Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you increase your golf IQ and play the game. golf smarter and better.
We talk a lot about clubhead speed around these parts, and sometimes people will tweet me ask if trying to get more speed into their golf swing will result in less precision, or consistency, or worse technique.
The idea makes some sense, and indeed, there is an element of truth in it. But the idea that more speed means less precision isn’t really true, as biomechanist Dr. Sasho Mackenzie recently explained during his presentation at the GOLF Top 100 Teachers Summit.
You can watch the full video above, but Sasho, talking about the Speed Stack system he co-invented, explains that if you do it right, training for more speed won’t just help you hit the ball farther, but can help you hit it straighter too.
“If you think it’s going to hurt your swing, then maybe it will,” Mackenzie says. “But it’s not necessary.”
1. Think of it as a different sport
This is somewhat counter-intuitive, as swinging a speed-increasing training aid requires you to swing a golf, but it’s not the same as golf. Your goal in speed training is to “swing the stick fast,” says Sasho. It’s a form of exercise designed to both help you build strength and train your muscles to release that strength, like lifting a barbell.
“It’s a different exercise, designed to train your neuromuscular system,” he says.
Sure, it’s a similar move, but having the ability to do one thing (swing fast) doesn’t deprive you of the ability to do the other (hit the ball straight), similar to hitting kicks. smart doesn’t mean you’ll get worse at hitting bunker shots.
“Does practicing a tight shot in the grain with your sand wedge negatively impact your bunker game?” Sasho asks. “No. It’s the same club, but these mechanisms don’t have to negatively influence each other.
2. Never give maximum effort to class
What speed training does, Sasho says, is make you stronger and act more efficiently. That’s a good thing, but it’s also one of the areas where golfers tend to get into trouble.
The more speed training you do, the stronger you will become, which means you can swing the golf club as fast or faster with less effort. Often when golfers pick up speed and then start hitting their more finicky driver, it’s simply because they’re swinging too hard, without realizing it.
“Where I see people getting caught up is when they look at it like, ‘Bryson is 190 balls. I can swing at 190 balls. But Bryson oscillates at 80% of his [max speed] to hit 190 ball speed,” says Sasho. “If you’re working at 97 percent of your max speed to hit 190, you’re not going to find a fairway.”
The goal of a good speed training program, says Sasho, is to increase “your maximum speed potential.” When you do that, it’s a luxury: the higher your speed potential, the easier you can swing, which means you’ll hit it straighter and further, with less effort.
You can watch the full video below or see Sasho’s full presentation here.