## How TrackMan Combine can improve your game

**The average USGA handicap for male golfers has been between 14.0 and 15.0 since 2005. GHIN reported the average male handicap at 15.3 in 2003 and 14.3 in 2012. **

Although there is a slow trend towards improvement, many in the golf industry wonder why progress has not been faster. To make such large scale improvements, we must first better understand the “patient” in order to diagnose the problems. As such, this article will focus on the performance of the average male amateur (AMA).

The AMA has a reported handicap of 14 or 15. There is no age or nationality restriction for the AMA. The TrackMan Combine data collected from over 10,000 golfers of all levels from around the world will be used to analyze his performance in hopes of better understanding where improvement(s) can be made.

## Club Speed for Average Male Golfers

When looking at how the AMA performs, let’s start with the drive. The AMA has an average club speed of 93.4 mph and an average total distance of 214 yards.

*The following graph shows the distribution of AMA Driver club speeds. As you can see, 45% have a club speed between 91 and 100 mph. *

*The AMA is far from efficient with his driver. He has an average attack angle of -1.6 degrees. The following table looks at the AMA versus what is optimal. *

Club Speed = 93.4 mph |
AMA (Actual) |
AMA (Optimal) |

Ball Speed (mph) |
132.6 |
140.1 |

Launch Angle (deg) |
12.6 |
14.7 |

Spin Rate (rpm) |
3275 |
2300 |

Carry (yds) |
204 (normalized) |
228 |

Landing Angle (deg) |
34.8 (normalized) |
34.1 |

Total (yds) |
226 (normalized) |
255 |

*Carry, Landing Angle, and Total were normalized under 0 alti- tude, 75°F, and 75% humidity for the AMA to create an apples to apples comparison

## Did you know that the average amateur golfer is giving up 30 yards off the tee?

The AMA is capable of carrying the ball much further than his current total distance. He is giving up 30 yards of total distance off the tee, which makes his approach shots more difficult. Let’s consider the (average) approach shot distance that the AMA will have on an “average” par 4.

First we have to determine the average length of the par 4’s at your course from the different tees available.

The following is Torrey Pines South, where golfers line up each morning for a chance to play one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses (Golf Digest). The calculated distances for the approach shot are based on actual driver data and optimized driver data for the AMA is also listed.

Tee |
Average |
Approach After Actual (226 yards) |
Approach After Optimal (255 yards) |

Black |
450 yards |
224 yards |
195 yards |

Blue |
428 yards |
202 yards |
173 yards |

White |
410 yards |
184 yards |
155 yards |

Green |
391 yards |
165 yards |
136 yards |

Red |
328 yards |
102 yards |
73 yards |

*Normalized data was used to calculate approach shot distances

Even when playing from the green tees at Torrey Pine South, the AMA is left with 165 yards for his approach shot. Hitting long irons or hybrids into all of the par 4’s does not set the AMA up for an enjoyable day on the golf course.

Golf critics talk about technology making golf courses obsolete because of distance, but what they fail to clarify is that this only pertains to 0.1% of the golfing population. In truth, the vast majority of golfers are playing from tees that are too long based on their club speed and skill level.

If golfers are to continue playing the same length tees, then optimizing their driver distance is going to be key to enhancing their performance.

The previous table looked at the approach distance the AMA will have based on hole length and average drive distance.

## Achievable proximity

Let’s go one step further and use the **TrackMan Combine data** to see what kind of proximity to hole the AMA will be able to achieve at the various approach distances.

The next table uses the approach distances from the previous and calculates the proximity to hole.

Because of the trends and correlations found in the TrackMan Combine data, it is possible to calculate the proximity to hole for nearly any handicap or approach distance with high confidence.

Approach After Actual |
Distance to Target |
Approach After Optimal |
Distance to Target |

224 yards |
157 feet |
195 yards |
114 feet |

202 yards |
124 feet |
173 yards |
87 feet |

184 yards |
100 feet |
155 yards |
69 feet |

165 yards |
78 feet |
136 yards |
53 feet |

102 yards |
33 feet |
73 yards |
26 feet |

The average green size at Torrey Pines South is 6,000 square feet. That means the distance from the center of the green to the edge averages just under 44 feet.

This data further confirms the need for most golfers to aim towards the center of the green on all approach shots. Or when hazards are present, it may be even wiser to aim for the opposite edge of the green.

Once AMA understands the likely outcomes for various shots, then he can most effectively implement course strategy for the benefit of improving his golf performance.

Knowing what club to hit based on distance and the safest place to aim based on dispersion tendencies will undoubtedly benefit the golfer.

*The following graph shows a plot of the AMA’s shots from 160 yards. Notice how few balls landed past the target. *

By adding 10 yards to every shot hit by the AMA from 160 yards, the percentage of shots that would hit the green increases from 38.5% to 44.0% and the average distance from the target decreases from 71.8 feet to 60.6 feet.

**This demonstrates that without changing technique and only changing strategy, the AMA can improve their performance.** Before it is assumed that the AMA should simply “club up”, actual distances with each club should be determined.

## Do you know your carry distance?

Does the AMA truly know how far each of their clubs carries? The strategy implemented to create 10 additional yards of carry could be from lack of knowledge regarding how far each club goes.

Course length, driver optimization, and course strategy are three key components to improving the performance of the AMA. Of course, playing shorter courses seems very obvious if you want to improve performance.

However, it is more the fact that golfers are playing courses that are too long relative to club speed and skill level. The following chart shows average handicap versus average club speed.

There is a very obvious relationship between these two variables. As club speed increases, those golfers tend to have lower handicaps. It is not to suggest that a golfer should simply play a shorter course to shoot better scores, but that a golfer should play a course length that is appropriate.

Optimizing a golfer’s distance with the driver (using their existing club speed) is an alternative way to effectively shortening a golf course.

With the AMA averaging 30 yards less than his potential, there is a lot of room for improvement. As he becomes more efficient, the AMA has shorter approach shots which lead to closer proximity to the hole. One suggestion could be to setup course length based on club speed and optimal driver efficiency.

For example, based on the average club speed of the AMA (93.4 mph) he should be able to hit his driver 255 yards (assuming certain ground conditions).

If a 50% greens in regulation (GIR) stat was desired for the AMA, then the approach shot would need to be approximately 140 yards. That means the par 4’s would average 395 yards. Going back to Torrey Pines South, that is somewhere between the Green and White tees. This course setup for the AMA is assuming a perfectly optimal drive by the golfer so in theory 395 yards would be a maximum length for the AMA based on 50% GIR.

## Score better without changing your swing

Finally, course strategy is an improvement that can be made without having to change anything relating to the swing, technique, or other physical items.

By understanding simple averages and probabilities, a golfer can choose the best club and target for each shot. And this is where taking the TrackMan Combine and going through a “Find Your Distance” session is so valuable.

Yes, the TrackMan Combine data is extremely valuable for identifying weaknesses that can be improved, but it is just as (arguably more) important for identify strengths that the golfer can “play to” without having to spend any additional time practicing.

This instant gratification can be achieved through the 30-45 minute TrackMan Combine process! And for those golfers looking to make more substantial improvements to their game, the TrackMan Combine provides a roadmap for the improvement journey and accurate, immediate feedback at all checkpoints / stops along the way.

As golf instruction and coaching continue to move more towards “verifiable data” (what the instructor/coach knows) and further away from “guess and check” (what the instructor/coach thinks), we expect to see more improvement in the golf community. Acting upon real data, not opinion, takes a giant step in that direction.

You can use our TrackMan Locator to find your local TrackMan certified and ask for a combine test.

*Feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below.*

Great read with invaluable data and information. The facts are in front of us at instructors, now we must help convey your points to the masses.

RJ

What was the actual value of swing speed group 115 mph+, since it shows 0%

Only 0.4% of the average male amateur population is above a club speed of 115 mph. The average for those golfers was 117 mph.

How can that be true. Almost every post I read on the internet the guys say they are swinging 125 mph. :-)

4 out of 1000 swings avg 117 mph? May I ask how many of them have 120 mph swing.

They must get “club speed” confused with “ball speed”

Hi

My ball speed is with driver 195 km/h

AND 160 km/h with a 6 iron

Schaft = régular or ????

Can i play a pro v1, or a harder ball

I wont more distance

KIND regards

Rene

Claeys René

Dear Claeys,

We highly recommend you to visit a TrackMan coach or fitter close to you, as there are many individual aspects to your question.

Please have a look at the TrackMan locator at this link;

http://mytrackman.com/public/locator

Kind regards

Niklas Bergdahl

Support Manager

Hi there,

I am writing a dissertation at university and was wondering how you got all your data. Especially the average driving distance data.

If it was published in a journal as well, please could you direct me to where I could find it. The title would be just as useful as well.

Thank you

George

Hi George,

The data has been collected through the TrackMan Combine from over 10,000 golfers of all levels from around the world.

Christian

Now that you guys have more and more data from the combine tests are you going to adjust the hcap chart. In my opinion if your long game level is around hcap 0 you should score 76-80 . Hcap 5 will be around 68

kind regards

David Love

The data results given in this article are completely skewed. The AMA isn’t going to be achieving this max theoretical 255 yard drive very often. The professionals are going to hit the ball on the screws significantly more often than the AMA. Also, the dispersion for misses will be much wider for the AMA than the professional. The handicap system is equally misleading as the vast amount of amateur golfers don’t have a handicap, and if they did, they would be 36.4. I do agree the AMA should be playing much shorter courses than most presently do. While the length of the course is an important factor in scoring, more so is the challenging greens and required approach shots. The false fronts, forced carries, and deep protecting bunkers are too difficult for the AMA to deal with. It’s unrealistic for most amateurs to break 100 on courses that share the aforementioned conditions, which is what a lot of the courses of today present. The respective games the AMA and professional golfers play today are two entirely separate entities and should be treated as such.

Try a par 3 course (18 holes) of any length and compare your results to your handicap. Oddly, I bet you find that you do NOT score significantly better than your handicap even though the distances are short. I’ve tried this with many people and they shoot about their handicap. Granted, their handicaps are high, but it gives a lot of support to what Mr. Pelz has been telling us all these years.

My handicap is 24, but my driving (swing) works well. 200 to 225 yards.

What is the speed?

Hi,

I would recommend that you go visit a TrackMan certified coach, he/she will be able to help you with your club speed.

To find a TrackMan Certified coach, please see our locator:

trackmangolf.com/locator

85-90 mph

I recently had my swing “analyzed” and would like to share the results so that maybe someone could explain this in simpler terms. I’m a baseball coach who plays golf when I can. I have a terrible slice that knocks A LOT of yards off of my drive.

My average distance was 235-245. My longest drive was 270. On the longest drive, the projected distance(without the slice) was 332 yards. On average, all of the projected distances were 50-70 yards further without the slice.

Average club speed was 105-112, average ball speed was 139-152, and average rpm was between 4400-5100.

Launch angle was between 17-22.

Can anyone give me any insight of what all these numbers mean?

Hi Ryan,

Did your coach share the TrackMan report with you on mytrackman.com ?

It will make it a lot easier to give a qualified answer if we have all the numbers :-)

Your ball speed is a little low which could indicate an off-center strike.

Spin Rate is on the high side, which also could indicate an off-center strike, and probably a negative attack angle – both will shorten your distance.

If you are a right handed player the slice and above numbers could be due to a heel strike.

Please have a look at this video about Smash Factor.

I shared the dispersion plot with our local club committee who are thinking of installing trackman after redeveloping several holes, and was asked questions along these lines:

1. What’s the proportion of shots wide of the mark by say 80 feet or more (or some width for which there is data)

2. Is the dispersion linear, eg at 176 yards is it the same proportion at 88 feet or more?

3. Can trackman info like the dispersion plot data be projected over a course layout?

who can answer that please

Hi Gerry. Thanks for the post. The questions you ask are great questions, but unfortunately that data is not readily available. Our TrackMan Combine database would contain the answer to those questions, but it would require significant work to pull that information out. The plan is to include this type of information within TrackMan University in the future, but that is likely many months away at this point. Sorry that I can not be of better help right now.

My problem is the amount of power i have and need to work on half wings.

My taylermade aero burner average distance is 330 yards on a good day 364 yards.

My 8 iron 190yards

5iron 252 yards

Pw is 150yrds

And loft 56 at 120yrds

Loft 110 yrds

How do i control the power to less distance?

Or should i take control on the distance i have?

I suppose you have the biggest and fastest car as well ?

Bilan,

I think you should rub one out before you get to first tee box. It should make you a little

Very interesting but sort of depressing article. I’m a 9 handicap wanting to get into the low single digits. I’m 46 years old and don’t think my 95 mph swing speed will increase that dramatically without throwing rhythm off.

I’m wondering if there are outliers here?. And also wondering how LPGA fits into this chart. I seem to have the same speed as pro women and they are playing the same distances that I am but scoring way way lower with a game built from precision over speed.

You dont need to be depressed your swing speed is high enough to play very good golf. Mine isnt that much higher and i hit driver 275 yards. You just have to be fit correctly and learn how to deliver the club better to the ball

This is something I’m finding out at a 14 handicap. I’m your AMA although I’m trending down. As you can guess my improvement has now become dependent on driver efficiency and distance. I have been working around that weakness by using shorter clubs off the tee but it leaves me with much longer second shots.

Made more swing improvement of late and starting to control my driver more. When it’s hit well I have hit enough times in the 260-270 range so I’m probably in that 95 mph swing speed range. As the previous poster said I’m 43 so won’t be Bubba Watson anytime soon.

The way forward has to be more tighter averages with the driver maximising my best yardage from the swing speed I have. There are golfers out there who are scratch only hitting the ball 200-250.

Anyone remember young Guan the 14 year old at Augusta he was so small he could only drive it 250 but did alright.

I am a 35 year old AMA at a 15. I have played golf for 22 years. This philosophy has been a revelation to me. I work in the industry and frequently play with low handicaps who tease me into playing longer yardage (they assume at 6’3″ 250 I bomb it) my home course is 7400 from the tips, and this frustratingly puts my score in the mid 90s. After reading this article I did more research and discovered I should be playing nearly 1200 yards shorter, and doing so without shame. I’ve played four rounds since reading this, and shot 81, 83, 79, and 78. Including a personal best one under 35 for nine. My teachers are always trying to get me to change my swing to generate club head speed, but this consistently leaves me frustrated and physically sore. Once you except your limitations, you can get out and enjoy the game we LOVE instead of loathing it.

My average driving distance is 240 but IF I can make a shot in the sweet spot (Stars Aligned after a long Prayer) I can go 290 to 300 measured on the golf course. Crazy thing is I hit my 3 wood off the tee about 250 yards.

I have completely lost my iron swing due to injury and need a swing coach as well as does your program cover this as well? I carry my 8 iron about 158 yards when I’m hitting it good (see above). My average club separation is about 15 yards.

I think this is very interesting but misleading. Most golfers I know are happy to drive the ball 200 yards and keep it in the fairway.

This analysis seems to be for elite athletes.

How many average golfers drive the ball 250 yards and keep it in the fairway?

I once read that if all golfers had to count every stroke they took, and appropriate penalty shots, only 10 percent could legitimately break a 100. My experience suggests that this is true.

Commented here a while ago I’m actually not sure before I used GPS through my mobile whether I hit it further than I do now. Most of my longer clubs only just creep above the 200 yd mark. I have the occasional outlier above 250 but that’s rare. I actually feel I get more out irons than I do the woods.

I hit a green today which was 163 so pulled a 6 iron landed on back part of the green 10 yds past the flag. I’ve hit greens from 210 out with a 20 degree hybrid. I’ve tried lots of different woods shafts and lengths but seem to reach a ceiling on distance.

My home course is around 6200 so I can work around not bombing it off the tee but it is perplexing to me.

Thanks this will help my golf game so much now. All that strength comes from the lower body. Its important to turn your body to get that extra speed.

What about the balls we use. Is a soft ball for club head speed of 90 MPH with the driver better than a hard ball?

I’m 65 years old. Club head speed is around 90 MPH giving me a distance of 214 yrds. I should be getting more distance on this club head speed right? wrong?

Well I certainly feel hood about how I played when i did. I am disabled now and dont play at all but i had a spinal fusion and two rods put in my back when i was a teenager. My full swing with a driver was anout ewual to an average guys 9 iron turn. Yet I hit my driver 230 yards to what they say is average, 214. And that was 12 years ago. I didnt start playing until i was 31 and it was over by 42 yet my handicap was 12. But i attribute most of that to playing with a best friend who was a scratch golfer and showed me theres no need to take longer than 2 hours to play 18 holes. (Unimpededof course, because we always were able to play during the week).

God how I loved playing golf. Especially when they was no other golfers in sight.

Sorry for the ramble.