The Only 2 Variables to Hit the Ball Farther (and still be in the fairway)

When you boil it down, two variables determine your distance increase; the ball and the club.

Elementary, I know, but we need to understand the difference between the two. We need to look at the key features of each and how to maximize those for increasing your distance. Let us look first at the main feature, and that is the ball. Only three factors determine how far a ball goes. Those are Speed, Spin, and Launch Angle.

Other variables such as wind, temperature, etc. are not in our control. So for our purposes, we will disregard those for now. Also, yes spin axis or too much curve will cause you to lose distance. But for simplicity’s sake, we will just look at the main variables.

How do we max out these factors?

GOAL number 1 for INCREASING DISTANCE:

  • Radar Unit: Achieve a SMASH FACTOR of 1.48 or higher
  • Camera Unit: Achieve a SMASH FACTOR of 1.45 or higher

If you are using a radar unit such as Flightscope or Trackman, YOUR GOAL is to achieve a 1.48 or above SMASH FACTOR. If you are using a Foresight GC Quad or GC3, or the MLM Rapsodo, then your goal is to get north of 1.45. Why the difference? The Radar-based systems measure differently from the camera-based system on the Foresight units. The Camera-based system gives you higher club speeds, so slightly lower smash factors.

Ball Speed (“BS”) is the result of the clubhead speed (“CHS”) and impact quality. Impact quality is represented by the SMASH FACTOR which is the ratio of BS to CHS. If your BS is 145 and your CHS is 100 mph, then your smash factor is 1.45. The maximum achievable SF is approximately 1.5 and anything above 1.48 is considered Tour Level. (1.45 or above on Foresight).

How to do it?

The simplest, or only way to create the 1.45+ smash factor is to hit the ball in the sweet spot of the club. Therefore, GOAL number 2 for INCREASING DISTANCE is to Achieve Spin rates below 2400 rpm (ideally 2100 or less) with a Launch Angle between 12-15 degrees. Two truths emerge from my 15 years of work with launch monitors. First, almost everyone needs to drastically REDUCE spin on the driver. Based on my analysis of Tour Players and Long Drivers I prescribe LESS spin than what others recommend.

Secondly, golfers need to hit it higher. Again, this is based on my analysis of Tour Players and Long Drivers. We want the proverbial HIGH LAUNCH and LOW SPIN for more distance. The ideal Spin rate should be between 2000 to 2400 rpm. The ideal Launch angle should be between 12 to 14 degrees. Depending on conditions, you might want even less spin or higher launch.

Angle of Attack

The « how to do it » here is to Get your Angle of Attack (AoA) positive. Ideally, the number is +2.5 or more. The mistake golfers make when hitting ‘up’ on the ball is trying to lift the club thru impact. It is better to think of it this way. Your club is travelling on an arc (similar to a circle). If you hit the club at the bottom of the arc, your AoA will be Zero. If you hit it before the bottom it will be negative and if you hit it after the bottom it will be Positive. Hit it after the bottom of the arc! (with driver).

Side note to Spin/Launch: if you hit too high or too low on the face, this will affect launch and spin. This is just one more reason to find the centre of the face! The absolute worst place to contact the ball is low and towards the heel. There is less speed at the heel and there is more spin as you hit lower on the face.

Conclusions

The quickest way to more distance is to get to the following numbers on your drive:

  • Achieve a SMASH FACTOR of 1.45+ or higher
  • Reduce spin rates below 2400 rpm
  • Launch ball at a 12-15 degree angle

Once you do this, you will have ‘maxed’ out your impact geometry.  To hit it farther, we turn to the second variable, which is the ball. This is the fun part, training for increased clubhead speed!

Courtesy: John Novosel Jr., November 2021