What is Golf Swing Speed and How to Improve It

Swing speed has and continues to be a hotly debated topic when it comes to the game of golf. Manufacturers continue to model their designs around the ability to increase swing speeds when it comes to the aerodynamics etc. of golf club designs and in recent years swing speed gadgets have become must-have items. 

Swing speed is a very important data point when it comes to the technicalities of the golf swing. Professional players are constantly looking for new ways to increase their swing speeds both on the practice tee and in the gym. Amateur golfers, unfortunately, don’t have the time and expertise around them like the pros but that doesn’t mean that they can’t increase their swing speeds. 

Below we are going to take a closer look at the technicalities when it comes to golf swing speed and we will also discuss the importance of added swing speed and what it means for your golf game. 

What Is Swing Speed? 

Swing speed is defined as the speed that the clubhead is traveling right before impact. Swing speed determines a player’s potential in terms of distance. Added swing speed equals more potential distance, 1 additional mile per hour of swing speed can potentially translate to up to 3 additional yards off the tee. 

To learn more about swing speed watch this video. 

How Is Swing Speed Measured? 

Swing speed can accurately be measured with several gadgets such as a launch monitor, swing speed radar, or golf club/swing sensor. Professional players, coaches, and club fitters mostly rely on either a Trackman or Flight Scope launch monitor to measure swing speed. These launch monitors are very expensive and as a result club/swing sensors and swing speed radars continue to increase in popularity when it comes to measuring swing speed for amateur players. 

Before launch monitors, players used basic math to get an indication of their average swing speed. Simply divide the average carry distance of your drives by 2.3 to get an estimate of your average swing speed. This method is flawed but it is a great way to get an indication of your average swing speed. 

Why Is Swing Speed Important? 

Swing speed and distance is directly correlated, simply put, more swing speed means more distance. Distance doesn’t ensure lower scores but it does make a big difference out on the course, the dominance of big hitters such as Dustin Johnson and Bryson Dechambeau is evidence of this. 

Added swing speed won’t directly translate into added distance, control and good rhythm is a must to ensure long straights shots on course

What Does Swing Speed Mean For Your Golf Game? 

By now it should be pretty clear that swing speed equals distance. The faster you swing the club the further you will be able to hit the golf ball when you strike it out of the middle of the clubface. 

In golf, the quality of a strike can be quantified using a metric called smash factor. The smash factor is the ratio between the ball and swing speed which translates into the amount of energy transferred from the clubhead to the ball at impact. 

To learn more about smash factor click here

Swing speed is a deciding factor when purchasing golf equipment. Playing with the correct shaft and golf ball for your swing speed is vital to ensure consistent performance throughout the bag. 

To learn more about which shaft type you should play with based on your average driver swing speed read our What Are The Different Golf Shaft Types article

The importance of swing speed can’t be highlighted enough, but in the same breath, it is very important to understand that swing speed means nothing if it isn’t accompanied by control, rhythm, and accuracy. Long drive professionals are the perfect example of how swing speed means nothing if your smash factor is low. 

How To Train Swing Speed 

Golfers can increase their swing speeds in a variety of different ways, below we will take a closer look at the different options and at the differences between the options. 

Swing Changes 

More often than not additional swing speed can be unlocked with the help of a small swing change. Rory McIlroy has one of the best hip rotations in the game of golf and his impressive hip turn is the driving force behind his long drives. Swinging the club faster might be as easy as improving your hip or shoulder turn. 

Enlist the help of a qualified coach when attempting to make swing changes. Not only will they be able to assist with changing your swing in order to improve swing speeds while maintaining accuracy but they will also ensure that you don’t pick up any bad habits in the process. 

To learn more about McIlroy’s impressive hip turn click here

Physical Training 

Physical training is a very important part of the modern professional golfer’s training program. Golfers train for a variety of reasons including swing speed gains. Bryson Dechambeau created quite the stir when he showed off his new physique when the PGA Tour resumed following the postponement of events as a result of Covid – 19. Dechambeau is swinging the club faster than ever and backed by his newfound strength he now leads the PGA Tour in driving distance. 

Don’t worry you don’t have to train like Bryson to swing the club faster, but some time in the gym to improve core strength, mobility and flexibility will do wonders for your golf game. To learn more about golf-specific exercises click here to access the TPI library

Swing Speed Training Aids 

SuperSpeed took the golfing world by storm 5 years ago when they introduced golfers to their Overspeed training aid. The SuperSpeed system is used by amateur and professional golfers and the results seen by players while training with the system speaks for themselves. 

If you are serious about increasing your swing speed then SuperSpeed is a must-have gadget. To learn more about the SuperSpeed system click here

Swing Speed Chart 

The chart below serves as a guideline in terms of what shaft flex and which type of golf ball a player should play with based on average driver swing speeds. 

Swing Speed (mph)Shaft Flex Golf Ball Compression 
Under 75 Ladies flex (L) Low
75 – 85Senior flex (A)Low
85 – 95Regular (R)Mid 
95 – 110Stiff (S)High 
110 +Extra stiff (X)  High 

Final Thoughts 

Swing speed is one piece of the golf swing puzzle. Fast swing speeds translate into added distance but the rest of your golf swing needs to work in unison to ensure long, accurate shots with both your woods and irons. 

Swing speed can be improved in the gym, with the assistance of gadgets, and by making adjustments to your swing. Regardless of how you do it make sure to do it with the guide of a PGA or TPI certified professional to ensure optimal performance. 

This article was last updated on August 31, 2021 .

Bertine Strauss
Written by
Bertine Strauss
The Golf Blog