1st Trackman Experience! (DJ’s Theory Proven)

smash-factorI mentioned yesterday that my forgetting about Open House Day brought both disappointment and a learning experience.

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!




23 thoughts on “1st Trackman Experience! (DJ’s Theory Proven)

  1. buddhabob

    DJ I got accidentally deleted, I understand. As a relief to most it should probably happen more often.

    you know how I feel about the Trackman. I think it has ‘optional settings’ one for touring Pros and most of the time its on ‘retail option’. It uses algorithms for all its settings. Your telling me that your swing speed is only 2-3 mph faster than Luke Donald or Ian friggin Poulter? Poulter can barely fill out a boy’s size banlon. I’m not buying.

    the reason you hit farther even with that speed is simple. Would I rather be hit by a punch from George Foreman or Ray Leonard if they were both thrown at the same speed and I couldn’t get out of the way? Lets make this personal. I am picking Ray everytime. Force thru the ball is a function of mass and leverage. A larger man knowing how to hit with leverage will certainly have more carry. You are 6’2″ 220 right? Thats a whole lot of punch. That said the single biggest jump in driving distance will be in hitting 5 degrees or so up on the ball. Hitting up and out. Get 25 extra yards automatically. The touring pros with some exceptions like Watson hit slightly down on the ball for what they feel is control and consistency. But where the stick armed pro guys decked out in their 500 dollar golf outfits lose is thru impact. Their club decelerates upon contact. They lose more speed and power than you right at that point. Trick is to make that loss as small as possible I think and thats where force,mass,strength come in.

    I was in Roger Dunn a few months back and a 26 year old kid who had played from the time he was 5 and was 6’6″. He was whaling on the driver. Ferocious swing and yet mechanically sound from what I could see. Much faster than anyone I had seen at the Northwestern Mutual a week earlier. His swing speed on the big machine? 123-126. These machines largely profit stores in the ‘club fitting’ process. Most hackers and weekenders are better off spending money on a dog walker than being ‘fitted’, sorry. Follow the money.

    will unfortunately say one more thing. Besides leverage and angle of attack and swing speed, hitting for power can be increased by increasing shoulder turn in the back swing. I’m experimenting right now with that. I discovered something yesterday that was hiding in plain view but I hadn’t tried before. Yesterday it was giving me about 125 degrees of easy and effortless shoulder rotation. I’ll be happy to share this with others here but I’m off to the old Dunaway range to see if it repeats. It just reminds me that the golf swing is full of about 150 variables and tiny little adjustments can make for huge differences.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      I don’t know what to say, buddhabob – was surprised by the speed numbers too, but apparently you can get 320 yards with 114mph… I would think my club speed is higher than average, just not as high as people think, but you make a good point – I’m pretty sure I have a higher club speed than Luke Donald.

      It could be that these guys don’t have the club speed listed, their numbers are juiced, and you can see it when they can’t even reach a 290 yard par-4 hole, they’re all short or spraying it all over trying to get there.

      I thought I had solved a mystery, but your points are compelling as well.

      What we need is a few PGA Tour pros and myself to hit balls on the same machine and see what the numbers say. They will either fail to crack 100mph with me at 114-115 or I will be over 120mph if they’re showing 114…

      You’re right – something doesn’t make sense.

      And I’m only 6’1″ by the way. Tiger is 6’2″ and is supposed to have had 125mph in his heyday – I don’t buy that if I’m only at 114 for 320 yards. I know it’s only a “playing swing,” but come on – There’s no way he was 10 mph faster than I am right now.

      Something is off.

    2. Seb

      Hey Buddha,

      It sounds awfully like you are trying to make something very simple more complicated than it should be. It sounds like you should be concentrating on the sum rather than the parts. If you were to just swing hard at the ball without concentrating on where it goes to begin with you’d probably find your distance right there, once you have your distance dialing back and controlling is very easy.

      Obviously having never seen you seeing I can’t possibly give you any tips, but if you follow DJs simple video instructions you really can’t go wrong.

  2. Brandon

    400 yards can be achieved in normal conditions with 130 mph. I am not shocked at all that you got that distance. Although you still have room to improve your Smash Factor(you can get 1.55), 1.50 is exceptable for now;-). I personally would love to see you with 2-3 more degrees of launch but only if you get that spin down to 2100. Your jaw will hit the floor when you see that 330 pop up on the screen with 115 mph club speed but excellent numbers.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      I agree Brandon about your first comment – who was the senior long drive guy who hit that 400 yard drive with 130 a couple of years back? We were talking about that at the time.

      At the end of the day, people are leaving a lot of yards on the tee deck without a good swing technique. It’s not just about generating speed, it’s about getting that solid contact and the better the swing, the more times you’ll nail it.

      I’m working on the video now, and I’ll post your new swings in the Member section as soon as I can my man 🙂

    2. Andreas

      According to Fredrik Tuxen, maker of Trackman, maximum smash is 1,494 at 8,5* loft. You can get about 1,53 with a 0* loft. When those 1,50+ numbers show too often its most likely that the swingspeed is read too low or LDers hitting 3* loft. This is due to headdesign and very few heads are read correctly. All proven with highspeed cameras and impact tapes alongside Trackman. Mostly read towards the heel so slower speed but centerhit for max ballspeed = 1,50+ smash. Though I´m sure DJ´s 1,5 actually is but aiming for higher needs lower loft and, as you said, higher launch. Preferably AoA that is around +5.

      To answer you DJ, it was George Slupski. Very slight downwind, 2000+ feet of elevation and 25*C+ helps as well. It was a GREAT shot though.

      For best distance at higher speeds, 12-17* launch and 1800-2200 spin. More at higher altitude.

      1. DJ Watts Post author

        That’s pretty interesting, Andreas – when I first hit the Trackman, I had my driver still set at 7.5, but with the easier swing, the numbers were lousy. I guess when I’m putting it all into the swing, the 7.5 is OK.

        When I adjusted my driver to 8.5 degrees was when the numbers improved at the slower swing speed.

        These things are good to know for fitting, but I still wouldn’t live on the Trackman. It’s a great tool though.

        1. Andreas

          The combine is a great way to improve and see where you stack up against tourlevel players. Had I not done LD I would have used that to improve. Never tried it but seen it alot. One of the best features with TM

      2. Brandon

        Andreas that is very interesting. I always wondered why they were getting such high readings on the smash factor

    3. Seb

      Ditto B. I’m not surprised either, technique is everything, coming from a martial arts and heavy sports background I can tell you that my instructor who was barely 5 foot could take down most people with little effort due to efficient and powerful technique.
      We used to dread going to the front of the class to “demonstrate” something. … certainly toughened us up :).

  3. buddhabob

    yeah I can see that as well now. If the attack angle goes into the positive that would be a plus. Today at the range with a few balls I paced off I was shocked. If you play with a longer club and a 6 degree loft or less the spin will tend to drop and you get a careening kind of roll out thats insane, especially I think with draws and hooks.

    In fact I remember experimenting with the store machines and they give you a lot more distance with draws than fades. Swing speed is most certainly only one of the factors. At the old Dunaway range this afternoon I must have had between 40-50 yards of rollout in soft dirt on 3 of the balls I hit and they were used range balls. It was not hard ground. The other thing is I had one driver tipped about 1/2 inch. This could have made a difference, I don’t know, I’m just learning about the technology.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      Bear in mind I’m doing all of this stuff with off-the-rack equipment – imagine, if the technology is so effective, what would happen with a proper fitting session and customized equipment! 😉

  4. buddhabob

    why the hell is Trackman measuring off the heel as so well described by Andreas? How can that be representative? You don’t ever want to heel a driver and its probably the easiest way to crack one. “very few heads are read correctly”, – what I thought all along. To maximize distance regardless, hit up on the ball 5 degrees with a launch around 11-15, use a 3-5 degree loft face to promote low spin and big rollout and use a long drive shaft of top quality like House of Forged.

    1. Andreas

      Because of headshape. if I remember correctly a Nickent and one Callaway headdesign read correctly. This is why its very important to have a welltrained eye to see where a problem is. Is your fade because you hit a out-in path with open face or because you hit the heel and geareffect fades the ball?

      Swingspeed is important but its better if ballspeed is measured correctly.

      David Mobley launches 12*, spins 1800-2000 and hits with 8,5* loft. He has perfect numbers but much higher loft. Just get the nrs right with whatever works. I use a gamershaft, works great!

  5. Seb

    Overweight? I remember when you had another DJ you were carrying around mate ;-p.
    I Tell ya. .. I’m testament to this entire article DJ. Before I was following your blog and really up until very recently I was struggling to hit 150 with a 7 iron, I honestly couldn’t fathom it as I knew I could really hit the ball hard, if I’d had time (small child etc. ..) I may have figured it out on my own.
    But now I’m doing the same swing with some simple changes to ensure more efficient contact with the ball and. … Well like I’ve said before the numbers are incredible just hitting the ball more efficiently, 140+ with my pitching wedge, I’ve not used the driver yet since.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      E Tu, Seb? 😦 First Chief calls me the StayPuft Marshmallow man… that’s OK, I can take it! 😉

      And I’m delighted to hear you’re getting more solid contact – most people have no idea how a solid impact will improve distance all by itself with the same speed, but everyone is obsessed with speed. It has its place, but there are other factors!

      1. Seb

        That was a compliment dude…. You are almost skiing instructor svelte now 😉

        Seriously the contact feels completely different, how do I explain it? It helps that I play blades so I can feel the difference, the feeling is like the ball feels flat against the club face, remember that this is with the irons, I’ve not felt the driver as I’ve not used it yet since the change.

        1. DJ Watts Post author

          That’s the sensation I get, Sebber – I know it was a sweet hit the second I make contact, it’s like hitting a ball made of tightly wound elastic bands with no cover – smoosh city 🙂

      2. Chief Cowpie

        Sorry about the Stay Puft but like I said, that was more true in the past. The point is when I first came on your website years ago, you made a comment to someone that you didn’t want to do any type of weight training as you wanted your swing teachings to be for the average person and what they could accomplish or something like that. Anyway, its true, while you have had an athletic past, you have a body that isn’t pampered with training and your accomplishments with the swing are the result of superior technique and not strength. And its good advertisement to stay as you are as you are able to boom with the biggies on tour like Bubba so its not misconstrued that you are a superb example of athletic training that is the source of your accomplishments.

        1. DJ Watts Post author

          Chief, I would rather slings & arrows from you (even if in jest) than laurels from others. Stay true 🙂

  6. Chief Cowpie

    DJ, have you ever done a topic on the appropriate squat? Certainly something to ponder for UGS and every one designing their swing. Before I couldn’t get the minutest puff steam out, then I transitioned to pinching a few pellets and now I’m dropping logs. It was something you do, squat, that until now I never fully investigated and now KABOOM!

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      Oh my… lol… it’s not so much a squat as it’s what you see when the left knee moves toward the target at the transition with the weight shift, Chief. But I’ll see what I can do after I’ve finished with this video 🙂

      1. Chief Cowpie

        For me, I think the magic might be as it gets my weight back to the heal as in the hips tightening with age, as I am more stand up, the weight gets more the toes.

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