At TPT, we believe that no stone should be left unturned in the search for more driver distance, and we continue to see evidence of this with each passing season on the PGA Tour.
Increasing average driving distance by just a few yards over the course of a season can mean a sizeable increase in earnings so long as it doesn’t affect accuracy. And while most golfers don’t lean on their game to provide their income, there’s no question that making every approach shot a little shorter can change the way golfers feel about their games.
Swing weight is one of those factors that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to increasing distance. This is because other variables like choosing the right driver head and driver shaft are more primary factors for increasing distance. Swing weight is a secondary factor, but that doesn’t minimize its importance.
Get swing weight right, and your driver could become your favorite club in the bag. Get swing weight wrong, and it can screw up an otherwise perfect driver. Most golfers are happy to hear that optimizing swing weight is fast and easy. In most cases, it’s as easy as adding a little lead tape or choosing a different golf grip.
P.S. We’re going to assume our readers understand what swing weight is and how it’s measured, but if you need a refreshed make sure to give short this Golf.com article a read before moving on.
How Swing Weight Affects Distance
Jon Sinclair is a PGA Tour Player Coach and Fitter, and he’s also the TPT Head of Performance. He has spent countless hours analyzing golf equipment on the most advanced performance monitoring machines such as Trackman and Gears, and the best players in the world trust him to improve their performance.
This is painstaking work, but there are also a finite number of factors in play. At the moment of impact, there are only four factors that influence performance. The first three factors are talked about frequently in golf instruction and club fitting. But the fourth factor may surprise you.
No. 1: Club Head Speed
How fast is the clubhead moving when it strikes the ball? The faster it’s moving, the better for distance.
No. 2 Impact Location
What part of the clubface strikes the ball? The center of the clubface is typically thought to be the best place for distance, although some golfers do improve performance when they impact the ball slightly above the sweet spot, slightly toward the toe, or a combination of the two depending on the driver head design.
No. 3: Angle Of Attack
Is the clubhead moving up or down when it strikes the ball? The more upward a club is moving at impact, the more distance potential a golfer has.
No. 4. Club Mass
The mass of the club head including the mass of the first 4 inches of shaft attached to the club head is the only mass that will affect the ball at impact. All other things being are equal, the heavier the mass of a clubhead plus the first 4 inches of shaft, the more ball speed (and thus more distance) will be created.
The “Magic” Swing Weight
To optimize distance, golfers should aim to increase the weight of their driver head and the first four inches of shaft as much as possible without compromising the other three factors. And this is exactly Sinclair’s goal during a fitting; he wants to add the maximum amount of weight he can during his fittings.
Sinclair does check to see if a lighter swing weight will provide more speed. Checking both scenarios allows the fitter to maximize distance. But the good news is that a trend around swing weight has developed during Sinclair’s thousands of hours of testing TPT shafts with golfers of all abilities.
More than 80% of the time, he finds that golfers are creating the best results with a swing weight of D5 with Red Range shafts.
Finding Your Best Swing Weight
If you’re being fit by a TPT Authorized fitter, you’re not going to have to worry about finding your best swing weight. Your club fitter is going to make small adjustments to the weights in the driver head during the fitting to ensure that you’re getting the most possible distance.
Many times, this testing is being done simultaneously with adjustments to the center of gravity (CG) of the driver head — i.e. moving weight to different parts of the driver head to move the CG up, down, left, and right depending on your swing and strike tendencies. You may not even notice the changing head weight, because you’ll also be feeling different shafts, different heads, different CGs, etc. A good fitter will keep trying different combinations until the magic happens.
The only time adjusting swing weight can be a bit challenging is with drivers that don’t have adjustable weights, which luckily are becoming fewer and fewer every year. Even still, it’s quite easy to add and remove strips of lead tape to the bottom of the club until the ideal swing weight is found. And when a driver head feels too heavy, it can be mitigated with a heavier grip or a counterweight installed under the grip.
Lastly, you may be wondering about driver length. The informed golfer knows that every 0.5 inches of shaft length removed also removes about 3-5 swing weight points.
In Sinclair’s testing, more than 90% of the drivers that work best for his golfers measure 45 inches, which is also the length of most TPT demo shafts. And when you consider that the average length driver on the PGA Tour is 44.75 inches, it’s clear that 45 inches is an ideal starting point for maximizing both distance and consistency.
So, if your driver isn’t feeling quite right, there are three things we’d like you to try:
The Magic Length: Is your driver longer than 45 inches? If so, trim it to 45 inches.
The Magic Swing Weight? If your driver is lighter than D5, try adding lead tape to get there. If it feels too heavy at D5, you can remove strips of lead tape one by one until it feels right. If your driver is heavier than D5, ask your club fitter to add a heavier grip or a counterweight to reduce swing weight to D5.
Get Fitted By A TPT Authorized Fitter. If your driver is more than two years old, this is probably the way to go.