The Search for Distance

Rob Rashell
Director of Instruction
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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Last week on social media, a Golf Channel personality made a statement about tour players hitting down on their tee shots that set off a strong response from many, including Rory McIlroy. He promptly put the debate to rest by posting his Trackman numbers 3 degrees up and over 320 yards in the air.

Helping tour players understand how valuable distance is you can do some of your own research on Strokes Gained Driving, via Mark Broadie and Google. PGA Tour players average score from 180 yards in the fairway is 3.08, from 160 2.98, a full .1 of a shot, may not sound like much until you dig a little deeper.

Fourteen tee shots per round, gaining a .1 shot on each tee shot with 20 more yards equals 1.4 shots per round 6 shots per tournament (4 rounds)! Obviously players miss fairways, have to lay up, etc. but even half that amount is three shots per tournament, that is worth millions on the PGA Tour. This is well and good, why should you care?

I worked with a player a couple weeks ago with 75mph driver speed, looking for more distance, fair request. With 75mph we look for much higher launch, which means we need a highly positive angle of attack, 5-9 degrees up. We also need a driver with more loft than the norm. I’ll try to do some research on my own before I take a player down the same road. His best driver (11 degree loft) flew just over 150 yards with zero attack, not up or down, normally pretty good. I grabbed my three wood, teed it higher than normal, kept swing speed close to 75mph, and tried to hit up as much as I could, 9 or 10 degrees. The results? My three wood, 77mph, 9 degrees up, 19.5 launch, 179.8 yards of carry. His driver numbers 77mph, 1 degree down, 8.7 launch, 157.5 carry.

The difference to me is dramatic. This will take some time to implement, but 22 yards of carry is worth the work to this player. Know your numbers, the chunks of yards add up! Good Luck!