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Why this is one of the biggest speed-killing misconceptions in your golf swing

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I spent the early part of the week hanging out with Bryson DeChambeau for an exciting project we have coming up. Stay tuned on that.

I’ve gotten to know Bryson well over the years. I was there for Bryson’s first tournament as a pro—the RBC Heritage in 2016—and it’s been fascinating watching the way he’s developed into an elite golfer along the way.

When DeChambeau first came on tour, he didn’t really think too much about driving distance. He had a 174 mph ball speed back then and a 299-yard average. Now, he’s at 190 mph, with a more than 335-yard average.

He thinks about distance a lot these days, and you probably do, too.

If you’re wondering how you compare to your fellow golfers, here’s the average driving distance broken down by handicap…

But one thing you probably don’t think about as much as speed? Stopping.

Golf Digest Best in State teacher Jon Tattersall is a good follow on Instagram, and has a great video right here explaining the basic concept.

Jon explains that when you look under the hood of some of the most powerful golf swings in the game and compare them to the rest of us, the biggest difference isn’t how fast we move our hands at the start of the downswing. It’s how quickly we slow them down before impact.

Here’s a slice of data from superbomber Wilco Nienaber, the longest driver measured on PING’s 3D ENSO system.

According to PING’s ENSO system, Wilco doesn’t just move his hands faster than everyone else…

  • Maximum hand speed: 28.62 mph

…he also brake them more severely than everyone else…

  • Largest decrease in hand speed from max to impact: 10.19 mph

His hands go from fast to slow, really quickly.

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It’s putting the brakes on your hands which sends the energy you’ve created with your body, out to the clubhead. It’s slamming on the breaks which creates a full release of the clubhead.

If you’re struggling with something like a chicken wing, one of the reasons could be that you’re not slowing your hands down enough, and letting the club release through.

How can you do it?

Tattersall says that golfers should learn to use the ground better.

“Lots of golfers, especially junior golfers, use their whole body to pull up on the grip around impact. They’re pushing up off the ground and pulling with their left side to get as much energy they can out to that clubhead.”

Bryson relays a similar thought:

“I feel like I go from wide [on the backswing] to narrow [in transition] to wide again at impact. I’m pushing my body up, and throwing my arms towards the ground.”

Martin Borgmeier, who has helped Bryson speed train, will often do a pump drill with a flexible club, where he’ll make a downswing and then try to rapidly stop his hands, so his club whips past his hands. He’s training himself to stop, which transfers his body’s speed to the clubhead.

Though it doesn’t always go to plan….

I also like this club-free feel from Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Michael Jacobs in his Science of Speed series, feeling like you go from a bent left arm, to a fully straight one.

And in case you’re wondering, no, this isn’t the same thing. As the dreaded “deceleration” so many golfers are worried about. Decel-ing happens when the clubhead itself slows down as it’s approaching the ball. Your hands may be slowing down, but the clubhead continually picks up speed because of it.

Anyway, if you want more speed, learn to slam on the breaks. You’ll be amazed how fast you can go.