PRO-SPECTIVE - Smash Factor...1.5!

by Brian Hann, PGA of Canada 

If you're like most golfers, you want to maximize distance off the tee.
Well, here's a piece of 'news' for you. Lashing at the ball as hard as
possible isn't the answer. In fact, when we challenge people to swing
as hard as they can while monitoring their key numbers on FLIGHTSCOPE,
we typically see clubhead numbers fluctuate +/- 2 mph from the '"norm".

That's right! When people purposely try to smash one, clubhead speed may or may not increase, and if it does it is very minimal. Meanwhile, the ball speed (measured as the ball leaves the clubface) almost invariably decreases when we go all out. "WHAT?" you ask. Ball speed goes down because the efficiency of the strike deteriorates. Almost without fail, the impact is not on or near the centre of the clubface. The swing is unstable, so the relationship of face to path is typically less than ideal and often the angle of attack is compromised, leading to some type of glancing blow.

The key, therefore, is to swing within your means and to identify if you are anywhere near maximum efficiency. We can help with that! The most efficient strikes with a driver will see ball to clubhead speed at approximately a 1.5:1 ratio. That means that if you are capable of creating 75 mph clubhead speed, the ball could launch off the face at about 112 mph with peak efficiency. Most people will be in the neighbourhood of a 1.3:1 ratio for ball to clubhead speed ratio. Given this 75 mph clubhead speed example, yield is 97 mph ball speed with this less-than-ideal efficiency.

  • 75 mph @ 1.3 efficiency =  97 mph (not very efficient strike) 125 yds air, plus 30 yards roll = 155 yds
  • 75 mph @ 1.5 efficiency = 112 mph (very efficient strike) 165 yds air, plus 35 yds roll = 200 yds max.

Science tells us that with the ideal recipe of initial vertical launch and backspin rate, an initial ball speed of 112 mph can travel as much as 165 yards in the air, and can roll out to a maximum of 200 yards under 'normal' fairway conditions.

By the way, if you possess tour quality hand speed and can produce 120 mph clubhead speed with a yield of 180 mph ball speed, you could max out at about 305 yards in the air, and 338 yards in total. Now that's a wonder of physics!

Brian Hann
Lead Teaching Professional