The other day I got into an interesting conversation with a local golf professional who told me that the only thing that matters when trying to hit the ball further is to swing the club FASTER. Now typically, I would agree with this. Heck, I am a SuperSpeed Swing coach!! I fully believe that if you improve your clubhead speed, creating the potential for more ball speed, you will see gains in driving distance if your technique is sound.
But, physics tells us that there is a little more to the story. How do we actually achieve faster swings? In the end we want to create more ball speed; that’s what the makes the golf ball go far, but we need to be able to do that by moving the club faster with our body. they are two different elements but one, the one body, is key. There are a few equations we want to consider:
1st. Speed = Distance over Time
Ball speed, in this case, is equal to its own mass multiplied by how fast it is accelerating. BUT, how do we know how much it’s accelerating??
2nd. FORCE = MASS x ACCELERATION
OR reworded, ACCELERATION = FORCE / MASS
And herein lies the trick. We can generate club acceleration in two ways. First, by increasing the distance the club travels from the apex of the backswing to impact, and second, by generating more force, or ground forces by driving our legs into the ground, to affect the movement of the club.
Muscle mass (which create strength potential) is important to consider here as well. The bigger your muscles are, the more force you are typically able to generate. Remember, Newton’s Third Law of Motion says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you exert force on the ground, the ground pushes back, returning moving energy through your body, and allowing you to create more rotational acceleration for your pelvis, chest, arms, and into the club right as you make impact with the ball. That means more potential for distance.
Imagine if you will, two vehicles driving down the highway. One is an 18-wheeler doing 100mph (Bryson DeChambeau) and the other is a Ford Pinto (Rory McIlroy) doing 100mph. They both hit a brick wall at the same time. Which of the two vehicles goes further through the wall – the truck or the Pinto? They both hit the ball beautifully, but one can generate more swing speed AND vertical force.
Power is a term used to describe force with respect to time. It is how quickly that mass is moved (i.e. your body mechanics) over a given distance that determines power. This is why a guy like Rory McIlroy hits it so far when he is considerably smaller than a guy like Bryson DeChambeau, however DeChambeau is able to carry his extra mass as fast or faster than the smaller guys and thus generating more power.
SO, what does all that boil down to??
If you want to drive the ball further, you can do one of two things. And both journeys involve the same two ingredients – physical ability and conditioning:
Improve your mobility. By learning how to properly disassociate your upper body from your lower body, you will be able to increase the distance your club travels from the top of your backswing down to impact. This increases acceleration.
Increase the amount of force exerted on the ball. A two-fold approach:
By increasing your muscle mass size like Bryson DeChambeau did, you can increase your acceleration. BUT you also have to improve your agility and body speed to move that extra mass
If you have a hard time increasing good lean body mass, develop your leg and core strength like Rory McIlroy so you can push more energy into the ground. This creates more ground force which will travel up your body and into the clubhead.
On contact, that ball will travel further than you ever imagined!!
There you have it! CLUB HEAD SPEED + VERTICAL FORCE = AMAZING DRIVING DISTANCE!
CEO, Press Performance LAB
Director of Fitness, SwingFit Golf Academy
TPI LVL 2 Golf Fitness Specialist
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