Handicap v Driver Speed - numbers don't lie

I’m a 8 handicap (proper CONGU UK competition one for the avoidance of doubt, no gimmes) and I’m pretty much stuck there. I’m a good ball striker and handy around the greens, but I’ve never been a good driver of the ball. Just no confidence. I went for a lesson this week and for the first time I really worked on getting the speed up, I’ve been averaging about 96mph, I got it up to 102-105mph, carry went from 240 up to 260 but a lot to be desired in control.

Did a bit of research, Trackman published some data based on 15,000 golfers (including tour pros), suggests its statistically very hard for me to get much lower without learning to smash the ball long.

We can all think of old guys who still get around close to par, but I know several very good ball strikers and putters at my club who never get below about 6, and are just underpowered. Is this the crux of it, the message that the young guys are hearing, that you wont get anywhere without being able to rip it off the tee? Do I need to practice putting LESS?

I think so. I’m definitely not one of the best on here, but I always thought working on the driver and distance is one of the most important things you can do. It’s not just modern thought for young players - Nicklaus/golf my way said learn to swing hard and hit it far first, then worry about straightening it out later. If you are in the fairway most of the time and 150 or less out on your approach, youre probably hitting more greens than not if you’re an 8 handicap. The difference is in your score is dependent on where your approach is from. 180 out from the rough or from a weird angle is going to be a tough par.

Putting is the worst part of my game, but having said that i don’t think it should be your main focus unless you are having a lot of 3 putts. And Since you aren’t taking gimmies, you are already at a big disadvantage to all the other assholes that say “pick it up” to each other when it comes to comparing handicaps

If you have to ask you probably practice putting too much as it is. 15% if you don’t have a glaring weakness.

I don’t see 240 carry hurting you if you can hit the fairway. Stick with the lessons. Make sure he’s good. I found a really good instructor this year and it’s made huge a difference.

You’re misinterpreting the statistics there. Those stats show that on average there is a strong relationship between swing speed and handicap. But they don’t provide any information on the underlying variance in the data – and that underlying variance is important when thinking about how the relationship might apply to an individual.

For example, the data shows that on average a player with a 95 mph swing speed is a 12 handicap. But we don’t know the range of handicaps that players with a 95 swing speed hold. It might be that all players with a 95 swing speed have handicaps between 10 and 14, or perhaps they have handicaps that range from 2 to 22. The data as presented doesn’t distinguish between these two cases.

Being able to hit the ball further will definitely help you score better, but it sounds like simply getting more confidence with the driver (whether that means more distance or more control or a combination of both) is really what you need to work on.

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While all true, it’s highly unlikely, given the correlation of speed vs. handicap, that there are many 2s out there in the “12” section of the graph. It’s likely a bell curve, and they’re likely a few standard deviations out from the mean.

To be a 2 with whatever swing speed correlates to a 12 average handicap… almost ALL other parts of your game would have to be well, WELL above average.

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What got me thinking about this, I beat a 6hc in a scratch match 7&5 the other day, got ahead and never let him back in. He was 20-30yds longer than me off the tee all day, but he pointed out on long par 3s into the breeze he was hitting 3 wood, I knocked it pin high twice with a 4 iron. Driving is so alien to the rest of my game, if I can just get on top of it.

Drive you mad this malarkey.

Haha, I am the opposite, driving is my strength, I am “long enough” the tee but doesn’t translate to distance in my irons (read zero compression), I am confident I will hit the fairway with a solid or decent swing. Driving is the key to me maintaining a low handicap and speed is a significant factor (I think I have just enough speed - 105-110 mph), my strokes gained off the tee would be very good if you did so against players around my handicap, approach would likely be average, and around and on the green would likely be a significant negative.

I can hit it right beside a guy all day long and he is thinking an 9 or 8 iron and I am thinking 8 or 7. I also rarely go at a short or mid iron hard, just can’t get it on line, always hitting 3/4 shots for distance control.

I play with a small group of players from 6-12 caps, only 1 of them would I take regularly as a partner who lacks speed (6 cap who hits its like 210-230). If he found another 5-10 mph off the tee I think he could start pushing scratch, he is closing in on 60 years old so that likely ain’t happening. He has said many times that he wishes he got into better shape younger and worked on speed, its a much bigger factor with equipment now as you hit a good shot with a miss.

I would take his advise, find speed while you can.

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I’m 6’5", 30 years old, and can’t hit driver over 215 yards. I need to find speed, desperately. My game is good enough if I could just drop a ball 240 yards out from the tee in the fairway (and even rough probably) I’d be a single digit handicap. I give myself absolutely no chance hitting the ball 190 to 205 yards. It’s been frustrating, but is starting to just not be fun.

I’m looking into these and may possibly purchase them. I need to figure something out. Anyone have experience with this system?

I doubt they would help.

Have you taken any lessons from a good instructor?

I learned the hard way there are a ton of useless instructors out there.

I have and am currently taking lessons here and there ($70 for 30 minutes is a lot for me). He is a great instructor and have been using him for a few years. I totally agree there is a mechanical issue, but it’s been a few years now and while my slice is gone and I’m hitting a nice fade/cut, it’s still not getting out there.

edit: For instance, I’ve gone from a 36 handicap (brand new just starting out and struggling to break 125) to a 12 in a little less than 4 years. I’m not saying I’m amazing or anything, but the guy I take lessons from has been really helpful.

There is something very wrong if you are hitting it 215. If it was me, I would see someone else.

Yeah, with how long your levers are you will have some major swing issues needing a fix which will translate to more speed. Find a good insturctor, with decent technique you should be hitting an extra 100 yards off the tee.

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I’m dreaming of that day. Maybe I need to just suck it up and pay for 2 or 3 lessons this summer and focus on the driver for all 3 of those lessons.

Or find a new guy for speed and use your current guy for everything else. Down to a 12 is awesome, but your handicap is limited based on how far you hit it, you should be reaching par 5’s in 2 all day long with your long levers.

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Post your swing if you can. I have been looking at a lot of swings and studying mechanics.

Also, check out this dudes Insta - he is my instructor. His Insta is super helpful. At the very least, this will show you what a good instructor does with his students.

He doesn’t talk about the driver much but a lot of it should translate.

He offers online lessons as well.

SPEEEEEEEED :sweat_drops:

SuperSpeed absolutely helps people. I recommend it to many and use it myself, as does my daughter.

Your swing is fucked up. Get a lesson.


Thanks for posting the track man data @mcboo. My takeaways are that with my length I am a shit golfer and should be a much lower handicap and that Ben Hogan was right.

I recently read Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book and he stated that the three most important clubs in order were putter, driver, wedge. Hogan said driver, putter, wedge.

It seems like hogan understood, without data, that length off the tee trumps all other parts of your game.