Max Out Your Drives
In our last blog post, we wrote about how important it is to hit the ball as far as you possibly can if you want to improve. Now, don’t take this as saying you should grit your teeth and swing out of your shoes on every teeshot (far from it), but increasing your ability to swing faster while staying in balance will of course help you hit it further.
We’ll go over some speed drills in a future post, but first, we need to work on optimizing your driver numbers with the current speed you have. Let’s face it, no matter what we do, most of us are not going to be able to swing 115+ mph, and that’s fine. We’re not playing 7,800 yard courses here. We just want to get the absolute optimal distance we can with what we’ve got.
First and foremost, you need to learn to hit UP on the ball with your driver. Here are the driver stats for the Average Male Amateur:
Club Speed: 93.4 mph
Launch Angle: 12.6 deg
Attack Angle: -1.6 deg
Spin Rate: 3275 rpm
Carry: 204 yds
Let’s look at some charts (I know, invigorating). The technical definition of ATTACK ANGLE is:
Attack Angle – The vertical direction of the club head’s geometric center movement at maximum compression of the golf ball
An easier way to put this is the degree to which the club is moving up or down (compared to the ground) when the club hits the ball. We generally want to strike a bit down on balls on the ground and a bit up on the driver. A negative (-) number means we’re hitting down, while a positive means we’re hitting up. OK, got it?
Let’s first take a look at CARRY DISTANCE. Notice anything? It’s pretty obvious that the more we swing UP with our driver, the further the ball carries. You’ll also notice that the LAUNCH ANGLE and BALL SPEED increase while the SPIN RATE decreases. All else being equal, by changing the ATTACK ANGLE by 6.5 degrees, we’ve gained 14 yards of carry. Generally, the higher we hit it with less spin, the further the ball goes.
A word of caution: depending on your clubhead speed and launch angle, there is a point where you’ll want MORE spin, as it will keep the ball in the air longer. This is why the importance of getting fit for clubs can’t be overstated. You need a driver fit to the optimal length and loft (among other things) that will compliment your swing. You can hit up on the ball all day with the wrong driver, and it’s not going to do much for you. Getting fit is essential.
Let’s take a look at one more chart (can you guess whose numbers these are?):
That’s the Arnold Palmer Invitational champ, Rory McIlroy. This was taken when he was arguing with Brandel Chamblee via Twitter, but I digress. You’ll see a +3.1 Attack Angle, and yes, the best players in the world hit up on their driver.
The point here is that if you’re currently hitting down on your driver, you’re leaving a lot of extra yardage into greens which will balloon your score. Hitting up isn’t the be all and end all for driver distance, but it’s a great place to start. Give us a ring at (605) 341-5703 and we’ll be happy to get you in for a fitting and/or lesson. Happy golfing!