Facilities Manager, Certified Instructor
TourAcademy at TPC Scottsdale
Unless the USGA allows changes to the driver head, or the golf ball, we’ve entered an era where driver distance will remain fairly stagnant. Coincidentally pairing side by side with the beginning of Tiger Woods’ professional career, PGA Tour average driving distance rose from roughly 265 yards in 1995 to 287 yards in 2003. Since 2003 average driver distance hasn’t moved much with last year’s average right about 290. So, if the best players in the world aren’t making any advancements with their distance, I’d say technology has reached its plateau, meaning technique will be the go to for meaningful gains. From my vantage point, here are the most important parts of maximizing what you’ve got.
Attack Angle – The first thing I look for, and a strong correlator to getting the most out of your driver. A golfer swinging their driver 90 mph with an attack angle of negative 5 degrees (clubhead moving 5 degrees down at impact) would carry the ball roughly 190 yards. That same person 5 degrees up at impact would fly the ball 215 yards, a 25 yard increase, not bad.
Center Strike – One of my favorite training aids is a can of foot spray, putting a light coating on the face of the driver to see where the ball hits the face. I was working with a player who hit his first three drives, low off the heel, 166, 108, and 172 yards. When he finally landed one in the center, 210. Nice gain. Seeing where the ball hits the face is feedback, information about what is really happening. Use that information to adjust and get better!
Path and Face – Third in line would be the relationship between the direction you’re swinging the club head and where the face is pointing at impact. More separation means less efficient, more spin, more curve, less distance. Think of a drop shot in tennis or ping pong. When the face and path get closer together or match, I see max energy transferred to the ball, think overhead smash in tennis and ping pong.
Driver technology has reached its plateau, meaning that new club may not be the best place to look for extra yardage. Work on your technique, get some feedback, and hopefully gain a few yards. Good Luck!