Today is another “Tom the Heretic” article.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on swing speed lately, mainly in an effort to get
some more for myself and to learn more about teaching it.
Don’t believe otherwise – as you age it really is the first thing to go.
One site that was a good source for swing speed research was Ben Jackson’s site,
One of the greatest stumbling blocks to improvement in our sport is also the biggest
myth ever perpetrated on any group of aspiring athletes.
I’m referring to the old distance/accuracy tradeoff theory if I gain distance then I
will lose accuracy.
I really don’t believe that this has to be true.
That myth permeates every aspect of learning, instruction, and performing. Unfortunately
it’s dug in up to its eyeballs, yet there’s not one shred of evidence to support it.
Common sense doesn’t. How, for instance, is a struggling Joe Average, who can’t
shoot 95, supposed to reach a par four of decent length in two strokes?
Yet, he’s been allowed to live in an environment of illogic including the following bits of ill advice:
“Now, nice and slow…slow it down… take it easy… swing easy and let the club do the work.”
If you will simply think about it, doesn’t that fly in the face of sport itself? Is a football
coach going to tell a running back not to run fast? Do you think that a homerun hitter
is allowing the bat to swing itself?
It flies in the face of physics, too. Isaac Newton told us that the ball will not move itself,
and that the faster the clubhead is traveling the farther the ball will go. The speed of
the clubhead has nothing to do with a ball flying off line!
I’ve consistently told my students to take a good strong swing at the ball if they are able to.
In fact, provided two conditions are met, a clubhead traveling at 120 mph is more likely to
result in greater accuracy than one traveling at 95 mph. The two requirements are obvious:
the club fits the player, and the player allows the toe of the club (clubface) to release
The resulting ball response is going to be longer and more accurate because the ball is
compressed on the clubface a bit longer through the impact interval.
That is a guarantee made by the laws of physics.
Myths breed misinformation, and the result is less than maximum distance off the tee.
When players under perform (two-thirds of the core golfers in this country can’t shoot 90),
secondary things become elevated, replacing primary things.
Swing details replace principle.
Here’s an example. Clubhead lag is presented as a foundation of success. That’s certainly
true. But, convention continues to present clubhead lag as an entity all it’s own. Legions
of players are being asked to delay the release of the potential energy stored in the golf club,
to the point that most never release that energy!
The “late hit” has become the “no hit”. A player is already swinging far too slow and now
he or she is supposed to hold on to achieve a late hit! Late? He or she is already late!
It reminds me of the time I tried water skiing. I was told to resist popping up, and I
did it so well that I never did get up out of the water. The good news is that I wasn’t
thirsty for a week.
One great way to force the clubhead to lag is to increase hand speed in the forward swing.
With hand speed, the clubhead is put into a condition in which it is forced to catch up, and it
will assuming that the club fits the player.
It’s simply a matter of physics.
The bottom line is don’t be afraid to practice swinging fast, hard, or whatever else you want to call it.
Everything else being equal, more swing speed is a good thing!