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Tiger Woods drives the ball during a 2013 tournament.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
If you're an average golfer you can -- unfortunately -- expect to hit the ball poorly off the tee a few times in a typical round. You'll naturally want to correct any mistakes you're making, while maintaining or improving your swing speed with the driver. Among the questions you may ask is whether missed hits and clubhead speed are connected.
Clubhead speed, also known as swing speed, is a measure of how fast your clubhead travels at impact. You create clubhead speed before you strike the ball, based on your swing mechanics and your physical gifts, whether you're swinging a driver or another club. Your swing speed, therefore, doesn't change at impact, whether you strike the ball squarely with your driver or you mis-hit your shot.
Ball speed measures the rate at which your ball travels immediately after impact. Ball speed is more important than clubhead speed, because the ball's velocity determines how far it will travel. Mis-hitting the ball does reduce your ball speed, particularly when you're using a driver, which is an unforgiving club due to its minimal loft. In fact, hitting the ball squarely is the key to generating maximum ball speed, according to teaching pro Chuck Quinton, who says that missing a driver's sweet spot by 1/4 inch can cost you more than 20 yards off your drive.
Avoid Driver Mis-Hits
Missed hits with your driver can be costly, frequently sending your tee shots into the rough, or bouncing a short distance down the fairway. To help avoid mis-hits, use a modern, large-head driver, which offers more margin for error. In his book "How I Play Golf," Tiger Woods advises golfers to take a wide stance on the tee, to focus on rotating your hips instead of letting them slide laterally, to take a full shoulder turn and to keep your hands and arms in front of your chest during the swing. Conclude your drive with a full follow-through in which your bottom hand points down the target line.
Increase Clubhead Speed
If you're not a pro golfer, you're likely interested in increasing your clubhead speed. PGA pro Joe Hallett recommends a drill in which you hit three balls off of a practice tee. Speed up your body motion on the first shot, your arms on the second swing and your hands on the third. If one of the shots feels comfortable, focus on that area and incorporate the faster movement into your full swing. Swing coach Hank Haney suggests relaxing your hands and arms so you can swing smoothly and avoid tensing your muscles, which slows your swing. PGA pro Roger Gunn advises golfers to focus on three areas of improvement. Make sure your lead shoulder is below your chin when you reach the top of the backswing, to ensure that you've made a complete shoulder turn. Keep your wrists loose on the downswing, to encourage the clubhead to lag behind your hands, and focus on turning your hips aggressively as you approach the impact point.