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Increase your driver ball speed

Written by: Cesar Figueroa

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How to get PGA Tour Ball Speed

Introduction to Driver Ball Speed & Distance

The most important aspect of achieving distance in your golf shot is the MPH that your ball generates after the strike. There is a direct correlation of your driver ball speed to distance.  This, of course, is influenced by the swing speed, but you don't need to have the fastest swing speed to generate high ball speed. A variety of factors come into play to achieve quality swing speed, which we will discuss in depth here.

This article will cover the basics of the components that contribute to ball speed, including examples from simulator data of my swing and an analysis of how different balls can vary in speed. Furthermore, we will explore ways to enhance your ball speed. Everything from the point of contact with the ball to the swing speed, compression, and the type of ball you are using can significantly influence how fast your ball comes off the club.

Highlighting PGA Tour Driver Ball Speed:

PGA tour players have driver ball speed of 173.01 MPH on average.  In the world of golf, some of the fastest players have been recorded exhibiting speeds of over 190 MPH. As previously mentioned, achieving the fastest ball speed does not solely depend on having the fastest swing speed; this is where the concept of the smash factor comes into play. The smash factor is calculated as your ball speed divided by your swing speed. An ideal smash factor is 1.5, which signifies the perfect transfer of energy from your swing to the ball. Hence, if your swing speed is 100 mph, a ball speed of 150 mph would be considered optimal from an efficiency standpoint.

 

 

To consider an example, let's look at prominent players like Cameron Champ, who leads in driver ball speed with a whopping 190 MPH, with a swing speed of 128 mph. This gives him a smash factor of 1.48. To enhance your smash factor, there are various strategies you can adopt. In this article, we will explore some areas where improvements can be made to increase your smash factor.

Driver Ball Speed to Distance

Driver ball speed to distance go hand in hand, no different than you covering more distance in a car in a one hour time period if driving 60 MPH compared to 40 MPH.  The major factor to increase your ball speed into the farthest distance is ensuring optimal power transfer of swing speed to the golf ball.  In order to do this, you must have the most efficient swing possible, the right mechanics, the right backspin, loft angle, the right ball for you, and the right driver for you.  Sounds like a lot right?  It really isn't as intimidating as it sounds, and as an amateur, the focus should be one area at a time.  Below is a chart showcasing optimal driver swing speed to ball speed.  Let's discuss some of these areas and how to improve upon these to ensure you are incorporating the most power transfer in your swing. 

Golf balls and ball speed

When you are shopping for golf balls, it is important to take into consideration your specific swing for the ball that works best for you (our article on which golf ball is right for you).  Many ball manufacturers offer quizzes to help you select the right golf ball, but we recommend conducting tests yourself. Every brand and type of ball will differ.

 

 

When it comes to maximizing performance with golf balls, several factors come into play, including the number of layers in a golf ball, its compression, material, and the distinction between soft and hard balls. Much of the advice here will pertain to general trends, and it's important to remember that there can always be exceptions. Let's start with understanding the feel of a golf ball.

 

 

Hard vs. Soft - Typically, a slower swing speed will benefit more from a softer ball, while a faster swing might work better with a harder ball. Just considering the feel alone, a harder ball might make someone with a slower swing feel like they're hitting a rock, whereas a softer ball might give a person with a faster swing the impression of hitting a sponge. Remember, the feel is a crucial factor when choosing your ball!

Layers of a golf ball or "piece", you will see 1-5.  A 1 piece golf ball will be the least expensive, but typically offer the least benefits in terms of performance, whereas 5 pieces, are the newest technology, and tend to be the most expensive, and claim of the best performance.  An example of a 2 piece construction (1 piece is much harder to find these days) is the TaylorMade Noodle.  A 3 piece construction is the famous Titlelist ProV1, and the TaylorMade TP5 is a 5 piece.  

 

Compression rating typically ranges from 30-120.  30 being the softest, while 120 being harder.  As compression increases, typically performance will as well.  Hitting the ball farther and getting the most ball speed out of your golf ball.  

Golf Ball Swing Speed Test

Let's take a look at example dataset from two different balls and the driver.  Keep in mind, I am by know means a professional golfer, so many things about my swing can be improved, but this shows the differences a ball can have on the effect of the player.  The club swing speed on the monitor wasn't working, but typically will be in the range of 108-113.  

The comparison was done with Callaway Supersoft golf balls and the Chromesoft XLS golf balls.  The details on the balls below.

 

Supersoft Golf Ball

 

 

The ball speed with the Supersoft averaged at 150 mph over the course of 10 swings.  One notable difference you will see between these two balls was the backspin on the Supersoft for my swing, was much closer to where it should be, averaging 2,500.  Finally, the total carry was 247 average.  

Chromesoft XLS Ball

 

 

The ball speed with the Chromesoft was averaging 156 mph over 10 swings.  Backspin was about 1000 mph more, BUT average carry was almost 15 yards more at 260. 

Comparison Conclusion:

You hear a lot about the significance of choosing the right ball, not only for performance but also for feel. These findings were indeed surprising, illustrating a vast disparity in results. It's somewhat unfair to compare the two, given the significant difference in price points. Supersofts are priced at $25 per dozen, while Chromesofts are twice that amount, at $50 per dozen. Nonetheless, this ball aligns better with my swing style, although there is still room for improvement in reducing the backspin.  Amateur players often think that choosing a golf ball makes no difference because they aren't any good yet.  That couldn't be further from the truth, the right golf ball has as much of an impact on your game as using the right golf clubs.  

Increasing swing speed

There is certainly a ceiling to swing speed and many factors will influence it that are outside of your control.  Things like age, muscle composition, height, etc.  However, the beauty of golf, is everyone can always be improving.  There are 1000s of drills across putting, chipping, driving, mental fortitude, and more to help your golf game.  Let's start with the basics here.

Driver set up

Focusing on the driver alone, the proper set up is going to be where the foundation for increased golf ball speed starts.  Remember, increase swing speed, choose the right golf ball, and in turn, increase driver golf ball speed.  

 

4 take focus points in driver set up:

 

  • Chest and head behind ball

  • Trail shoulder tilted slightly 

  • Wide stance

  • Golf ball placed in front of your stance (at the heel of your lead foot)

 

Stand over the golf ball so your hands naturally fall down to touch the club, line up the club at the toe of your driver, and at address, you should look like the image below.  

The backswing

Arch your back and stick your butt out, as if you were going to sit down on a chair.  The take away, low and slow.  The start of the take away should be all upper body and arms, until you are about parallel.  At which point, your hips will start to activate and begin to rotate.  At that point, your wrists should naturally hinge as well.  Many players will hinge right at the take away, and that more often than not, will result in inconsistent striking.  Some pros you will see on the tour do this however, Tony Finau being a good example.  

 

  • Notable drill:

  • Beginning from this stance, use only your wrists to move the club from the ball to waist level, avoiding any rotation or movement of your lower body. Maintain the club at waist level for a brief moment. Subsequently, rotate your shoulders to bring your hands to the pinnacle of your backswing.

 

Downswing and Impact

Begin with rotation of your hips first.  Your swing should be powered through your hips not your arms, this is a big challenge for beginners because they tend to overthink the swing and the arms naturally move forward.  Keep your head behind the ball until impact, and swing through the club.

 

  • Notable drill:

  • Buy Dr. Scholl's Powder Foot Spray and spray on your driver head.  The goal here is to see where you are making contact with your driver.  If you see many shots are on the toe for example, you may be standing too far from the ball, and vice versa.  Assess where the contact is being made, and make sure to adjust accordingly.  Consistent impact is going to be one of the most important drivers of ensuring you are able to increase your driver ball speed.  

 

Golf Shot at Impact Zone

Golf driver toe strike, golf driver heel strike, and optimal strike zone at impact

Is it better to hit the toe or heel of the driver?

 

While neither is ideal, a miss on the toe often results in more distance than one on the heel. However, both can lead to undesirable outcomes, such as a severe slice or hook. Striking the ball in the impact zone (or the center of the clubface) provides the most optimal spin, launch, and carry distance for your shot.

 

Even if your contact is spot-on, the ball's travel speed and trajectory can still be influenced by other aspects of your swing.  As we've previously discussed, understanding and optimizing your smash factor can further enhance efficiency and performance. Always strive for consistent and centered contact to achieve the best results.

Follow through

While executing the follow-through, it is crucial to retain the ideal spine angle throughout the entire swing. The proper method to preserve your spine angle is to turn your upper body into the follow-through stance, thereby providing extra power and a higher consistency in your shots. (The majority of average golfers reduce speed or adjust their upper body movement to ensure ball contact; this leads to them standing upright, forfeiting the correct spine angle and shifting their head away from the ball.) Therefore, ensure a continuous upper body motion until a complete finish.

Below is a video with an example from Golf Distillery.

 

Final Thoughts on Increasing Your Driver Ball Speed

In the intricate dance that is golf, maximizing your driver ball speed comes down to a harmonious blend of choosing the appropriate golf ball and refining your swing dynamics. As we've discussed in depth, elements such as the golf ball's characteristics, and your swing setup and mechanics play pivotal roles in enhancing the ball speed. It isn't just about raw power; it's about harmonizing your skills and equipment to work seamlessly together, fostering a more efficient, powerful, and controlled swing.

Our journey into understanding the nuances of golf ball speed doesn't end here. Like the game itself, it's an ongoing process of learning, adapting, and improving. Implementing the insights and drills mentioned in this guide can be a stepping stone to not only augmenting your ball speed but elevating your overall golf game. 

Remember, the pursuit of a better golf game is a journey, not a destination. It's about consistent efforts and a willingness to learn and adapt. If you are still new to golf, take a peek at our comprehensive beginner's guide.  So keep pushing your limits, keep experimenting with your equipment, and keep refining your techniques. A higher ball speed is not just an end, but a means to a more rewarding and successful golf experience.

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