An interesting comment followed my last article about what we can learn from professional long drivers. The reader commented, “I would love to hit a true 300 yard drive. How would I learn to do that?”
This inspired me to write a primer for how the “average golfer” would proceed in a quest to hit a true 300-yard drive. I believe many golfers fall into this category, as a poll of avid golfers once revealed that more would rather hit long, straight drives than shoot a low score.
If you are going to truly fulfill this goal, I challenge you to hit the drive without tailwind, hard ground or slope.
You’re going to need three things to happen for you to hit a 300 yard drive:
- Enough club head speed
- Solid, square contact and optimal club delivery
- A well-fit driver that produces optimal ball flight.
In essence, you’re going to need to be fast and efficient.
The minimum club head speed required to hit a 300-yard drive in neutral conditions is 108 mph, according to Trackman. A 250-yard drive, by comparison, (if this proves to be a more realistic goal for you) requires at least 89 mph.
A good start will be to get an accurate measurement of your club head speed as a baseline.
Given enough club head speed, you’re still going to need solid square contact. You’ll need a smash factor of 1.48 or above. Smash factor is a ratio of ball speed to club head speed. At 108 mph club head speed, this means you’ll need at least 160 mph of ball speed.
Perfect contact is only part of the picture, however. You’ll also need to catch the drive at least 5 degrees on the upswing. Most amateur golfers hit down with their drivers –- sometimes 5 degrees or more downward. At the necessary speed, this will cost you nearly 30 yards.
You will also need to groove either an inside-to-square or slight inside-to-out path. Swinging outside-in has now been confirmed to lose you distance.
Finally, you’re going to need a driver that fits both your speed and attack angle. Most golf shops aren’t equipped to measure both — so definitely seek out a fitter with a Trackman. Golfers lose up to 50 yards of distance by being equipped with an ill-fitting club — I see it all the time.
I’ll give you a couple of examples. A driver with too much loft for your swing will cause the ball to climb overly high and land too steep, which will cost you roll. A driver that doesn’t have enough loft will launch too low and cost you carry.
There is an optimal landing angle for the longest drives, which can be achieved by many combinations of launch angle and spin rate. However, your longest drives will tend to have higher launch and lower spin.
An efficient 300-yard drive might have around 12-14 degrees of launch, and 2100-2600 rpms of backspin. Of course it is possible to go 300 outside these parameters, but it might take you more club head speed than the 108.
Some of you already have the speed to reach 250 or even 300 yards off the tee right now. However, club delivery and equipment could be costing you tons of distance. We shouldn’t underestimate how efficient we need to be to hit a golf ball over 300 yards.
Hitting a milestone drive is a lofty but satisfying goal that can really keep your interest in the sport strong.
I recommend that your first step is to find out what your current launch variables are. Only then can you assess what additional steps are necessary to bomb your first 300 yard drive.
In part 2, I will discuss how to make your club delivery more potent.