Segment speed or segment force, which one is of more value in golf?

Updated: May 29

Historically in golf segmental speed (angular velocity) has been the accepted measurement of how the body segments (pelvis, ribcage, arm, hand and club) produce and apply speed and this has often been seen by some as the predictor of/correlation to driving distance/ball displacement. However we are now able to provide segment force values through the new information produced by the Bull3D software. This has revealed some fascinating and intriguing patterns and discoveries, one being that when it comes to its influence on driving distance and club head speed, what is of more value, segment speed or segment force? A brief definition of both is:

Speed – time/distance.

Force – mass/acceleration.

I was fortunate recently to test a world long drive champion and like most enthusiasts I was curious to see the values being produced in an attempt to best understand how they achieve such high club/ball speeds and driving distance. On investigation, what came back was very intriguing.

The peak body speeds being produced in the downswing were exceptionally low, however the peak segment forces being achieved and applied were outstanding. Therefore one such question this then prompted is ‘what is the value of segment speed in golf?’

In an attempt to best answer this, I looked at all the players I had tested in the past six months and located the player that had the highest segment speeds, on finding these values what was staggering was this particular player produced relatively low club/ball speeds and classified themselves as a short hitter, ironically when I met them one of their main objectives was to achieve greater distance. However speed as an isolated measurement does not acknowledge the mass it is moving and the time it takes to achieve it. Therefore this is why segmental force is perhaps now of more value in golf than segmental speed as force is mass/acceleration (rate of change in velocity) whereas speed is time and distance. We acknowledge that there are many other influences that need consideration, such as the time difference between each segments peak speed, the peak speeds time to impact as well as how well the segments decelerate and interact to move elastic energy cross segment (more on this in the next article).

In this very short reflection, below are the speed and force values of these two players, plus the force application plots, you will see how the player who was self-described as a short hitter produces significantly more peak segment speed than the long drive champion, but substantially lower peak forces. Also, in the force application plots, asides from the club the player with high speeds fails to apply the peak segment force with any segment on impact whereas the long drive champion achieves peak force with all segments on impact, with the slight exception of the thorax which happens just after impact. This clearly requires significant more exploration and understanding and I will explore and investigate this in much more detail over time and share all findings, however it allows us to ask the question in advance, “in golf what is of more value, segment speed or segment force?” thankfully with the new data available, we are now able to best answer this.

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