- The average female golfer creates 62 mph of club head speed.
- The average LPGA player swings at 96 mph.
- The average male generates a swing speed of 84 mph.
- The average player who scores in the 80’s swings 89 mph.
- The average PGA Tour player swings at 113 mph.
- Finally, the longest PGA Tour players swing around 130 mph.
One of the biggest struggles among golfers is their inability to consistently make good contact with the golf ball. Practice is the key – but there are also some particular things to keep in mind while on the course, or tuning your game on the range.
• One of the most common mistake's golfers makes is swaying or 'moving-off' the ball during the swing. Moving the body sideways or up-and-down is detrimental to hitting the golf ball consistently. Often, you don’t realize you’re doing it until you ask someone to watch your head position during the swing.
-If you have a swaying problem (moving your body laterally), you need to make sure you keep your back knee flexed, and stationary. This knee should not straighten-up or move sideways on the back swing. It needs to remain stable and flexed. Keep the lower-body movement to a minimum.
-If you are moving-off the ball vertically, remind yourself to keep your upper body at one level (always the same distance from the ground). Moving up and down off the ball causes numerous negative actions and counter-actions in the golf swing. A great mental tool to help with this is to imagine a pole running through your spine and into the ground, fixing your position in place. You’ll need to maintain that position so the pole doesn’t move or pop out of the ground until after you’ve made contact with the ball. Eliminating excessive body movement will greatly assist you in becoming a consistent ball striker.
• In addition to not moving or swaying off the ball, practicing your fundamentals (grip, stance and ball position) will give you the proper base for creating a consistent and repeatable golf swing which will produce consistent golf shots. Everything starts with good fundamentals. How is your grip? Are the 'Vs' formed between your thumb and index fingers parallel and aligned to your right shoulder (for a right-handed golfer – and vice versa for a left-handed golfer).
Is the golf ball in the right position of your stance (not too far forward or too far back)? Are your hands slightly ahead of the ball at address (particularly when setting-up for iron shots)?
Golf Ball Striking
If you watch any professional player you might see several different and unique movements in their respective swings. For example, Jim Furyk’s swing is radically different than Adam Scott. However, if you compare the impact position of any elite player, you will notice more similarities than differences. In fact, impact position is nearly identical for any really good ball striker. The following are all characteristics of good ball striking.
Club head speed, contact in the center of the club face and proper angle of attack are all essential ways to maximize ball striking. Good ball strikers contact the center of the club face. In general, a solid strike on the golf ball will travel approximately 3 yards for every 1 mph of swing speed. The faster you swing, the farther you can potentially hit the ball. Players should swing as fast and hard as they can while still maintaining a perfect balance. The following statistics demonstrate the club head speed of golfers.
Increasing swing speed will certainly help hit the ball farther, however, it does not guarantee more distance. Therefore, players need to create solid contact and maximize their swing speed for longer and straighter shots. If a player loses balance ball striking is likely to suffer. Golfsmith conducted impact tests while missing the sweet spot by an inch or more and concluded a 14% - 20% loss of distance. Therefore, a 250 yard drive could be impacted by losing as much as 50 yards during an off center hit.
Good ball striking requires the correct angle of attack. Many amateurs incorrectly flip their hands and wrists and essentially hit up on the golf ball with a scooping motion. Science takes the guess work out of ball striking. If a player makes contact in the sweet spot and creates a 90 mph swing speed with 5 degrees down through the ball (rather than 5 degrees up) there is an average of 26 additional yards. Elite players swing down and through the golf ball. Allow the club to lag through impact.
Better players understand how to compress the golf ball. Compression refers to the density of a golf ball and measures whether a golf ball is harder or softer. The golf ball is compressed and flattened at impact and returns back to its original shape. A low compression ball is easier to compress and creates more distance for players with slow swing speeds. High compression golf balls offer more control for players with faster swing speeds. High compression balls are normally used by better players. Hitting down with the proper angle of approach and swing speed directly effect how you compress the golf ball.
Amateurs can aid their ball striking with a better selection of their golf ball. Often, players use a ball they see the professionals play on TV. The ball professionals play usually does not complement an amateurs game unless they swing around the same swing speed. Selecting the correct golf ball is just as important as selecting the proper length, loft and flex of your equipment. Many golf balls are made to perform for specific swing speeds. The golf ball must be launched at the appropriate launch angle and spin rate. In addition, the correct golf ball will help control side spin and lead to longer and more accurate shots.
How to Strike a Golf Ball
All really great ball strikers create a downward angle of approach at impact and take a divot after they hit the ball. Do you take a take a divot, is the divot in the correct place in relation to the golf ball and where does it point? The following tips on how to strike a golf ball will lead to farther and straighter golf shots.
Creating a divot at impact signifies the downward angle necessary to hit the ball in the air. While many golfers take a divot, often it is too deep or before the golf ball. Unfortunately, both typically result in poor shots. Often an 'over the top' move creates an overly steep outside to in swing path during the downswing and results in a deep divot that points left of the target. Additionally, extra movements such as drastically changing the spine angle and swaying result in divots in front of the golf ball.
Taking a proper divot is an indication of consistent and solid contact. The divot can tell important information about the golf swing if you know what you are looking for. The correct divot actually starts in front (left side of golf ball looking down) of the golf ball, which indicates the correct downward angle of attack and crisp contact. Ideally, you want to take a shallow divot where the top laver of turf is removed and you can still see the grass roots. Shallow divots make it easier to control spin and trajectory while deep divots are difficult to control distance. Additionally, the divot should point toward the target. There is potentially a swing path issue if the divot points left or right of the target.
Learning to hit down on the golf ball is one of the hardest aspects of the swing for any player, especially beginners. The skill is complicated since everything happens so quickly in the swing. Trackman research indicates PGA Tour Professionals hit down on every shot except a driver and putter. Watch any professional player and notice a nearly identical impact position. Most importantly, the left arm is straight with a firm left wrist allowing the hands lead the club head into impact. Additionally, the shaft is in a positive shaft angle position where the shaft leans forward. This position will create a downward angle of attack that results in the ball traveling up after impact. The weight should be transferring over to the left side through impact. The positive shaft angle is when the grip end of the club leads and the club head trails at impact. A vertical shaft angle is where the club head and shaft point straight up at impact while a negative shaft angle occurs when the club head leads and the grip end of the club trail at impact.
Unfortunately, many amateurs create a vertical or negative shaft angle that results in thin and topped golf shots. This causes an upward strike up on the golf ball rather than the proper descending blow that utilizes the loft of the club face to compress the ball and create a crisp golf shot. Poor weight shift keeps the weight on the back leg at impact and encourages the negative shaft angle where the hands flip and swing up on the ball.
Ball position plays a key role in how to strike a golf ball. The golf swing is basically an arc around the body. Therefore, focus on positioning the ball correctly to create crisp shots. The correct ball position is essentially the spot where the club meets the ball first followed by the ground. Generally, the ball starts in the middle of the stance with wedges and moves forward as each club gets longer.
Pure Strike Golf
Pure Strike Golf has been labeled the next significant advancement in golf instruction. Bob Koch, founder of Medicus, along with Medicus master instructors Chuck Evans and Dave Wedzik believe in five key elements found in every successful golfer. The five keys include a Steady Head, Weight Forward, Flat Left Wrist, Diagonal Sweet Spot Path and Clubface Control. The five keys build on each other and are known as Pure Strike Golf.
Maintain a steady head through the swing. Research indicates the average PGA Tour player only moves his head one inch during the backswing and even less during the downswing. Amateurs create substantial movements, combined with the head moving in opposite direction during the backswing and forward swing. Players that maintain a steady head create an efficient and powerful shoulder turn combined with improved and consistent contact.
The correct weight shift is necessary for solid contact. The average PGA Tour player places 80-95% of their weight on his front foot at impact. Research indicates the average amateur player gets 55% of his weight on the front foot. While some amateurs actually get 70-75% of their weight on the front side, they actually allow weight to slide back to the right foot at impact. The five keys progressively work together. Maintaining a steady head helps create the proper weight shift, including the correct percentage of weight on the front foot at impact.
A steady head and transferring weight to the front foot assist in maintaining a flat left wrist at impact. Every good ball striker keeps the left wrist flat and delivers the club with a forward shaft lean at impact. Poor ball strikers flip their wrists and the club in an effort to lift the ball. The correct impact position allows the left wrist and arm to lead while the club lags behind. In fact, the club and left arm should not form a straight line before impact. Impact with a flat left wrist helps deliver solid contact and compress the ball.
Pure strikes on the golf ball require you to deliver the sweet spot on the ball. Pure Strike Golf acknowledges golf is played on a tilted plane instead of a vertical or horizontal plane. During the backswing the club travels back, up and inward followed by forward, down and out on the downswing. Success of the diagonal sweet spot path account for keeping the club on plane throughout the swing, traveling down the target line for just an instant and delivering the club face sweet spot on the ball at impact. Every good ball striker understands how to make contact with the sweet spot.
The final component of Pure Strike Golf is clubface control. Even the best players in the world have difficulty controlling the clubface in relation to the sweet spot path. Clubface control produces a shot that starts and curves in the intended direction. Therefore, understanding the 9 golf ball flight laws makes it much easier to attain the desired outcome. The movement of the clubface from the takeaway to the follow through is essential for clubface control.
Good ball strikers understand and implement the 5 keys to consistency in Pure Strike Golf. In fact, the 5 Keys are present in any PGA or LPGA player. The Pure Strike 5 Simple Keys to Consistency is available on DVD.
Golf Ball Striking Tips
One of the best golf ball striking tips is to understand where you make contact on the club face. Shots that strike the sweet spot feel soft, smooth and jump off the club face. Good ball strikers consistently replicate the feeling. Off-center shots feel clunky and produce a loss in distance and accuracy.
Good ball strikers consistently find the sweet spot and realize exactly where they make contact if they miss the center of the club face. Impact tape is used during the club fitting process to determine contact on the club face and sole. Most golf shops have extra rolls of impact tape from Ping, Titleist, TaylorMade, etc. laying around the shop. In the event your local golf shop can’t spare a few pieces use a piece of masking tape or duct tape. Simply apply a piece on the face of your club and sole and begin hitting a few shots. The tape will pinpoint exactly where the ball strikes the club face. The tape on the sole identifies where the sole makes contact with the ground. Ideally, you want a mark in the middle of the sole, not out on the toe or heel. Marks on the toe or heel indicate a problem with lie angle or a swing fault. Impact should be in the middle of the club face. However, if you find impact marks on the toe or heel of the club face you need to determine if the cause is a swing flaw or maybe something as simple as an equipment change.
Bobby Clampett, PGA Tour player and developer of the Impact Zone Golf, believes the single most important factor between great golf and mediocre golf is creating club head lag. Creating a smooth pace in the backswing and allowing the club to load and lag properly delivers the necessary ingredient for great golf shots. Getting too quick in the swing destroys the ability to load and maintain lag, resulting in throwing the lag away before impact.
Lag can be measured by the size of the angle created between the left arm, wrist, hands and the club shaft. Greater lag in the downswing is represented by a smaller angle between the club shaft and left arm, wrist and hands. Clampett believes players need to develop a clear mental picture of fully loading the club on the backswing and delaying the release of the load on the downswing. Successfully creating lag in the downswing creates a feeling of the club head trailing the left arm and retaining the load. Visualization is key to understanding the lag in the swing. Once you mentally understand the concept, it is much easier to physically implement the movement in the swing.
Swinging through the ball is a timeless golf ball striking tip. Swinging through the ball or accelerating through the shot means finishing the swing. Unfortunately many players are so concerned about making contact they swing just to hit the ball. This creates a decelerating motion during the downswing and creates countless other potential mistakes. Momentum should help accelerate down and through impact and allow the club to finish in a natural position. Players should feel as if the ball is positioned in the way of the club swinging in an arc around the body. Watch any PGA or LPGA player and recognize their effortless ability to accelerate through the ball where the weight transfers to the front foot, body turns toward the target and club finishes behind their neck.
Golf Ball Striking Drills
Many players are searching for the sensation of the proper impact position. They often create unnatural impact positions by bending the left arm or flipping their wrists through the hitting area. Rather, try to create a downward angle of approach where the hands lead into the golf ball. This allows the club head to lag behind the hands creating a powerful impact position. Practice the following golf ball striking drills to understanding the feeling of the hands leading into the shot.
The towel impact drill is an outstanding drill that can be accomplished on the practice range or the comfort of your home. Find a large towel and wrap it around the hosel of the club. Next, take your normal set up position and place the club head on the target line behind the right foot. Drag the club and towel on the ground down the target line through the impact area and finally in front of the left foot. The idea is to capture the feeling of a straight left arm, firm left wrist and your hands leading the club head through impact. Continue to repeat the motion of dragging the towel on the ground.
Eliminate the towel and start the drill with the club head behind the right foot and drag the club on the ground. Place extra pressure on the club head so the shaft bends slightly and allow the club head to lag behind the hands.
Two areas are emphasized with the drill. First, focus on the straight left arm in the impact position. Second, the club head should lag behind the hands. The towel impact drill will improve both areas of your swing. By creating the proper downward angle of approach you will now compress the golf ball, hit the ball farther and improve contact. This will help overcome the scooping motion players create when they allow the writs to flip through impact.
The swoosh drill is another simple golf ball striking drill that can be done anywhere, including your home. The swoosh drill pinpoints the release of the club. Begin by turning the club around and position your hands below the club head so the grip points toward the ground. Take your normal set up and swing the club up to the top of the backswing. After a smooth transition, swing the club down through impact. The inverted club will make a 'swoosh' sound. If the 'swoosh' occurs at the start of the downswing you created an early release and potentially flip your wrists through impact. Practice the downswing so you hear the 'swoosh' somewhere between your knees, hopefully closer to your left knee. The delayed 'swoosh' means you allow the club to lag behind and deliver a powerful and consistent shot.
Impact position of every PGA Tour player is nearly identical with a flat left wrist. Good ball strikers create a flat left wrist at impact that allows the club head to lag behind. Practice making swings with a glove. Understand the flat left wrist impact feeling by placing a credit card into the back of your glove. The credit card will give instant feedback regarding the position of your left wrist at impact.
Finally, place a tee on the target line 4 inches in front of the golf ball. This is a great ball striking drill to stay down on the golf ball, create the necessary attack angle with proper club lag and feel the club in the correct impact position. Position the tee so only an inch is above ground. Practice hitting shots and clip the tee with the club head on the follow through. This drill teaches the feeling of hitting down on the ball followed by the ground. Successfully completing this drill will allow you to take a proper divot on the course.