Miles of Golf has been collecting driving data for GAM tournaments for 5 years. We use this information in our club fitting, but it also tells players something about their driving skills. We have data for the 2012 Men’s GAM Championship, the Men’s GAM Senior, and the Boy’s GAM Junior Championship. Shawn Zawodni, who has been fitting clubs at Miles of Golf for 6 years, has written a critique of the test results from these tournaments comparing driving characteristics from each of these groups. We think you will find his comments very interesting.
1) Optimum launch and spin is easy. We want just enough spin to keep the ball on its optimum trajectory which depends on speed and launch angle. The faster the ball is going, the less spin it needs to stay on it’s optimum trajectory. For example a ball launched at 170 mph at 10* only needs about 2300 rpm of spin to achieve its maximum distance potential. However a ball launched at 145 mph and the same 10* will need around 3000 rpm of spin to achieve its maximum distance potential. As the ball is launched higher, then it needs less spin to stay on its optimum trajectory regardless of speed. This is why high launch combined with low spin is so desirable (launch and spin are of course relative). A general rule that can be made is that the slower the ball is traveling, the more it will benefit from a higher launch angle and a lower spin rate. The faster the ball is going, the less launch and spin we need. However relatively speaking, all speeds can benefit from higher launch and lower spin. Hypothetically the ideal numbers and I mean absolutely perfect numbers that would create maximum distance no matter what the speed is a 45* launch angle, and 0 rpm spin rate. It’s impossible to achieve with a golfclub, but those are absolute perfect numbers.
2) The club head speeds ranged quite a bit between the different tournament groups. The woman ranged in club head speed from 73.9 mph – 102.6 mph, the seniors ranged from 80.5 mph – 107.7 mph, the Juniors ranged from 88 mph – 116 mph, the Publinx ranged from 79 mph – 117 mph, and the GAM ranged from 98.6 mph – 124.1 mph. The fastest clubhead speed average unsurprisingly came from the men’s GAM championship as well as the closest gap from fastest clubhead speed to slowest. This can be attributed to how close the competition is. When you get a large group of low single digit handicapped and scratch golfers, the speed is likely to vary less. One piece of data that really stood out to me is how many of the junior players are swinging above 110 mph. The women over all averaged the slowest club head speed, but there were quite a few women who were swinging in the 90-100 mph range, I would place a guess that the average clubhead speed of the males that come to the Cluboratory to get fit for a driver is in the mid 90 mph range. The Publinx had the largest variation in clubhead speed from the fastest player to the slowest, almost 39 mph. I feel that the same reason the GAM championship was so close together in clubhead speed can also explain why the Publinx has the largest variation in clubhead speed. The Publinx has a wider range of handicapped players playing in the event. Therefore a wider range of speed and skill will be playing in the event. The seniors had the most amount of players launching the ball above 10*. I feel like this can be attributed to two reasons; 1) Senior golfers (whether they need to or not) have a tendency to play higher lofted drivers than non senior golfers, and 2) I feel that as golfers get older and loose clubhead speed, they compensate and find ways to get some of their distance back. And they do this by hitting up on the golfball with a positive attack angle. The senior golfers averaged the highest attack angle, and more senior golfers hit up on the ball than any other group. A more positive attack angle combined with a higher lofted driver will help increase launch angle and hit the ball higher.
3) A couple things I found interesting is the lowest and highest launch angles, spin rates, and attack angles from all of the groups tested are eerily similar, showing the averages may be different, but the extremes in club delivery (and miss hits) doesn’t discriminate between age, gender, or ability.