Though several factors are more important than clubhead speed in hitting the ball a long way, we must not neglect it. The problem is that most golfers think to get more speed they have to swing the club harder (harder=faster). Let’s look first at the speed that is built into the club and see if this is really necessary.
Watch a record turning on a record player. Or, if you don’t have a record player handy, remember what that one looked like. Or, if you’ve never seen a record player, just go with me on this.
A 12” long-playing record, turns at 33-1/3 revolutions per minute. Every part of the record, from the outside edge to the part right next to the spindle in the center, turns at that same rate.
The very edge of the record turns at approximately 21” per second. A spot one-half inch from the center only has to move at 1-3/4” per second. Because these two spots have to cover different distances in the same time, they move at different speeds, in order to travel at the same rate.
Over to golf. A 9-iron is generally 35-3/4” long. A driver is 43” long. If you swing these two clubs at the same rate, the clubheads will travel at different speeds.
Think of the driver’s clubhead as reaching to the edge of the record. A point representing the relative length of a 9-iron would travel at 17.3” per second, a bit over eighty percent as fast as a point on the edge.
Trackman data from the PGA Tour shows that the average swing speed for the driver is 112 MPH. For the 9-iron, it’s 85 MPH, seventy-five percent of the speed of the driver. Data from the LPGA Tour yield roughly the same ratio (94 MPH and 72 MPH).
Now the arc traced by a golf swing is not a circle, and there is acceleration in the swing, so the math is a lot more complicated than for a spinning turntable. The numbers work out differently, but the principle is the same:
If you like the way you hit your 9-iron, hit your driver the same way, and you’ll get the clubhead speed you crave.
If you don’t believe the math, believe your eyes. Watch LPGA Tour players especially. They don’t pound their driver. They swing it with the same ease as with any other club, yet they hit the ball farther than you do. Maybe that’s the reason why.
This post is about relative distance, the distance you hit your driver compared to your 9-iron. If you want to increase both of those distances and everything between, your absolute distance, see Two Simple Ways to Get More Distance