Mike Quin

Why Optimum Speed Is Better Than Max Speed

When I started out as a professional on the South African Sunshine Tour, I wanted to learn from the world's best players. I was fortunate to play behind Retief Goosen at the Pietersburg Open in 2006. I made a decision that I would follow Retief wherever he went because I wanted to emulate the routine of a U.S. Open Champion. I watched him go through his practice routine on the range. What struck me the most was how simple he did things. There were no fireworks but rather a quiet preparation for his round. Retief was standing next to another pro hitting balls and if you had asked me who the Major Champion was, I would have said the other guy.

 In my ignorance of youth, I perceived that it was more impressive to hit the ball higher, further and more aggressively. Retief on the other hand just stood there hitting 5 irons with absolutely no variation. The ball was coming out exactly the same. It was a smooth consistent golf swing that produced the same result every single time. No variation in height, no variation in distance. Every swing was the same -simple and rhythmical. The pro practicing next to Retief was hitting at maximum speed while Retief was swinging at optimum speed. Retief went on to shoot around 16-under-par in that tournament. The guy who was hitting the ball at maximum speed missed the cut. It was one of my greatest golf lessons in my life to learn the real recipe for success in terms of what optimum speed versus maximum speed can achieve.

Maximum speed is hitting the ball as hard as you can, and generating all the force you can to hit the ball. Optimum speed is the ability to swing the club at a speed where you can create good direction and good distance consistently.

When you are hitting a ball at maximum speed, you have to be technically perfect to get a good result. For most amateurs, this results in a great shot followed by 10 really bad shots. It is very difficult to replicate timing and tempo at maximum speed even for the pros.

Everybody has the ability to hit that “perfect” golf shot. The downside is that you can very seldom find it. If you listen to amateurs, they talk about their one or two “great” golf shots per round. They are always chasing after that perfect shot which leads to a massive amount of inconsistency. This game is not about one or two perfectly executed golf shots, it’s about hitting a series of consistent golf shots for 18 holes.

An optimum golf swing is a smooth golf swing with great rhythm and timing. It’s generally 20 percent slower than your maximum speed.

Good rhythm is the ability to properly feel, identify, and set the top of your backswing every time. With maximum speed your tempo changes and you end up not finishing your backswing. At optimum speed you create the time to finish your backswing, allowing your club head the time to get back to square. It prevents a golfer from getting too quick at the top and losing it to the left or right. Think optimum swing and you will find yourself hitting more fairways and greens.

When you swing at maximum speed, mentally you are working at maximum emotion. The more things don’t go your way, the more impatient and frustrated you can become. You can’t work at maximum speed, and operate at optimum emotion. It’s nearly impossible to work in both spheres. When you can control your emotions on the course, you will play better golf.

You can achieve optimum speed and master your timing, rhythm and consistency by using a Swingclick training device.

For more information, visit swingclickgolf.com (Mike Quinn is the Managing Director of Swingclick and a former professional on the South African Sunshine Tour.)