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How far you can actually hit your driver

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This story was selected as one of the 15 best GolfWRX stories of 2015!

For 22 years I have taught golf full time, and the one thing that has NEVER changed is the unrealistic expectations golfers have of how far they think they can drive the ball with their current swing speed.

When I ask students how far they carry the ball and what their average total distance is, the answer is usually grossly inaccurate and overstated 99 percent of the time. It has taken technology such as Trackman and FlightScope, the most popular Doppler Radar systems, to help people truly understand how far they can hit their drives.

For that reason, I’ve provided two charts from Trackman below that show you just how far the ball will carry and roll on PGA Tour-like fairways. The results will probably surprise you, and show that there are far fewer golfers in the world who can actually hit the ball 300 yards without the help of special circumstance.

For swing speeds of 75 mph to 95 mph

Trackman_Optimization_Chart

For swing speeds of 100 mph to 120 mph

Trackman_Optimization_Chart_High_Swing_Speeds

Unless you swing around 105 mph, it’s unrealistic to think that you can carry the ball 250 yards in the air on a windless day at sea level without special circumstances. It’s these special circumstances that golfers tend to recall and focus on when it pertains to their distance output. While this type of vanity driving distance is great for your ego, it is detrimental to your psyche to expect such unrealistic distances to occur.

If you are truly unhappy with your driving distance output, you can see what’s needed to hit the ball farther. The good news is that most golfers do not maximize the distance they can hit their driver for the current speed because of two reasons:

  1. Off-center contact, which decreases ball speed.
  2. An angle of attack (usually too much downward, or negative) that creates less-than-ideal launch conditions.

I hate breaking the bad news to my students that they are not driving the ball as far as they think they are, but in golf, knowledge is power. Know what you actually do so you can know what’s possible for your game in the future.

Note: For golfers who live in areas of the world where the courses tend to be softer, it is often better to follow the “Carry Optimizer” charts from Trackman below, which show the launch conditions that will maximize a golfer’s carry distance. Their the best route to the most distance on fairways where the ball does not roll very much.

For swing speeds of 75 mph to 95 mph

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.10.29 PM

For swing speeds of 100 mph to 120 mph

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.10.36 PM

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: [email protected]

64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Steve

    Oct 13, 2019 at 2:20 am

    I’ve been in and out the game since 1981,I hit drives in the Australian long drive championships in 1990 and 1991 311m,314 ms,I was no’1 qualifyier both yrs, I used a borrowed demo driver (Taylor made steel shaft,) from the local pro shop.I was 78kgs,but fairly fit,My swing speed (108-110)wasn’t as fast as some of the bruts who thought they could hit it,It’s technique,strong left side of body and great timing.I’m 55 now ,made a comeback 12mths ago after 16yrs without picking a club up,new technology has made it easy for everyone to hit it long,I’m now very unfit,been pensioned off,I’m no where near as strong as I should be yet with 103-106 mph speed I’m still hitting it bout 245 255 m on fly,yer,timing ,and a descent swing speed ,with these new balls and clubs,long distant hits are possible.TIMING..

  2. Jared

    Jul 6, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I just wanted to clear up a few things about launch monitors and sims that confuse a lot of golfers. The biggest thing is that “Total Distance” means nothing regardless of what monitor is being used.

    Ball speed, Carry distance, and spin are the only things that matter and they are also the stats that Trackman is more accurate with than any other launch monitor. It’s more accurate because instead of guessing with calculations it tracks the ball during the entire flight all the way to the ground.

    I think most people are surprised by Trackman carry numbers because they have used indoor sims and/or Foresight launch monitors. Almost all indoor sims notoriously inflate speed and carry numbers (as well as draw bias). Foresight is more accurate than most sims but it still calculates carry instead of measuring it and is almost always slightly inflated compared to Trackman.

    The other confusing variable here is that different launch monitors and sims measure club head speed differently. For example Trackman measures the center of mass of the club while Foresight measures the fastest part of the club (usually the toe of the club as it is closing through the shot). Most of the time Trackman and Foresight will measure identical ball speed numbers with Foresight having significantly (5-6mph) higher club head speed. For this reason golfers who hit on Foresight or indoor sims think they are swinging faster than they actually are.

    Summary:
    Ball speed is king and is also the most accurate stat to compare between most launch monitors. Your ball speed is THE limiting factor on how far you hit it. You will not be carrying it over 250yds consistently with ball speed less than 155mph. You will not be hitting it as far as most pros if your ball speed is less than 170mph. Sounds simple but very few amateurs have ball speeds over 150mph.

  3. Dmac

    Feb 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I play a golf simulator regularly in the winter. I have a swing speed ( on Avg ) of 97 MPH. The carry distance is always around 235-240 yrds… Don’t care about roll-out as I only want to know what I actually fly the ball. I read articles like this and wonder if people really do believe thier own hype. The said trackman numbers don’t meet what I see on a regular basis at the sim. If you can hit it consistantly to or past the average of pros then I am guessing you are in the wrong line of work. Everyone thinks they hit it farther then they actually do, lol.

  4. stephenf

    Jun 6, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Really, really useful. Thanks. I’m looking at the measurements and they’re almost spot-on with on-course experience (at 107-112 mph, somewhat less if I’m in control mode) — the distances based on slight upswing or dead-level impact are right there. That’s not true at all with many of the charts and monitors I’ve seen, which often put me and other plus-handicappers at distances like 210 carry / 240 total, when the average on-course observations (I’m talking about long-term averages under varying conditions, not best-ever with 15-mph trailing wind, downhill, etc.) are much further than that (50-60 yards or more).

    Definitely saving for future use. Thanks.

  5. Breakfastballs

    Jun 1, 2015 at 12:54 am

    There’s one key aspect that is always overlooked in these conversations. Its NOT about clubhead speed. Its about clubhead acceleration. The more you accelerate through the ball, the further it goes. Newton’s second law is Force = Mass x Acceleration (not speed). The simple fact is that if 2 drives are hit at swing speeds of 100 MPH, the one that accelerates more will go further. I think the golf industry thinks physics is boring since they ignore this concept mostly. This golf industry term “smash factor” (Newton cringing) is an attempt to explain the “phenomenon” of why some swings impart a higher level of force on a golf ball than others. Its called acceleration and its not all that difficult to understand. If more golfers were taught this, I think they could learn to hit it a little further.

    • MHendon

      Jun 3, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Hmmmm interesting, so I think what you are implying is two golf clubs of equal mass swung on the same plane, striking the ball square and dead center both making impact at a club speed of 100mph will get different results if one is still speeding up at impact while the other is slowing down at impact. You may be right but I would assume the difference would be minimal since the ball is only in contact with the face for a fraction of a second.

      • stephenf

        Jun 6, 2015 at 8:41 pm

        I’d like to see the test results myself. I was about to post exactly what you posted.

      • Jack

        Jun 16, 2015 at 2:21 am

        The main difference would be that since the ball doesn’t reflect off instantaneously, it does matter if it’s accelerating or decelerating into the ball. I don’t know by how much, but that should make a difference.

    • Dan

      Jul 8, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Sorry buddy, this just isn’t true. Not even in the slightest.

      You can’t just debunk smash factor as if efficiency isn’t a thing.

      As another user posted, the acceleration is irrelevant as the ball spends so little time on the face. I suspect you’re just trying to justify the discrepancy between your distance claims and your club head speed. Classic WRX.

  6. Ol deadeye

    May 26, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Ok. I will finally reveal my secret to increasing driver distance. Any driver, any swing speed, any AOA. Add easy 40 yards. I did this eight years ago when I hit 65. Just move up one set of tees. Works every time.

    • Shawn

      Jun 9, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      Or move to Wyoming…we play in Laramie around the end of August (7,200 feet elevation, no humidity, 85 degrees) and you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to hit the ball a long ways!

  7. Mad-Mex

    May 25, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Nice article, BUT, once again, how about REAL measurements! you know, hit it, measure it ?!?!?
    How about this, Trac-Man “calculations” followed with REAL measure numbers ?!?!
    Come on TOM , I CHALLANGE YOU to be a innovator. Measure ONLY carry and disclaim the roll.

  8. Bar

    May 21, 2015 at 9:02 am

    On the roll out thing, I was watching the Tour players at Riviera last year and noticed that they had a monitor on one of the holes just as Hunter Mahan drove off. According to the monitor he carried the ball 245 and it ran out at 309. I live in Ireland where we get backspin with our drives 11 months of the year so I suppose it’s subjective.

  9. Jim Maron

    May 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Here’s the problem I have with the launch monitors…when I did a TaylorMade fitting/demo day at Golftec my average numbers were 113MPH, spin 2600, ball speed 167, carry 275, distance 311. Which seems to jibe with these numbers.

    But here’s my problem…That would rank me 2nd on the PGA Tour in distance. And I know better. If I was to play with those guys they would hit it way by me.

    These machines seem to exaggerate distance in my opinion.

    • MHendon

      May 23, 2015 at 1:33 am

      Well Jim my club head speed and ball speed is about the same as yours which means we both swing about avg for the PGA tour. The 275 carry the launch monitor gave you is about what I see on the golf course. The roll however is exagerated. I was just as the Well Fargo in Charlotte last week and most of the pro’s drivers were getting next to no roll unless they where a real low ball hitter. I can tell you I’ve played a few courses that the pro’s play and my drives are in the same spot as most of those guys. Only the bombers like Rory, DJ, Bubba etc. are much longer than me. Point being the launch monitor gave you pretty accurate carry distance but add about 10 for roll and you’ll be about where you really would be on most lush golf courses.

  10. Golfgirlrobin

    May 20, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Men exaggerating length; there’s a shocker.

  11. E McCall

    May 20, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    These days with most golfers having a laser or GPS device 99% of golfers not knowing how far they hit the ball seems high. I usually laser measure a drive or two each round and check in at around 280 yards total distance on well struck drives and 250-260 on lesser drives. I guess most may not care, but knowing your distances to me is an integral part of course management, and an important part of the game.

  12. Pablo

    May 20, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Once I start golfing more this season, I might get a lesson to work on my driver swing. I actually haven’t had a driver in the bag for years due to cost, but I’ve demoed several in stores and always have too low launch and too high spin for a low-mid 100 mph swing, I can only presume due to a negative AoA. I didn’t always have this issue, but before I get fit for a driver I want to make sure my driver swing is solid!

  13. Jeff Smith

    May 20, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Lots of clowns play golf and think they are good. ….clowns have taken to golf

  14. MasterGeezer

    May 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Adjustable lofts on drivers . . . what an improvement! The fairways were I play give up maybe a foot of roll no matter what descent angle or spin rate for 6 months a year. And then summer comes and its time to LOFT DOWN bwaaa haaaa haaaa for some roll out. All with a twist of a wrench.

  15. Tess

    May 20, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Agree with Ryan. I’ve had a – A o A and subsequent high backspin forever and that results in very poor roll-out. My carry distances are similar to my buddies but they get past me with roll. Dammit. lol

  16. Regis

    May 20, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Many years ago I got my first Skycaddie. It had the Mark the ball feature which allowed you to measure the exact distance of your shots. It was an eye opener. That trap on 4 that we thought required 220 yards of carry to cover really only required about 190. Ooops that means that our 240 yard drives are really closer to 210. And it hasn’t gotten better with age. That’s why it always surprises me the number of people who claim to hit it over 250. I play a lot of golf and I just don’t seem to meet them. Great article. Thanks

  17. other paul

    May 20, 2015 at 1:37 am

    I think its funny when people complain about the big roll out numbers. Anyone who lives on the coast is upset. Everyone who lives on the prairie doesn’t mind them. The ground can get dry and hard. I played in Vancouver in January and my ball averaged under 10′ of roll. Now I easily get 30-40 yards back on the prairies with our dry fairways.

  18. Martin

    May 19, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I am not a Trackman expert, but the machines say I swing around 90mph with a driver and my drivers carry between 200 and 220 as measured by my gps and our supersoft fairways where I live.

    We had two glorious weeks in the past two years where the course was dry enough for me to try for and hit two par fives in 2.

  19. James

    May 19, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t think these trackman number look right. Those launch angles are stupid low…
    I have data from a foresight monitor that has my average ball speed 155, launch 14.4, backspin 1832, carry 280, total 308….but from these trackman number it says the FARTHEST i can hit it at 155 ball speed is a 250-260 carry?? I know from the course that this is not true

    • MHendon

      May 23, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Brother I hate to break it to you but the foresight is wrong if it’s telling you you’re carrying it 280 with a 155 ball speed. The 250 to 260 would be about right.

  20. Mat

    May 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Tom, those charts are not optimized. 0, +5, they each have raising carries. I don’t care what 0 or 5 are; am I better with 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8? When is high too high?

    We could really use data that matches swing speed with Dynamic Loft, and then we can assess driver Dyn loft – loft to get AoA (right?) and approximate where we should be. For example, if my driver is 105, then what should my Launch Angle be optimally? 14? 15? 19? As such, this chart actually never goes “too far”, so I can’t even extrapolate an optimum DL.

    • A

      May 20, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      That’s because this chart has been cited over and over since 2010, and has never been updated to fill the gaps. Has Trackman not improved on the information, or at least created more detailed charts in the last 5 years than these ones, and the oft-cited PGA Tour Average Driver swing speed of 113mph, with carry distances that follow for each club? Really? That’s all trackman’s got in the distance-charts-graphics game?

  21. kenny

    May 19, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    The roll out distances are irrelevant as we all experience different NORMAL conditions

  22. Jeffcb

    May 19, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Man I’d love to get a tour roll at my course. A 10yd roll out for me ain’t much but thankfully I play at 8000ft so i get some added air time.

    • MHendon

      May 19, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      8000ft, where the heck do you play?

      • Double Mocha Man

        May 20, 2015 at 9:56 am

        Probably one of the ski resorts in Colorado.

      • trc

        May 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

        With cb in his name, probably Crested Butte, CO.

  23. Greg V

    May 19, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Some of the cheaper measuring devices for swing speed really inflate that number. I have one that costs around $100 and I can get my swing speed almost to 100 on that. Put me on Trackman or Flightscope and I am down around 90 at best.

    The use of the cheaper devices might be why some think that they hit it farther than they do.

  24. Jonny B

    May 19, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I figure that for each beer I drink I gain about 5 yards off the tee. Until I reach the 6th beer, then it decreases about 10 yards from that point on.

  25. dapadre

    May 19, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Shouldnt the Ball speed be the same for each category ( ie 100 mph in the Total Optimizir shows 146/148/149), otherwise the smash factor is not constant?

    Apart from that, numbers look spot on. Golf in the Netherlands, see level, my swing speed hovers around 104-108, so 105 numbers ( avg carry 240/245 ish, total around 270) are my numbers exactly.

    • other paul

      May 19, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Attack angle affects smash factor. If you hit down on it you have lower ball speed then if you hit through and up more. I think…

      • MHendon

        May 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm

        I believe that only effects spin. Smash factor is more a relation of ball speed to club head speed. Basically the more on the sweet spot you hit it the better your smash factor.

  26. mark3

    May 19, 2015 at 4:18 am

    All this is fairly obvious without Trackman. You could stand there and hit drives and just watch the flight. For every swing speed there is an optimum arc of flight, whether you have Trackman or not, it doesn’t matter too much. Also, accuracy comes into the equation. If I hit up too much it causes a pull hook. There’s always a pay off. I think what most players these days need are two driving clubs. It’s as important as the multiple wedge thing. I’ve carried a 2006 Ping Rapture 3 wood for years… 14* and 230cc, and 43 1/2″…, and long as my driver sometimes, and hits more fairways. I think it’s partly due to a more downward attack.

    • Large chris

      May 19, 2015 at 8:44 am

      I don’t think it’s obvious without Trackman…. There are not many driving ranges where you can gauge with any accuracy your driver carry distance.

  27. Joe Golfer

    May 19, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Glad to finally read that those “roll” distances are calculated using PGA Tour type fairways (not in one of Tom Stickney’s forum responses).
    Many of us don’t get to play those types of faiways.
    They are like a living room carpet compared to what many of us play, so it is no wonder that the rollout is so incredible.
    Hence, that lower chart optimizing carry would probably be better for those of us playing Kentucky Bluegrass turf rather than Bent grass fairways.

    • MHendon

      May 19, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Ive been to enough PGA tour events to know they dont usually get anywhere near that kind of roll so I dont know there getting that from

      • Scott

        May 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm

        I’ve been to enough PGA tour event to know that they get way more roll than that. So, I do not know where they are getting that from 🙂

        • MHendon

          May 21, 2015 at 1:30 am

          More roll than 40 to 50 yds? Not at the tournaments I’ve been to. East lake in Atlanta where they play the tour championship, Quail hollow in charlotte, and the course they play for the greater greensboro open. Maybe our courses play softer her in the south.

  28. Derek from Hong Kong

    May 19, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I wouldn’t say these numbers are surprising but I was disappointed when I measured my own swing on a Flightscope recently. Swing speeds on a driver was between 95-100mph, 1.4 smash factor, 1900-2400 rpm, carry around 230 and total between 250-260 yrds.

    I thought I’d get a bit more carry based on the above, but guess it’s enough length to work with given that I’d rarely have to hit anything more than a 5 irons into the par 4 greens on my course.

    Tom and Dennis, would love to hear your thoughts on what I can do to improve my distance. Have been consistently in the gym the last few months and having people give me dirty looks when I smash a ceiling light and dented a trash can with my wayward medicine ball throws (this really happened). Thanks.

  29. Tom Stickney

    May 19, 2015 at 12:05 am

    David– the roll is calculated on Pga Tour fairways. If I were you I’d focus on hitting the ball a touch lower than your max carry traj and the roll will take care of itself.

  30. gvogel

    May 18, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    How far can I actually hit my driver? Not very far, but I am working on it.

    I used to be able to carry it 220; now, probably only 205 or so. Carry distance is the real test for me.

    Heck, downwind I can get it out there almost 250. But, I don’t have much trouble with down wind holes. It is the holes into the wind where I need to focus.

  31. Dennis Clark

    May 18, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    When a guy in your group hits one into the woods, start looking about 50 back from where he thought he hit it.

  32. Jamie

    May 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Look at the top 5 carry distance drives for a PGA tournament….many times the top 5 drives for carry distance will not be on the list for longest drive…which means that some weeks those guys get 50+ yards of roll out

  33. moses

    May 18, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I wish I could get 50 yards of roll.

  34. Jang Hyung-sun

    May 18, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Easy way to hit far is buy old Bridgestone j33r and put in a Crazy Black Tour 75 shaft. 290-320 yard for even girly-man like me no workout just on lady friend. Lol

  35. David

    May 18, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    This same article AGAIN. Where do these absolutely ridiculous roll-out distances come from? It always undermines this article when it’s reposted on the site.

  36. MHendon

    May 18, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Ok so this has nothing to do with this article but I found it very interesting thought you might to Tom. I was at the Wells Fargo this past saturday got there around 11 and left a little after 4. As I was walking to the course I stopped by the driving range and watched some of the pro’s hitting. My buddy noticed Padrig Harrington and pointed him out to me. He appeared to be intentionally hitting fat shots of about 30 yards over and over again. I mean he was digging a trench. When We where leaving about 5 hours latter he was still there doing the same thing. I thought damn he must have had an early tee time and then was very frustrated with his round. Turned out he hadn’t even made the cut but was still there on saturday working on something, what I have know idea.

    • Brian

      May 18, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      maybe he will go home when he stops drop kicking drives? Crazy Irishman.

  37. Ryan

    May 18, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Those launch angles in the top chart are extremely low! You’re obviously going to lose a ton of carry distance because you’re not getting the ball off the ground. Am I missing something here?

    • chad ryan

      May 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Really good post. I recently had a driver fitting and found that I was losing distance because my attack angle had changed in the last year. I went from 2 degrees up to 1 degree downward attack angle with my driver (mostly due to ball position). This information is why trackman is such an awesome training tool.

    • Cheech

      May 18, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      The top chart maximizes total distance using roll on a perfect ideal fairway. The bottom charts are what you want to look at to maximize carry.

      • Ryan

        May 19, 2015 at 9:00 am

        Yes but you’re not getting anywhere near your max carry if your launch angle is only 7 degrees for example. Your launch angle should be somewhere around 11-14. At only half of that launch, all I’m saying is that you’re losing a ton of carry distance.

        • Dylan

          May 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

          You have to realize thats at a -5 AOA.. hitting down that aggressively you’d need a 14+* driver to get those optimal launch conditions which isnt the point of this test. it’s to show realistic maximum carry not ideal maximum carry.

          • Ryan

            May 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

            I agree but you can still have a negative attack angle and launch the ball high. I don’t know if this test was done with just a standard 9.5 and he calculated the numbers that way. The point I’m trying to make is that if you get properly fit, you should be able to make the distance gains you want. The biggest robber of distance is the spin rate at 3600+. There is no way you’re getting 20 yards of roll with that spin rate.

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Instruction

Dennis Clark: Hitting from the turf

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I have seen as much as 4-5 MPH increase in clubhead speed when my students hit form a tee compared to hitting off the turf. Why?  Fear of FAT shots.

First question: Are you better hitting off a tee than on the turf?

Next question: When you play in a scramble and you have the option of dropping in the fairway or slightly in the first cut, do you choose the rough-especially when hitting over water or sand?

The answer to all these the same: Because the vast majority of golfers do not have a bottom of the swing arc safely in front of the golf ball consistently.

Consider a PGA Tour event, Korn Ferry, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, whatever…You might see missed fairways, missed greens, hooks, blocks, etc. but we rarely, if ever, see a FAT shot. They simply do not hit the ground before the golf ball. Of course, there are exceptions, into the grain on short pitches, for example, but they are just that-rare exceptions. On the other hand, go to any golf course and watch average golfers for a while. Fat shots are not uncommon. In fact, they, or the fear of them, dominate most golf games.

The number one mistake I have seen on the lesson tee for over 35 years is unquestionably a player’s inability to control the bottom of the golf swing. I have seen everything from hitting 4 inches behind the ball to never reaching the bottom at all It has been my experience that that hitting fat shots is the number one flaw in most golf swings.

Let’s start with this fact: elite level players consistently reach a swing bottom (low point) some 3-4 inches in front of the golf ball-time after time after time. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the one I’d like to look at today is the position of the golf club at impact with the golf ball.

The club is leaning forward, toward the target, the hands are ahead of the club head, never straight up over it, never behind it-always, always leaning forward is the only way to consistently bottom out in front of the golf ball.   

A player cannot hit a ball consistently from the turf until he/she learns this and how to accomplish it. For every golfer I teach who gets into this position, I might teach 50 who do not. In fact, if players did not learn how to “save” a shot by bailing out on the downswing (chicken wing, pull up, raise the handle, or come over the top, (yes over the top is a fat shot avoidance technique) they would hit the ground behind the golf ball almost every time!  Hitting better shots from the fairways, particularly from tight lies, can be learned, but I’m going to be honest: The change required will NOT be easy. And to make matters worse, you can never play significantly better until you overcome the fear of hitting it fat.. Until you learn a pattern where the bottom of the swing is consistently in front of the ball, the turf game will always be an iffy proposition for you.

This starts with a perception. When first confronted with hitting a golf ball, it seems only natural that an “up” swing is the way to get the ball in the air-help it, if you will. The act of a descending blow is not, in any way, natural to the new player. In fact, it is totally counterintuitive. So the first instincts are to throw the club head at the ball and swing up to get the ball in the air; in other words, it makes perfect sense. And once that “method” is ingrained, it is very difficult to change. But change if you must, if your goal is to be a better ball striker.

The position to strive for is one where the left wrist (for a right-hander) is flat, the right is slightly dorsiflexed, and the handle of the golf club is ahead of the grip end. Do your level best to pay attention to the look and feel of what you’re doing as opposed to the flight of the golf ball. FEEL that trail wrist bent slightly back, the lead wrist flat and the hands ahead. It will seem strange at first, but it’s the very small first step in learning to hit down on your tight lies. If some degree of that is not ultimately accomplished, you will likely always be executing “fit in” moves to make up for it. It is worth the time and effort to create this habit.

My suggestion is to get on a Trackman if possible to see where you’re low point actually is, or perhaps you may just want to start paying close attention to your divots-particularly the deepest part of them. I’m sure you will get into a pattern of bottoming out consistently in front of the ball when you begin to learn to get the hands ahead and the club head behind. And best of all, when this becomes your swing, you will lose the fear of hitting the turf first and be free to go down after the ball as aggressively as you like.

Ok, so how is this accomplished? While many players are looking for a magic bullet or a training aid which might help one miraculously get into a good impact position, I dare say there is not one. It is a trial and error proposition, a learn-from-the-mistakes kind of thing achieved only through repetition with a thorough understanding of what needs to be done. The hardest thing to do is IGNORE the outcome when learning a new motor skill, but you must do it. A couple of things you might try:

  • Start with 30-50 yard pitch shots, paying close attention to the hands leading at impact. Again ignore the outcome, look only at the divot.
  • Hit a TON of fairway bunker shots. Draw a line in the sand 3-4″ in front of the ball and try to hit it.
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Instruction

What you can learn from the rearview camera angle

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We often analyze the golf swing from the face-on view or down-the-line camera angle. However, we can also learn how the body moves in the swing from the rearview or backside view.

When seeing the swing from the rearview, we can easily see how the glutes work. The trail glute actually moves back and around in the backswing. This means the glute moves towards the target or towards the lead heel. Note the trail glute start point and endpoint at the top of the backswing.

To some, this may seem like it would cause a reverse weight shift. However, this glute movement can enable the upper body to get loaded behind the ball. This is where understanding the difference between pressure, and weight is critical (see: “Pressure and Weight”).

This also enhances the shape of the body in the backswing. From the rear angle, I prefer to have players with a tuck to their body in their trail side, a sign of no left-side bend.

This puts the body and trail arm into a “throwing position”, a dynamic backswing position. Note how the trailing arm has folded with the elbow pointing down. This is a sign the trailing arm moved in an efficient sequence to the top of the backswing.

Next time you throw your swing on video, take a look at the rearview camera angle. From this new angle, you may find a swing fault or matchup needed in your golf swing to produce your desired ball flight.

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How to stop 3-putting and start making putts

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When we are 3-putting we are ‘stuck in the box’. This means that when we are standing over the putt the second before we make our stroke everything happens to ‘go downhill.’ When this happens, depending on your playing level, things can become a bit erratic on the putting surface.

When a 3 putt happens, it is typically because you failed to do something before you made your stroke. The large majority of my 3 putts happen when I am not completely SOLD on the line of my putt, aka not committed. Questioning anything over the ball will lead to 3 putts.

Here is a breakdown/checklist on how to approach the green and get your ball in the cup without hesitation.

1. It starts with the approach shot into the green and the decision of direction you make to enter the hole. Scan the entire green with your eyes on the walk-up. Left to right and right to left. Look for a few seconds before you step onto the putting surface. This helps determine the high side and the low side, or if the green is relatively flat. Don’t be picky, just look and make a decision.

2. Once you get to the ball, mark it. Take 3 steps behind your ball mark. Now you must pick a line… Left, Center, or Right of the cup. (Skip step 3 if you know the line) It should take seconds but for those that are not sure it will take longer. Understand that every putt has a statistical level of difficulty. So to increase the odds, players must avoid putting in the unsure mind, and take the time to figure out a line. I also find that people who are 3 putting are overly confident and just not committed aka too quick to putt.

3. To commit, you must find the angle of entry into the cup. Walk up to the hole and look at the cup. How is it cut? Determine if it is cut flat or on a slope angle. This will help you see the break if you are having a hard time. Then determine how much break to play. Cut the hole into 4 quarters with your eyes standing right next to it. Ask yourself, which quarter of the cup does the ball need to enter to make the putt go in the hole?

I encourage using the phrases ‘in the hole’ or ‘to the hole’ as great reinforcement and end thoughts before stroking the ball. I personally visualize a dial on the cup. When my eyes scan the edges, I see tick marks of a clock or a masterlock – I see the dial pop open right when I pick the entry quadrant/tick mark because I cracked the code.

Remember, the most important parts of the putt are: 1.) Where it starts and 2. ) Where it ends.

4. To secure the line, pick something out as the apex of the putt on the walk back to the mark. Stand square behind the ball mark and the line you have chosen.

5. To further secure the line, place your ball down and step behind it to view the line from behind the ball. Don’t pick up the ball mark until you have looked from behind. When you look, you need to scan the line from the ball to the cup with your eyes. While you are scanning, you can make adjustments to the line – left, right or center. Now, on the walk into the box, pickup the mark. This seals the deal on the line. Square your putter head to the ball, with feet together, on the intended line.

6. To make the putt, look at the apex and then the cup while taking your stance and making practice strokes to calibrate and gauge how far back and through the stroke needs to be.

7. To prove the level of commitment, step up to the ball and look down the intended line to the apex back to the cup and then back to the apex down to your ball. As soon as you look down at the ball, never look up again. Complete one entire stroke. A good visual for a putting stroke is a battery percentage and comparing your ‘complete stroke’ to the percentage of battery in the bar.

8. Look over your shoulder once your putter has completed the stroke, i.e. listen for the ball to go in and then look up!

If you find a way that works, remember it, and use it!

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