RoboTest: Does speed or better impact lead to more distance? We found out.

The USGA and R&A released a new distance report on Wednesday that found the average driving distance for male amateur golfers is 215.6 yards. That’s taking into account golfers with a handicap below a 6 all the way up to those above a 21. That number might seem short to some, but more than anything, it’s a reminder of the massive distance gap that exists between elite tour pros/amateurs — the average driver carry distance on Tour is around 279 yards — and the 50-something mid-handicapper at your local club.

We recently covered a tee “hack” that can help you gain 25 yards if you’re like most golfers and have a negative angle of attack. But what happens if you have a positive AoA and still want to gain a few more yards? If you subscribe to the Bryson DeChambeau formula of adding speed to gain carry distance, swinging the club with reckless abandon is a sure-fire way to add yards to your drives.

Of course, increasing speed without the proper technique and time honing your new-found swing on the range can magnify the misses.

The other solution is honing impact location at a slower speed for reliable carry distances, thereby reducing the potential for the cold top or round-killing slice.

In the latest edition of GOLF’s RoboTest series, we attempted to determine what the differences are when a player hits a ball in the center of the face versus an off-center strike where their speed increases by 5 and 10 mph. (Note: This test did not address the directional issues that come with a player attempting to swing faster, which can exacerbate distance loss due to directional side spin. That will be covered in a future test.)

Methodology: A driver was set up at 95, 100, and 105 mph. The driver was hit out of the center, 1/2” towards the toe and heel, 3/4″ towards the toe and heel, 1″ towards the toe and heel, .5” high, .75” toe, .5” low and .75” heel. 

Findings: There was an 11-yard increase in distance on center hits from 95 to 100 mph. … There was only a 2-yard increase from 100 to 105. This was due to the increased spin that was created when the speed was increased. This points to the fact that if a player is going to swing harder that they need a different club to maximize this increased speed. Increased spin is almost always associated with increased clubhead speed which limits distance potential. … The ball will travel farther with increased speed up to 1” off center at a 5 mph increase and up to 1” off center with a 10 mph increase. … The ball will not travel further if you hit it on the lower third of the clubface which will cause increased spin and distance loss due to vertical gear effect. … The ball can be 8 yards shorter at both a 5 and 10 mph increase on a .5” low and 3/4” heel hit. … The ball will travel farther if hit on the upper third of the clubface with both a 5 and 10 mph increase.

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jonathan wall

Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Photographer

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’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.