What do you think is the average club head speed when hitting the driver on the PGA Tour?
In 2021 it was 114.2 mph.
What would you then say is the average club head speed for an amateur golfer if we take the average handicap as around 14?
The answer here is 93.4mph.
We can see there is a bit of a difference.
Having that additional club head speed means professionals carry the ball further through the air leading to an average driving distance of 295 yards.
For our average golfer with a 93.4 mph swing speed, the average distance is around the 220-yard mark.
It’s obvious to see that the way the professional sees the golf course versus the average amateur is vastly different.
In fact, the golf courses professionals play week in and week out are set up entirely differently to neutralize the vast distances they hit the golf ball now.
Is it any different in the women’s game?
It seems on the surface that professionals are cracking the code of how to increase club head speed but can amateurs achieve gains in their club head speed and learn how to swing faster?
The answer to this is of course they can learn how to swing faster and increase club head speed!
We will take you on a journey to show you how to increase club head speed and gain a few more yards with your shots.
In this article, we’ll look at the following as ways to tackle the question of how to increase club head speed:
- Set-up & swing
- Will gym work help?
- Speed sticks
Ready? Let’s tee off!
How To Increase Club Head Speed – The Journey To More Power In 4 Steps
An important distinction needs to be made here before we go further.
How to increase club head speed is not to be confused with swinging the club harder.
Swinging harder will simply lose energy at the point when you need it most – coming into impact.
In gaining club head speed, you are building effective momentum into impact, so see this as more of a case of swinging faster, not harder.
Pointer #1: Set-up & swing
In the quest to conquer the question of how to increase club head speed, there are some actions we can look at within the set-up and swing.
Starting with the set-up one tip which will help you turn more effectively is to have your feet “flared” slightly outwards at address.
Typically, golfers when they address the ball will set up with both feet at 90 degrees to their intended target.
If you have a large range of mobility, you can continue with this but if you aren’t so flexible “flaring,” your feet could be the answer.
Why does this help promote more club head speed?
If you are a right-handed golfer having your right foot flared out at the address will make it easier to load up onto your right side in the backswing creating a more powerful turn.
Likewise, having your left foot flared out for the right-handed golfer will make it easier to transfer the weight back onto the left side in the downswing making it easier to get through the ball with speed.
Pointer #2: Raise your heel
To add to this feeling – especially with the driver, you can let your left heel (right-handed golfer) raise off the ground marginally in the backswing, helping your turn.
You can initiate the correct sequence in the downswing by planting your raised heel back into the ground and really feel the weight get into the left side gaining you a few more precious mph with the big stick.
Pointer #3: Back facing the target
This is a feeling you want to have, which will indicate you have made a full backswing.
At the top of your swing if your lead shoulder is tucked under your chin and your back is facing the target you’ve made a pretty good backswing.
Being able to do this will give you every opportunity to gain important club head speed in the downswing and into a powerful impact position.
Pointer #4: Get The Right Equipment
We all like the idea of a shiny new driver but how would paying a lot of money for the latest and greatest help solve the puzzle of how to increase club head speed?
The first step on this particular path is custom fitting.
Buying a new driver off the shelf gives you no guarantee of improved distance and club head speed.
Why would that be the case?
There are a number of contributing factors, but if we are looking specifically at club head speed, the likeliest culprit is the wrong shaft for your swing characteristics.
As much as manufacturers try and cater to the average swing speed, they are not always successful.
If you aren’t particularly sure of what your swing speed is, then this becomes a bit of a guessing game.
The shaft is essential because it stores the energy in the club as you transition into impact – some have described it as the engine of the golf club.
Let’s take a look at how this works through two shaft characteristics:
- Shaft weight
- Shaft flex
Shafts come in many different weights.
The general rule of thumb is that the heavier the shaft, the more it is designed for faster swingers of the club – this can be your tour professionals or elite amateurs.
Because they already swing fast, they can load and unload the shaft properly in the swing giving them distance.
If you can’t generate the club head speed, the shaft doesn’t unload properly, and the result is generally weak and inconsistent shots.
Shafts also come in a variety of flexes ranging from softest flexes – ladies, seniors through regular and stiff, then moving up to extra-stiff.
There is a correlation between the flex of the shaft and its weight:
Softest flexes – lighter weight
Stronger flexes – heavier weight
Marrying up the correct weight and flex of the shaft for your game is important and if done correctly can add more club head speed.
Pointer #5: Will gym work help?
There’s no doubt that one of the reasons why the best players in the world deliver so much club head speed is the amount of time they spend in the gym.
McIlroy isn’t the tallest golfer in the world – he stands at 5ft 8 inches (1.75m), but his driver club head speed is, on average, 121.53mph (remember the tour average is 114.2mph).
McIlroy, for a number of years, has worked on his physique to combine strength, flexibility, and explosive speed to make him one the greatest drivers of a golf ball.
If your golf is mainly a Saturday morning knock-around with friends the idea of becoming a gym bunny might not appeal that much to you.
But you can maybe spend a little bit of time doing some stretches before and during your round to help keep you loose, combat any fatigue and keep your club head speed up over the course of a round.
Doing this consistently will certainly see you gain some additional speed over time.
There are a number of different stretches you can do which won’t take up a huge amount of time but doing them consistently will improve your golf.
It’s worthwhile getting checked out by a medical professional before embarking on any serious programs of stretching to ascertain if there are any restrictions that will prevent a freer range of motion.
If you do like the gym, it’s highly recommended to see a fitness professional who has knowledge of the movement in a golf swing to tailor a program for your specific fitness level and requirements.
The bottom line is that with the gym work professionals are doing they aren’t necessarily focused on lifting maximum weights because getting too bulked up won’t create the desired effect of more club head speed.
Pointer #6: Speed Sticks
These could be a great answer to the question of how to increase club head speed.
Speed sticks provide a training regime for any golfer to accumulate increased club head speed.
With a proper golf grip and what has the appearance of a golf shaft but with more rigidity, different weights are attached to the end and the golfer performs a number of swing repetitions.
The weight can be increased over time and for some of the programs you’ll be required to follow a set routine over a specific period of time to get results.
In 2019, his average club head speed was 112.78mph which would have had him nearly 2mph slower than the average on the PGA Tour.
Recognising this weakness, Fitzpatrick went on a program of gym work and used speed sticks to increase his club head speed by 4mph.
To put that into context, adding an additional 4mph club head speed would on average add an additional 13 yards to his drives.
In today’s professional game power is the dominant currency.
Players routinely over-power golf courses meaning some of the older more traditional venues that have hosted championship golf aren’t a challenge for the modern professional.
Both male and female professionals spend more time in the gym working on their physiques to help them build more club head speed.
Their drivers are custom-built to help them launch the golf ball consistently further than at any other time in the game and that trend will continue.
But for amateurs, how to increase club head speed is not an insurmountable task.
How to increase club head speed can be tackled in a number of different ways similar to what the professionals do.
Whether this is done with a driver custom fitted for your game, making a few tweaks in the set-up and swing or the physical fitness options there is something for every golfer.
And that’s the vital message to take away.
Every golfer of every ability can increase their club head speed.