How Much Distance Are You Losing With Your Driver

How Much Distance Are You Losing With Your Driver

I recently did an article on how far you could be hitting your drives if all the technical factors were optimal. The blog post was very popular, for obvious reasons.

Now we are going to flip the idea a little and ask;

How much distance am I losing”?


Average Golfers

We know that

  • Smash factor
  • Spin rate
  • Launch angle

Are the three main ingredients behind creating a maxed-out drive. We also know the optimal numbers.


I measure golfers all the time using high-tech equipment, such as Trackman. I recently tested a bunch of mid-high handicap golfers and came up with the above averages based on what they were doing.


Diagonal Strike

With the golf ball being teed up so high with a driver, the most common strike pattern is a heel hit – due in part to something called diagonal strike effect (which I explain in The Strike Plan).

A heel hit is a killer for distance, as it dramatically lowers smash factor and increases spin rate through the roof.


This above strike location (low and on the heel) is very common, and will produce the distance-killing

low-launch and high-spin combination

When you combine this with an average golfer’s tendency to hit down on the ball by getting their low point too far forward, this can correlate strongly with reduced loft at impact and a low launch – in spite of the jacked up lofts we see with drivers these days.


So How Much Distance Am I Losing

This is the part you came here for, right?

The below table shows what happens when your launch, spin and smash factor are “average golfer” (think typical 18 handicap) versus “optimal”.


Throughout the table it is a consistent result – average smash, launch and spin rates produce around a 50 yard loss compared to optimal.


Not Everyone

Needless to say, not everyone falls into the average category. Some of you produce better launch, spins and smashes than the averages from my test.

However, many of you may be performing worse than the average numbers – just something to think about.

And no-one likes to be the ‘short hitter‘ in the group; it really sucks.

But many of you are creating technical power-leaks that could be really easy to rectify – low hanging fruit, so to speak. My suggestion would be to get your launch conditions measured by a competent coach with a launch monitor. From there, you can start to set a plan of improvement.

My video series, The Strike Plan goes through the key elements of creating optimal smash, launch and spin rates. This will not only get you much closer to the optimal driving distances, but also improve strike quality with irons and fairway woods – resulting in better distance control, more greens hit and lower scores.

Check it out by CLICKING HERE, or click the image below.

Strike plan enter



  • luisvaldenebro

    Hi Adam!
    Would you recommend the use of the price friendly Flightscope Mevo in order to self train on the smash factor, spin rate and launch angle?
    BTW: your video on how optimize the distance with the driver was 5 stars+!!!!
    Thanks a lot for your time, dedication and help!
    A fan from Spain

    • admin

      Hi Luis. I have tried a few launch monitors. I can’t vouch for the Mevo yet as I haven’t tried it, but I know Flightscope is a great brand name (and I use their bigger model). I would imagine the mevo is a good product – I will probably get one soon to test.

  • Jan

    Hi Adam,
    You are absolutely right. I saw you own figures when I was at La Manga last year in March (taking lessons from Lawrence). I had my Flightscope with me and I’m using it frequently. My average smash factor is 1.45 but my biggest problems are launch angle/AoA and spin. (13 degrees launch and 1* AoA and 2700-3000 rpm spin). Spin numbers despite not many hits low on the face… (And I thought the Epic driver would reduce spin).
    Average carry hitting 110 drives at (actually) 90 mph was 190 yds. According to the Flightscope function called “optimizer” I’m giving up abt. 40 yards carry due to launch angle and spin – and smash factor, the latter probably as good as it’s going to get on average.

    So, my first question is if it is possible to reduce spin mechanically- by changing shafts to one with lower torque? (I was fitted with a shaft weighing 44 grams with a 6,8 torque). I like the shaft weight but have a feeling that the ball stalls in the air, especially in a headwind.

    Btw – hope to see you back in Europe some time.

    • admin

      Hi Jan. Club shaft fitting will be very important, but you can also improve spin rates through angle of attack, dynamic loft, face to path and strike point on the face. I might not get to see you in Europe this year – I have moved to Santa Barbara in California now. Give me a shout if you are in the area.

    • Maxwell Hendrix

      Man, with a swing speed of 90, you should definitely be carrying the ball 230-235 yards. Work on that attack angle! I have never been fitted, so I can’t speak to its benefits, but I play with hacks several times a week who have been fitted, and it certainly has not seemed to help them! I, myself am also a mere hack, but what modest improvements I have made have come from improving my swing, and working every day with my speed training sticks and my Orange Whip. In 8 months I’ve gotten my swing speed up to 95-101 mph and my drives now carry in the 250’s once I am well warmed up.

      Keep up the hard work!

      Los Angeles

  • Maxwell Hendrix

    Hi Adam,

    Began reading your book last night and want to thank you for all of your hard work. As a scientist/physician, I appreciate the scientific approach and the effort to dispel dogma!

    I am really enjoying the book. Can you recommend a good book or training plan which will help me increase swing speed? I’m looking for a modest increase of 5-10%, in order to get me into the 105 mph range consistently.


    Los Angeles, CA

  • Kevin King

    Maxwell see if anyone does Mach 3 speed training in your area. I did one session with some other old boys at our club (Walden on Lake Conroe, Montgomery Tx) and my average driver speed went from 83 to 90 mph. It has carried over to the golf course ! Good luck Kevin

    • admin

      I just met up with Michael from the Mach3 training this week. Great stuff and love his tools. Combine his way of getting some more speed AND better strike (resulting in better spin and launch numbers) and you can even beat the distance increases presented here.

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