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Hit the Big One - but Do You Use a Rock or a Marshmallow Ball?

Updated on September 24, 2017
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We are a team of authors of best selling golf books and golf humorists.

Match Your Golf Ball To Your Club Head Speed

Photo from Jeff Farsai, Farsai Photo Studio, Long Beach CA
Photo from Jeff Farsai, Farsai Photo Studio, Long Beach CA | Source

Choosing the right golf ball

When your driver strikes the golf ball, kinetic energy from the club head is transferred into the golf ball. The ball compresses and then seeks to regain its round form.

In general, the more energy you transfer into the golf ball, the farther it will go. But different golf balls regain their round form in different way depending on whether the ball is high compression or low compression as well as other factors.

In order to get most of the energy transferred from your speeding club head to the ball, you don't want any energy used up overly compressing a very soft low compression ball, since more energy is used up when a speeding club hits a very soft ball. (More on this later when we describe an average swing speed hitting a high compression ball).

A slow swing speed will not compress the ball much. Generally women have lower swing speeds and usually use a softer compression golf ball since it's is easier to compress and the ball as a result will go farther than a high compression ball which is, of course, more hard to compress.

You need to know your swing speed.

How do I know what my swing speed is?


Most proshops or golf retailers will measure your swing speed if you don't know it.

On the high end, here's the average swing speed of the fastest club head speeds on the PGA Tour right now:

  • Bubba Watson 124 mph
  • Gary Woodland 123 mph
  • Rory McIlroy 122 mph

On the European tour, Alvaro Quiros leads in swing speed of 125 mph.

The RE/Max World Long Driving Champs are up around 145+ mph. The 2014 Champ, Connor Powers, was recorded at 152.8 mph.

Bubba uses Titleist, Gary uses Callaway and Rory uses Nike golf balls

But I'm not Bubba Watson? What's the swing speed of the average golfer? "And I never slice...."

Different golfers have different swing speeds generally related to your handicap.

Swing speeds vary depending on handicaps. The average swing speed for an 18 handicapper is about 90 mph with results in an average driving distance of about 230 yards. It's also well established your swing speed will increase if you hold the club more loose and if your more relaxed. Trying to swing extra hard usually has the opposite effect on distance.

Increasing your swing speed takes practice and it's something to do on the driving range. Jack Nicklaus didn't go too much to the range unless he wanted to groove something. Going to the range can be tedious if you're not trying to work on something. Try the tips Paul Wilson describes in this video at the range and see if they work for you.

For those that want to increase their swing speed, golf pro Paul Wilson shows us different techniques on how to do this.

So what ball should an average golfer with a swing speed of 90 mph use to get maximum distance?

There's a lot to think about when choosing which ball to use.
There's a lot to think about when choosing which ball to use. | Source

Believe it or not, a recent experiment was done showing which balls go the farthest

Golf Labs used a robot with a set swing speed of 90 mph using a 13.75 degree loft.

Here are the results:

  • TaylorMade TP Black 259.1 yards
  • TaylorMade Noodle+ 259 yards
  • TaylorMade Red 258 yards
  • Titleist NXT Extreme 257.5
  • Bridgestone Precept Laddie 256 yards
  • Nike PD Soft 255.9 yards
  • Bridgestone Tour B330-S 255.2 yards
  • Top Flite Freak 254.5 yards
  • Wilson Luxe 254.2 yards
  • Titleist NXT Tour 254.2 yards

The difference in robot driving distance at 90 mph for the above 10 balls is only 4.9 yards. Since this is not a significant distance, you might want to seriously consider what ball has the best feel for your short game (i.e. your scoring). There's no pictures on scorecards and if you're like most of us, somebody else usually wins the longest drive and it's better to come in with a lower score.

Also, for big hitters, keep in mind the robot swing speed was 90 mph and not the young 20 year old Tiger Wood's swing speed when he could easily swing at 130 mph in his younger days.

Remember what I explained in the beginning about high swing speeds and low compression balls? Well, the robot tested Nike's One Platinum which is a high compression ball specially made for a maximum kinetic energy transfer from high speed swings (like Tiger Woods) But when this Nike ball was hit with only a 90 mph swing speed, the average distance came to only 239.1 yards. So, before buying high compression balls, make sure you find out what your swing speed is before buying them. You'd be better off trying one of the lower compression 10 balls shown above for 90 mph swings for maximum distance.

But why is driving distance so important? "I'd rather hit my normal drive. There's a better chance I'll be in the short grass. "Here's what Lee Trevino says.

Trevino makes an excellent point on getting your drive on the fairway

Yes, fishing a ball out of water isn't fun and the strokes add up quickly. But now let's say its a windy day. What's the best ball an average guy can use when conditions are windy?

Remember the old saying, "When it's breezy, swing easy?" Most pros will tell you not to swing very hard in windy conditions. In general, when you swing hard in high winds you tend to create more spin on the ball which is not a good idea since playing into the wind will exaggerate the spin. Better to swing at say 70-80% of your normal swing speed and try to make good contact with the ball to keep the ball in play.

When you're in windy conditions, pick a few blades of grass and throw them up in the air to test the direction. Look at the trees to see how hard the wind is blowing. Look for flags or banners waiving in the air to see what direction the wind is blowing.If you can see the pin, look at the flag.

Take an extra club or two depending on how hard the wind is blowing. If you're hitting into the wind, then grip down on your club and shorten your swing since the shorter your swing the lower the ball will go.If you're hitting with the wind and you hit your driver generally on a low trajectory, try using your three or five wood to get the ball up in the air which will add more distance and remember to tee the ball higher and play it slightly more forward in your stance. Widen your stance as well since your swing will automatically shorten since you can't turn as much with a wide stance. Use a less lofted club and allow for more run on the shot. Remember, everyone has to play in this wind so don't get discouraged by bad shots. Ease up in windy conditions and you'll have more fun.

Do you want to measure your own golf club head speed? Try the Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar device.

Measure your owns swing speed using the Sports Swing Speed Radar. This device contains a Doppler Radar sensor and measures golf swings (as well as baseball swings) up to 200 mph. You just position it about 8-10 inches from the tee (or suspend it from a batting cage or net). Meets all FCC safety requirements and is powered by 3 AA Batteries. See if your kids are old enough to beat the ol' man? It's a lot of fun to family competitions.

© 2015 Team Golfwell


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