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Impact Golf-Clubhead Speed

By William Kipp, Teaching Professional

Colorado Golf Schools at Estes Park


Many golfers mistakenly believe that the fourth important impact factor, clubhead speed, is the principal factor influencing how far your ball travels. But clubhead speed can give your shots maximum distance only if the other impact factors (clubface alignment, clubhead path, and angle of approach) are correct. Most golfers have the physical capability to hit the ball far enough to play a fine game of golf. They lose distance not because they lack strength, but because they are not applying the clubhead speed they generate correctly into the golf ball!


In the past few weeks we have discussed the fact that because the player must stand to the side of the golf ball, the club must swing on an “around-the-body” arc. In addition, because the ball also rests on the ground, the club must also swing on an “up-and-down” arc. The turning of the shoulders and hips tends to produce the “around-the body” arc as the club swings (imagine how a baseball player swings the bat around the body by turning the upper body). To produce the correct “up-and-down” arc the player must assume and maintain a correct posture, then swing the club up and down using the arms, wrists, and hands while the body is turning.


Recently there has been so much emphasis on proper body movement in golf instruction that many golfers seem to forget that the arms, wrists, and hands are swinging the club! If your golf club is going to swing with maximum speed from the top of your swing down into the bottom/back of the ball, then you must do it with your arms, wrists, and hands. Many golfers try to do the opposite – they have been told that by emphasizing and strengthening their body turn they will achieve maximum distance. Some workout machines are even touted as being able to improve a golfer’s turn to produce greater distance and consistency. You will likely achieve better results by learning the “feel” of swinging the golf club downward as fast as you can from the top of your swing using your arms, while making sure that your body unwinds as your arms are swinging!


There is a wonderful drill to help you learn the “feel” of swinging more with your arms than your body. I first learned this drill from Bill Zech, who was the golf professional here in Estes Park in the early 1970’s, and I not only have used it myself ever since but have also recommended it to help hundreds (thousands?) of students improve their golf swings. Take your seven-iron and give yourself 15 or 20 practice balls to work with. Place your feet together so that they actually are touching each other. Then hit balls using only a “half-swing” at first (left arm swings back only waist-high) at first. You will quickly discover that if you are swinging with too much body rotation you will have problems maintaining your balance and making effective contact with the ball. Focus on feeling the club swinging just with your arms, wrists, and hands. As your ball-striking improves, expand toward a three-quarter length swing.


Bill Zech used to have me hit 100 shots toward the pine trees on our driving range, using a seven-iron with my feet together, before he would come over to give me a lesson and by doing so he did me and my golf swing a tremendous service. Thank you, Bill! Over a few practice sessions you will be able to use the feeling of swinging with your arms, wrists, and hands to improve your balance and impact with your full-swing shots.


In the next several articles we explore how to become more effective in the scoring game (“short-game”) shots.


William Kipp has played on several regional professional golf tours, and was a collegiate player at Kansas University. He is an employee of the Estes Park Golf Courses, and is the Teaching Professional for Colorado Golf Schools at Estes Park is Recognized by the

PGA of America



 John Herlong, PGA

(Director of Golf)





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