We all know that the sweet spot on your driver is right in the middle, right? Wrong. If you really want to optimize and increase distance you have to find the spot on your driver that gives you the highest ball speed for your swing speed, reduces spin and gives you the correct launch angle. In this discussion, we will be working on getting the most out of your existing club head speed by optimizing smash factor. First an explanation. Smash factor is determined by dividing ball speed by club speed. For a driver, the smash factor we are looking for is 1.50 or slightly higher (will explain later). So, if your driver club head speed is 100 mph, your ball speed should be 150 mph to get you the most distance. Every 1 mph in ball speed is roughly 2 yards in carry. If your club head speed is 100 mph but your ball speed is only 142 mph (1.42 smash factor), you are giving up 8 x 2= 16 yards in carry distance so maybe 20 yards total distance. Remember, our goal here is to get you 20 yards off the tee so getting the highest smash factor is critical. The following table shows the yards to be gained by increasing your smash factor from 1.42 (the average we see for non-optimized drivers in our fittings) to 1.50:
|Speed mph||1.42||1.5||Yds. Gained|
So if your smash factor as measured by a Trackman, FlightScope, or Foresight with HMT is less that 1.50 by a large amount, you have a lot of potential to increase your yardage.
Let’s talk first about what happens when you do not hit the ball on the proper spot on the face. If you hit the ball below the center of the club face, you may have an increase in ball speed, but that comes at the expense of launch and spin which will eat into your distance. The farther you go below the centerline, spin increases dramatically, up to 1,000 rpm, and launch angle drops as much as 2 degrees. While the old theory was to hit “low bullets” to get a lot of roll, that only works when your course is hard and dry. The opposite happens when you hit the ball higher on the club face. Spin will go down, to a point, launch angle goes up due to the vertical curvature (roll) of the clubface, but ball speed drops.
In our testing, every driver is somewhat different, but impact should be slightly above the center of the club face and slightly towards the toe in order to optimize smash factor and distance. Here are some actual numbers from Trackman to show you how much difference you will see depending upon impact position. The driver used was a TaylorMade Aeroburner 10.5 with a Mitsubishi Rayon 50W built to 45.5″ and 6.3 flex:
|Club Speed||Ball Speed||Smash Factor||Launch Angle||Spin Rate||Carry||Total||Impact Toe/Heel||Impact Center|
While slight miss hits off the toe or heel are not super penalizing, the low or high shots, say more than a half inch above or below the center line can cost you 10 to 15% of your distance! So, in general, the sweet spot on most drivers is slightly towards the toe and slightly above center.
So what could be wrong if you are not finding the sweet spot? If your miss hits are on the toe, your driver could be too short or too heavy. If your misses are on the heel, your driver could be too long or too light. If you are hitting on the top of the club face, your driver shaft could be too soft of flex or too soft of tip section causing the shaft to droop too much at impact. Conversely, if you are hitting on the bottom of the club face, the shaft could be too stiff or the tip section too stiff. And, if you are hitting your driver on the sweet spot but your smash factor is still below 1.45, you may need a new driver with a hotter face! So, get on a ball flight monitor with a proper fitter and check out your numbers. Remember, this discussion is all about your equipment, not your swing. That discussion comes later in this series.
by Dan Sueltz
Again, not hitting the ball on the sweet spot can cost you a LOT of distance!
|Cub Speed||Ball Speed||Smash Factor||Launch Angle||Spin Rate||Carry||Total||Impact Toe/Heel||ImpactCenter|