19 August 2022
Ever wondered why, despite swinging as hard and fast as you possibly can, you don’t get the booming distance off the driver that you expect? Well, the secret to unlocking more yards with the big stick may well lie in increasing your smash factor.
The esoteric sounding term is one which is often bandied about in golfing circles – you may have even heard your friends or playing partners use it and been confused – but don’t worry it’s not as complicated as you think.
Fundamentally your smash factor is a measure of how cleanly you strike the ball. More specifically, how much of your clubhead speed you manage to convert into ball speed. It is worth noting at this point that the smash factor applies to every club in the bag, but as each club has a different optimal smash factor, for the purposes of this article we are focusing exclusively on the driver.
What is a ‘good’ driver smash factor then? As far as numbers go, the science says that around 1.5 is the maximum which is physically achievable with today’s ball and club technology. For perspective, PGA Tour Pros such as Jordan Spieth manage to produce a smash factor of 1.511. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to match that number, the closer you can get to it, the further your drives will go.
Now you know what a smash factor is and what number you’re aiming for, how do you go about improving it? Well, follow the 5 steps bellow and you’ll be on the right track to raising your smash factor and improving your length off the tee.
Making a clean connection with the ball is vital in so many areas of golf, and with smash factor this holds true. Striking the ground heavily before the ball is a sure-fire way of decelerating the clubhead and wasting the valuable speed and energy you have created before your club even reaches the ball.
While there are several reasons that you could be hitting the ground before the ball with your driver, here’s a handy drill which can help to rectify the issue. Hold the club above the ball and take a practice swing; try to miss the ball and hear a swoosh sound while the club is directly above it. If you hear this swoosh sound before the ball it means that you are releasing the club too early; while accidentally hitting the ball indicates you are dropping into it too much.
Usually located slightly above the center and closer to the toe of a driver’s face, the sweetspot is the area of the club which is most efficient at converting clubhead speed into ball speed. Therefore, consistently striking the ball from this spot will result in a higher smash factor. Depending on the ability level of the golfer, this could mean that by actually decreasing swing speed slightly – in order to hit the ball in the optimum location on the face – they would see an increase in distance as they achieve a higher smash factor as a result.
Assuring that your clubface and swing path are both aligned will ultimately result in a higher smash factor. This is because shots which are struck straight on impart less sidespin than a glancing blow – sidespin robs distance. If you suffer from this problem, practicing with an aid like an alignment rod may be beneficial.
While this tip comes with a major caveat – see point 2 – if it is possible to increase clubhead speed without sacrificing the consistency of strike location, then this will undoubtedly improve your smash factor.
Although there are a plethora of variables which dictate clubhead speed and therefore many different ways of increasing it, here is one method which focuses on the swing itself. Holding the driver from the head end, take a baseball swing and try to make the loudest possible swish sound from the shaft passing through the air. This helps to train your muscle memory and teaches you to incorporate your whole body into the swing.
Swing speed training aids such as those from SuperSpeed Golf can also be a useful way of adding extra MPH to your swing. By utilising specially weighted clubs to reduce the “dynamic resistance” in the swing and increase hand speed, SuperSpeed’s training set has been shown to improve swing speed by up to 8%.
It is always worth remembering though that generating more clubhead speed is only worthwhile if you don’t compromise the quality of the strike in the process.
This one doesn’t pertain directly to your swing, but nevertheless it’s an important consideration if you want to max out your smash factor.
There are several reasons why custom fitting your driver may result in a greater smash factor. For example, using a shaft flex and length which suits your swing speed and tempo, will help you to generate more torque and ultimately increase your clubhead speed. While the diameter of the grips you use influences the way your hands work during the swing; narrower grips can speed up the club and help to prevent a slice in the process – which is always a welcome bonus!
Now you are armed with this new smash factor knowledge it’s time to get out on the course or range and implement some of those useful tips. If you succeed, you will reap the benefit of greater distance off the tee – which is proven to help lower handicaps.
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