One of the most enjoyable parts of the game of golf is hitting a long drive past one of your playing partners. Regardless of our score, it objectively proves, if only temporarily, that we are superior in one area of the game.
Distance communicates power and dominance. It’s fun to watch a ball fly through the air, appearing to float, as it slowly descends towards the ground.
Not only that, but we can compare ourselves to the professionals too. With the technology available today, it’s fairly simple to measure how far you hit a shot and compare that to something a Tour pro did in last week’s tournament.
Golfers love distance.
Importance of Swing Speed in Golf
In general, the faster the club head is moving through impact, the farther the ball will travel. The energy from the club head is transferred in to the golf ball, causing it to move forward.
The faster the club head is moving, the more energy it’ll transfer into the golf ball. The more energy transferred to the golf ball, the faster the ball will come off the club face.
Put all this together, and the faster a ball is traveling, the farther it’ll travel; all else equal.
So, club head speed is an important factor to consider in your golf swing if you want to hit the ball farther, which most people do. Increase your club head speed and you’ll hit the golf ball farther.
Ways to increase Club Head speed
Now, there are a lot of different ways to increase your club head speed. Some work better than others and some are more complex than others.
In this section, we’ll look at the main four ways to increase your club head speed,
- Strength Training
- Flexibility Training
- Overspeed Training
- Improved Swing Technique
For each of these, we will look at their advantages and disadvantages, as well as some drills you can practice to work on that area.
The first method of increasing your club head speed is the one that most people think about when they create a plan for hitting the ball farther; strength training. When I say strength training, I’m talking about weight training, typically in a gym.
Weight training is helpful in the obvious ways; it builds muscle and strength. The key to strength training is to focus on the correct muscle groups.
A lot of people wrongly assume that big biceps, chest, and shoulders will help you hit the golf ball father. While those are the areas that most men like to focus on because they make them look strong, they will not help you increase your club head speed very much.
Instead, when strength training, be sure to focus on your abdominal, hips, and forearm muscles. These are the muscles that golfers use to gain distance through increased club head speed.
The advantage of strength training is that if the correct muscles are targeted, it can significantly increase your club head speed. It might be the most effective route for gaining a lot of distance.
That being said, there are a couple disadvantages of strength training.
- First, it can take a lot of time and discipline to do correctly and see results.
- Next, it must be paired with the next approach, flexibility training, to work properly.
Some exercises that I would recommend would be, first, medicine ball work. A medicine ball is a weighted ball that can be used to build muscle.
- Hold the ball between your hands and hold it out in front of you.
- Then, slowly swing the ball from side to side, simulating a golf swing. The key to this is slowly. You don’t want to swing at a normal rate because you can hurt yourself. A slower speed will also build stabilizing muscles more than fast movements will. Take your time.
- Next, holding the medicine ball in the same way, bend your knees to do some squats. Hold the ball out as far from your chest as possible. Again, slow is the key.
A secondary way to increase strength in your swing is to spend some time working with a training aid such as the Orange Whip. You can check out more info here. The good news is that a device like this also helps with flexibility that I will address next.
As I just mentioned in the section above, flexibility training must be paired with strength training for the latter to be effective. That being said, flexibility training can be done alone with results.
Golf is a unique game in that it doesn’t require as much strength as other sports. Many people assume that increasing club head speed will require big, strong muscles, but that’s not true. Instead, the golf swing primarily requires flexibility to generate club head speed.
Big muscles are, typically, not super flexible.
That’s why flexibility training must be paired with strength training. Increasing your flexibility alone, though, can allow your body to twist, turn, and leverage itself to generate just as much club head speed.
Again, some advantages of flexibility training is that it is much easier to do and doesn’t take as much time. In my opinion, even a little flexibility can create a significant increase in distance.
So, it’s the most efficient method of training overall. There aren’t really any disadvantages to flexibility training. As long as you’re not straining your muscles by stretching them too far, then you should be good with most flexibility training.
A quick, easy, yet effective way to implement flexibility training to your practice is to,
- Wrap one arm around across your chest
- Then take the opposite arm and secure it to your body
- Slowly push on your arm so that you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Do that to both arms
- Next, stand next to a wall at a 90-degree angle
- Turn your body so that your abdomen stretches to one side
- Grab the wall with your arm and use it to leverage more pressure, or stretch, into your side muscles.
This will simulate a turn in your golf swing and allow you to have a greater range of motion, thus increasing your club head speed, when you swing. Do this drill in both directions.
If you’ve ever watched a baseball game, you’ve probably seen the batter who is “on deck,” or next up to hit, swinging a bat with a weighted donut on the end. This donut simulates a heavier bat than the player is used to, so when it’s removed the player will swing faster than normal; increased club head speed.
The same approach is used by golfers all over the world. You can buy small weighted donuts to put on your club and swing a few times before playing a round of golf.
You can also buy weighted golf clubs to use in the same way. Whatever method you decide to use, this is all referred to as overspeed training.
Overspeed training is great because it’s the quickest method of all the ones in this article to translate to increased club head speed. You can take a few swings with a weighted club before hitting a shot and you’ll swing faster.
It’s fairly simple to do as well. There are disadvantages though. Overspeed training can mess up your swing technique. There are actually golf instructors who tell their students not to use weighted clubs because it is very easy to teach you bad habits. Think of it like this, if you have a heavier club, you’re going to swing differently and those differences may transfer over to your regular swing.
Overspeed Training isn’t complicated, just:
- Take a weighted club and grip it like a normal golf club.
- Swing the club very slowly.
Again, like I mentioned in the strength training section, slowly is the key. Slow movements build stabilization and endurance. It also makes sure that you don’t get hurt and don’t ruin your technique or develop bad habits.
Try not to just do this drill a couple times before you play. Instead, make it a habit to do it for 10-15 minutes each day.
This will build more muscle over time better than it will right before a round like a lot of amateur golfers do.
Improved Swing Technique
The improved technique is just that, improving your golf swing technique. Every golfer’s body is designed to move in a certain way.
All too often, amateur golfers swing in a way that feels right to them, but is actually cutting down on their club head speed. You could have a speed leak somewhere in your swing (an example of this would be getting stuck in the downswing).
If a golfer can improve their swing technique, their club head speed will almost always increase as well. This method revolves around optimizing your body’s power and tapping into its fullest potential. To take on this method, be sure to see a golf instructor.
Every golfer’s swing and body are different, so there isn’t necessarily a universal way for every golfer to change their technique to increase their club head speed.
The advantage of this method is that it gives you a great baseline to tackle the other methods.
If you start with strength or overspeed training, then you might just be improving a bad technique. Again, like the flexibility training, there isn’t a ton of disadvantage to this approach.
The only thing that could hurt is if you go to a golf instructor who doesn’t know anything about the golf swing. So, make sure you ask around to trusted friends to learn about each potential golf instructor.
Like I said above, there is no universal drill to improve technique to increase club head speed. Be sure to talk with a golf instructor to see if your technique is allowing you to generate the most club head speed possible.
Some better golfers are able to use ground force to increase their swing speed. This includes some PGA Tour players, most notably Justin Thomas.
You’ll notice they appear to be jumping off the ground at impact. For more on this, head over to our full article on how to use ground forces in your golf swing. But let me warn you, this is an advanced topic that could wreck a beginner’s golf swing.
My Recommendation: How to Increase Club Head Speed
Now, that’s a lot of information, I know.
So, if made it this far, you must really want to increase your club head speed and, therefore, your distance.
Before you get started, make sure you have a baseline to measure your improvement against. One of the best ways is to grab an affordable launch monitor. Here’s a list of the best golf launch monitors that regular people can afford.
Now let’s get started increasing your speed. Here’s my recommendation…
- First, always start with the improved technique method to make sure that you aren’t doing something obvious that is hurting your club head speed. Like I said earlier, you don’t want to tackle one of the other methods if there’s a flaw in your swing that is hurting your club head speed.
- Then, start implementing the flexibility training. Increased flexibility will never hurt your golf swing. It’ll only give you increased bodily awareness and control which can easily convert to club head speed and distance.
- After that, if you still want to increase more club head speed, find a personal trainer to help you with strength training. Make sure they give you exercises that you can do to focus on the three areas discussed above; hips, abs, and forearms. Again, make sure you continue flexibility training while doing strength training.
- Finally, add in overspeed training. Done incorrectly, overspeed training can hurt your technique. But, if you do it correctly, then it can help add more speed.
The Bottom Line
In closing, there are a lot of different ways to increase club head speed and gain distance in your golf game. Before you just jump in to one of the methods above, make sure you compare the advantages and disadvantages of all of them.
In my opinion, nothing beats great technique and flexibility, but there’s a lot more you can do as well. Give all these methods a try and see how much distance you can gain in your golf shots.