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Golf: Tiger Swinging His Driver at 128 mph - Really?

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Contributor:
Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

“In case you missed Tiger Woods in action at the Honda Classic last week, he looked strong with the driver en route to a 12th place finish. He didn’t find many fairways with the big stick, but he appeared to be swinging it fast and hitting it far — actually, he ranked No. 2 in driving distance (319.1 yards) for the week.
But, just how fast was he actually swinging the driver?

According to Brandel Chamblee’s research (he appears to be using live ShotLink data), Tiger was bringing it between 124.5 and 128.4 mph, as measured on hole No. 3 each round.”
So writes Andrew Tursky.

Something doesn’t add up
Brandel writes, “For those who think Tiger’s club head speed numbers (124.5-128.4) were off because they didn’t come with a corresponding ball speed,all you have to do is look at the smash factor to realize he didn’t hit any of those four tee shots solid. Speed was accurate.”

Not everyone agrees with Brandel also for that matter the accuracy of the measuring device. Andrew quotes top-100 teacher Tom Stickney. “As with anyone, this shows that not even Tiger is exempt from hitting the ball in the sweet spot. Usually when you try and swing at the upper end of the spectrum, you will find that impact quality suffers. Therefore, you must find your own balance between swing speed and centeredness of contact.”

Smash factor
Over at Today’s Golfer we’re told,” Put simply, Smash Factor is the ratio of ball speed to clubhead speed on a given shot – in other words, a measure of the efficiency of impact. Limitations placed by physics and the rules on club and ball design have given smash factor a nominal upper limit of 1.5 (15 players on the PGA Tour currently hit this, or slightly above) – in other words, in a perfect world a 100mph impact clubhead speed would produce a 150mph ball speed.
But why does that matter to you and me? Well, as a measurable figure it is the proof that quality-of-strike can override clubhead speed when it comes to distance. With better Smash, your driving distance can go up, even when your swing slows down. Smash Factor shows the benefit of hitting better over hitting harder. And that, in theory, should stop us lashing at the ball.”

Link to Andrew Tursky and Today’s Golfer

Quote of the Day

“Quality-of-strike can override clubhead speed when it comes to distance.” - Today’s Golfer

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