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Hit Long and Straight Drives for Better Play

Published: 2021-01-14
Hit Long and Straight Drives for Better Play
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In the search for more distance, speed is not the only answer. 

To maximize your distance, you need to produce optimal launch conditions. Maximizing your clubhead speed comes from improving your angle of attack and club delivery.  In this article I will teach you ways to improve both, so you hit it farther.


The saying “drive for show, putt for dough” has been disproven. It is a catchy saying, but if you really want to shoot lower scores and hit it as far and as straight as possible, improving clubhead speed and angle of attack is the solution.

So longer straighter drives result in shorter clubs to approach the green and those green-in regulation figures translate to better play.

PGA Tour professionals, from the fairway, average 83% GIR from 100 yards, 76.1% from 150. and 53.7% from 200 yards (credit @LouStagner on twitter). To take that further, its 83% with a sand wedge, 76.1% with a pw-8i, and 53.7% with a 4-6iron. If you are beating those GIR percentages with your current clubs then you are doing an awesome job.

A great exercise is to chart the clubs you have into every green during a round and mark whether you hit the green. If you are not getting many attempts with 7iron or less, then looking to maximize your distance off the tee should be an emphasis.

In looking at distance we have a few major components: Club speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rate. Increasing Club speed will be the focus of a future article. Meanwhile, you can increase your distance by as much as 30 yards with your current speed with the right angle of attack (whether the clubhead traveling up or down as it comes into the ball) and delivery.

The more the clubhead is traveling down as it comes into impact, the more limited you are in the launch conditions that can be produced and the more spin that is needed to keep the ball in the air. The difference of 10 degrees of angle of attack from someone swinging at 95 MPH can be as much as 30 yards under normal conditions.  This table shows is that depending on your clubhead speed, there is a maximum distance you can produce based on your angle of attack.

Angle of attack is extremely hard to measure without a device like Trackman, but I do have one test that can help give you some insight. If you take a headcover like I have in the picture and place it about a foot in front of your ball (a leather headcover that lays flat is ideal) and take a swing, you will get immediate feedback. If you smash into the headcover the angle of attack was most likely down. If you can hit the ball solidly while avoiding the headcover the angle of attack was either level or up, which are both good. The one caution is if you avoid the headcover, but the ball goes extremely high, then there is an issue with how you are delivering the club at impact and you are creating the upward angle of attack with a flip or early release. Pictures depict and demonstrate what a good positive angle of attack would look like, as well as a poor one.

Good Angle of Attack = Good Result

Before searching for more speed make sure you are optimizing the speed you have.  Once you are efficient with your current speed, then you can try and do it faster and faster.  Enjoy bombing longer, straighter drives and hitting shorter approaches in the greens!

Early Release = Poor Result