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Wish I Could Hit Like a Girl

According to 2014 Trackman data, the average LPGA pro gets about as much carry distance as I get from carry and roll combined.

Well, I’ve never been too embarrassed by it. The world is full women who can kick the tar out of me in a fight, are faster, stronger, throw harder, jump higher….

I guess the question becomes, should I worry that I don’t hit as far as the best 100 women on the planet?

The question has less to do with ego and more to do with practice, potential, and gaining a grasp on reality.

I’m fully aware of the advantage distance provides when comparing one golfer to another with all other skills being equal. I’m also aware that we all have physical and learning curve limitations.


I’m not sure how far I could hit my clubs if I had a perfect swing. As is the case with any other crappy player, I’ve hit shots with my irons that were freakishly long. I’m not talking about the few yards gained by just hitting the sweet spot, or those hit thin that carry almost as much as a normal shot but then fly through the green for 20 additional yards, or ones that hit a cart path or sprinkler head. 

I mean shots where I did something to generate additional club head speed AND hit the center of the face, resulting in an otherwise normal trajectory that just continues to climb, bringing about a where the $@!% did that come from? thought, followed by a quick glance to make sure the correct club was pulled. 

Fortunately, these types of shots rarely occur because they usually result in a missed target. But they do provide the only glimpse into what might be if my mechanics were sound.

When practicing with the same club, a pattern of variance becomes visible. Shots with too much side spin, or ones hit fat will be way short or will miss badly. There will be those hit “pure” and travel a bit beyond the average distance. 

But it’s the percentage of “ok shots” that make or break my score. 

These shots make up my shot zones and what club selection is based upon. When my ok shots are on, my iron game is at it’s best. Yes, there will always be the pulls or pushes and shots hit slightly fat or thin. But what drives me to improve throughout the winter is the hope of starting and finishing a season owning a swing that will provide the best chance to keep the ball in play and hit a lot of greens. A swing which reduces the really bad misses which destroy a round. A dependable, predictable swing.

Thinking about what the average PGA players hit is so far out of reach it becomes a pointless exercise, even-counter productive. Unless of course that PGA pro is Corey Pavin.

Hole 6 of my home course is a short par 4 dog leg left when played from the white tees. The fairway rolls downhill a bit. Because of the terrain, I averaged 160yds with my 7 iron on this hole, a full 20 yard beyond my stock distance for that club. But I then have to hit to an elevated green. Depending on where my tee shot lands left or right, I might use that same 7i full swing for a 125yd approach. Pulling off that approach shot is a great feeling despite the "shameful" distance. It meant I knew my game and was able to execute the shot that gave me the best chance.

So when practicing and trying to learn the 5 keys, this is what I’m really after. If realizing a greater distance potential comes about from an improved swing, great! But reducing those score damaging duffs, slices and hooks are what seems most important.


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I try to use the women as a reminder that the golf swing isn't about strength.   I'm sure I could bench press more than most of the women on the LPGA tour but they have technique and hit the sweet spot more often than the amateur.   They also practice more.  

 

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Top 100 women?

Better to start by setting a goal of being able to beat the better high school girls in the area...  ;-)

Length is great, but, as you allude to, at our level, it's only a small part of the overall equation.

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6 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Length is great, but, as you allude to, at our level, it's only a small part of the overall equation.

What if I told you the single best determinant of your potential scoring ability is distance?

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

What if I told you the single best determinant of your potential scoring ability is distance?

I'd agree.  The key word there is "potential" though.  

I beat a LOT of guys that hit it a LOT further than I do.  I'd give anything to hit it 280 off the tee, but too many high handicap players look at little other than length in evaluating their game.

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I had the pleasure of sharing a range with a bunch of Symetra Tour ladies last year and I came away pretty impressed by their collective distance.  Many of these girls, several of whom were quite small comparatively, were hitting it just as far (or farther) as me with seemingly little effort.

Those girls are good.

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1 minute ago, David in FL said:

I'd agree.  The key word there is "potential" though.  

I beat a LOT of guys that hit it a LOT further than I do.  But I'd give anything to hit it 280 off the tee.

You use handicaps, no?

And yes, I said potential. Distance matters though. It's not a "small" thing.

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7 minutes ago, iacas said:

You use handicaps, no?

And yes, I said potential. Distance matters though. It's not a "small" thing.

Yeah, I should have left "small" out of my comment.

I don't think that a lack of distance is what causes the average 18 hcp to be an 18 hcp player though....

15 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

I had the pleasure of sharing a range with a bunch of Symetra Tour ladies last year and I came away pretty impressed by their collective distance.  Many of these girls, several of whom were quite small comparatively, were hitting it just as far (or farther) as me with seemingly little effort.

Those girls are good.

Yes they are!

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21 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Top 100 women?

Better to start by setting a goal of being able to beat the better high school girls in the area...  ;-)

Length is great, but, as you allude to, at our level, it's only a small part of the overall equation.

No doubt top high school girls in most areas of the country would beat me in stroke play. But my remark about the top 100 women in the world was in regards to distance. I guess I didn't realize HS girls had near the distance of the LPGA pros.

15 minutes ago, iacas said:

What if I told you the single best determinant of your potential scoring ability is distance?

I would pay attention because of who you are. But you'd have to explain what you meant.

I'll also assume you wouldn't need to watch me play to stand behind what you're stating. If you're speaking in generalities, you are of course right.

My opinion is that I'm not that far from my potential distance with my current crappy mechanics but am much farther from my potential in accuracy.

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Lately I have been golfing with a 30 something year old lady who played golf in college. She is our volunteer supervisor. I have yet to win any of our matches. We play scratch. She has not shot any round higher than 79. We usually play from the whites which is 6600 yards for our local course. She out drives me by about 15-20 yards, and she is about 15 yards longer with her irons than I am. Prior to our first match a few weeks ago, she had not touched her clubs in 5 years........she says

Getting out played by a "girl" is no big deal to me. She is a very consistent full swing golfer. I actually like playing with better golfers than myself. 

Her negativies are putting, and short pitches, and chips. She says that area of her game has always been a problem for her. My game is just the opposite of her's. My short game is what keeps me close in our matches. 

Last week we played, and as a joke, we decided to play a third ball as a best ball for the round. Between her full swing length, and my short game we managed a 2 under 70.  This is why I think a golfer needs to have a complete game to score well, consistently.

Later on this month, we are going to enter a best ball charity tournament, that she knows about, to see just how good we can be. 

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16 hours ago, Patch said:

Getting out played by a "girl" is no big deal to me.

Agreed. It's 2017 after all.

I must have been unclear on my original post. I understand that distance is important. My point was that we all have limitations so we do the best with what we have. Not all of us are 18 year olds with a boat load of untapped potential where 280 yard average drives and scratch golf is within the realm of possibility.

We can talk about how important distance is until we're blue in the face. But I honestly don't know how that changes the way I approach improvement.

If I'm currently averaging 220yds from my driver, I'd bet at my age, physical ability, and my ability to improve, gaining another 15 yards is a reasonable target. And I get that the 15 yards would help. That - along with improved accuracy - is why we all work so hard. 

But I fail to see the point of someone like me thinking about what a 280 yd average drive would do for my score.

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It doesn't change the way you approach it. Every person has a maximum realistic potential speed, and you should prioritize getting close to that appropriately.

I was just responding to @David in FL's comment about it being a small part of the overall equation.

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17 minutes ago, iacas said:

It doesn't change the way you approach it. Every person has a maximum realistic potential speed, and you should prioritize getting close to that appropriately

I've never disagreed with that.

I've always believed developing better mechanics will naturally lead to better swing speeds in addition to better control. Would you say that's generally correct?

You used the word "appropriately". In your experience, do newer or poorer players often associate swinging harder - albeit incorrectly - with gaining more distance?

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4 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

I've never disagreed with that.

I never said you did.

By "appropriately" I mean simply choosing your priority piece. For some players, that's just learning to swing faster (or working on a piece that's directly related to swing speed).

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2 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

Agreed. It's 2017 after all.

I must have been unclear on my original post. I understand that distance is important. My point was that we all have limitations so we do the best with what we have. Not all of us are 18 year olds with a boat load of untapped potential where 280 yard average drives and scratch golf is within the realm of possibility.

We can talk about how important distance is until we're blue in the face. But I honestly don't know how that changes the way I approach improvement.

If I'm currently averaging 220yds from my driver, I'd bet at my age, physical ability, and my ability to improve, gaining another 15 yards is a reasonable target. And I get that the 15 yards would help. That - along with improved accuracy - is why we all work so hard. 

But I fail to see the point of someone like me thinking about what a 280 yd average drive would do for my score.

No your post was clear. My getting beat by a girl remark, was just on me. Nothing more intended.

Me personally, I am at my long game distance limits. I can carry my driver 220, with course conditions allowing for any roll afterwards.  About the only thing I might have left to do is to have my wife inject some WD-40 into my stiff left side joints...lol. Probably a USGA rule against that anyways. 

So with a maxxed out long game, I am birdie challenged.  My next best stroke saver is my short game. My own stats tell me when I chip/putt really well, those are the times I usually break 80. That, or at least scare the hell out of that number. 

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9 minutes ago, Patch said:

Me personally, I am at my long game distance limits. I can carry my driver 220, with course conditions allowing for any roll afterwards.  About the only thing I might have left to do is to have my wife inject some WD-40 into my stiff left side joints...lol. Probably a USGA rule against that anyways. 

So with a maxxed out long game, I am birdie challenged.  My next best stroke saver is my short game. My own stats tell me when I chip/putt really well, those are the times I usually break 80. That, or at least scare the hell out of that number. 

I started playing after 50. I soon discovered it was a race to find a decent swing before my body started to give out. I'm still trying, but I can tell with each year the goal becomes a little tougher.

I've seen older folks play what I consider to be really good golf - the type I'd like to someday play. I don't have a problem playing from shorter tees... hit my driver as long as I can, make the next shot easier. Then execute the shots that don't require as much "youth". That sounds like a lot of fun to me!

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42 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

I started playing after 50. I soon discovered it was a race to find a decent swing before my body started to give out. I'm still trying, but I can tell with each year the goal becomes a little tougher.

I've seen older folks play what I consider to be really good golf - the type I'd like to someday play. I don't have a problem playing from shorter tees... hit my driver as long as I can, make the next shot easier. Then execute the shots that don't require as much "youth". That sounds like a lot of fun to me!

You sound like me. Especially that part about "......shots that dont require as much youth". Golf is just a fun endeavor for me. I give the game with respect it deserves, and play with what ever game I have that day. My practices are more of maintenance thing to keep the game I have usable. I am beginning to croud 70 years old, and I want to play as long as I can. 

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I bet you could swing faster than you do now. I know that I can. The question is usually how well you can control the ball at a certain speed. With me, the thought of losing control of the ball overrides swinging as fast as I can to propel the ball as far as possible. In essence, I am placing a higher priority on control than I am distance. 

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6 hours ago, CarlSpackler said:

I bet you could swing faster than you do now. I know that I can. The question is usually how well you can control the ball at a certain speed. With me, the thought of losing control of the ball overrides swinging as fast as I can to propel the ball as far as possible. In essence, I am placing a higher priority on control than I am distance. 

I could swing faster if I had better mechanics. As of now, I can put a lot of effort and energy into swinging harder but since I'm fighting bad mechanics, I'll never get the club head speed. Is that correct?

I have tried to swing easy but the payoff never seems to be worth it. Like I'd be better playing irons only.

I was playing with a few guys last year who I really wanted to beat. One of them was going on about how he's been shooting in the low 80's lately and seemed to be looking down his nose at me. Anyway, I start off beating them on the first 3 holes - outdriving them and hitting GIRs. I get to the 4th hole and the guy decides to stand right behind me while I'm teeing off. I end up duffing the drive. He then says "wow, you really tried to kill that one". I think it might have been gamesmanship. That or the guy was just an a-hole... or both. Doesn't matter, I still beat all three of them.

Point is, I always feel like I swing with a bit of control, meaning I swing hard but don't put 100% into it.

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19 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

I could swing faster if I had better mechanics. As of now, I can put a lot of effort and energy into swinging harder but since I'm fighting bad mechanics, I'll never get the club head speed. Is that correct?

I have tried to swing easy but the payoff never seems to be worth it. Like I'd be better playing irons only.

I was playing with a few guys last year who I really wanted to beat. One of them was going on about how he's been shooting in the low 80's lately and seemed to be looking down his nose at me. Anyway, I start off beating them on the first 3 holes - outdriving them and hitting GIRs. I get to the 4th hole and the guy decides to stand right behind me while I'm teeing off. I end up duffing the drive. He then says "wow, you really tried to kill that one". I think it might have been gamesmanship. That or the guy was just an a-hole... or both. Doesn't matter, I still beat all three of them.

Point is, I always feel like I swing with a bit of control, meaning I swing hard but don't put 100% into it.

Bear in mind, I said swing faster, not harder. Swinging harder, to me, is more tense with a very tight grip. I think that swinging harder results in more casting. What I'm talking about is a light grip pressure with less tension. It's the same mechanics (ideally) but with more velocity. 

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Just now, CarlSpackler said:

Bear in mind, I said swing faster, not harder. Swinging harder, to me, is more tense with a very tight grip. I think that swinging harder results in more casting. What I'm talking about is a light grip pressure with less tension. It's the same mechanics (ideally) but with more velocity. 

Got it.

Yes, I wish I could figure that one out.

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56 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

Got it.

Yes, I wish I could figure that one out.

Think of this for a moment. If I told you to toss me a ball, you would probably lightly toss a ball at me. Now if I tell you to throw a ball at me, you would make a similar motion only a lot faster. So if I told you to swing faster at a golf ball, I bet you could swing faster than you normally do. My thing is, how fast can I swing without causing injury. 

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I'm always amazed at these women who are like 5' 4", 130 lbs, driving 250+ yards. Really does remind you how much speed can come from good mechanics, balance, leverage, timing, etc.

Fun to watch the men as well, but I think Rory is probably the smallest guy in the World top 10 right now. It's a safe bet all of those guys are stronger than I am. But it's nice to be reminded that all of that distance isn't coming only from muscle.

 

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I saw one tiny girl who looked like she wore extra thick sneakers just so she had room to swing to swing longer clubs on a more upright plane. Hit it great.

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On January 1, 2017 at 2:45 PM, Golfingdad said:

I had the pleasure of sharing a range with a bunch of Symetra Tour ladies last year and I came away pretty impressed by their collective distance.  Many of these girls, several of whom were quite small comparatively, were hitting it just as far (or farther) as me with seemingly little effort.

Those girls are good.

I was at an indoor range a few weeks ago and there was a little waif of a girl in the stall next to me with an ancient looking coach. She was blasting her driver with draw after draw after draw. Effortless distance and machine like shot shape. I was pretty impressed. 

She had yoga pants on, which were also pretty impressive. 

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42 minutes ago, Ernest Jones said:

I was at an indoor range a few weeks ago and there was a little waif of a girl in the stall next to me with an ancient looking coach. She was blasting her driver with draw after draw after draw. Effortless distance and machine like shot shape. I was pretty impressed. 

She had yoga pants on, which were also pretty impressive. 

Totally related to nothing but the ad right beneath your post right now is for a recipe for "Butter Chicken Poutine." :)

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