgery would have to wait. The season was just a few weeks away, and given that his team was largely composed of freshman, he could not afford to miss a day. Casey Martin doesn’t blow a whistle, nor does he run a defense practice, but as he climbs out of his cart, deftly working his way to a vantage point where he can see his players from every angle, I’m reminded of the halting walk of Coach K.

There is something else that these two man share in common — an intense desire to win. They settle for nothing less than great. And when you look into their eyes, you can see that there is an intensity that burns from within that is vastly different from the man on the street.

As you might remember, I was scheduled to play a round on Pacific Dunes and another on Old McDonald. The two courses are both spectacular layouts with ocean views. And the weather… I drew two perfect days, defying the odds my friend had laid down. It was sunny and 65 degrees with just a hint of wind. How did I play? Let’s just say that I made a few pars. What I found was that striking the ball well is no guarantee that you will score low on these courses. The green complexes are diabolical. The best advice I can give you is to throw you scorecard away. You’ll enjoy yourself more.

The next morning, I was on an early morning flight back to Minneapolis only to discover that we were experiencing Indian Summer with temperatures 20 degrees warmer than usual. But as Minnesotans, we all know what is waiting for us just around the corner.

I’ll leave you with this thought. After watching Casey Martin and the players on his team play and practice, I’m sure of one thing. And that’s when next year’s NCAA Championship comes around, Casey Martin will have all of his Ducks in a row.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Kids Are Alright: Spike in Junior Golf Participation a Good Sign for Game’s Future



This week, eight 10-player All-Star teams representing regions from across the country will converge upon Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., to compete in the 6th PGA Junior League Championship.

The teams – New Hampshire (Northeast), California (West), Georgia (Southeast), Ohio (Mideast), Illinois (Midwest), New Jersey (Mid-Atlantic), Arkansas (Mississippi Valley), and Texas (Southwest) – will be divided into two divisions where they will face off in round-robin, 9-hole matches using a two-person, scramble format of play. Teams are captained by PGA/LPGA Professionals.

Since the PGA of America launched PGA Junior League in 2012, participation has skyrocketed from about 1,800 players the first year to a record-setting 42,000 boys and girls age 13 and under participating on 3,400 teams across the country this year.

“Junior golf is a key priority of the PGA of America and we recognize that increasing youth participation in the game is essential to the future of our industry and sport,” said Suzy Whaley, PGA of America Vice President and PGA Director of Instruction at Suzy Whaley Golf in Connecticut.

“PGA Jr. League is a fun and welcoming opportunity for boys and girls of all backgrounds and skill levels to learn, play, and love golf under the expert instruction and guidance of PGA and LPGA Professionals. It’s team-oriented and kids wear numbered jerseys. It’s transforming traditional junior golf and the numbers prove it.”

Whaley believes the team concept and scramble format are major factors in PGA Jr. League’s rapid growth over the last five years. In fact, she says, the program is re-shaping the golf industry’s view of the way junior golf is typically learned and played.

“Other youth sports have been utilizing the team format for years and it’s a natural fit for golf,” said Whaley, who has taken three teams to the Jr. League Championships. “The scramble format provides for a low-pressure environment. We’ve created a team atmosphere that has broad appeal. Parents and kids enjoy being a part of the community that PGA/LPGA Professional Captains create. In this team setting, older, more experienced players mentor the younger, beginner golfers. There’s no pressure on any one player, and it’s great to see kids pull for one another versus the individual focus generally associated with golf.”

“It is a program that creates a family-centered atmosphere that encourages mom, dad, brothers, sisters, and grandparents to become involved, as well. During PGA Jr. League matches, the parents are part of the match keeping score, posting photos on social media and encouraging all players. PGA Jr. League grows lifetime interest in the game across multiple generations.”

Matthew Doyle of the Connecticut team gathers for a photo with team captain, Suzy Whaley during session three for the 2016 PGA jr. League Golf Championship presented by National Rental Car held at Grayhawk Golf Club on November 20, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Traci Edwards/PGA of America)

Fourteen-year-old Cullen Laberge from Farmington, Conn., is a student in the Suzy Whaley Golf program and has competed at the PGA Jr. League Championships for Team Connecticut. Laberge has been playing for four years and says his Jr. League experience really sparked his interest in the game and his desire to become a better player and ultimately a golf teacher one day.

“It has taught me so much about golf, while keeping it fun and interesting,” Laberge said. “The thing I enjoy the most is playing competitive golf without the stress that tournament golf can sometimes bring. No matter age or skill level, Jr. League keeps it fun and no matter how a player is playing there is another player to pick them up. That national championship was the best experience of my life. It was like I was playing on the PGA Tour. I loved the amazing competition; those players were good.”

And it’s not just golf’s executives and Jr. League participants who have taken notice of the program’s growth and the ultimate importance that growth represents for the future of the game. PGA and LPGA professionals including Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie have all joined as ambassadors for the program.

“I want to do everything I can to be a positive influence on kids who are interested in the game and serving as an ambassador for PGA Jr. League is a great fit,” said Wie. “There are so many lessons that kids can learn and that adults can reinforce through the game of golf – good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, work ethic. Golf can help you learn how to react when things don’t go your way which I think is a really important skill to have in life.”

“Golf can definitely mirror life. You can work incredibly hard and still fall short, but how do you bounce back? How do you overcome a mistake or a bad break and still succeed? It’s important for kids to grow up with a good work ethic and the right attitude to face challenges. Golf is a great game to teach those lessons.”

Copyright Picture : Mark Pain / IMG (

Wie says the more inclusive and welcoming the golf community in general can be, the better.

“Especially as a young female, I have experienced plenty of times where I did not feel welcome or felt like I had to prove myself more than the guys did,” Wie said. “Golf is a game that should be available to everyone and I think it’s important to make it accessible to kids whether they are a future tour pro or a future 20-handicapper.”

The folks over at the USGA know a thing or two about growing the game and making it more accessible and they should, they’ve been doing it since the association’s founding in 1894.

The inaugural three USGA championships – the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1895 – did not have age limits, each simply aiming to identify the champion golfer. In 1948, the USGA held the first United States Junior Amateur solely open to players under the age of 18 and just one year later the association conducted the first United States Girls’ Junior Championship.

In addition to helping fund The First Tee, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, and the Drive, Chip and Putt Championships, the USGA recently introduced its “For the Good of the Game” grant program to promote a more welcoming and accessible game at the local level with millions of dollars offered to local communities to build programs.

“The greatest misperception is accessibility,” says Beth Major, Director of Community Outreach at the USGA. “Two-thirds of all golf courses in America are open to the public. Kids and parents still believe it is a country club sport and we need to change that.”

Founded in 2013 as a joint initiative between the USGA, the Masters Tournament, and the PGA of America, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior golf competition for boys and girls ages 7-15 aimed at growing the game. Participants who advance through local, sub-regional and regional qualifying earn a place in the National Finals, which is conducted the Sunday before The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Drive, Chip and Putt qualifying is offered in all 50 states and participation in the event has increased each year.

“We have a great partnership with our friends at the PGA of America and the Masters Tournament,” Major said. “Our leaders realized that by pooling our resources at the national level while activating at the local level, we could quickly scale the program and get more kids involved.”

“Going into our sixth year, it is amazing to see how far the program has grown and the entry point we’ve created together to keep our youth engaged. We look forward to continuing to evolve the program to welcome more youth to the sport.”

The USGA, in partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, and the PGA TOUR, founded The First Tee in 1997 specifically to answer the call for diversity and inclusion. The program has welcomed millions of new players to the game in the past 20 years by focusing not only on teaching golf skills but life and social skills such as etiquette, honesty, respect, confidence and responsibility.

Founded in 1989, the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program is aimed at girls ages 6-17 and has played a critical role in not only welcoming girls and women to the game, but perhaps equally importantly keeping them in the game.

“Statistics continually show us that the social aspects of the game drive girls and women to play golf,” Major said. “That sense of camaraderie and building friends greatly outweighs their need to compete at the entry level. LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, quite simply, has made it fun and cool for girls to play – and play together. And the results are astounding. We have traced more than 100 girls who started in an LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program that played in a USGA championship last year. They have not only introduced the game to girls and young women, they kept them in the game, and that is very exciting and inspiring.”

One company is tackling growth of the game from another angle – the equipment side.

Since its very beginning back in 1997, U.S. Kids Golf has been focused on its mission, “To help kids have fun learning the lifelong game of golf and to encourage family interaction that builds lasting memories.

To that end, the company began developing youth clubs starting out with just three sizes and one product line initially.

“Over time, through watching youth golfers, we came to realize that we were not serving them as well as we would like,” said Dan Van Horn, U.S. Kids Golf founder. “Looking at how the best players in the world – LPGA and PGA Tour – are fit for clubs, we discovered the proportion of their drive length to height was from 60-70 percent. From that we created what we term the ‘2/3 solution.’ Simply put, for every 3 inches a player grows, we offer a set that has a driver that is 2 inches longer.”

Importantly, it is not just the length of the clubs that increase as the player grows but also the overall club weight, grip size and shaft stiffness. At the same time, the loft on woods decreases providing additional distance.

“One of the key benefits of correctly fit clubs that are lightweight is the ability for players to learn a correct and powerful swing at a young age,” Van Horn said. “Clubs that are too long and/or heavy slows the golf swing itself and creates bad habits that are difficult to change later in life.”

Beyond the importance of young golfers needing properly fit equipment, Van Horn believes strongly in the need for juniors to compete in tournament play to facilitate aspirational goals and to measure progress. Going hand in hand with this is proper instruction from coaches who understand how young players learn and develop.

“After a few years of producing equipment, we realized more needed to be done to serve our market so we formed a nonprofit foundation,” Van Horn said. “Immediately we created our World Championship in 2000 so that young golfers would have an aspirational goal, much like the Little League World Series is to baseball players. We also realized that golf professionals and coaches lacked an organized incentive-based learning program to truly engage players in the game so we created one that same year.”

A longtime proponent of having players play from appropriate yardages, U.S. Kids Golf developed the Longleaf Tee System which uses a mathematical formula to “scale” any golf course for up to eight different tee locations per hole so all players have options based upon how far they carry the ball with a driver. Yardages start at 3,200 yards for 18 holes and increase up to Tour distances of 7,400 yards.

“What we need is a focus by all golf facilities and coaches to provide quality, enjoyable experiences to our youth,” Van Horn said. “This means incorporating game-based learning with a measurable, learning program so that players and their parents know how they are progressing. And, of course, shorter tees need to be available so we can get kids on a ‘field’ that fits them like other sports. There’s no question it can be done.”

The National Golf Foundation’s annual report for 2016 revealed that participation in junior golf programs remained steady at 2.9 million likely due in part to the success of the programs mentioned above and others just like them. Importantly, the number of female junior golfers has increased to a third of all participants and the number of non-Caucasion players has risen to a quarter, four times what it was a couple of decades ago.

While time will ultimately judge whether these programs and offerings serve not only to retain current players but continue to attract new ones, the state of junior golf in the country appears strong and on the right track for now. 

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