It’s commonly accepted that a faster swing speed will produce greater distance, writes BRENDAN BARRATT. But what is swing speed and why does it matter?
Bryson DeChambeau – 132.25mph
It comes as no surprise that ‘Big Bison’ can be found near the summit of the swing-speed list. The American averages in the 130s but has cranked it up to as much as 138mph in tournament golf.
Wilco Nienaber – 130-135mph
There are many who believe that Wilco hits the ball longer than Bryson DeChambeau. His practice stats seems to back that up, with the South African averaging around 138mph on the range. Like Bryson, he does dial back a bit for tournament golf, so it’s hard to know who swings it harder.
James du Preez – 136mph
Another South African makes the list of fastest swingers. At 6ft 9 and weighing over 100kg, Du Preez is built more like a rugby player than a golfer. The 26-year-old averaged a staggering 340 metres in driving distance on the Sunshine Tour last year. Not only is his swing speed remarkable, but his ball speed is over 200mph as well.
Cameron Champ – 127.45mph
The American’s official numbers are lower than the three listed before, but Champ has some of the fastest hands in the business and can quite easily ramp his swing speed up to 140mph.
Anne van Dam – 110mph
LPGA star Anne van Dam has one of the most impressive swings in golf. Not only does she top the swing-speed and distance charts on the LPGA Tour, but the Dutchwoman has a textbook swing that has been referred to as the best in the game.
Lexi Thompson and Maria Fassi – 106mph
Thompson and Fassi may have the same swing speed, but they look very different doing it. Lexi has a more natural, powerful swing at the ball, while Fassi is more aggressive. Both are super-long off the tee for it.
The Pop Guns
Matt Kuchar – 108.59mph
Kuchar has never been one of the bigger hitters on Tour and his average swing speed of 108.59mph is slower than Anne van Dam’s. Yet the American has accumulated over $55-million in a 20-year career, despite ranking 189th on Tour in swing speed.
Zach Johnson – 109.68mph
Having one of the slowest swings on Tour certainly hasn’t slowed Johnson down, as the two-time Major champ has the short game to compensate for his lack of distance. It also helps that he plays most of his approach shots from off the fairway.
Ian Poulter – 110mph
Surprisingly, Poulter makes the list. The Englishman has never been considered a short hitter, but Father Time may be catching up with him. Poults makes up for his lack of power with a great short game and steely determination.
While the PGA Tour players may be ultra-long, there is a select group of golfers who make their numbers look bang average. With their longer shafts and lower lofts, the beefed-up long-drive golfers focus mainly on power and less on accuracy, and to them swing speed is the Holy Grail.
The women’s world record holder is three-time World Long Drive champion Phillis Meti. The New Zealander peaked at 127mph during the 2019 Ak-Chin Smash, where she hit a world-record 378-metre drive.
World No 1 and 2021 Men’s World Long Drive champion Kyle Berkshire averages around 145mph with his swing but the American has recorded a highest speed of 152.6mph back in 2018. It comes as no surprise that this is a guy who has knocked out a mind-boggling 433-metre drive in competition.
Yet even Kyle can’t lay claim to the fastest swing speed of all time, which goes to 2012 World Long Drive champion Ryan Winther. The American is credited with an outrageous top swing speed of 167.1mph. That’s 269km/h if you are keeping track.
– This article first appeared in the September 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!