More Horsepower

This is how much horsepower a pro golf swing generates—and how to increase yours


Eóin Noonan

The Las Vegas Grand Prix happened over the weekend, and it got us thinking if it was possible to measure the power that golfers create in their swing the same way engineers measure the horsepower of a car’s engine.

At first, the task seemed simple enough, but after talking with a few engineers, physicists and experts on the topic, it turns out the formula is a bit more complicated than we’d thought. Lucky for us, Michael Jacobs, one of our 50 Best Teachers, has already got the process down to a science—literally.

According to Jacobs, calculating the horsepower, or HP, of a golf swing is an extremely detailed and personal process. It requires measurements of the golfer's physical proportions, exact data from their swing and measurements of the club itself.


Peter Dazeley

However, because Jacobs has helped many players determine the HP of their swing over the years, he was able to share the following stats to give you an idea of how much actual horsepower golfers generate — and how you can increase yours.

Driver horsepower generated, by golfer

Long Drive Champion 6.8 horsepower

PGA Tour Pro 5.6 horsepower

5 Handicap Male 4.03 horsepower

13 Handicap Male 3.1 horsepower

18 Handicap Female 2.3 horsepower

If you’re interested in measuring the HP of your swing, Jacobs shared a bit of insight into the physics of it all:

“Power is the rate at which you are doing mechanical work in the golf swing. In this case, it is the club which we are doing the mechanical work on,” Jacobs says, “Mechanical work is a way to explain Newton’s second law of motion. Force X distance and torque X angular displacement are the metrics that are used in deriving mechanical work.”

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If you’re not as interested in the science of it all, but you’re looking to get some more power out of your swing, Jacobs says to start by focusing on your sequencing and timing—something he expands on more in Science of Speed, his Golf Digest Schools series.

To train the timing of your swing and learn how to generate the most speed and power at impact, Jacobs says to try his driver half-shot drill.

1 drill to help you increase YOUR horsepower

Get into a normal setup with your driver. Take your club to the top of your backswing, then swing down, stopping right before impact. Do this a few times, taking note of where your driver is positioned when you reach the lowest point of your swing.

Now, ask yourself, am I calibrating my club to strike in the optimal position each time?

The second half of this drill will teach you to calibrate your impact point. To do that, Jacobs says to make half swings, no higher than the hip, with your driver. These smaller swings will help you practice ‘peaking your speed’ at impact, which will translate to you maximizing your speed at the ball on full shots with your driver. Practice these small swings for a few minutes before testing out full swing shots.