I recently spent an hour looking for some intelligent and clear explanation on how to generate golf swing speed. For the most part I was not fully satisfied with the results of my search. I began to ask myself: ‘Just how do you go about explaining how to generate consistent swing speed and distance in golf?’ I began to realize that there exists significant misunderstanding of just how speed is generated and the reason for the various lengths of clubs.
Here is a simple anology: A blue car travels 1 mile in one hour. The blue car is travelling 1 mile an hour. A red car travels 1 mile in half an hour. The red car is travelling 2 miles an hour.
That is the point entirely. Each golfer has a certain distance from the top of the backswing to the ball. This distance will vary for each golfer depending upon factors such as height, length of arms, and length of backswing. Nevertheless, each golfer will have a particular and predetermined distance from the top of his or her backswing to the ball. The next point assumes (and requires) that the golfer swings each club from wedge to driver in at the same speed.
I do not want to digress, but the bane of the average golfer is that he or she tries to generate speed on different shots by increasing the clubhead speed using a faster motion through the ball. This attempt to generate more speed naturally and necessarily leads to what is referred to as pressing, i.e., the tightening of your hand, arm and chest muscles in an effort to hit the ball faster and harder. Of course, the tighter you squeeze a muscle, the slower the range of motion because relaxed muscles move faster than tense, tight muscles. Try holding your arm out from your shoulder and just allowing it to drop to your side with loose, relaxed muscles. Now try dropping your arm with tight muscles. See.
The predetermined distance between your hand at the top of the backswing and the ball is like the distance in the example above. The distance in the example is always the same 1 mile. The time to travel that mile varied from one hour to one half of an hour. If the distance is the same for the blue car and the red car, and the red car travels the same distance in half as much time, then the red car must be travelling twice as fast as the blue car.
Apply this concept to golf. If the distance between your hand and the ball is the same at the top of your backswing, and you swing all clubs at a consistent speed then the time for your hand to reach the ball will be the same. Here is the clever part: The longer the shaft, the further away the clubhead is from the ball at the top of your backswing. If each club is swung at the same speed, what happens to make the clubhead of a longer club meet the ball at the same time as it meets the ball with a shorter club? Right! The longer shafted club must be creating more velocity to allow the clubhead to hit the ball at the same time as the clubhead on the shorter shaft. This is why a golfer does not need to swing his or her club faster or slower for full shots. Just swing at one speed, and the longer club will necessarily be travelling at a higher rate of speed in the same time period. This higher rate of speed will generate a harder contact with the stationary ball and will send it farther. That increased ball speed along with the lower loft of the clubs as their shafts become longer accounts for the greater distance a golfer gets from hitting a 5 iron as opposed to a sand wedge.
Note well, the tempo of the consistent swing speed you employ does not have to be ‘slow’. Just make it the same throughout the bag for full swings. You will be able to judge for yourself if your are swinging too fast or slow, and you will be able to adjust your swing tempo accordingly.