Not So Fast! The Swing Speed Study
Everyone wants to hit the golf ball farther, and add swing speed. A lot of it has to due to what we see on TV in the professional game. There is no question that at the pro level, golf has evolved to a power game, and it all started with Tiger Woods rising to the top.
The name of the game is to hit it as far as possible off the tee, keep it in play, and be proficient enough with your wedge and putter to convert birdies.
The stats back it up too. Mark Broadie’s revolutionary strokes gained analysis, and his book Every Shot Counts clearly shows distance can be king. Golfers can separate themselves more from each other in their ability to score lower by hitting the ball farther.
I’m not against any golfer trying to figure out ways to hit the ball farther. But I want to see them do it properly.
If you want to hit the ball farther I think you have three options:
- Increase your swing speed – I recommend SuperSpeed Golf and physical training with golf-specific exercises
- Improve your ball speed through strike efficiency
- Make sure you are playing with the correct equipment
In this article, I want to focus on swing speed. I’ll let you know what reasonable expectations amongst recreational golfers, and steps to help you hit the ball farther are.
What is Reasonable?
Tour pros swing speed with their drivers anywhere from 110-125mph. These are the speeds required to launch the ball 300 yards and farther. Any time they can add a few miles per hour to their swing, it could mean the difference of making cuts and cashing bigger paychecks. Their livelihoods are at stake.
This website is for everyday golfers, and my goal is to help filter out all of the noise out there and get you thinking realistically about your game. You are not playing golf to cash a paycheck. Hopefully, you are playing first and foremost to have fun and enjoy yourself, and have a secondary desire to lower your handicap over time.
Looking at the average swing speeds of male golfers with drivers you’ll see much more reasonable numbers:
Most golfers can’t crack 100mph with their driver!
To add speed to your swing and hit the ball much farther, you will likely need to start some fitness regimen. If you are short on time, one training aid I recommend is SuperSpeed Golf.
It’s the only solution in the entire golf industry I entirely trust (I’ve tested the junk). If you want your best opportunity, combine SuperSpeed with strength and flexibility training.
Swing Speed by Handicap Level
I was interested in finding out the relative swing speeds of golfers based on their handicap level, so I had my friends over at Swingbyte run an analysis.
We took driver and 7-iron swing speeds (around 800,000 shots total) and separated them by handicap level. As you can see, there is an obvious correlation between playing ability and swing speed. As the handicap goes down, swing speed goes up.
This is not a complete surprise at all.
The good news is that you don’t need superhuman swing speed to play golf effectively. Small to moderate gains in speed can lead to tangible results.
With players in the 0-5 handicap range, drivers are topping out at about 95 mph, and seven irons are about 75 mph.
Wait for a second, that’s not that fast?
When Shot Scope analyzed millions of drives from various handicap levels, they found that most players were driving the ball 230 yards and below. There was undoubtedly a correlation between longer drivers and lower handicaps.
Distance is Nice, but…
Again, I will never dispute that hitting the ball farther can help you lower your scores. What I can argue is that you don’t need tremendous distance to reach your golfing goals.
I have seen plenty of players who can’t hit their drives more than 230 yards shoot in the 70s without breaking a sweat. What you see on TV is not realistic, and you should stop using that as a benchmark for your game.
I hope seeing the data will help you realize that some of the best amateur golfers are not swinging as fast as you think they are. If you want to set a goal for yourself to add 3-5 mph to your swing, I think that is extremely reasonable and can be within your reach. However, going from 90mph with your driver to 110mph is probably not going to happen unless you are willing to go to some extremes.
Most golf courses are going to be in the 5800 – 6500-yard range, which does not require 275+ drives, or 170 yard 7-irons to score well. If you were playing on a 7300-yard professional setup, then yes, I would tell you to start thinking about working on swinging the club much harder.
If you want to increase your swing speed, then check out SuperSpeed Golf – you can get 10% off their system using this link. This is a excellent system that works if you put the work in. If you are interested in finding out some ways you can add distance without increasing your swing speed, check these articles out:
The Complete Guide to Hitting Your Driver Farther
Golf Ball Speed: The King of Distance
“What you see on TV is just not realistic, and you should stop using that as even a remote benchmark for your game”
I could fill this form with “+1’s”, but it wouldn’t be enough. It’s the same kind of analogy I try to make at GLG. I just don’t get how some people I’ve ran into over the years don’t even try to play backyard football like Cam Newton or Calvin Johnson, but go to the course thinking they can snap their fingers and become Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson.
There’s a reason why it’s called “recreational” golf- it’s for fun!
I see a lot of charts about swing speed and handicap comparisons, but I never see how the handicap is compared to average yardage the golfer plays. It would be nice to see how the average yardage weighs into these statistics. I imagine that a lot of single digit male handicaps are because the golfer is playing a 6000 yard course on a regular basis. Do you know if there are any handicaps stats that also include course yardage?
“Handicap” already does that. GHIN asks which teebox when you enter the score and course rating accounts for distance from that tee box.
Lavallee Paul says
Thanks,. Most people don’t know how the handicap system works
roger pednaud says
I played in a competitive league one year and played with 159 other guys. Of the 159, about 100 claimed to drive 250-260 right down the pipe.
You know the story from here.
Well…I’m one of the 100 guys that claim to drive it anywhere from 235 to 300. But…270-300 in the left rough (usually!) but 60 yards offline! . Sometimes, it’ll be in the fairway (not often). I’m a 12 handicap so take a guess where I lose my shots. So no, distance isn’t everything when you can’t stick a green from 120 yards out 9/10 times.
Thanks Justin. It’s funny how golf is the only sport where we do that to ourselves. Nobody would go into a pickup basketball game expecting to dunk like Lebron, or drain a bunch of threes like Steph!
Tom Allinder says
This is a very good article and certainly speaks to what is realistic for amateur golfers. I consistently hear golfers in their 50s and 60s (I am 57) say they “carry it” 250 or more… Even some of the slower swingers thing they are out there better than 200 yards.
Last year, I took a golfing buddy of mine to a golf shop which had a golf simulator which measured swing speed and carry distance. He was stunning and simply did not believe his swing speed with the driver was less than 80 mph and that his carry distance was 160s into low 170s… I call it “The reality Chamber”…
keith usher says
How do they not realize their drives are not 250 when they still have over 200 left on the approach to a 400yrd par 4?
There is a strong relationship between swing speed, GIR, and other variables with our score and handicaps. There´s no doubt about this.
For sure you will find exceptions of someone that has such good short game or putting that finds the way to pull out great scores without speed or GIRs, but this is what it is, an exception.
I think that its easier to take the path were you don´t need to be an exception to do what you are trying to accomplish.
I´am 43 years old and I started playing golf two and a half years ago. I just play on saturdays, no training, and take around 15 classes with a pro per year. Normal weight and body structure, nothing special. My driver swing speed is 99mph on Tackman.
I think everyone can do this. Don´t throw the towel. Keep trying!
Good golf for everyone!
Mike Boatright says
A +2 handicap with a swing speed of 100 mph who is a great all around player would gain 40+ yards on a pga tour course and with enough skill could compete the only catch is his skill would have to be so extreme that he probably couldn’t compete. Pga tour courses are set up for max distance so a 240 yard carry often means 285 yard drives. This is why you get guys like Zach Johnson swinging at 107 attaining some 325 yard drives with 50+ yards roll. His overall skill outweighs the fact that he usually only hits 285ish on most holes. Consistent straight distance will make any average golfer around a 5 handicap without much skill as his eagles and easy birdies will negate his terrible holes. Tremendous long drive distance usually makes a golfer a +3 automatically with wedges into par 5’s eagles are the norm and driving par 4’s are also the norm! These guys shoot 75 sometimes and 62 quite often on some courses because the overpower it to it’s knees. It used to be 275 was a good drive now pga tour players hit their 5 wood that far and 330 yards is kinda the standard given the roll helps their still attaining 122 mph driver speed. 10 years from know 350 will be the norm and probably max out there because anything farther than that and you can’t play golf consistently. You will see young players who are more 5-11 175 pounds to 6-4 220 all of them will be pro athlete caliber and gone will be the days of club pro type golfers. In fact it won’t be that abnormal to see mlb type players as your standard pros super strong flexible and just great athletes overall. Good college players will look like minor league basketball players,or college football players compared to nfl pros there is just a huge gap there linemen are 275 pounds and fast where college players are just 220 big but not quite cut out to be pros. I have no doubt the pga tour set up will follow a 535 par 4 standard and 700 yard par 5 norm.
Mike Boatright says
I would like to add in relation to this article that yes playing from the correct tees any golfer that hits it over 200 yards can actually attain a + handicap. Short courses with 325 yards par 4 means driver 215 and wedge make some birdies save some pars and you shoot 3 under all day. I advocate playing from the correct tees to make golf challenging and fun I mean why not and why make yourself hit hybrids into greens? My previous statement holds true I believe and it will be very common to see pga tour guys hit an average drive of 350 and some holes 415 yards. The tour commissioner will probably have a short par 4 as 425 yards and an average of 520. The average par 5 will be in the 625 ball park all the way to 800 to make it a 3 shot hole. Mark my words the future will be 360 drivers with 325 yard 3 woods this would leave them a gap wedge into that 3 shot 800 yarder. If the tour hates this direction as do I in a way then we need to go back to Balata type balls that spin more and 275 cc steel woods with a steel shaft requirement with 45 inches as the max to negate power which isn’t a terrible idea. In the old days a power hitter had only a marginal advantage on par 5’s if he happened to catch one good because persimmon woods played very much like any 275 cc steel head driver and made it an even playing field for a guy who hit is 45 to 50 yards less it was actually true golf. I believe baseball would be a great analogy for this because you see mlb players attain the highest skill as pitchers and hitters whereas the minors are full of dead read power hitters and straight throwing 101 mph pitchers that would go knowhere in the mlb. This would be very boring for the viewer and terrible for ratings seeing guys hit it 260 again and bubba watson hitting his booming 300 yard drives,but it might be the best direction for the game overall.
I can definitely agree that someone that rarely plays golf or practices needs to lower expectations and get real. And that 300 yard drive you hit in Denver downhill and downwind doesnt mean all of a sudden you’re DJ. At the same time practicing and putting in the work doesn’t garauntee better scores. At all. Which makes this game so elusive at times and more frustrating when you’re striping everything at the range. I don’t really agree with above comments. Definitely a trend in longer courses but some of the best holes in golf are the drivable risk/reward par 4s and postage stamp 3s. They’ll never go backwards with technology to shorten the game. I’m sure the players from Hickory era said the same about balata etc. Tom Wishon says golf club technology has been maxed out for a while now. Marketing and aesthetics is mostly what’s being sold. I would think ball technology is almost at its peak as well. So with the greatest equipment advancements behind us and water conservation on the rise, courses are likely near max yardage as well. Golf isn’t a sport. It’s a GAME that more and more freak elite athletes have chosen to play over traditional sports.
mike santo says
will there be any talk ever of all the pros using the same ball?? or the money is just too much>?
While swing speed is certainly important in relation to distance, better struck shots and rhythm seem to be the biggest points that fall by the wayside. You can create your own gale force wind by swinging so fast, but if you can’t consistently strike the ball in the sweet spot, you are going to be all over the place (not to mention you will be hitting shorter). Sometimes a shorter back swing can help with consistency, accuracy, and distance. Many pro golfers actually have shorter back swings, but are hitting the ball just as far, if not farther than a lot of these highly athletic golfers that depend solely on their physical fitness.
Another point to make is that in order to crush the ball accurately at Professional Speeds, your whole body has to be able to keep up with it. The faster you swing, the more your body has to work to accomplish this (the more that can go wrong). This also places a tremendous amount of wear on the human body. Tiger Woods, along with many other pro golfers are prime examples. Where is Tiger? How many back surgeries has he had?
This is the best idea about golf idea. thanks a lot for this best resources.
I don’t know ANY 0-5 handicappers that hit their 7-irons 140 yds. Most definitely that 95 mph for the driver is the low end for 0-5 handicappers. I’m in that group. My PW carries beyond 140, and I don’t see that as fantastic. Were you studying 70 year old 0-5 handicappers?? I’m 52 and by no means a big swinger. These are my REAL #’s (carry)
Driver = 275—3 wood = 235—4 Hybrid = 215—5 Hybrid = 205—6 iron = 180—7 iron = 170
8 iron = 160—9 iron = 150—PW = 140—GW = 125—SW = 110—LW = 90—64˚ = 70
These #’s are similar to those of the guys I recreate with as well as the tourneys I play.
I say again, “A 0-5 handicapper hitting a 7-iron 140 yds???” WAY out of the ordinary.
If your pitching wedge is going 140 it’s not a pitching wedge. My pw is 48 degrees and it goes 120-125, every time. I’m 24 years old and I swing 98-100 mph. 7 iron goes 145. It’s not rocket science and you should have your club angles measured, they’ve been changing the angles of what is defined as a given number club across the board with many newer sets. My set is a hand-me down cobra set that’s about 12 years old.
Uncle Stosh says
@B Says- While I agree that it is not true that 0-5 hdcp have an average swing of 95mph. That is for sure the low range. Most swing in the 100-105 range. However, your claim to carry a PW 140 and see it as average is just as ludicrous. For the last 5 years of swingman data which includes every shot hit on the PGA tour, the tour average PW travelled 124 yards.
What’s really missing from the #’s is the loft of his 7 iron which most likely (but I’m only speculating) 27-28 degrees which “was” typical 5 iron lofts. I was recently at a fitting looking to re-shaft my irons then the fitter wanted me to hit one of his 7 irons & as soon as carry distance 175-177 range I asked “what’s the loft on this?” He tells me 27 & I told him well that’s my 5 iron & then he says well that’s where the games at today so I was like thanks but no thanks. To keep the gaps consistent that would put my pitching wedge the same loft as an 8 iron & then what my lob wedge is actually a pitching wedge 🤷♂️ Screw today’s distance game! P.S. my 7 iron at 35 degrees loft for me carries 140-145 with swing speed of 84. I can get it to 150 but that swing isn’t pleasant at all lol.
With the exception of the driver and 3 wood my iron yardages are like his. I do not swing in the 90’s
the best i can do is 80’s. My swing speed radar has me hitting 60 mph. I would love to hit it longer but my max is 240 and my average is around 200.
Gary Knight says
I do not know B personally, but I play a lot of golf and my handicap is between 0 and 5, and my 7 iron carry is 148. But the numbers he says he carries a golf ball is very hard to believe. 275 carry Driver and 140 carry PW?? Also he says that’s not that fantastic! So at 52 he’s hits it with the average PGA tour Pro and that’s not fantastic to him?? Again I do not him but the law of averages says he’s BSing us, than again he could be playing on the Moon :+)
based on my experience playing with low handicap golfers (tournament players), B’s numbers are about right
Do these numbers take into account elevation and humidity?
7i @ 75mph? That seems crazy low. The first time I used Trackman I was at 95mph with the 7. I’m by no means a scratch golfer but 75 is just way low.
The Trackman was clearly wrong, unless you’re a potential long drive world champion 😀
U sure you weren’t looking at ball speed?
Tim Martin says
I only started playing golf 2 weeks ago. Went in for a club fitting this week and hit about 30 balls with a 7 iron. Swing speed varied from 92 to 97 mph and carried around 170 yards. Not all perfectly straight I will admit but was told this was at the higher end of the spectrum. I’m 6’4” and was told this is why it’s quite fast but definitely not unheard of.
Tim Martin says
With irons 1” longer if this makes any difference
Tim Martin says
(Shaft I meant)
BS detector says
Never forget – anything is possible… when you lie.
I’m a 57 year old, overweight 3 handicapper that played off +1 in my youth. My average driver club head speed is 89-90 mph and can get up to 93-94 on a really really good day . This equates to a carry distance of 210 – 230 yds.
7 iron club head speed is 80-82 mph with carry of around 145 so I would say I’m in the 0-5 bracket being discussed. (irons 1/2 in longer than standard)
Too many people have become preoccupied with maxing out on clubbed speed and distance. Whats far more important is quality of strike, control of distance and most important of all a good short game.
I play with far too many people that claim to average 170 yds with a 7 iron (or 140 with a wedge), but what they really mean is, a good one go 180 or it might go 160 yards, I really have no idea, oh and I don’t count the duffs that only only 100 yard and 30 yards off line.
This gives me hope! I’m a 15 handicapper and have the same swing speed. My carry distance with an i7 is about the same, but my driver carries only about 180 yards. And because my home course is over 6600 yards total, I’m not sure if my driving length would be enough to go single hcp.
Look at the lpga tour if your a good average golfer . There swing speeds are similar but amazing control and consistency. If I could play any where mear as good as them with same swing speed watch out gold course
John G says
I tell everyone that all the time. Watch the LPGA players. Their speeds and distances are much closer to the average weekend male golfer and they would beat 95% of them because of perfect ball striking alone. Weekend golfers are simply not consistent enough with where the ball hits the face.
Glenn R Watson says
Swing speed is important. Solid strikes in the middle of the club face are important. I want both. I swing at an average of 101 mph with a max of 104. At 58 I wonder if its possible to increase that number.
I really don’t understand what you’ve done here… you’ve presented the evidence done by the man who had more information than anyone else who has looked into this, acknowledged its importance and then disregarded it. Mark Broadie extended his analysis from the Pro ranks down to the ‘average golfer’ and found the same conclusions. Distance matter A LOT, the correlation between clubhead speed and handicap is 0.95 which is clearly very high. At every single level of the game distance and strike are the most important factors, those are facts that have been backed up by bucket loads of research. If we take a simple binary decision of spending 2 hours a week doing short game practice or 2 hours a week in the gym with the aim of improving club head speed, in the short term the short game practice would probably produce better results however, in the long term the gym work wins every time. The ceiling of improvement of club head speed and long game improvement is so much greater than that of short game practice. What you haven’t mentioned here is that the TV footage that shows the Pros hitting it so far also gives the impression that they hole putts for fun, one look at the stats and you see they don’t, not even close.
The author never disregarded the importance of distance and in fact, acknowledged the advantage it provides. He simply stated that there are plenty of folks out there who can break 80 without hitting distances like the pros. He’s right.
You believe any golfer can gain enough distance by going to the gym to offset short game practice. You even claimed “every time” which must mean 100% of the golfing population. I’m not buying it. Using Broadie’s strokes gained methodology along with statistics regarding distances gained from strength training – for every age group – please convince me.
I’m not disputing the importance of distance, but I do believe that there is a very limited potential for individuals. To blow off the importance of the short game as you have is as ridiculous as someone else blowing off the importance of the full swing. For most of the golfing population, both are very close to being equally important.
Ronald Gipp says
I just hit 13 7 irons at Golftec.
My average swing speed is 75.3 MPH with a high of 78.
75 is slightly higher than the 0-5 handicaps.
Average distance is 173 yards.
Now I’m only a 9 handicap because I 3 putt 4 or more times a round.
Good news is I’m taking a putty seminar in Vegas in 2 weeks.
Also the good news is I’m 59 years old and still able to hit 250-280.
A lot of golf lessons and working out like a madman.
Hi, I just started golfing about 6months ago and my 7 iron loft 33 deg can only carry 125-128meters. I always wonder how the other can hit 150m with their 7 iron. I feel like i am always the shortest hitter in my group all of them are between 5-10 handicap.
It is because your strike is not efficient enough yet. It will soon be if you practice frequently.
On the comment above from guy at Golftec- a swing speed of 75-78 with a 7 iron hit properly should not correlate with a distance of 173. I would think more like 145 or something like that. To hit a 7 iron close to 170 your swing speed should be at least in mid 80s with that iron.
its funny how full of sh#t people are about distances…. 185 out average bs’er grabs a 6 iron dribbles it onto the front edge of the green 18 yards short of the pin and tells himself….”gir thats the right club.” Same guy pumps it out there 218 carry rolls 25 yards and thinks his carry is 240. you cant argue with em – but they always lose the cash so that’s fun.
I’m 115 years old, my swing speed is 180mph, you will never reach my age or swing speed.
That’s what I love about you youngsters. When I was 115 years old, 180mph swing speed was just my putter!!!
Ryan G says
The thing is. A lot of 7 irons are totally different lofts now. The new m6 is way more aggressively lofted than anything from 5years ago. So when stating these numbers ppl should look at lofts not the stamping on the bottom of the clubs.
The same m6 7iron is similar in loft to a 5 iron from a few years ago.
Varun Sharma says
Very informative article. Thanks for sharing it.
Looking for help here…I’m consistently swinging around 78mph with my 7 iron (ball speed of around 100mph). But it says my carry distance is only 130-136 yards? Note: the smash factor is typically in the mid 130s…
Is that correct? Seems off.
That sounds about right. (Based on experience with a GC2 launch monitor)
And, pga tour ladies 7I 104mph ball speed, 76mph swing speed, 141 carry.
People (not you) are so delusional about their distances. Go to a PGA tour event live and watch the best in the world crush it. It is remarkable. I have never seen any random dude who claims to have 110 mph club speed hit anything even closely resembling what those beasts do each and every time off the tee.
3 months ago, I bought SC200+ to use with super speed.
Almost immediately got my club speed up to 114mph in practise swing mode and was really excited because I’ve never got it above 100mph before. All this using practise swing mode in my garage. (We’re still in lockdown so haven’t been able to hit balls)
Today I discovered a massive disappointment.
When I hit the ball my speed is under 100mph!
Now I know that the literature says that this is my brain not allowing me to swing it fast but it really doesn’t feel like that. I tried closing my eyes and pretending the ball wasn’t there – topped it, still 100. And I tried swing really cautiously in practise swing mode – easily 108-110mph.
Other possible explanations for the difference is: there is a bug in practise swing mode, or more likely, hitting the ball slows the club down dramatically.
I’m disappointed because the gains I thought I had are down to zero. And I feel that the idea of using practise swing mode is misleading.
I’m doing some further testing and wanted to share, and see someone can help me understand further.
With SC200+ in practise swing mode.
I notice that the placement of the device affects the speed output.
5 feet behind, in the target line, gives me about 10 mph more speed reported
5 feet in front, in the target line, gives me about 40mph more speed reported
immediately adjacent to club, gives me a realistic but maybe slightly decreased speed reported.
Does anyone know how this unit works, and where is the best placement?
I know the manual says 5 feet behind. . but my testing shows that the figures are artificially high when its in that place, by comparison to hitting balls in the other modes.
John Clancy says
This doesn’t add up for me.
I’m a 10 handicap my driver speed is 106 mph.
My friend is a 9 handicap his speed is 107 mph.
Another friend is a 7 handicap his speed is 113 mph.
Way too low!
Try subtracting about 10mph from your reported swing speeds. You’re all equal to or better than the champions tour…. do you really believe that?
Grady Galvez says
wow great guide
The key to golf, is getting the ball in the hole. I’m 65, only swing 95 mph and carry the ball 220-230. My 7 iron swing is 78-80 mph, and it flies 145-150 yds. My handicap is 6-7.
Doesn’t matter much to me whether I play Golds, Whites, or Blues, scoring is done with my short clubs.
What causes your swing speed to vary between 72 and 85 MPH with a 6 iron full swing? How or what should you work on the become consistent in you golf swing?