If you want to shoot lower scores fast, you should work on your ball speeds for longer distances.
But what is the ball speed to distance relationship? Is it a simple formula? Will increased ball speed make that big of a difference in your game?
Today we’ll address these questions and other factors like equipment, swing speed, and launch angle that factor into ball speed. We’ll also help you learn how to measure speed so you can improve it over time and hopefully hit your golf goals.
Ball Speed to Distance
Before getting into driver ball speed numbers for amateurs, let’s start with the pros as we all love to watch them hit bombs on TV. According to Trackman Golf, the average PGA player has 113 mph club speed, 167 mph ball speed, 1.48 smash factor, 10.9 launch angle, 2686 spin rate, and carries it about 275 yards.
That’s right the pros only carry the ball about 275 yards… which is impressive but not what we see on TV. It’s important to note that fairways are firm and fast, not like the everyday municipal golf course. Plus, they have perfectly fitted equipment too.
- Ball speed tells how fast the ball leaves the club and is the main component to adding distance.
- Launch monitors are the easiest way to measure your ball speed and hopefully increase it over time.
- Every extra mile per hour of ball speed equals about two more yards of carry. But there are tons of factors to consider when looking to gain speed.
- There are a lot of ways to increase clubhead speed (and ball speed) including better swing mechanics, speed training, golf workouts, and more.
Keep reading to learn more about speed and distance to hopefully make golf easier.
Ball Speed vs. Swing Speed
First, it’s important to understand the difference between ball speed and swing speed.
Ball speed refers to how fast a golf ball is traveling the moment after impact with the clubface.
The longer the club, the higher the ball speed. For example, a PGA Tour player averages 167 mph ball speed with his driver, but only 127 mph with his 6-iron.
Clubhead speed refers to how fast the club is traveling at impact.
Like ball speed, longer clubs produce more speed. This is why PGA Tour players average 113 mph clubhead speed with a driver and only 92 mph with a 6-iron.
There are tons of factors that come to ball and club head speed including; club path, club face, type of ball, weather, age of golfer, mechanics, fitness levels, gender, and more.
A launch monitor is the most common way to measure golf swing and ball speed. You can use personal launch monitors (here are our favorites) or a professional launch monitor that you’ll see at a golf store. These are much more expensive but can also double as a golf simulator as well.
Average Ball Speed
Before getting into the factors that contribute to ball and club speed, let’s go over average driver ball speeds for amateurs. Foresight Sports – a leader in high-end launch monitors – found these averages:
- Male golfer – 5 handicap: 147 mph
- Male golfer – average handicap: 133 mph
- Female golfer – 5 handicap: 125 mph
- Female golfer – average handicap: 111 mph
While Trackman Golf – another top name in the launch monitor world – found these stats for the average male golfer.
- Ball speed: 132.6 mph
- Clubhead speed: 93.4 mph
- Spin rate: 3275
- Carry: 204 yards
Between the two it’s safe to say that the “average golfer” (which the USGA says is a 14 handicap) has a 133 mph ball speed. While scratch golfers are likely north of 150 mph but still far from a professional golfer.
This means the average golfer is about 30 mph less than a PGA Tour player. But when you keep reading we’ll give you some simple strategies to gain distance fast.
Now, let’s get into the biggest factors that contribute to speed.
One of the biggest drivers of ball speed and clubhead speed is your smash factor. As mentioned above, the PGA Tour average is 1.48 out with a driver (1.50 is the max).
This essentially relates to where the ball is struck on the clubface; the more you hit it in the center (aka sweet spot) the higher the speed you can generate. Shots off the toe, heel, or low on the face lower the strike contact and thus, lower the smash factor (and ball speed).
Here are three other factors when it comes to driver ball speed:
- Optimal Launch Angle: The optimum launch angle is between 10–14 degrees according to Foresight Sports. This will help the average golfer optimize carry distance for longer drives.
- Spin Rate: Spin is another huge factor for golf ball speed and ranges based on club speed. For example, if you have 69 mph golf ball speed, your ideal spin is 2500-3500 rpm. But if you’re swinging at 110 swing speed, your ideal spin range is 1900-2900.
- Temperature: As you probably know from experience, temperature plays a huge role in your total distance. When it’s colder, the air is thicker and your body is stiffer, making it harder to swing fast and hit bombs. But when it’s hotter the air is thinner, your body is loose, and the fairways are firm. Don’t forget to factor in the weather as it plays a big role in total distance.
To learn more about average distances, click here.
How to Gain Golf Ball Speed (Increase Ball Speed Tips)
As you can tell, gaining speed is extremely beneficial to your game. Here are a few tips to help you increase your speed (or read our full guide here).
Sign Up for a Custom Fitting
If you want to improve your ball speed it’s a good idea to do a custom fitting for your driver. While you don’t need to get custom fit for every club in the bag (yet), I think driver and putter are the most important… since you use them on nearly every hole.
A quick 45-minute driver fitting can do wonders for your ball speed and total distance. Not only can you test out different driver heads but different shafts as well to see how your ball speeds change.
While you’re at it, if the fitter offers a golf ball fitting, take them up on it. Dialing in driver and golf ball equals maximum distance!
Learn to Generate More Lag
One of the reasons that most golfers don’t hit it as far as they’d like is from a lack of lag. Most golfers have an out to in swing vs. an in to out swing.
The latter promotes a shallowing of the golf club on the downswing, which makes it easier to add distance with your hands ahead at impact. While most golfers get steep and come over the top which eliminates lag. This tends to happen from a weak grip and/or inside takeaway.
Lag is a secret weapon to not only gaining ball speed but also making better contact – which also improves speed. Sergio Garcia is a great example of someone who creates tons of lag and a great ball striker for several decades.
As Golf Digest noted, “What Sergio actually is doing to create lag is starting the downswing with his lower body. He has a free-flowing swing and seamlessly goes from backswing to downswing with his legs and hips before his arms, hands and club can do the same.”
This is why it’s so important to start the downswing with your lower body. To generate more lag try out the Lag Shot golf training aid. It’s a great device you can use at home or at the driving range to hit balls with and generate more lag.
Use Ground Force Properly
Big hitters use the ground and their lower body to generate more power on every swing – especially with the driver. While everyday golfers rotate their upper body to start their downswing and lose out on a ton of distance.
If you want to improve ball speed, you must learn how to use the ground properly. When you do it will act like a trampoline to help you push off the grass. This will allow you to generate more power and get the big muscles of your legs involved.
The next time you watch golf on TV, make sure to notice how much they use the ground when announcers review their swing. It’s easy to spot it in slow motion and can lead to big distance gains fast.
Also, another great way to use the ground more effectively is to wear Athalonz golf shoes. These are specifically designed to improve your speed without speed training or changing your swing.
Try Out Speed Training Tools
Gaining distance and speed happens from training your muscles to swing faster. This isn’t always easy to do/feel on your own. Luckily, there are great new training aids that are meant to improve your speed over 8–12 weeks. This process is called overspeed training for golf.
Here are two of our favorite programs.
One of the original overspeed training systems is SuperSpeed Golf. These weighted sticks will help you hit the golf ball longer than ever by increasing your carry distance with their training regimen. If you’ve never tried speed training, this is a great way to start.
The Stack System
If you’re a more advanced golfer (or have already tested out SuperSpeed), check out the Stack System. This is an advanced speed training program that uses an app and launch monitor (or Sports Sensors speed radar system) to increase your speed.
Unlike SuperSpeed Golf, this is the only club with interchangeable weights. The app is also very detailed and provides tons of different programs to hit your goals. It’s used by tons of PGA and LIV golfers – including Matt Fitzpatrick who used it to win the 2022 US Open Championship.
The only downside is that you do need a launch monitor or radar to measure your speed. But it’s an impressive program that can do wonders for your total ball speed.
FAQs About Ball Speed and Club Head Speed
Do you have more questions about adding speed and distance to your game? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions below.
How do you calculate distance from ball speed?
The easiest way is a launch monitor to learn how the golf ball immediately reacts after impact to determine ball speed. As soon as you hit the ball it’ll give you tons of information about your swing.
How far should 150 mph ball speed go?
Swinging at 150 mph is pretty high for the everyday golfer; if you can accomplish this, you’ll have anywhere from 250 to 270 yards of carry distance. Factored in with roll and the right weather conditions you might get closer to 270–290 yards off the tee.
How many yards is 1 mph of ball speed?
Roughly 2–5 yards, depending on who you ask. This is why it’s so important to do everything you can to gain speed as it leads to a lot of longer drives.
Think about it… if you add 3-5 mph to your swing, that’s 10-15 yards (or more) extra. This will give you a full club shorter into the green, which statistically makes it a lot easier to score.
How fast do you need to swing to carry 300 yards?
Carrying it 300 yards is no easy feat even for the best players in the world. In the 2021-2022 PGA Tour season only Cameron Champ and Rory McIlroy averaged more than 320 total yards. That means they probably averaged around 300 yard carry (or slightly less).
Needless to say, carrying it 300 yards is more of a long drive goal than one for the average player. You’d need to swing the club insanely fast and generate close to 170 mph (or more) of ball speed. Not to mention optimize launch angle, use the right equipment, and have the right weather too.
What is the fastest ball speed ever?
The fastest ball speed ever at 236.2 mph from Kyle Berkshire. He’s a long drive competitor and one of the longest hitters on the planet (he hits his 6-iron 230 yards on average).
As Golf.com noted, “Berkshire hit 236.2 mph of ball speed three separate times during the training session, and he averaged 231.8 mph across 70 swings.”
That ball speed from Kyle is impressive for sure!
My Experience with Golf Ball Speed
Golf courses aren’t getting any shorter so it’s vital to do everything you can to increase speed. I’ve added 5-7 mph swing club head speed on average over the past few years and paired with new equipment has made a big difference in my game.
Just remember when it comes to adding speed, it won’t happen overnight. While you can increase your average ball speeds with a new driver, the big progress takes months of hard work.
Whether you’re speed training or regular golf workouts, it will take time. Plus, you want to approach this slowly so that you can avoid golf injuries and hit the ball solidly.
Final Thoughts on Improving Ball Speed
Golf ball speed is a big factor and when you can increase your driver swing speed, your game can get to the next level. Roughly one mile per hour ball speed equates to about two yards carry distance.
More speed simply makes the game easier. But more club head speed and ball speed isn’t just swinging faster.
It’s about launch angle, attack angle, weather, playing the right equipment, golf swing technique, and more. I highly suggest buying a launch monitor to measure your driver ball speed over time and see what’s working.
If you start seeing a decreased ball speed number, start using the tips above to practice with a launch monitor. With the right golf clubs you’ll increase ball speed in no time.