Staying on the Ball…?
Want to get into the swing of golf, and yet you know that there must be more to a game of golf than a white-dimpled ball that you just give a good whack to?
Because although they may look the same, not all golf balls are the same. They do not all go the same distance, and there can be a vast difference from one ball to another. Essentially, the faster you can make a golf ball go, the further it will travel and potentially, the better golf score you obtain – maybe.
Golf ball speed and club head
Golf ball speed is created when the club swing speed directly impacts the golf ball and, broadly speaking, the faster the golf ball speed, the further the golf ball will travel with the fastest speeds occurring on drives. If you make a mistake with your swing and you hit the ball in the incorrect position, which means you top the ball, and you’ll see it travel at a slower speed and, in turn, shorter distances.
Recent tests show that at the fastest ball speed tested, the distance between the longest single golf ball and the shortest in the test was an outrageous 38.77 yards and this, is for most golfers, a 3+ clubs difference. That’s a heck of a lot!
Your golf ball is one piece of the golfer’s equipment that every golfer, irrespective of being a professional or amateur, uses for every shot. And if your golf ball’s speed, launch angle, and spin don’t tally with the clubhead, even the professionals will perform poorly.
Factors in a golf shot: more than speed
There are so many factors that contribute to each golf shot’s success that it’s easy to forget that the ball you’re playing with might actually be costing you essential strokes.
So, if we’re talking about how the average amateur male golfer performs, you’ll find that the average club speed is 93.4mph with an average total distance of 214 yards. This means that the average ball speed is 132.6mph.
Ball speed is, therefore, the golf ball’s speed immediately after the impact with the club – a good result will inevitably make the golf ball’s speed faster. In contrast, a bad impact can seriously reduce the potential ball speed.
This means you should have a razor-sharp focus on increasing your golf ball speed if you want to add distance to your game.
Golf Ball Speed
Ball speed is defined as being how fast the golf ball travels when it comes off the face of your club.
Professional golf players can hit as far as 170-190mph ball speed range, requiring a minimum swing speed of about 115mph.
The golf ball speed is a good measurement of how efficiently the way energy is transferred from your swing to the ball. So, when it comes to distance, ball speed is imperative as an increase of 1mph can lead to roughly 2 yards of increase with your driver.
So, the average golf speed, therefore, depends on several factors and your ability level.
Now for the science behind golf ball speed
We don’t get too technical at Our Golf Clubs, but a golf ball is made up of three essential components, which consist of:
- The core, which needs to be powerful with a high compression rate as the higher the rate, the faster the ball.
- The cover, which is typically made up of urethane or surlyn, determines the durability and level of the backspin.
- Then there are the dimples which are designed to reduce the drag and to control the trajectory of the ball. A golf ball without dimples, even if hit by a professional golfer, will only travel about half as far as one which does have them. Most golf balls have about 250-500 dimples – if you think of the core as the golf ball engine, think of the dimples as the wings.
- Multi-layers which also have a thin outer layer and are thought best for ball control and your enhanced spin. When a golf ball is struck accurately by a slanted, or lofted club, the golf ball tends to roll up the club-face before it launches. This causes the ball to have a backspin. But if the ball is hit with the bottom of the club-face, the ball will get topspin causing the ball to go down toward the ground.
Frequent tests on the speed of a golf ball are carried out at the USGA (United States Golf Association) Test Center. The decree that if a golf ball weighs no more than 1.62 oz (45.93 grams), and has a diameter which is no less than 1.680 in (42.67 mm), that it can’t go any farther than 317 yards (289.9m) when hit at 120 mph by the USGA’s test robot – they have to go the same distance regardless of how they are lined up.
As a golf ball travels through the air, wind resistance creates drag, slowing the ball down. Aerodynamics is created with the dimples on the golf ball to reduce the drag of the air, which makes it possible for the ball to go faster as well as further.
At the USGA Test Center, scientists have created a 70-foot-long tunnel to test golf balls. A machine shoots out golf balls at 190 mph, and infra-red sensors along the tunnel record the ball’s flight as it shoots through the tunnel. The infra-red sensors send this data to a computer for analysis. These kinds of tests are essential as the indoor test tunnel is used by golf ball companies worldwide as they develop new golf balls for the sport – if you bear in mind the amount of money there is in golf, you can appreciate why this is such a critical practice.
In high-end launch monitors, you can calculate the ball speed in the split second as it leaves the club impact. As with any calculation of velocity, the formula is that of distance over time. But because of the incredibly small distances and the time intervals involved, the measurements have to be extremely precise to ensure the calculation’s results are accurate.
Spot-on ball speed results are essential because they are used in determining the final carry distance as well as the smash factor.
Smash factor is a measure of how you can efficiently transform your clubhead speed into ball speed. The higher your smash factor, the better your ratio of energy on your golf ball from the clubhead – smash factor is calculated by dividing clubhead speed by your ball speed.
Golf Ball Speed and Compression
There’s thought to be a strong correlation between compression and ball speed off the driver. High compression balls are fast, whereas, typically, low compression balls are slow.
Putting it simply, compression occurs when the golf ball squishes against the golf club face when you make contact with it in your swing – the club propels the ball forward by compressing it at impact and interacting with the core. The faster you swing, the harder you hit the ball at impact, and the more the ball compresses. As the engine of the ball, the core drives the ball a long distance at impact.
So, to go for optimum speed, you need to have class-leading aerodynamics in a golf ball which is designed for its optimal lift and low drag and which allows the ball to remain in the air for longer while having strong flight. This is crucial as it will enable you to achieve longer distances from the tee to the green, even with a 90-95 mph swing speed.
The technical definition of ball speed is: – The speed of the golf ball’s center of gravity immediately after separation from the clubface.
Fact: the highest recorded ball speed is a whopping 226 mph by Connor Powers during the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Long Drive Championship. Now, that’s fast.
Measurements can be made from equipment such as golf launch monitors, which can measure and display the full trajectory of any golf shot.
Obviously, amateur golfers are going to have slower speeds than professionals.
Me, Myself, I
What is your golf ball speed compared to the average of 132.4 mph?
And you thought golf was just a game?
Now for the magic numbers – you should ideally be looking to hit with your driver about 1.50 but seeing as professionals’ average is 1.49, don’t worry too much unless you’re a severe ball striker.
You can increase your smash factor with the practice of finding the center of the clubface with improved delivery of the club head to the ball.
A Good Golf Ball Speed
A good golf ball speed matters a lot when it comes to measuring your performance, especially when it comes to measuring distance.
You can do things yourself to ensure you are at the average golf players’ ball speed mph of 132.4 mph.
Amateur golfers (Driver ball speed)
- Male with handicap of 5: 147mph
- Average male: 133mph
- Female with a handicap of 5: 125mph
- Average female: 111mph
PGA Tour golfers
- Driver: 167mph
- 3 Iron: 142mph
- 6 Iron: 127mph
- Pitching Wedge: 102mph
Because your ball speed is so closely tied to your swing, if you improve your swing, then technically, you can make your ball go faster.