Why putting a percentage on how hard or soft you’re trying to swing is a bad approach

The 80 Percent Myth NV Golf June July '16

Golf pro Scott Sackett on why putting a percentage on how hard or soft you’re trying to swing is a bad approach.

I often hear announcers and range patrons alike provide swing tips to golfers of all skill levels and one I hear frequently is, “Swing at 80 percent, that’s what all the great players do.”  I never really questioned this myself until I started using TrackMan during each lesson and began analyzing data. I have included a screen shot for our example and it will be used for illustrating how swinging at 80 percent isn’t really the greatest of tips.

There are three variables that we are going to examine here: club speed, ball speed, and carry distance.

In this real time example, one of my students is swinging at max speed. His numbers read: club speed 104.9 mph; ball speed 158.0 mph; and carry of 252.4 yards.  In order to understand what type of impact swinging at 80 percent would have, you need to know that for every 1 mph of club speed (assuming center/consistent contact) is approximately 2 to 3 yards of additional yards in carry distance. So let’s do the math.

If we decrease the club speed to 80 percent of our final speed, our 80 percent club speed becomes 83.92 mph. This effectively reduces our ball speed to 126.4 mph and overall carry distance to 201.92 yards. Hardly numbers you would want with a driver being this player in the example. Let’s take the PGA tour averages and perform the same math but this time with the assumption that the tour average is every tour player swinging at 80 percent.

Tour averages: club Speed 113mph; ball speed 167mph; and carry distance 275 yards.

If 113 mph was their 80 percent swing, it would mean the maxed out club speed is 22.6 mph more than the 113 mph or 135 mph club speed. Ball speed would increase by 33.4 mph totaling 200.4 mph and finally a carry distance of 330 yards. These numbers do not exist on the PGA Tour. Only in a long drive would you start to see club speeds over 130 mph, ball speeds over 200 mph and carry distances of 330 yards plus.

The moral of the story is: Feeling like you’re swinging at 80 percent doesn’t necessarily translate into actually swinging at 80 percent. Swinging at 80 percent might sound great and perhaps be a good swing thought for practice, but mathematically it just doesn’t make sense. On the course, while playing, this type of thought often leads to a player swinging at or steering the golf ball instead of swinging through it. Instead of putting a percentage on how hard or soft you’re trying to swing, instead try using more generic words to describe the intent. Hit a hard, smooth or soft seven. This gets you out of the numbers side of your brain and into the feel side. You’ll see better results with more consistently––guaranteed.







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