Driver Case Study
Why GUESS, when we can MEASURE?
January 28, 2014
Today I decided to hit a batch of drivers to see if I could determine what factors were most important when trying to maximize distance off the tee. To be clear, this was not a driver fitting. I did not test a variety of heads and shafts to determine which combination would produce the optimum Launch Angle, Spin Rate, Carry Distance, and Overall Distance. I was simply trying to maximize my distance with my existing driver (Titleist 910 D2, 9.5 degree loft)
The three main factors I decided to test included: Club Speed, Attack Angle, and Smash Factor. After an exhausting session of swinging over 50 consecutive drivers all out, I took a deep dive into the data. The results were surprising. Read on.
(Now keep in mind that this analysis probably applies more to a low handicap player whose TrackMan numbers are generally very good. A player whose swing is not as fundamentally sound would very likely have different results.)
Total Shots Hit: 54
Total Shots used for analysis: 50 (4 were eliminated due to incomplete data available)
For the analysis, I compared the 10 best and worst shots in each category and then determined the difference in Total Distance.
ATTACK ANGLE is the direction the club head is moving (up or down) at impact. To maximize distance with your driver, hitting up on the ball (positive angle of attack) is critical.
Attack Angle Avg Total Distance Average
10 Best Shots +0.5 280 yards
10 Worst Shots -2.0 276 yards
IMPROVED ATTACK ANGLE ACCOUNTED FOR 4 ADDITIONAL YARDS
CLUB SPEED is the speed the club head is traveling immediately prior to impact. It determines a golfers potential distance: more CLUB SPEED equals more potential distance. In fact, adding 1 mph of CLUB SPEED can increase your distance by up to 3 yards with the driver.
Club Speed Avg Total Distance Average
10 Best Shots 104.6 280 yards
10 Worst Shots 101.0 267 yards
IMPROVED CLUB SPEED ACCOUNTED FOR 13 ADDITIONAL YARDS
COMPARISON OF 10 LONGEST DRIVES TO 10 SHORTEST DRIVERS
Club Speed Avg Smash Factor Avg Attack Angle Avg Total Distance Average
10 Best Shots 104.1 1.48 -0.8 287 yards
10 Worst Shots 101.9 1.47 -1.6 262 yards
TOTAL DISTANCE IMPROVEMENT - 25 YARDS
For the better golfer, increasing distance may be more about improving several different factors as opposed to focusing on just one.
SMASH FACTOR is the ball speed divided by club speed. SMASH FACTOR relates to the amount of energy transferred from the club head to the ball. The higher the SMASH FACTOR, the better the energy transfer. Think sweet spot.
Smash Factor Avg Total Distance Average
10 Best Shots 1.50 278 yards
10 Worst Shots 1.44 271 yards
IMPROVED SMASH FACTOR ACCOUNTED FOR 7 ADDITIONAL YARDS