Distance Come From?
By: Clive Scarff
Distance distance distance. Distance is to the golf
industry what six-pack abs are to the fitness industry.
The mere word itself drives sales of golf clubs, golf
balls, magazines, and training videos. We all want distance,
but do we even truly understand where distance comes
from? It has been said it is best not to seek that which
we don’t understand. But wouldn’t it be
better to simply seek understanding? The answer to where
distance comes from is simpler than you might think.
Distance is simply a result of clubhead speed. While
the answer to where distance comes from may be simple,
achieving it may not be. Especially if we are bogged
down with misleading clichés and old wives’
tales. Pure and simple, the faster the clubhead is going
at impact, the further the ball will go.
You Are The Variable
Will a tightly wound golf ball give you more distance?
It may. That new 450 cc driver? It may. However, these
things will also give your playing companions more distance
as well. And as much as “technology” may
have given us more distance on the golf course, the
golf courses have gotten longer as well. Our net advantage?
Zero. The thing to remember is that once you are standing
on the tee of that 7,000 yard golf course, with your
maximum distance golf ball teed up and your $800 titanium
driver in your hand, you are the only variable. The
ball won’t suddenly go further because it is in
a positive frame of mind. Or because it suddenly got
more tightly wound. Or the head of your driver suddenly
grew bigger. Once purchased, the dynamics of ball and
driver are set - there is nothing you can do to change
them. But you do have control over one thing every time
you tee it up: your clubhead speed. Your ability to
create accelerating clubhead speed at impact will directly
impact upon how far, or how short, the golf ball will
travel. Understanding this - and how to achieve it -
will give you a leg up on the competition.
Size Of Swing
The idea that ‘size of swing’ is the contributing
factor to distance is one of the most misunderstood
and misleading notions in the game of golf. If size
of swing was the influence over distance, everyone with
a huge swing would hit the ball a long way. Yet we all
know people with huge swings who hit the ball nowhere.
And people with short swings who hit the ball far. A
big swing that does not create clubhead speed is just
an invitation to error. And injury.
Point A to Point B
Your ability to get the clubhead from Point A to Point
B quickly will have much greater bearing on the distance
your golf ball will travel. Let’s consider the
club half way back on the backswing - with the toe up,
shaft horizontal and parallel to the target line - as
‘Point A’. And the club on the follow-through
- pointed at the target, again toe up, shaft horizontal
and parallel to the target line – as ‘Point
B’. This motion, from A to B, is the golf swing.
Anything bigger is just adding volume. If we liken the
golf swing (from A to B) to a stereo, we can see that
if there is a “fault”, turning up the volume
just makes the sound worse. In order to develop a swing
capable of great clubhead speed we must first make the
swing pure from A to B. Once done the temptation is
to then make the swing bigger. Yet this would be skipping
a key step. If we consider learning the swing from A
to B as Step One, Step Two is not a bigger swing, but
a faster one. Your ability to move the clubhead from
A to B with speed will have a much greater effect on
distance while at the same time actually reducing the
margin for error. Only after we have perfected a fast
swing from A to B does it then make sense to make a
bigger one. An efficient swing, with the requisite ability
to create speed - and then made bigger - will result
in even more distance. Then, and only then. A faulty
and plodding swing from A to B that is then made bigger
is akin to the poorly tuned radio station blasting at
high volume. Turn it down! No one wants to hear it!
Clive is a veteran teaching professional
at Bowen Island Golf Ranch in Vancouver, and author
of the popular instructional CD-Rom “Hit Down
Dammit!” available at HitDownDammit