Smash Factor: What Is It and Why Do You Need to Know Yours
I want you to smash a drive. Maybe it’s a long, straight par-5 and you’re looking to get home in two. Maybe you’re a little hot under the collar after a 3-putt double on the last hole. Or maybe you’re just feeling so good with a driver in your hand, and you just know you’re going to give this next drive a ride.
Whatever the reason, you need to understand your smash factor in order to smash.
OK, so what does smash factor mean? To be technical, your smash factor is the ball speed divided by clubhead speed to determine how much energy transferred from the club to the ball. The higher the smash factor, the better the energy transfer and the better your drive will turn out.
Todd Kolb explains it wonderfully in the video below (along with his trusty Flightscope):
“…it’s ball speed divided by clubhead speed.”
The first element to look at is your clubhead speed. You might think a higher clubhead speed is going to automatically generate a higher smash factor and more distance off the tee. Not necessarily. A well struck drive in the sweet spot with a 100 mph clubhead speed is going to travel farther than an off-target drive with a higher clubhead speed. This is why measuring Smash Factor can be important.
The second element is where you’re making contact with the ball. To truly maximize distance off the tee you’ve got to hit the ball square in the middle of the clubface. Too high, too low, or off the toe is going to increase spin on the ball and hurt your distance.
Many players practice with impact tape on the face of their drivers to see where impact is taking place. We had a phenomenal golf lesson posted by Adam Harrell last winter which gives great insights into contact (and a secret ingredient you can use to identify your contact).
Ideally, you’ll produce a smash factor of 1.50. Remember it’s ball speed divided by clubhead speed.
If your first drive with a clubhead speed of 100 mph produces a ball speed of 140 mph your smash factor will be 1.40. A second drive with the same clubhead speed and a ball speed of 150 mph will give you a better smash factor of 1.50. That 10 mph difference in ball speed can equal about 20 extra yards.
Notice your clubhead speed didn’t change, but the second drive was hit more solidly, the ball traveled quicker and with less spin and produced a higher smash factor, which in turn produced a longer drive. Amateurs tend to think they need to swing hard to hit it far. That tends to result in a very quick swing and also one poorly struck.
Keep a steady rhythm in your golf swing. The average mid-handicapper has a clubhead speed of roughly 94 mph. There’s no need to try and redline it to 120.
Focus on making solid contact and maximizing your smash factor. Then you’ll be ready to smash it off the tee.