How Far Do You Hit It, Really?

We all think we hit it farther than we do. You hear that a lot. Actually, I think each of us has a very good idea of how far we hit it. It’s just not as far as we would like.

This chart tells the approximate truth. If you have a swing speed with your driver of 95 mph, which is high for the majority of recreational golfers, you will carry the ball 210 yards. With adequate roll, you can get about 225 yards out of that shot.


Now roll is highly variable. Have you ever seen an aerial shot of a Tour event and there’s a shot of a drive that falls straight out of the sky and maybe gets two yards of roll?

But, it was hit in the air a ton. Recreational golfers don’t hit those kinds of shots. Ours go lower and roll more.

So don’t kid yourself. If you are an average recreational golfer and you hit your driver 200 yards in the air, that’s a good shot. Add on maybe 15-20 yards of roll and you can play with that length.

Want to hit it farther? Assuming you hit the ball on the center of the clubface regularly (and that’s a big assumption) you’ll hit it farther by swinging faster AND maintaining good tempo.

A more lofted driver might help, too, but that’s another post.

Build Your Swing Around Your Wedges II

[Revised July 7, 2019.]

A few years ago I started advising anyone who would listen that this is the way to build a competent, consistent golf swing: hit wedges, lots of wedges. Take the club back halfway, swing through to a full finish.

This is my second post on the subject, hence the quantifier in the title. But the notion is so important that I don’t want to let it be one and done because you might never find that first post. So I’m posting the idea again.

Actually, I should post it every other week, it’s that important, but that probably would create a different impression in your mind than emphasis, so I won’t.

There are four reasons why this is such an important practice.

1. You learn how the timing of your swing works–how all the parts work in the right order and what it feels like when they do.

2. You learn to relate distance to tempo rather than effort.

3. You learn how to hit the ball on the center of the clubface. Your score is directly related to how often you do this.

What you learn with your wedge applies to every other club in the bag. And because it is so easy to hit the wedge, you will transfer that feeling of ease to every other club and hit shots with them just as confidently as you do with the wedge.

Here’s how to do it. First, set aside twelve balls out of your bucket. Take out your sand wedge. Make four practice swings. Swing halfway going back, and follow through to a full finish. After the four such swings, pull a ball forward hit it, using the same swing you made those four times. Go through the entire rest of the bucket in this way.

Do not rush the practice swings. Take a few seconds after each one to absorb the feeling of what you just did. You’re training your mind, and that won’t happen if you don’t give it a chance to soak in what it just did.

When you have emptied your bucket, take those ten of the balls you set aside and go through your bag, hitting each club, going from pitching wedge to driver, one swing each, a full swing, with the same timing and tempo that you used with all those sand wedges you hit. During this drill you will realize the fourth very important point:

4. You swing your driver just like you do your 9-iron, and you swing your 9-iron just like you do your driver. Ditto for every club in between.

You have two balls left. End the session by going back to the start: four half-swings with a sand wedge, hit one ball. Repeat.

The Concept of the Golf Swing

I’m writing this post for the better golfers among my readers, the ones who shoot in the low 80s and high 70s. While it is true that lowering your score from here depends on improving your short game and putting, don’t think that you are finished with your swing just yet.

Up to this point you have likely thought that the purpose of the swing has been to hit the ball. Your swing starts at the ball and ends when the ball is struck.

Thinking like that keeps you stuck in technical details that makes you swing not fully reliable. While you hit a large number of good shots, you aren’t really sure beforehand that you’re going to hit one.

You might be thinking that one more tip that will pull everything together. What you need instead is a new conception of the swing.

The golf swing is built on mechanics and the ones that you have put together to build your swing may not be ignored. But the point of learning the swing is to play golf. And you play your best golf not by doing what it takes to hit the ball, but by doing what it takes to swing through to the finish.

You might have heard a professional golfer say that he just swings and the ball gets in the way. That’s correct, but let’s go deeper than that.

When a top-rank golfer stands over the ball, he feels the feeling of a good shot. He already knows how it should feel and his body responds to that feeling. Other golfers have no such feeling ahead of time which is why their good shots come as such a surprise.

A good golfer plays the shot based on his feeling of a good golf shot and plays through to the finish. The lesser golfer plays the shot based on his knowledge of good technique.

All this, again, begins with the setup. The right setup allows correct movements to occur and prevents the wrong ones. But more than that, it creates the feel of a good shot, which is what the player uses to play the game.

So if you have gotten to single-digit golf but seem to be stuck, it might well be that your technique is sufficient. What you need to do next is to adopt a different conception of what you’re doing when you approach the ball.

These ideas come from the book On Learning Golf, by Percy Boomer. It is likely the most valuable golf instruction book ever written.