In today's golf world, maximizing your driver distance is truly a matter of science. No longer can you solely go on what looks right to your eye or even what feels right in your hands. The only way to get the most out of your drives is through the use of a launch monitor. But what do all those numbers on the launch monitor screen mean and how do you maximize them?
First off, there are only a few numbers that mean anything on a launch monitor. Hands down, the most important is Ball Speed.
You can have all the clubhead speed in the world, but if your ball speed isn't in proportion with your club head speed, you are wasting energy and losing yards. The optimum number is a 1:1.5 ratio between clubhead speed and ball speed.
In other words, at 100 mph of clubhead speed, a solid blow will send the ball at 150 mph off the face. The lower the ratio, the poorer the quality of the strike and the more inefficient the impact. Not very many will get a full 1:1.5 ratio, most tour pros come in just above 1:1.47, but you should strive for this number.
You can do this by simply making sure you are contacting the ball in the proper spot on the clubface each time. We'll talk more about this in a moment.
The second number that is very important is Launch Angle, which is measured in degrees. We've all heard a lot about this number in reference to how the pros are trying to launch the ball as high as possible with very little spin. But the key here is that there is an optimum launch angle for your ball speed and spin rate, and that is critical.
Just because Tiger Woods launches at 12* doesn't mean you should. In fact, relatively very few golfers should launch at this angle. For average golfers, the highest launch attainable with a typical driver will provide the longest distance assuming the optimum spin rate. For reference, here are some numbers for you to ponder:
Driver Length - 44"
Clubhead Speed - 125 mph
Ball Speed - 194 mph
Ratio - 1.552 (incredible!)
Launch Angle - 15.5-17*
Spin Rate - 1865 rpm (super low!)
Carry Distance - 360 yards reported by Ping (Obscene!)
9* Upward Angle of Attack!!!
Clubhead Speed - 121 mph
Ball Speed - 170 mph
Ratio - 1.404
Launch Angle - 12*
Average Distance - 299 yards
Clubhead Speed - 125
Ball Speed - 185 mph
Ratio - 1.48
Launch Angle - 11*
Spin Rate - 2200 rpm
Average Distance - 302 yards
Me! - Chuck Quinton
Clubhead Speed - 117 mph
Ball Speed - 173 mph
Ratio - 1.48
Launch Angle - 12*
Spin Rate - 2588 rpm
Average Distance - 305 yards
Clubhead Speed - 106 mph
Average Distance - 289.6 yards
Sean Fister (Long Drive Champion)
These are his highest recorded numbers.
Clubhead Speed - 171 mph
Ball Speed - 218 mph
Ratio - 1.27
Distance - 515 yards
Ball Speed - 155 mph
Est. Clubhead Speed - 102
Launch Angle - 12*
Spin Rate - 2500 rpm
Average Tour Player
Clubhead Speed - 108-110 mph
Average Distance - 286 yards
|Ball Speed||Launch Angle||
Back Spin (rpm's)
|170 mph||11.5-15.5+*||2000-2400||289 yards|
|160 mph||12-16+*||2200-2650||271 yards|
|150 mph||13-16.5+*||2300-2800||252 yards|
|140 mph||14-17+*||2350-2950||233 yards|
|130 mph||14.5-17*||2400-3100||215 yards|
|120 mph||15-17*||2500-3300||196 yards|
The "Ideal Numbers" provided above have been compiled from various industry averages and should be used as guidelines that represent what is currently considered to be optimum according to Cleveland Golf.
As you can see, there is wiggle room to meet ideal launch conditions but there are numerous factors influencing these numbers. If you don't hit the ball in the sweet spot, have too much spin, too low a launch, etc., you will end up well short of your potential maximum driver distance.
The first thing that should be gleaned from the chart is that pretty much everyone says they hit the ball further than they actually do! A 160 mph ball speed is about the Tour average and they are only carrying the ball 271 yards under absolute ideal conditions.
The next time your buddy tells you he regularly hits the ball 290, realize that he either hits the cart path frequently or is well above the norm in terms of swing speed and quality of strike. In fact, the average amateur golfer driving distance is a paltry 205 yards.
So, how do the tour pros hit it so far? There are a LOT of reasons. Let's start with one of the most overlooked reasons, the course itself.
Tour fairways are mown extremely short compared to the courses you and I play on on a daily basis and are dried out to make them firm and fast.
How much of a difference does this make? A ton.
If you've watched many tour events, you've no doubt seen balls roll 40, 50, 60, even 100 yards down the fairway. When was the last time your tee shot rolled 60 yards? Unless you hit a worm burner, the answer is probably never.
Firm, fast fairways are a big piece of the secret. Corey Pavin averages about 260 yards off the tee with an estimated clubhead speed of around 100 mph. If Corey catches his tee shot absolutely pure, he might get 150 mph of ball speed which would give him a carry distance of only 250 yards. That's assuming he catches it solid on each and every shot with perfect launch conditions which I can assure you, does not happen.
I've followed Corey around several tournaments on courses that I regularly play such as Bay Hill, and the truth of the matter is that he often only carries the ball in the 230 yard vicinity and gets another 20-30 yards of roll. Certainly, he can hit it farther at times as we all can, but these are his averages.
It's also important to realize that apart from playing in pristine fairway conditions, many of the "tour" tees are elevated above the fairway on many of the courses, providing for more distance.
What about the "bombers"? Are they really hitting it as far as the announcers say?
In a word, YES. The longest hitters on tour are completely different animals than the longer hitters of just 10 years ago. These guys are taller, stronger, more athletic and better trained and leveraging technology to the absolute maximum. These guys really can carry the ball 300 yards and then get roll on top of it as they benefit from the closely mown and hard fairways as much as anyone. If you look at a few of the bombers' numbers above, most notably Bubba Watson, the numbers are phenomenal.
Bubba's launch angle (LA) of 17* is at the extreme high end, and his Spin Rate (SR) at the extreme low end. His Ball Speed (BS) and overall numbers are great for distance but not for accuracy and are better suited for a long drive contestant than a PGA tour player.
Why? Take a look at Bubba's Fairways In Regulation statistic. Bubba is ranked 196th on tour in driving accuracy which is 4th from being dead last at 50%.
Now, there are numerous reasons for missing a lot of fairways. Many courses narrow out at this distance, the farther the target the less accurate you're going to be by default, swinging this hard is simply more difficult to control, etc.
But there's another reason that is often overlooked. Spin. That's right, spin on the ball is actually what gives you control over the ball and the less spin, the less control.
While Bubba's numbers are ideal for hitting the ball as far as humanly possible, he is hitting the equivalent of a "flyer" off his driver on every shot. Flyer's happen all the time from the rough on iron shots. It happens when grass gets trapped between the clubface and the ball and the spin is greatly reduced. This leads to shots that "knuckle" in the air and go much further than normal with obviously less control.
For a long drive, this is perfect. Bubba is also much more at the mercy of the wind with such a tremendously high launch angle and ball flight, so this will also decrease his accuracy. All of these factors completely disregard his swing technique which can obviously also cause him to lose accuracy.
I saw such an improvement in my golf swing by being a free member that I wanted the full benefits of a premium membership. I'm a notorious range rat who has learned more with my premium membership than I have from thousands of dollars of lessons and training aids over the past 20 years.
Excellent, thorough, detailed and comprehensive free information had me wanting more and the price/value was excellent.
The swing instruction offered by the free version made it apparent that this is the right way to perfect the golf swing (or get as close as possible). Just a few videos on how to start the backswing and initiate the downswing made a huge difference in my consistency.
After watching the free videos, I quickly realized the golf action Chuck is teaching is based on common sense fundamentals that most tour professionals use today. I also realized Chuck had a talent for explaining the golf swing in a way that makes sense.