3 Keys To Bomb The Golf Ball

3 Keys To Bomb The Golf Ball

When I was growing up and teaching myself golf, I was completely confused as to what caused a golf ball to go a long way.

I watched the pro golfers produce seemingly effortless swings and fly the ball huge distances, and I desperately wanted to know what magical thing they were doing to create this feat. I tried copying their backswings and positions, but nothing made me hit the ball further.

 

The Secrets

Now, it’s not a secret to me. I know what creates maximum distance – it’s simple physics. And while I currently take this knowledge for granted, I know that there are many golfers out there who are searching for the keys to distance. I see so many golfers trying to increase distance in ways that don’t work, or are even counterproductive to distance increases.

So, in this article, I will highlight the elements that create long bombs. To most amateurs, these things are secrets, because they are not often talked about.

 

Ball Speed

The quicker the ball is moving, the farther the ball will go (all else being equal).

The major contributing factor to ball speed is clubhead speed. Players who swing the clubhead quickly tend to be able to transfer more energy into the ball – a reason why tour pro’s typically swing around 115mph (amateurs closer to 90mph).

swing speed

But that’s not all – it’s pointless swinging 115mph if you miss the ball, right? That’s where smash factor comes in.

In brief, smash factor is the energy transference from clubhead to ball. If you swing the club at 100mph and the ball comes off at 150mph, that is considered a 1.5 smash (and a pretty perfect strike). The things which contribute to smash factor are

  • Path and face divergence
  • Loft and angle of attack difference (otherwise known as “spin-loft”)
  • Sweet spot strike

Basically, if you are swinging the clubhead quickly and you are transferring that energy into the ball, you will get a high ball speed. While we can certainly increase our swing speed, probably the most efficient way to pick up instant yards is by improving smash factor via strike quality. In The Strike Plan, this is addressed in detail.

 

Launch Angle

A ball going 180mph is no good if it is launched at knee height. So how high should we launch it? While there is a law of diminishing returns, in general, amateurs can’t launch the ball high enough.

According to the Flightscope trajectory optimizer, a player with a ball speed of 135mph (pretty typical for an average male with a perfect strike) would need to launch the ball at 18 degrees to achieve maximum distance, with 23 degrees being optimal for carry distance (important for getting over bunkers and lakes).

To put that into perspective, most players play with a 10-12 degree driver, and the ball typically launches lower than the loft on the club (due to friction and angle of attack etc).

driver

A lot of players have a high divergence between angle of attack (red) and dynamic loft (green), while still producing a low launch (black).

What is the best way to increase launch angle?

  • Striking slightly higher on the clubface (no sky marks please – but a little bit above the sweet spot should do fine)
  • Increasing dynamic (presented) loft, while at the same time increasing angle of attack

In The Strike Plan, I show you how to do these things with techniques and skill drills (as well as through a better conceptual understanding).

 

Spin Rate

With the last point being launching the ball higher, most people might be asking why we don’t simply increase the loft of the club?  While this can be a simple fix for many low-ball launchers, unfortunately, it also increases spin rate (all other things being equal).

Which brings us to our next point – spin rate.

spin rate

In general, if you are launching the ball high enough (and in order to achieve maximum distance), a lower spin rate is preferable. We don’t want it so low that the ball dive-bombs out of the sky – but at the same time we don’t want to be spinning the ball enough to get a whispy flight with very little roll.

To put this into perspective, a ball launched at 18 degrees, 135mph ball speed and

  • 4000 rpm spin goes 230 yards
  • 3000 rpm spin goes 243 yards
  • 2000 rpm spin goes 254 yards

(data according to Flightscope trajectory optimizer)

So you could potentially be leaving 25 yards on the table from spin rate alone. Many amateurs are in the high end of that spin bracket – mainly due to poor strikes. So, how can we reduce spin rate on the ball?

  1. Striking slightly above the sweet spot reduces spin, and striking on the bottom of the face increases it
  2. Reducing the difference between loft and angle of attack (spin loft)
  3. Shots favouring the toe side tend to reduce spin, whereas shots favouring the heel side increase spin rate

Also, things such as the ball material and how friction-less your clubface is makes a difference.

 

 Summary

So, in order to knock the ball out there past your buddies, there are just a few things we need.

  • Increased launch angle of the ball
  • Reduced spin rate
  • Increased ball speed

The majority of these things are affected by strike quality – for example, where you strike on the face horizontally and vertically not only massively affects direction, but backspin rate, launch angle AND ball speed. Changing your angle of attack can also allow you to increase launch without reducing smash factor (energy transference) and without increasing spin rate.

If you want to improve your ability to strike it like the pros (as well as change your angle of attack), these topics are discussed in depth in my video series – The Strike Plan. Click the image below for more info.

Strike plan enter

8 Comments

  • Vivian Ross

    Hi Adam, just purchased and watched the videos series on your Strike Plan.
    As a teaching/playing Pro myself in Switzerland I must say I would advise all amateurs to invest the small amount to purchase your video series. Absolute perfect explanation and clarification of the most important factors which determine good golf. Excellent, and super clear explanation!
    Well done to you! Very professional indeed. Best regards.

  • docbrahm

    Adam–
    As always a crystal clear explication of things driverish. However, you left out a (to me) pretty important factor in bombing the Driver, namely the length of the driver (and the importance of the shaft, its weight, composition, kick point, torque, etc.) Of course there’s a tradeoff–there always is– between distance and accuracy, to say nothing about how the stick feels when one swings it. Could you address the issue of length of the club in a future post, citing the good, the bad and the ugly facts of the matter.

    I hope things age going well for you in Santa Barbara. Excelsior! BB

    • admin

      Hi Bill. While you are technically correct, the factors you mentioned will only improve distance if they improve one or more of the 3 things I mentioned.

      For example, shaft weight and length will change ball speed due to increases in club speed. Kick point can also change angle of attack and spin loft.

      As usual, the factors affecting the “3 things” are innumerable, but I thought I would boil it down to the essentials.

      Hope you are well.

  • Dennis A Brown

    Adam, thanks for the information. You have perhaps the most informative golf blog in existence. I purchased the Practice Manual this past Christmas and the Strike Plan as soon as it came out. Great information and very helpful. One of the most important factors in hitting the ball longer is using your techniques to learn how to hit the ball straighter. Once I felt comfortable the ball was going relatively close to where I wanted it to go, my swing dynamics changed automatically and in two months I added about 30 yards to my driver and, as an example with my clubs, my 7 iron distance went from ~130 yards to ~155 yards, and my PW went from ~ 80 yards to ~110. I found myself constantly on the range trying to dial in my distances because, as my distances continued to improve with my comfort level, I was flying the green. This is a great example of your concept of self-organization. Keep up the good work! And THANKS!

    PS, I hope you are settled in at your new home.

    • admin

      Thanks Dennis – glad the info is helping you and others. Keep it up over winter.

  • Angus

    Hi Adam.Continuing to enjoy your plan and practice manual.Back from the range today hitting further with irons and generally accurate.
    Hit 20 drives all within 30yd width wore a hole in my strike pads all out of the high sweet spot.
    NOW after ALL these years I know the FEELING I need to have to NOT pull my irons and that is to feel I am swinging about 15 degrees in to out and hey presto the ball goes where I want it.
    Can,t wait to get on the course if the ground ever dries up here in the UK.
    In the meantime I cannot thank you enough for the help you have given me already and I look forward to keeping in touch and telling you when I achieve my lowest ever score this summer and that I am consistently shooting level 5’s or better.
    At 74 I would be content with that these days and it would be good enough to usually be top dog in our weekly 4 ball.
    Many thanks,keep your advice coming,
    Regards,Angus

  • Cal

    What is the ideal launch angle and spin rate for someone with a SS of 130 mph?

    Also , what ball should be used (playing in a golf scramble)?
    Taylormade Tp5x has been thrown around by local pros…

    • admin

      Typically you would want a lower launch (perhaps as low as 12, which is still pretty high for most) and to also reduce spin. Luckily, using the same technique (hitting up a lot) and simply reducing the loft can achieve this – as the long drive champs do. This will also increase smash – although side to side dispersion will be made worse (you have to see if the trade off is worth it).

      At 130mph as an amateur, you should probably save the long bombs for when it’s safe, and use a 3 wood more often. You will still hit it past most people but (due to increased spin loft) will find the fairway more often than with your driver.

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