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Saturday, February 20, 2016

How Far Can 2mph Take You?

How about a quick informational post?

Here's a chart from Golf Digest's Fitness Friday post on velocity-based training. If you've ever wondered how much distance you gain with a speed increase and an center-face hit with your driver -- and yes, that center-face hit is important for this to be correct -- it looks like every 2mph of swing speed you can generate will give you around 7 extra yards off the tee.

90mph-100mph distance chart

So -- I'm extrapolating a bit here --a 105mph swing with an on-center hit would carry around 274 yards, 110mph would carry around 319 yards, and 115mph would carry around 354 yards. That's how this chart makes it look.

BUT that's not the way it works, is it? At least, those numbers don't seem to match up with how far Tour pros hit it. For example, I checked Dustin Johnson's clubhead speed at this PGATOUR.com stat page. DJ ranks only 17th so far this year, at 120.54mph. (Poor DJ, only 17th.) But his driving distance, which is 6th on Tour, is 313 yards. (Here's the Driving Distance stat page I used.)

For comparison, Tony Finau, #1 in clubhead speed so far this year, averages 125.35mph and hits it -- wait for it -- 318 yards, which is 3rd on Tour.

And the longest hitter is Gary Woodland at just under 320 yards with a clubhead speed of just barely over 125mph, he's 3rd in that category.

Bear in mind that those numbers are total distance, which includes both carry AND roll-out. Yet the difference between poor old DJ and Gary Woodland is 5mph but still only 7 yards. That doesn't sound nearly so impressive, does it?

So I'd be cautious about obsessing over swing speed numbers. It appears there's A LOT more involved than just how fast you swing the club, and not even the Tour pros have it figured out.

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