For golfers over 50 and senior golfers, driving distance (with moderate accuracy) has been proven to be the #1 factor affecting your golf score.
I know that we have been told over and over that it is the short game. And that is true for a couple of specific populations of golfers. Short game is the most important for very high handicap golfers and for golfers with handicaps below 2-3.
However, for the vast majority of regular golfers, driving the golf ball a respectable distance and being able to attack the green with a short iron, as opposed to a long iron or hybrid, makes a much bigger impact on your score card. No doubt it is a lot more fun too!!
Many articles that break down the components of golf power and distance into 3 areas, but we have found five:
- Hitting the sweet spot
- Swing speed
- Swing path and ball spin
- Loft and launch angle
- The golf club itself.
1. Hitting the Sweet Spot
Golf clubs are engineered to provide the most “pop,” when the ball hits the sweet spot of the club. This is one of the reasons why many amateur golfers hit the ball further when they shorten up their backswing. With a shorter backswing, and less excess body movement, it is much easier to hit the ball consistently in the most responsive part of the golf club.
If you would like to improve your ball contact consistency, you can review this previous article: How to Hit The Ball Consistently Well.
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2. Swing Speed
Swing speed is the obvious one. The faster your club head is traveling at the point of impact, the further the ball will go. Factors influencing swing speed include: swing width, coordination of movement(timing), muscle power/speed, golf mechanics.
Swing speed is also influenced by the shaft you have in your driver. A couple of years ago, I selected a shaft weight because it “felt” really good. After struggling with my drives for 3 months, I finally got fitted by our pro and found out that I was losing 8-10 yards on my drives because I wasn’t using the correct shaft for my swing!
So don’t be stubborn like I was! The shaft that feels the best may not be the best. Get fitted!
3. Swing Path….Ball Spin
It is well documented that a drive that is fading/slicing will roll and carry less than a ball that is drawing. Balls that are hit with a slicing swing path will tend to balloon up in the air a little higher and will have a bit more backspin which will cause the ball to check up instead of roll out.
Due to physical limitations often associated with “age,” it is more difficult for golfers over 50 to hit the ball on the correct path. We have published several articles that will solve this issue for you: Tips to Correct Swing Plane for Golfers Over 50
4. Loft and Launch Angle
Having the correct club loft and golf ball launch angle are vital to maximizing your distance on your drives. Drivers with multiple adjustments have really helped the amateur golfer drill down the best ball flight to maximize distance.
Launch angles are heavily influenced by swing speed: golfers with slower swing speeds need more loft to achieve their ideal driving distance. Even though you can adjust your own loft angles on many drivers, it is highly unlikely that you will set it correctly without being tested by your local golf pro.
Your local golf pro can measure your swing speed, launch angle, and approximate golf ball carry distance using todays technology. So you can measure down to the yard, which launch angle is best for you.
A 15 minute session on the range can give you 15 yards or more on your drives. It is that important.
You can read more about getting fit for the correct driver with this guide: Tips to Select Your Driver
Ascending Swing Path
In addition to selecting the correct club fittings, your driver swing should allow you to add more loft and reduce backswing. For nearly every golf shot, you want to hit the golf ball with a descending blow to the ball. However, since you can tee up the ball with the driver, you should be hitting the ball with an ascending swing path.
Making sure you tee the ball up high and forward in your stance will help you do this.
5. The Golf Club
Not all drivers are best to maximize power for your particular swing. This years drivers were tested for optimal distance according to different swing speeds.
Surprise, surprise! The drivers that added the most distance for golfers with high swing speeds, were not the best drivers for average and below average swing speeds.
In this article, we found the top 3 drivers that maximized distance and accuracy for swing speeds less than 100 MPH.
Check it out: Best Drivers for Golfers Over 50
I hope this article helps you hit it closer to the greens so you can enjoy sticking shorter iron shots close to the pin.
Thanks for reading!!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf