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By Donald Crawley, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
Rotational Speed - the key to distance
Rotational Speed
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- After watching Rory McIlroy win the British Open known as the Open in 2014 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, it was fascinating to me how much power he generates. This power and speed showed up in the ability to murder long irons, high and far. On the Saturday round, he hit a towering 3-iron, 269 yards for an eagle on the 16th hole, then a 252-yard, 4-iron on the 18th for another eagle. Yes they were downwind but come-on!

So I did a little research and found some very interesting data from the ESPN Sports Science Lab.

Does size matter? Of course. The average PGA tour player is 6'1" and 186 lbs. However, Rory is only 5'10" and 160 lbs. So how does he generate so much speed?

His answer "rotational speed". I have been teaching coil and recoil, turn and turn through, wind up unwind, for ever. But it is interesting to put some solid data to the rotation of the golf swing. You may have heard of X factor which is the measure of your hip turn compared to your shoulder turn. The average amateur turn their hips 50 degree's and their shoulders 90 degree's, giving them- you- an X factor of 40. The average Tour player has 74.

Rory only has 64. So X factor isn't the total answer.

Where does that speed come from? Some from X factor but not all.

Kinetic change is describing the energy being drawn up from the ground through the legs into the torso, transmitted through the arms and into the clubhead. Think of it as a car starting in first gear and changing gears into overdrive and maximum speed.

Rory transfers through these gears quicker and more efficiently than perhaps anyone. The average amateur rotates their hips at 350 degree per second. Rory? 700!

The average pro rotates the shoulders ( I prefer to think of chest) 720 degree per second. Rory 924. When he shifts through these gears he generates 121 mph clubhead speed, which is zero to 121mph in only 0.0239 seconds. That is faster than a dragster car.

I trotted off to Trackman which is the $25k software unit that measures some of these numbers. Oh boy, do I have a ways to go!

What can you do to get closer to Rory? A lot of it is natural God given talent, but you can help yourself by: Work out. Strength and flexibility has a huge factor in building up your rotational speed. As mentioned in previous articles here on Sportsnetwork, I am a yoga fan. Weight bearing exercises build strength the quickest but I would highly recommend a personal trainer to guide you through the technique and form to avoid injury. Pilates is good for the core. If you are not a gym rat then practice practice practice beating balls, but again under supervision to help your swing technique. Not your neighbour, but a qualified PGA teaching professional who fully understands the mechanics of the golf swing, and exactly what rotational speed is.

Check out my website and perhaps I am in your State teaching this summer, as I bring GolfSimplified on the road to IL, MI, WA, WY, but you can always find me October- May at the beautiful Boulders Golf Resort in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rotational Speed - that is the answer. Oh, and correcting your face path angle for good measure, because if all that new found clubhead speed is not correctly applied, you will just smash the ball farther into the rough!

Recently voted Top-10 in Best Teachers in State of Arizona by Golf Digest. Also, contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

When Scottsdale beckons and golf awaits, a call to Donald Crawley at The Boulders is a must.

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

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