I had my first go on Trackman, and although it is much like any other simulator, it has been proven to be so far the most accurate measuring device for hitting golf balls.
I learned something surprising – with my current swing action after the address stance change, I am hitting down on the ball slightly with the Driver.
We’re talking about -1 to -3 degrees attack angle (just slightly downward) on most of my good drives yesterday as I fiddled with attack angles and such, and I wonder if I had been hitting up or coming in shallow before my change last week, but I didn’t switch back to the old position as some may have.
I’m staying with this change for the time being for playing golf purposes – even if my stats change from great for long drive, playing scoring golf is about consistency and making your misses better, not improving your best shots.
What I learned was that my theory about long hitting not only being about club speed but other factors is correct. I mean, Trackman people will tell you the same thing, but most people are obsessed with raw swing speed for generating distance.
That is not so. In fact, I’ve had my suspicions about this, especially after Jaacob Bowden commented a couple of years back that the Trackman speed numbers will come about 10% lower than SSR numbers because of how the radar works.
I want to show you something shocking from my “playing swing” session on the Trackman.
I know the numbers as they are will improve as it warms up.
But for one, I went on the Trackman after I’d hit two jumbo buckets of balls over a couple of hours. Second, it was about 10 C or 50 F, which will affect ball distance and also how loose you can get. Third, I wasn’t using pro-level balls but simply brand new range balls, which still don’t go as far as pro-level balls. Fourth, I’ve been swinging again for only three weeks after nearly five months off, so I’m nowhere near peak form.
With all of these factors, guess what? I’ve said I would be happy with driving the ball 300-320 yards in play with a “playing swing” that I figured would take about 125mph club impact speed. Some of you will remember these numbers.
But guess what? I’m already there. After a winter off, a week into a swing change and after hitting a couple hundred balls in cold conditions, I was able to do that yesterday on the Trackman.
Here’s a swing from yesterday with the numbers I was told I’d want to repeat:
Some of you will know what the numbers mean. The first few from the left on the top row show that I’m still a little outside-to-in (and likely will be whatever swing style I go with due to my personal physical specs) and all my misses were left. That means I could take out the right side of the course and play where missing left was safe.
The shocking part was not my distances (who wouldn’t want to carry the ball 295 for a total drive of 320 yards with a “Playing” swing? ). That’s as long as the longest players on any Tour you’ll find, and I didn’t have a slick and firm fairway to get 40 yards of run as they do.
One thing that impresses me – a good deal of Tour players have as high or higher impact speed than I do with a playing swing, but they don’t hit it as far.
Why is that? Because of this:
With a club speed of around 115 mph, I was getting drives of up to 320 yards when I dialed it back and swung for accuracy.
I do remember that one of the pros from one of the equipment makers’ tents came around while I was working on the Trackman with the pro from my facility, who’d invited me to take a spin on it while I was finishing up hitting balls nearby.
He’d wandered over and while I was hitting drives and tinkering with loft and alignment (I was hitting everything a little left, which mean my face was likely closed at address or my alignment was off), I remember that he didn’t say anything other than to keep muttering my ball speed numbers (high 160’s to low 170’s), but I didn’t know why.
Finally he just walked off back to his tent.
I found out why when my facility pro, who used to compete casually in long drive (we were talking about the last one he was in where he used a 50″ shafted driver and flew a drive 370 yards, something I’ve never done), took some rips with a test driver.
He went after it and hit one drive 330-something that was a screaming, running hook, and a perfect one down the line at around 328 yards, but his club speed was 10 mph higher than my around 115mph on my swings. He was between 120-125 on his swings.
One of the other equipment maker pros who used to work at my facility spent some time with me on the Trackman explaining some stuff.
He said he had around 110 mph swing speed with his playing swing but couldn’t get anywhere near the distance I could with the same speed swing (I remember one swing I was around 112 and still got 308 yards on that drive). He was in the 280’s-290’s on his best pops.
He’s in his mid-20’s, close to half my age, and is a professional in the golf industry.
Back to my bombing pro – based on mph alone, he should have been outdriving me by close to 30 yards but he wasn’t. A few yards longer on average. I was a little put out before I remembered he was fresh and I’d been swinging for hours by then. But the point remains this:
You don’t have to increase your club speed dramatically to dramatically improve your distances. What you need is efficient Transfer of Energy, as I’ll call it, from the club to the ball, and that’s loosely what is determined by Smash Factor.
Tim Burke won the Remax Long Drive with a couple of great drives last year, but what was impressive was that he combined the highest impact speed with 1.50 Smash Factor on those belts, if I remember correctly.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a blazing swing speed. If you take the playing swing producing up to 320 yards on a good swing at 114 mph, then I could calculate that my around-350 yard drives were likely not much higher than 125mph impact speed when measured on Trackman, provided my Smash Factor was the same.
I wasn’t going to try to swing that fast yesterday. One I don’t hurt myself, and I won’t be able to get close to that again until I’ve been swinging a little longer this year and it gets warmer.
But I’ve proven to myself what I thought all along – I’ve probably never swung faster than mid-120’s, but the distance I get is the maximum for my swing speed. My longest drives were likely really good swings in the high-120’s that just impacted perfectly.
That’s what makes me a long hitter, not the speed at which I swing.
And that comes from technique, my friends. You can get all the speed you want, but if you’re hitting it off the face all over the place and not the sweet spot, you’re going to lose distance. You’ll be swinging out of your shoes and risking injury when a lower speed and better contact would serve you better.
There’s a reason people get results with MCS and the way I tell people to swing. I might be increasing their swing speed if they’re not swinging optimally, as evidenced by how quickly I got PGA of America pro Jerry “Big Toilet” Crowell a 5 mph increase last year – but most people start hitting it longer because of increased efficiency in their swing.
I figure I can get up the high teens with my “playing swing” by the time I’m back in swinging shape, but trying to swing at over 120 mph?
Why would I unless I was going to train to get it even higher, say for long drive?
The harder you swing, the more you’ll miss, that’s a simple fact. If I can drive the ball 300-320 yards in play (that was the big important thing, these drivers were in play, not all over the place), I would have a huge advantage playing scoring golf.
I can even swing easier and live with 290-300 yards knowing I’ll hit it pretty straight all day long.
What am I going to do with this new info? I’m going to work on getting a sweeping or up strike with the driver, which will further increase driving distance.
I can hit it as long as the longest pros, and I’m not even a player – I’m a swing researcher and instructor looking to start playing, who can hit it with the bombers.
At 44 years of age, overweight and out of shape coming off a 5-month winter break and a week into changing my swing.
I know what I’m talking about.
And I can do it.
I’m off to finish the MPS “B”, have a great day, everyone!