Your optimal golf distance by angle of attack for the driver is shown in the above chart. The chart is an extension of the work carried out by Ping in their blog post (here). They analysed the impact of attack angle on launch and spin. The chart gave a colour code to estimate differences.
We have used our various data sources to calculate the actual carry and total distances for each of these data points. We also extended the data for ball speeds up to 200mph and an approximate clubhead speed for each ball speed.
Contents of each square
Each square is a given attack angle for a given ball speed and the chart shows for each of these-
- Total Distance
- Carry Distance
- Launch Angle
- Spin Rate
The chart clearly highlights how hitting up on the ball as much as possible is beneficial to maximum distance. Many players experience more inconsistency when they hit up too much. This is why Pros have tended to hit slightly down on their drives. However, with the increasing emphasis being put on distance all the time, the pros have been working on increasing their attack angles as much as their own swing allows, within reasonable consistency parameters. As covered elsewhere on the site, we think a reasonable target to aim at is as close to +5 degrees up as your swing allows. This will optimize distance for most golfers.
Phil increases attack angle to outdrive Brooks
We showed here how Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major in 2021 by outdriving Brooks Koepka on the long 16th at the PGA in Kiawah Island. He teed the ball high and hit up as much as he could comfortably achieve. Technically, he increased his attack angle in order to maximise his launch angle downwind. This gave him his optimal golf distance.
To reach optimal distance with all clubs does not of course require a higher angle of attack as all non-driver shots are not teed up. Iron shots especially require a descending angle of attack. The main source of increased distance, in addition to clubhead speed, for irons is more forward shaft lean at impact.