Connect with us


What’s your smash factor?



One of the most egotistic terms that my Trackman monitor produces is undoubtedly SMASH FACTOR. Often varying between 0.8 and 1.5, smash factor, by nature, speaks to the egos of people wanting the see the highest number. But what really is smash factor?


In simple terms, smash factor is an “efficiency rating” on the quality of strike; it shows us how much ball speed we are achieving per 1 mph of club speed that we produce. For example, if your ball speed was 140 mph and your club speed was 100 mph, your smash factor would be 1.4, since 140/100 = 1.4.

Generally, top professionals would be aiming for a 1.5 smash factor with a driver and a 1.4 smash factor with mid irons. But it’s important to note that any level of golfer can achieve these numbers; a young child who has a good relationship between his club speed and ball speed could produce a 1.5 smash factor!

Why is smash factor important?

Primarily, smash factor is highly influential in terms of controlling the distance we hit the ball. From a distance perspective, it is important to understand the importance of ball speed, as it accompanies launch angle and spin rate to complete the three main components of distance. Despite this, I see a lot of players chasing club head speed, and while it is important, it is almost redundant if not accompanied by appropriate ball speed.

Beginner Golfer Cartoon

To match the desire for distance, as a general rule, we should be striving to create the HIGHEST smash factor with our longer clubs; however, this is not the case with shorter clubs and in wedge play. With those clubs, a smash factor of around 1.0 should be targeted as opposed to a 1.1 or 1.2 that I so often see.

This idea of lowering the smash factor is to help with distance control, as a ball that is flying off the club face too quickly can be difficult to control. James Ridyard, a PGA Professional from the UK, has done some great work on smash factor in wedges, discussing specifically the idea of controlling spin loft (explained below). In a recent presentation, James explained how a 4-degree error in spin loft with a club head speed of 60 mph can result in a 30-foot miss!

What affects smash factor?

The two most influential things that can affect smash factor are:

  1. Spin Loft
  2. Strike point

By definition, spin loft is most easily thought of as the difference between the angle of attack (is the club traveling downwards or upwards) and the dynamic loft (loft presented at impact). It is often referred to as a measure of how much energy is transferred into the ball.

Spin loft

The above picture shows an angle of attack of -4.6 and a dynamic loft of 22.2. The difference between these 2 numbers is 26.8, giving a spin loft of 26.8.

Spin loft 1

BUT in the above example, the difference between the angle of attack and dynamic loft is 27.7, however the spin loft reported is 28.0. This is because spin loft is by exact definition a 3-dimensional number and involves the face-to-path relationship.

 If you think about spin loft as a measure of the amount of energy transferred into the ball and then think about punching a bag with a glancing blow (representing hitting a ball with a club face well open to club path), this should help you visualise how a poor face-to-path relationship could increase spin loft (reduce the energy transferred into the ball).

Striking the ball on the sweet spot of the club is also very important when looking at smash factor. As you know, off-center hits do not always result in long drives and controlling the strike point is pivotal when attempting to achieve a high smash factor. The below picture is a great example of how strike point is important. As you can see, a lower club head speed with a better strike point resulted in more distance.

Smash Factor ex

In essence, it is a combination of strike point AND spin loft that will help you achieve a good smash factor!

How can we improve our smash factor?

Before identifying how we can improve smash factor, here is a fact from Trackman that may just motivate you:

[quote_box_center]Reducing Spin Loft from 30 degrees to 25 degrees with a 6 iron will raise Smash Factor by 0.06. For the average amateur, 0.06 equals 5 mph of ball speed or approximately 9 yards.[/quote_box_center]

As shown, reducing spin loft can often drastically help improve smash factor; however, without a ball flight monitor it is impossible to accurately measure spin loft. For this reason I would advise you to go and find your nearest instructor with a monitor and with his or her help you should then be able to gather some information on your current spin loft and discuss whether it actually needs improving.

If you’re not able to use a monitor, however, try this. 

Strike point is an easier variable to measure yourself, and all you need is a little athlete’s foot spray. Simply spray a light coating on the club face and after hitting a shot or two, you will soon be able to get some accurate feedback on your strike point.

Strike point

Remember, one (spin loft) without the other (strike point) is not what we want. So aim to combine the two! Happy smashing!

Your Reaction?
  • 186
  • LEGIT37
  • WOW7
  • LOL8
  • IDHT6
  • FLOP5
  • OB3
  • SHANK11

Thomas is an Advanced UKPGA Professional and Director of the Future Elite (FUEL) Junior Golf Programme. Thomas is a big believer in evidence based coaching and has enjoyed numerous worldwide coaching experiences. His main aim to introduce and help more golfers enjoy the game, by creating unique environments that best facilitate improvement.



  1. CNYNative

    Nov 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    1.55 lol alright, and im pretty sure smash factor is regulated for clubs anyway?

  2. Philip

    Nov 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    It depends – whenever I high a high slice it is obviously the max as why would I ever hit a high slice in the same fairway as myself. However, for all other shots it is closer to 1.40 or less.

  3. Christestrogen

    Nov 4, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on barstool.


  4. Jack

    Nov 4, 2015 at 8:32 am

    How can you get your wedge smash down but still flight your wedges and have a spin loft that is too high? Thanks

    • Thomas Devine

      Nov 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Hi Jack…sorry I do not fully understand your question….however from my experience, when spin loft gets too high, the player does not launch the ball at their desired height and thus suffers with distance control

      • Jack

        Nov 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm

        Sorry my question wasn’t clear! I’ll try again. I have a smash of around 1.1 with my distance wedges (40-80 yards 58 degree) I have a low dynamic loft at impact (say 40 deg) is there a way to decrease smash with this club without increasing DL? I like my current wedge flight but would like my smash closer to 1. Thanks!

        • Thomas Devine

          Nov 4, 2015 at 5:42 pm

          ok great…the first question would be do you have difficulty controlling your yardages with the wedges….if not, I would not get hung up on aiming for a 1.0 smash factor. Like most things, this is desired/preferred by some coaches but not essential for everyone. Have you thought about using a lower lofted club, for e.g 52 degree. With this club, you could achieve the same launch with less downward hit….I have found this to help at times (a shallower attack with a lower lofted club) when trying to produce those low spinny ones!

  5. Daniel

    Nov 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Maybe your smashfactor was low because you have a descending blow? I had a lesson on Trackman and the best I can get was 1.40 with a descending blow with the driver. We worked on swinging up and the smash factor increased to 1.48. Since I wasn’t used to the up swing, my swing speed decreased but carry distance signifcantly improved.

    • ph00ny

      Nov 3, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Unless i misheard the TM rep, he said i had a nice long back swing along with a good AOA. He even joked in saying i should try long drive comp.

  6. Ph00ny

    Nov 3, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Would type of golf ball used during the launch monitor session impact ball speed thus changing the smash factor? For an example, range ball is used opposed to regular golf balls

    • Mat

      Nov 3, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Ball speed is the dividend, so a cruddy ball would not travel as fast. So yes, it matters.

    • Lich King

      Nov 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Yes, it will have a big impact. You should always use the balls you are playing with on the course in a TrackMan.

      • ph00ny

        Nov 3, 2015 at 2:55 pm

        Damn. My ball speed was very slow compared to the clubhead speed being shown at the TM demo session on flightscope. Is there a setting to add some sort of offset for using rangeballs?

        I think my smash factor was in the low 1.4 but the total distance and carry numbers looked great.

        • Thomas Devine

          Nov 4, 2015 at 10:17 am

          The Trackman Monitor has a normalisation feature that allows you to translate what the range ball has done into what a premium golf ball would do….as long as the user has the ball type selected correctly, you should get some very reliable figures even when using the range balls 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


What to look for in a golf instructor: The difference between transformative and transactional coaching



Golf instruction comes in all different styles, methods, and formats. With that said, you would think this would be a good thing due to there being so many different types of people in the world. However, it is my opinion that the lack of standardization within the industry makes it confusing for the athlete to determine what kind of golf instruction they should seek out.

Before we can discuss what may or may not be the best type of instruction for yourself, first we need to know what our options are. Whether we are taking a “broad-spectrum approach” to learning or a more personalized approach, it is important to understand that there are differences to each, and some approaches are going to take longer than others to reach goals.

Broad-Spectrum Approach

Welcome to the world of digital golf instruction, where tips from the most famous coaches in the world are a click away. The great thing about the internet and social media for a golfer is there has never been more access to the top minds in the field—and tips and drills are plentiful. With that said, with there being so many choices and differing opinions, it can be very easy to become distracted with the latest tip and can lead to a feeling of being lost.

I would describe “internet coaching”—or YouTube and Instagram surfing—as transactional coaching. You agree to pay, either a monthly fee or provide likes or follows and the professional provides very generalized tips about the golf swing. For athletes that are new to golf or golf instruction, this tends to be the first part of their process.

There are people who prefer a more transactional approach, and there are a ton of people having success working together over the internet with their coach. With that said, for someone who is looking for more of a long-term individualized approach, this may not be the best approach. This broad-spectrum approach also tends to be the slowest in terms of development due to there being a lot of trial and error due to the generalized approach and people having different body types.

Individual Transactional Coaching

Most people who are new to golf instruction will normally seek out their local pro for help. Depending on where you live in the country, what your local pro provides will vary greatly. However, due to it being local and convenient, most golfers will accept this to be the standard golf lesson.

What makes this type of instruction transactional is that there tends to be less long-term planning and it is more of a sick patient-doctor relationship. Lessons are taken when needed and there isn’t any benchmarking or periodization being done. There also tends to be less of a relationship between the coach and player in this type of coaching and it is more of a take it or leave it style to the coaching.

For most recreational or club-level players, this type of coaching works well and is widely available. Assuming that the method or philosophies of the coach align with your body type and goals athletes can have great success with this approach. However, due to less of a relationship, this form of coaching can still take quite some time to reach its goals.

Individual Transformative Coaching

Some people are very lucky, and they live close to a transformative coach, and others, less lucky, have had to search and travel to find a coach that could help them reach their goals. Essentially, when you hire a transformative coach, you are being assigned a golf partner.

Transformative coaching begins with a solid rapport that develops into an all-encompassing relationship centered around helping you become your very best. Technology alone doesn’t make a coach transformative, but it can help when it comes to creating periodization of your development. Benchmarks and goals are agreed upon by both parties and both parties share the responsibility for putting in the work.

Due to transformative coaching tending to have larger goals, the development process tends to take some time, however, the process is more about attainment than achievement. While improved performance is the goal, the periods for both performance and development are defined.

Which One is Right for You?

It really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your development. If you are looking for a quick tip and are just out enjoying the weather with your friends, then maybe finding a drill or two on Instagram to add to your practice might be the ticket. If you are looking to really see some improvement and put together a plan for long-term development, then you are going to have to start looking into what is available in your area and beyond.

Some things to consider when selecting a coach

  • Do they use technology?
  • What are their qualifications when it comes to teaching?
  • Do they make you a priority?

As a golf coach who has access to the most state-of-the-art technology in the industry, I am always going to be biased towards a data-driven approach. That doesn’t mean that you should only consider a golf coach with technology, however, I believe that by having data present, you are able to have a better conversation about the facts with less importance placed on personal preference. Technology also tends to be quite expensive in golf, so be prepared if you go looking for a more high-tech coaching experience, as it is going to cost more than the low-tech alternative.

The general assumption is that if the person you are seeking advice from is a better player than you are, then they know more about the golf swing than you do. This is not always the case, while the better player may understand their swing better than you do yours, that does not make them an expert at your golf swing. That is why it is so important that you consider the qualifications of your coach. Where did they train to coach? Do they have success with all of their players? Do their players develop over a period of time? Do their players get injured? All things to consider.

The most important trait to look for in a transformative coach is that they make you a priority. That is the biggest difference between transactional and transformative coaches, they are with you during the good and bad, and always have your best interest top of mind. Bringing in other experts isn’t that uncommon and continuing education is paramount for the transformative coach, as it is their duty to be able to meet and exceed the needs of every athlete.

Your Reaction?
  • 21
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK9

Continue Reading


The importance of arm structure



How the arms hang at address plays a vital role in the golf swing. Often overlooked, the structure in which we place the arms can dictate one’s swing pattern. As mentioned in the article How Posture influences your swing, if you start in an efficient position, impact is much easier to find making, the golf swing more repeatable and powerful.

To start, I opt to have a player’s trail arm bent and tucked in front of them with angle in the trail wrist. While doing so, the trail shoulder can drop below the lead with a slight bend from the pelvis. This mirrors an efficient impact position.

I always prefer plays to have soft and slightly bent arms. This promotes arm speed in the golf swing. No other sports are played with straight arms, neither should golf.

From this position, it’s easier to get the clubhead traveling first, sequencing the backswing into a dynamic direction of turn.


When a player addresses the ball with straight arms, they will often tilt with their upper body in the backswing. This requires more recovery in the downswing to find their impact position with the body.

A great drill to get the feeling of a soft-bent trail arm is to practice pushing a wall with your trail arm. Start in your golf set-up, placing your trail hand against the wall. You will instinctively start with a bent trail arm.

Practice applying slight pressure to the wall to get the feeling of a pushing motion through impact?. When trying the drill with a straight trail alarm, you will notice the difference between the two? arm structures.

Your Reaction?
  • 41
  • LEGIT13
  • WOW3
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK6

Continue Reading


What is ground force in the golf swing?



There is no doubt about it, the guys and gals on tour have found something in the ground—and that something is power and speed. I’m sure by now you have heard of “ground reaction forces”—and I’m not talking about how you “shift your weight” during the golf swing.

Ground force in the golf swing: Pressure and force are not equal

With respect to ground force in the golf swing, it’s important to understand the difference between pressure and force. Pressure is your perception of how your weight is being balanced by the structure, in this case, the human body. Your body has a center of mass which is located roughly one inch behind the belt buckle for men and about one inch lower in women. When we shift (translate and/or torque) the center of mass, we create a pressure shift as the body has to “rebalance” the mass or body. This pressure shift can help us understand some aspects of the golf swing, but when it comes to producing power, force and torque are where it’s at.

Pressure can only be expressed in relation to the mass or weight of the body. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can only create 150 pounds of pressure at one time. However, when we direct that mass at a larger object than our mass, all of a sudden that larger mass directs an opposite and equal reactionary force. So now, when a human being “pushes” their legs against the ground and “feels” 150 pounds of pressure, they now get 150 pounds of force directed back towards them from the ground, creating a total of 300 pounds of force that allows them to jump off the ground in this scenario.

If ground reaction forces don’t have anything to do with the “weight shift,” then what do they affect? Everything!

Most people use the same basic ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. However, almost everyone has chocolate chip cookies that taste slightly different. Why is that? That is because people are variable and use the ingredients in different amounts and orders. When we create a golf swing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are using the same basic ingredients as everyone else: lateral force, vertical torque, and vertical force. We use these same three forces every time we move in space, and how much and when we use each force changes the outcome quite a bit.

Welcome to the world of 3D!

Understanding how to adjust the sequencing and magnitude of these forces is critical when it comes to truly owning and understand your golf swing. The good news is that most of our adjustments come before the swing and have to do with how we set up to the ball. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time controlling low point due to having too much lateral force in the golf swing (fats and thins), then we narrow up the stance width to reduce the amount of lateral force that can be produced in the swing. If an athlete is late with their vertical force, then we can square up the lead foot to promote the lead leg straightening sooner and causing the vertical force to happen sooner.

While we all will need to use the ground differently to play our best golf, two things need to happen to use the ground effectively. The forces have to exist in the correct kinetic sequence (lateral, vertical torque, vertical force), and the peaks of those forces need to be created within the correct windows (sequencing).

  • Lateral force – Peak occurs between top-of-swing and lead arm at 45 degrees
  • Vertical torque – Peak occurs between lead arm being 45 degrees and the lead arm being parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical force – Peak occurs between lead arm being parallel to the ground the club shaft being parallel to the ground.

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember ground reaction forces are invisible and can only be measured using force plates. With that said, their tends to be apprehension about discussing how we use the ground as most people do not have access to 3D dual force plates. However, using the screening process designed by Mike Adams, Terry Rowles, and the BioSwing Dynamics team, we can determine what the primary forces used for power production are and can align the body in a way to where the athlete can access his/her full potential and deliver the club to the ball in the most effective and efficient way based off their predispositions and anatomy.

In addition to gaining speed, we can help athletes create a better motion for their anatomy. As golfers continue to swing faster, it is imperative that they do so in a manner that doesn’t break down their body and cause injury. If the body is moving how it is designed, and the forces acting on the joints of the body are in the correct sequence and magnitude, not only do we know they are getting the most out of their swing, but we know that it will hold up and not cause an unforeseen injury down the road.

I truly believe that force plates and ground reaction forces will be as common as launch monitors in the near future. Essentially, a launch monitor measures the effect and the force plates measure the cause, so I believe we need both for the full picture. The force plate technology is still very expensive, and there is an educational barrier for people seeking to start measuring ground reaction forces and understanding how to change forces, magnitudes, and sequences, but I’m expecting a paradigm shift soon.


Your Reaction?
  • 77
  • LEGIT16
  • WOW8
  • LOL7
  • IDHT3
  • FLOP8
  • OB5
  • SHANK54

Continue Reading