RoboTest: Gain 17 yards with this simple driver ball position change

We’re all looking for hacks that help us add distance, especially if said hack helps us stay a few yards ahead of our buddies. Gaining speed usually translates to more distance — provided you don’t sacrifice accuracy in the process. Technology can also tack on ball speed without having to make any wild swing changes, but new clubs don’t come cheap.

But what happens if you simply want to stay in your current driver and make swing adjustments? As we found out in the latest edition of GOLF’s RoboTest series, it’s possible to use ball position to your benefit in the search for more distance.

In the first of a two-part test, Gene Parente’s Golf Laboratories robot gathered initial carry distance data from a 10.5-degree driver with a center impact strike at 0 degrees (angle of attack). The tee position was then moved back –2 and -4, and forward 2 and 4 degrees. (Ball position and face angle were adjusted so the ball traveled straight down the target line with minimal sidespin.)

Similar to the “tee height test” we recently conducted, it doesn’t take much to gain distance, provided you’re like a majority of golfers and impact the ball with a descending blow. If that’s the case, simply turning your negative angle of attack (AoA) into a position number will result in more carry distance.

robot testing golf tee height
RoboTest: How to gain 25 yards from one simple tee adjustment (yes, really)
By: Jonathan Wall

At 95 mph (average amateur driver swing), a neutral AoA resulted in a 243-yard drive. That number increased to 4.7 yards when the AoA went from 0 degrees to 4 degrees. Once again, if you’re neutral or already on the positive side, distance increases can be had — but the improvement is minimal.

On the flip side, if you’re decidedly negative (-4 AoA) and can get to neutral — not even positive — you’re looking at a 17-yard distance gain. Below is a look at the carry distance for all five positions we tested.

0 degrees AoA: 243 Yards

Minus 2 degrees AoA: 239 yards

Minus 4 degrees AoA: 225 yards

Plus 2 degrees AoA: 243 yards

In the next test, we’ll add a 9-degree driver to the mix to see if a reduction in loft changes distance with different angles of attack. Bottom line, producing a neutral or positive AoA is the key to increasing carry distance.

A negative angle of attack has a place if you need a “fairway finder” off the tee, but just remember it comes with a distance drawback.

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Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at