Ball speed is the data parameter that all golfers are interested in but what is it, what’s a good score and how do you improve it? Find out below.
What is ball Speed?
Ball speed is a measure of how fast the golf ball is going following impact with the club face. The higher the ball speed, the more distance the ball is going to travel, giving the golf player an advantage over their competitors.
There are a few factors that contribute to a high ball speed such as swing speed and impact quality. This is where the Face Impact Location with the FlightScope X3 and the Mevo+ Pro Package & Face Impact Location with the FlightScope Mevo+ are really helpful, allowing you to measure your impact quality. All of the FlightScope launch monitors measure ball speed
What is a good ball speed Score?
The average male PGA tour golfer will be striking the ball at around 170 mph with some of the faster players such as Byrson DeChambeau striking at an average ball speed of a whopping 191.5 mph in the 2021 season. Interestingly, despite having a higher swing speed, DeChambeau had a marginally lower ball speed than Cameron Champ, thanks to a more efficient swing. Golf purists may turn their nose at this, stating it as a reason to not concentrate on club head speed but instead, focus on swing quality. However, playing devil's advocate, would Bryson DeChambeau have achieved the ball speeds he did had he not focused on increasing club head speed…probably not!
As you go down the levels, ball speeds drop. The average 5 handicap male player will have a ball speed of 147 mph, 10 handicap with a ball speed of 138 mph, 15 handicap with a ball speed of 133 mph and 20 handicap with a ball speed of 130 mph and so on (Graff Golf). For context, the average ball speed for a 5 handicap female golfer will be 125 mph. For every 1 mph of ball speed, you are gaining 2 yards of carry, so improving your ball speed to above average for your handicap is a great way to ultimately reduce your handicap.
How to improve your ball speed?
How can you improve your golf ball speed? Here are four of our top tips to level up your ball speed!
Get Stronger to increase your ground reaction forces
Swing speed can be improved by improving your muscular strength, as research from Torres-Ronda et al in 2011 showed. This critical review study showed a positive “relationship between driving distance, swing speed, ball speed and muscle strength.” So to get fast, you first need to get strong. The stronger you are, the more force you can apply into the club head. Having a good sequence to your golf swing enables you to apply pressure to the ground at the right time, thus getting the peak speed of the club head at impact.This can be measured via ground reaction forces using technology such as the Swing Catalyst Balance Plate.
The angle created between your hips and shoulders in your backswing is referred to as the x-factor angle as your hips and shoulders cross over, forming an “X”. The bigger the turn, the more potential speed. By increasing your turn in your golf backswing, you are increasing the potential energy in your torso which is then released when you snap your hips through on your downswing. A good analogy for this is the twisting of a rope…the tighter you twist it, the more powerful the recoil is upon release. Improving your mobility through your upper body and shoulders is a great way to increase your x-factor.
Rate of force development
Being strong doesn’t make you slow, as long as you follow a Strength and conditioning programme that takes you through a periodised process. Rate of force development will be a key goal of a strength and conditioning programme for golf as this focuses on applying the same amount of force in a shorter period of time. This can be developed by plyometric & ballistic exercises as well as techniques such as accommodating resistance and velocity based training.
Technique can not be underestimated when increasing ball speed. We’ve already discussed the importance of a large turn but transferring your weight effectively, snapping your hips through and developing an efficient swing pattern are also vital. We know that the quality of contact of the ball on the club face is going to improve your ball speed, so focus on ensuring this is consistently good! Something your technique can alter is your dynamic loft which is a huge contributor to your ball speed. Put very simply, less dynamic loft translates to more ball speed and this is predominantly down to your technique through factors such as angle of attack, clubhead angle and face impact location.