• Mike Hammond, CSCS, TPI

Bryson DeChambeau and the Need for Speed

Driving distance is a huge topic on the PGA Tour. Some think it gives them an advantage while others think it is ruining golf. Either way talk about distance and club head speed is here to stay.

No one has been in the spotlight when it comes to distance like Bryson DeChambeau and his mission to add more muscle mass and strength to hit the ball farther. While many people (on Tour, in the media, or otherwise) think it is a gimmick, you can’t argue with the results. DeChambeau has won three times in the past nine months and that includes two huge tournaments in last year’s US Open and this past weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The thing is, distance is not the end-all be-all when it comes to being a great golfer. The average driving distance on the Korn Ferry Tour has been longer than the average driving distance on the PGA Tour since the Korn Ferry Tour’s creating in 1989, according to the USGA 2020 Distance Report. That’s 31-of-32 seasons. No one is going to argue which of the two tours has the better golfers. This goes to show that distance is not everything. You still need to approach, chip, putt, and handle the mental side of the game to be a competitive and successful golfer.

Now for the amateur golfer, distance can be a huge competitive advantage when you play with your friends. I don’t know an amateur out there that doesn’t want to out drive the person riding along with them in their cart. There’s a sense of pride to it and it give you a chance to use the great Happy Gilmore quote – “Somebody’s closer…”

You don’t need to be Happy Gilmore or Bryson DeChambeau to add power to your drive. One is a fictional movie character and the other took an extreme approach to adding power. Take a closer look at the DeChambeau case with the equation for power.

Power = Force x Velocity

Force = Your Strength

Velocity = Swing Speed

If just one of force or velocity goes up, so does your power. Just adding muscle mass and strength can increase your power output, but adding that weight can also slow you down. Not only did DeChambeau add strength, he worked to stay fast as well. That’s why he’s bombing 370 -yard drives over lakes on Par-5s.

The amateur golfer does not need to add the mass that DeChambeau did. Back in November, I got fitted for a new driver and my club head speed was sitting around 107 mph. Flash forward to the first week of March and I’m hitting club head speeds closer to 117 mph on a golf simulator. In that three months, I have gained ZERO pounds. You can add strength and swing speed without gaining any weight whatsoever.

No. 2 on the PGA Tour's driving distance leaderboard is Rory McIlroy who happens to be roughly 60-70 pounds lighter than DeChambeau. What McIlroy did was train his body to move well and move fast.

You can add speed just by improving the way your body moves through your golf swing. Then build on your movement to be even faster. Finally, start out driving your friends and kindly mentioning that “Somebody’s closer…

Sign up for a golf strength and conditioning program with Gateway Golf Performance to start improving your movement and swing speed in as little as three months.

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