I have always called it as I see it, and I have myself disregarded numbers that I did not trust, such as the time I averaged 135 mph club speed, 195 mph ball speed and 350 yards per drive over 5 drives on a golf store launch monitor.
I know I have a swing speed now, and likely then, in the high 120s and 180s in club and ball speed on my better swings, and I have indeed driven the ball 350 yards multiple times when I absolutely flushed it, but never on an average, by any stretch of the imagination.
So, I will likely not be very popular with this posting, and I’ll expect the names that will come with it (“hater,” etc.) just for pointing out the obvious…
I will state right off the bat that he’s playing very well this week and could pull off a shock win (but not so shocking, if you remember that a healthy Tiger Woods can win tournaments with even the worst swing models you’ll find out there and he seems to be healthy and fit for now), and some of his drives have been impressive, but…
Come on, analysts and pundits…
NBC showed a graphic of Tiger Woods’ club speed on Twitter from his 14th hole drive in yesterday’s 3rd round of the Valspar Championship, and the 129.2 mph club speed reading was either a complete mis-read by their TrackMan machine, or a deliberate fudge.
One or the other, take your pick. Just like when they were trying to tell us that Rory McIlroy was carrying the ball 365 yards at the Quail Hollow driving range with a ball speed of 180 mph – complete and utter BS, and everyone who knows numbers knew that, despite the hyperventilating pundits:
Anyone who knows anything about TrackMan and algorithms, not to mention the correlation between club and ball speed on solid strikes, was saying the same thing online yesterday and this morning about TW’s 129.2 mph club speed.
First, let’s look at the drive – it was dead straight and struck squarely, judging by how quickly Tiger Woods picked up his tee – this was no toe or heel mis-hit, and I could have sworn that the ball speed was mentioned as 178 mph, but I’ve read 184 mph online and it could have been another hole and drive that I recall – I can’t find the actual speed that it registered – if anyone sees it or finds it, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
So let’s take the more impressive 184 mph ball speed reading someone had online – with a Smash Factor of 1.49 (a solid hit in the sweet spot), you’d get a reading of approximately 123.4 mph club speed.
Take a like Smash reading on a club speed of 129.2 mph, and you’re over 190 mph in ball speed.
No sir, not buying that.
Remember when everyone was agog over some 179-180 mph ball speed on a drive or two from TW earlier in the year?
That’s right – you don’t jump 10 mph in ball speed, and you don’t jump 7 or 8 mph in club speed when you’re a professional Tour player and your averages are very tightly calibrated to be as consistent as possible.
Let’s face it – TW goes after EVERY drive as hard as he can, and if he’s even averaging 179-180 mph in ball speed, that’s with a club speed of 120-122 mph at best on average (look at that, I just check and TW’s average club speed is indeed 122 prior to this week), so what do you think makes more sense – the approximate 123 mph based on his ball speed of 184 mph, or close to 10 mph higher than his usual, at 129 mph?
How Far Did That Drive Go?
Considering that this drive in question was flushed dead straight on the line TW chose and landed in the fairway with at least 25-30 yards of run-out to finish at 326 yards (that’s total, not carry distance, so the carry would have been 300 yards or less without a doubt), I’m not seeing any evidence (other than the TrackMan reading, which we all know can give you mis-reads based on its positioning vs player line and setup) that there is any way that drive was struck with 129.2 mph club speed.
Then there’s the swing – take a look at this and tell me, with all of the long-driving bombers on Tour from Luke List to Dustin Johnson to Rory McIlroy – this swing below produced the fastest club head speed recorded this season on the PGA Tour?!?!?
Luke List, by the way, drove his ball 320 into the right rough on the same hole yesterday, which is likely a longer drive with the carry considering it stopped in the rough only 6 yards shorter than TW’s with the big run-out.
Jason Kokrak, another big hitter, drove it 324 on that hole yesterday.
Sorry, that was a great swing and drive (for him), it was flushed, and it went 326 yards in total with carry and roll-out – what it wasn’t was a swing that produced 129.2 mph club speed, not even close.
I’ve watched long drive for years and there’s no way that swing with a standard length shaft produced almost 130 mph club speed. It’s absurd to suggest, in fact.
Especially when Tiger has been around 122 mph all season long.
If you look at the line TW chose on that drive and how close it was to missing the fairway left (but it was where TW was aiming), it was likely not the line TrackMan was set up on, and there is your mis-read right there, if you want my opinion.
So, I don’t know what to tell you all, except it’s as close to 100% BS as I can be sure of.
Just like Rory McIlroy’s 365 yard carries at Quail Hollow.
And here’s a question I’d love – why, when the television broadcasts have been giving everyone ball speed numbers all season long, was the focus on the club speed given on Tiger’s drive that hole?
Perhaps because if you focused on the ball speed numbers, you’d know that there was no way that this club speed was an accurate reading?
So, it’s all “wink and nod” as usual, because I don’t buy that these guys believed it for a second.
I think it does a great disservice to all when these things are hyped, especially when ball speed is a better indicator than club speed for swing speed and distance metrics.
Just remember, I actually wrote above that TW’s average club speed was likely 120-122 mph based on his ball speed numbers, and when I checked, it was 122 mph – so, these things are pretty on the money when you know what you’re talking about.
Which means, the guys on TV are either clueless about launch monitor technology, or they’re blowing smoke up your pants, neither of which is a good look for the industry.
But then, no one has ever accused the Modern Golf industry of playing it straight, have they?
Carry on, and a good Sunday to all!
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