Recently I had the opportunity to assess a world long drive competitor on Proteus Motion who is capable of club head speeds >140 mph and ball speeds of 210 mph. You can see a sample of his power testing in the video below. In addition I was able to see the Proteus power reports from 2 of the fastest golfers on the planet capable of club head speeds of 155+ mph. After being able to analyze their results I wanted to share a few interesting takeaways from their data and how it can help other golfers looking to add more speed to their games.
Takeaway #1: Do you have the physical horsepower to achieve your desired speed?
There are multiple factors that are important to increasing club head speed and ball speed in golf. Your swing mechanics and sequencing are obviously very important as well as your equipment. However, your physical capabilities are an equally important variable in this equation. You can have the best swing mechanics, but your physical capabilities will have a significant impact on your ultimate speed potential. Thanks to technology such as Proteus motion we can now test your speed and power in the movement patterns important to golf which gives us a good understanding of the physical characteristics needed for speed. It even allows us be predictive in determining your potential club head speed/ball speed.
Below you will see three pictures of Proteus power reports. The picture on the left and middle are of long drive professionals, where the picture on the right is an amateur golfer with a driver club head speed of 90 mph.
As you can see the long drive professionals are in the elite category for almost every movement pattern with most movements ranking greater than the 90th percentile. This indicates elite power and acceleration in each area of the body and is not too surprising. In comparison you can see the amateur golfer with 90 mph club head speed ranks in the 20th-30th percentile in most of the movements. While they may have some room for improvement mechanically, their speed potential is going to be severely limited by their lack of physical speed and power.
Most golfers fall somewhere in between these two extremes. For most golfers wanting to increase their speed I recommend first understanding their current relationship between their physical capabilities and club head speed. In some instances I will see golfers who have high power and acceleration numbers on Proteus, but have relatively slow club head speed. This indicates they physically possess the speed, but are not using it in their swing. In these instances they will probably get the most return improving swing mechanics and efficiency. They may also have an issue with swinging with the intent of creating speed and benefit from a speed training program such as the Stack System or SuperSpeed golf. However, more often I see golfers who are physically lacking the power and acceleration required to achieve their desired speed. Swing mechanics and instruction or changes in equipment will only get them to a point. Beyond that they need to improve their body. The good news is that this can be trained and most amateur golfers are no where close to their physical potential. Taking the time to get this information can help you take a more individualized approach to improving your speed and make sure you are spending your time on the right things.
Takeaway #2: Train for power in multiple planes of motion
From looking at the above results above it's not surprising that the long drive professionals would be more powerful throughout the body in comparison to other golfers. However, the percentage of difference between the different movements and regions of the body does vary. Comparatively speaking most amateur golfers are closer with their push and pull power and vertical power to the long drive professional than they are with the trunk rotation and full body power. The push and pull and vertical power occur in the sagittal plane and reflect many movements in the gym such as bench press, rows, squats and deadlifts. Many things that are done in traditional weight training programs. These are beneficial, however, power is also plane specific and the motions such as the trunk rotation and rotational shot put shown in the video below occur in the transverse plane. This is a very important plane of motion for the golf swing and the testing comparisons show a greater drop off in power these regions compared to long drive professionals. It's important for golfers to incorporate exercises in the gym in all planes of motion.
Takeaway #3: Don't underestimate the importance of the arms
Most golfers know that the legs and core are important power sources in the golf swing. However, arm speed/chop power is also a crucial power source and one of the most commonly overlooked. The Titleist Performance Institute had identified this as one of the key differences between golfers on the PGA and Professional Long Drive Association. In the pictures below you can see the differences in arm speed using 3D motion capture. The greatest difference in speeds is from the torso to the arms.
I have noticed a similar trend in the Proteus Power Reports. Below you will see a long drive professional on the left and my power report on the right. My current club head speed is 120 mph with a max of 129 mph. As I compared my results to the long drive professionals I was surprised that I was actually somewhat close in my push and pull power, core rotation and lower body. However, there was one are that was severely lacking in comparison and that was the arm speed/chop power, specifically the lead arm. While the long drive professional was 90th percentile, I was only in the 50th percentile. This is a pattern than almost every golfer I assess is weak on and would benefit from working on.
Takeaway #4: The importance of intent when training for speed and power
If you watch the videos of Andrew completing the Proteus test one of the first takeaways is the intensity at which he is completing the test. He is trying to produce maximum force and speed output on each rep. He is not going through the motions. If you are trying to work on this in your own program with exercises such as medicine ball throws and you are casually throwing the ball at 50% you are not going to get the adaptation to you speed you are looking for. Make sure your intent matches the goal of the exercise/program. Proteus is a great training tool for this as it gives you immediate feedback on each rep and adds a competitive element to your training.
So while you might not be capable of reaching club head speeds of 150+ mph, there are some important lessons to be learned from the fastest golfers on the planet and hopefully you learned a few concepts that can be applied in your own journey to add more speed. If you have any questions about these concepts or are interested in scheduling your own Proteus Power Assessment you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jared graduated from the University of Indianapolis with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. He is a licensed physical therapist, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist, Functional Dry Needling Certified and a TPI Level 3 Medical and Fitness Professional. Jared is the owner of JB Performance and Reconditioning in Fort Wayne, Indiana which offers rehabilitation services and performance training programs for golfers.