When your ball doesn’t go the distance
In August I noticed how the distance I hit my irons had gone down. I typically use my 8 iron as a reference when I practice. When I’m hitting the ball well I get about 145 yards of carry. When I checked in August I was down to 125 to 130 yards.
Those 20 yards were the difference between hitting it solid and failing to hit the sweetspot. They are also the difference between landing on the green and landing in the greenside bunker!
When you feel you lack distance. Don’t practice hitting it faster, practice hitting it better first. You’ll love the extra distance in your shots when you start hitting them solid. You can then gradually start working on increasing your swingspeed.
So what? More distance with the same swing. That’s what.
If you strike the ball with the sweet spot of the club, with a square club face and path, the ball will fly straight and true, and the ball will travel the maximum distance that your golf swing will allow.
When you strike the ball away from the sweet spot, then the energy transferred to the ball will be reduced, and some of the available energy will be diverted towards changing the spin characteristics of the golf ball – you will lose distance.
How pure you hit your shots can be measured, the indicator is called your “Smash Factor“.
The Smash Factor relates to the amount of energy transferred from the club head to the golf ball. In other words, it is an indicator of how close to the sweetspot you hit the ball. The higher the smash factor the better the energy transfer.
Technology available today, most notably TrackMan’s launch monitor, can measure the Smash Factor. It does this by calculating your ball speed and swing speed with Doppler radar technology. To determine your Smash Factor, TrackMan simply takes your ball speed and divides it by your swing speed.
The ideal smash factor varies from club to club. For a driver, the ideal smash factor is 1.50, which means the ball leaves at 1.5 times faster than your swing speed. If you swing at 100mph, for example, the ball would leave at 150mph. The higher the loft on the club the lower the ideal smash factor. For a pitching wedge, you’re aiming for a smash factor of 1.25. Your irons will fall somewhere in this range.
The simplest and most efficient way to increase your smash factor is to find the sweet spot. Off center hits will cause you to lose more energy.
For every 10 mph you can increase ball speed, you gain another 20 yards of distance on average with the driver. Instead of trying to swing faster, which can cause more harm than good, you’ll want to create consistent contact for the best results.
I’ll cover this ideal impact position in more depth in my next article. In the meantime, experiment with your swing to locate the sweet spot on all your clubs and find that feeling of great compression.