SMASH FACTOR...The Holy Grail of Golf — by Glen Bowen


SMASH FACTOR — The Holy Grail of Golf

The most important metric in golf is Smash Factor. This is the ratio between clubhead speed and ball speed as it leaves the clubface. It is simply ball speed divided by clubhead speed. For example, a clubhead speed of 100mph and a ball speed of 135mph is a Smash Factor of 1.35. Smash Factor is a measure of the amount of energy transferred from the clubhead to the ball at impact. The more efficient the impact, the greater the Smash Factor.

The average swing speed of amateur male golfers is 93mph, which also happens to be the average swing speed of LPGA Tour players. The average swing speed of PGA Tour players is about 110mph. Top PGA players and Long Distance Champions have swing speeds approaching 150mph. As a point of reference, the average amateur male golfer is defined as having a handicap of 16.1, while the average amateur female golfer has a handicap of 28.9 according to the USGA.

Handicap is the numerical value that is above or below par based on the golf course rating. Most golf courses are designed to be 72 strokes on par and are usually measured as 36 strokes per nine holes front and back. Therefore, a 15-handicap golfer will have an average score of 87.

A low handicap player transfers the stored power in the clubhead to the ball more efficiently at impact than high handicap players, because better players hit the ball more consistently in the center of the clubface and generally with higher swing speeds than higher handicap players.

Every golfer wants to hit the ball longer and straighter, especially with their driver. The male golfer with a seven handicap has an average swing speed of 100mph and drives the ball approximately 230 yards in carry distance [in flight], or 2.30 yards per mph, according to data collected by the USGA. High handicappers hit the ball an average of 201 yards.

However, swing speed is not everything when it comes to distance. A slower swing speed can lead to longer distance by delivering the clubface more efficiently to the ball. This can be true if the golfer reduces ball spin, increases his launch angle and hits the ball more squarely in the center of the clubface. This relates directly to Smash Factor. The more efficient the transfer of energy the higher the Smash Factor.

An ideal Smash Factor is 1.5, but the average amateur male golfer has a Smash Factor of about 1.42 according to research by TrackMan. If the golfer could increase his Smash Factor to 1.5, he would increase his ball speed by 8mph and reduce his spin rate by about 30 percent. This would potentially add more than 40 yards to his drives on average.

Now you know why Smash Factor is the Holy Grail of Golf!

Copyright, July 2020, Glen Bowen, Certified Professional Golf Coach, US Golf Teachers Federation