Tiger Woods the Most Inefficient Driver on the PGA Tour

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Published: May 14, 2014

One of the common things that you may have noticed from the "Bomb Your Driver" series is just how important it is to get your launch numbers as optimum as possible for maximum distance off the tee.

This has equated to many of my students picking up 30+ yards off the tee by just making a couple setup changes and of course, getting fit for the right driver. Doing these few things has allowed my students to hit the ball dramatically further with the same or even LESS clubhead speed.

It has helped many of my students break the 300 yard mark for the first time and even more fun, has put them on equal footing with none other than Tiger Woods when it comes to driving the ball. Here's how...

In the May 16th, 2008 issue of GolfWorld, Tiger Wood's driving vitals were published and they revealed that he ranked 205th out of 207 in Total Driving Efficiency, a ratio of ball speed to distance. Tiger has the highest average clubhead speed measured by TrackMan on tour at 124.6 miles per hour and the highest ball speed as well at 182.69 mph. This equates to an average of about 1.47 Smash Factor, or the ratio between clubhead speed and ball speed.

This is very efficient, showing that Tiger hits the sweetspot more often then not with the driver with a pretty square face. Those numbers are very solid, however, the problem shows up when you look at his average launch angle and spin rate. His launch angle is very low at 7.96° while his spin is very high at 3,118 rpms.

According to Trajectoware, this would give him a dynamic loft of around 9.1° which means one of three things assuming Tiger's driver has 8.5° of loft as stated.

First, it means that he has a negative angle of attack (which he does) and the shaft bends forward at impact. Second, it could mean that he hits the ball above the center of the face where there is more loft with a very negative angle of attack. Third, it could mean that he has a level angle of attack and the shaft bends forward slightly and he hits it slightly above the sweetspot. Fourth, it could be a combination of all these!

Long story short, Tiger's AoA has been measured to be very negative so working with that assumption, we have to assume that his shaft is bending forward a fair amount at impact and he is hitting it slightly above the center of the face.

This would coincide with his recent testing of the Matrix F7M2 LTD (the same shaft I play while having 8 mph LESS clubhead speed on average than Tiger) and he didn't use it because it didn't spin enough.

In other words, he didn't get enough tip deflection to put enough loft on the club at impact to produce enough spin to keep the ball in the air for optimum distance. Because Tiger's angle of attack is too negative compared to the positive angle of attack I recommend in my Optimum Launch Angle video, he is simply throwing away massive yardage gains off the tee.

Now, we all know Tiger Woods is no fool, he KNOWS he is giving up distance but is more concerned with having a ball that spins so that he can be aggressive going into the rock hard PGA Tour greens.

Because of his fast clubhead speed and consistently solid contact, he can also afford to leave some yardage on the table, but just for fun, let's take a look and see how far he COULD potentially hit it on average with better numbers.

If you look at the screen capture below, you can see that on average Tiger Woods will carry it about 304 yards off the tee and get 23.4 yards of roll on a typical PGA Tour fairway assuming perfect conditions for a total of about 327 yards.

A big hit by most anyone's standards. However, by simply increasing his launch angle and dropping his spin rates we can get another 10 yards of carry and 3 yards of roll for a total of 340 yards on average, a gain of 13 yards. Not bad!

While Tiger doesn't feel the trade off is worth it due to the difficulty of the greens on the PGA Tour, the average golfer would LOVE to get another 13 yards and do so just by doing something as simple as switching to a lower spinning, hotter faced driver like the Nakashima's that I use for my fittings.

Below, we'll take a look at my more efficient driver numbers keep me online (only off the tee though!) with the number one player in the world and how you can too.

tiger woods driver launch conditions

So, in the next screenshot, you can see how I am able to keep it side by side with Tiger Woods off the tee and how many of my students have as well just by being more efficient.

In Column A are Tiger Woods driver launch numbers, and in Column B are my average driver numbers. You can see that I launch the ball 4° higher than Tiger but with 600 RPMs of less spin. However, my average ball speed is well below Tiger's as I'm 9 mph slower than the Great One.

While Tiger does carry it 8 yards by me, he gives up a couple yards of roll and all in all, is only 5 yards longer than me with significantly more clubhead speed. Better yet, on very firm fairways I would actually likely hit it further than Tiger due to the increased roll I would get due to less backspin.

Tiger could play with only a 3 iron and a putter and still whip up on me, but I take some satisfaction in knowing that I can hang off the tee simply due to being more efficient, and so can my students who have gone through a driver fitting with me! Bombs away!

tiger woods driver


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