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Distance- Speed Factors

Of the 3 primary DISTANCE factors over which the player has control, the first, clubhead speed, in influenced by 5 human variables

1-Physical Strength

2-Body Flexibility

3- Swing Technique

4- Leverage (body lever lengths, such as the length of the left arm.

5- Neuro muscular Coordination

Strength is the more important factor which influences distance. It's the primary reason why we have different colored tee markers for men and for women. However, we have all seen examples of a physically strong male that couldn't hit his tee shot as far as one of the local weaker female players. Therefore, there are other factors affecting how far a ball can be hit besides strength.

In a case such as this, the male may possess sufficient strength, (variable #1), but has limited body flexibility (variable #2), coupled with a poor swing technique (variable #3). The poor swing technique may not be his choosing, but stems from his restricted range of motion. In this situation the student may be a victim of his body condition and unable to perform what the teacher requests.

Variable #4 relates to leverage. Those with equal horsepower and longer levers, (long arms) have the potential for greater clubhead speed. This one of the main reasons i like my students with straight arms at impact.

Variable #5 is neuromuscular coordination, which has to do with the ability of the body to use muscles at the right time and with the correct force. This is one of the main reasons i always tell my students, "swing with your body turn, not your arms". Students come to the lesson tee with certain talents along with some deficiencies. Some of the deficiencies are beyond the instructors control. Therefor, we have to focus on the factors we can control.


Speed without contact leaves the ball still on the tee, so speed needs a partner; the center faced or square hit. A clubhead speed of 100 mph with a square clubface produces a drive approximately 240 yards. Given the same speed with an off-center or non-square hit, the shot with travel a reduced distance.

Angle of approach

The angle of approach to the clubhead to the ball also affects the distance a ball travels. A stepper approach creates more backspin, more lift and less distance. Also, the more the angle of approach deviates from the arc that produces the launch trajectory for maximum distance the less energy is transmitted to the ball for sending it forward.

Experienced golfers have produced shots that seem to jump of the clubface, yet were made with swing of less than full-effort. There is that special surprise as they walk to the ball and find it well beyond their normal distance. What happened? Very simple, three things. With an enforced, well-timed swing a golfer can: 1) catch ball with increased consistency in the center of the clubface; 2) present an angle of approach to the ball which enhances the maximum transfer of energy and proper levels of backspin; and 3) release full power without experiencing the usual inhibiting tension. This combination of factors is the formula for a player's best length. Speed + angle of approach = the cause that produces the effect.

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