How to Increase Your Driver Distance With a Launch Monitor
Every golfer wants to know how they can hit the ball farther with their driver. In this article, we'll give you some practical ways to do it and show you how you can measure your results using a launch monitor.
Having technology that can measure if any changes you make are improving your ball flight is very important. We will use the popular launch monitor from SkyTrak to illustrate how just a few changes can alter your ball flight. It is one of the most accurate products out there for measuring ball data, and one of the most popular products at Shop Indoor Golf.
Let's get into it!
What Metrics Are You Trying to Improve?
In order to hit your driver as far as possible, you want to increase ball speed, launch it higher, and reduce spin. Generally speaking, these three characteristics are very important in optimizing your driver distance. While there aren't perfect numbers for every golfer, many players are leaving plenty of distance on the table that usually can be corrected with a few changes.
There are several concepts that we want to explore in this article that can affect these numbers - impact location, setup, and angle of attack. Sometimes all it takes are some small adjustments in one (or all) of these to produce some big results.
We will tackle each category and show some examples with launch monitor numbers. Additionally, we'll provide some tips on how you can improve.
Where you strike the ball on the driver face is crucially important. It is arguably one of the most important factors in determining your driver distance.
Every driver has a center of gravity, which is referred to as the sweet spot. The closer you strike it to that location, which is located near the center of the face, the better your launch conditions.
Most golfers don't know two things:
- What their strike tendencies are
- How it affects their ball flight
When you look at the face of the modern driver there is something important to understand. The loft changes from the bottom of the clubface to the top.
While your driver might say it has 11 degrees of loft, that is only measured towards the center of the face. The bottom of the face could be as little as 8 degrees and the top could be as much as 14 degrees.
So if you are striking it on the bottom of the clubface you will actually decrease your ball speed and launch angle, and increase your spin (also bad). The optimal spot for most drivers is in the center of the face, or slightly above it. As you go higher on the clubface you will increase your launch angle and decrease your spin rate, which is what you want. Careful though, you don't want to go too high or you'll get the dreaded pop up to center field!
Here are a couple of examples to show you just how drastic the changes can be:
Let's look at a strike that occurred on the lower part of the face...
Here are the corresponding numbers from SkyTrak:
Now let's take a look at what happens with a better strike towards the upper half of the face:
The numbers are almost night and day. The lower strike is launching much lower, has more spin, and dramatically shorter. Just by striking it higher on the face towards the center has added almost 40 yards in total distance!
The strike represents optimal driving numbers for our tester, and we'll use that as a benchmark in some of our other examples.
So how do you fix your impact location? The first step is to measure your tendencies. Get yourself a can of Dr. Scholls Odor X and spray the face of your driver. See where you are hitting it on the face. Having this understanding is the first step.
Next, challenge yourself to see if you can alter your impact location. We'll show you some examples of how you can do this with a setup in the next portion of the article. This type of practice is very important and can yield big results in your game.
Set Up For Success
A few small adjustments in your setup can fix many of your driver distance issues. If you can measure your ball flight and experiment with changes, it's very easy to find the optimal combination for your swing.
First, we will tackle tee height. Some golfers are teeing it way too low, while others are teeing it way too high. This can affect a few things, such as where you are striking it on the face and the angle of attack. It's best to experiment with multiple tee heights and see what kind of results you get.
We did a test with a low, medium, and high tee height.
We also saw some dramatic changes in our results with our tested based on tee height. Here is a summary of important metrics from SkyTrak:
Low Tee Height:
Medium Tee Height:
High Tee Height:
The clear winner for this golfer was a higher tee height, you can see that they progressively lost distance and important launch characteristics as the tee height was lower. There was a 34-yard distance gain from low to high overall.
Next, we'll take a look at your tee location in relation to your stance. A lot of golfers set up with their driver in the middle of their stance like other clubs, which is a mistake. The driver is the only club in the bag where you want to be swinging up on the ball, rather than a descending strike (also referred to as the angle of attack). If the ball is in the center of your stance, it will generally result in a more negative attack angle, which will decrease your launch angle and rob you of some distance.
For most golfers, you want to move the ball closer to your lead foot. How far you move it up is specific to each player's swing, and why experimenting with a launch monitor like SkyTrak can help.
Our tester was achieving his optimal numbers with the ball closer to his lead foot. This is what happened when he moved it to the center of his stance:
The ball launched much lower, with more spin, and he lost almost 30 yards of distance.
Overall, in this instance the optimal setup for this golfer was to tee the ball higher in the front of their stance. While that might not work for every golfer, you can experiment with these changes and see what kind of numbers you get with your launch monitor.
Swing Up on the Ball
We've already mentioned angle of attack in this article several times because it's very important. Golfers who have slower swing speeds (under 100 mph), which is the majority of players, need help getting the ball into the air quickly.
If you are hitting down on the ball with your driver, you will reduce your launch angle drastically. Increasing your angle of attack alone can add as much as 20-30 yards to your driver (seriously).
Getting the right tee height and moving the ball up in your stance is a great way to help without making any major swing changes.
There are a couple of other things you can do to help.
Here is a great drill from Andrew Rice that any golfer can do to help launch the ball higher. All you need is an empty sleeve of balls.
Wrapping It Up
If you have a launch monitor like SkyTrak you can accurately measure your driver performance and experiment with these changes. We are looking to increase the launch angle, decrease your spin, and increase ball speed. While the optimal numbers are different for each golfer, these are three general goals you can be working towards.
Experimenting with the concepts in this article can help get you there. Once you can start optimizing your impact location and setup, you will be launching the ball farther than ever. Good luck!
To take a look at all of our SkyTrak packages please visit this page. If you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out to our team at Shop Indoor Golf, we are here to help you!