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One of the most frustrating things in golf is a sudden loss of distance.
You used to be able to bomb it with the best of them. Now, you’re struggling to get the ball within twenty yards of your buddy’s tee shot.
So what causes a sudden lack of distance in golf?
The cause of a sudden loss of distance in golf can be attributed to increasing age, injury, poor contact with the golf ball, swing faults, equipment issues, and other external factors.
In this article, we’ll take a look at each of these common reasons for a sudden loss of power in golf!
- 1 6 Reasons Why You’re Losing Distance On Your Golf Shots
- 2 FAQ’s About Losing Distance In Golf
- 3 The Takeaway – Why You’re Losing Distance In Golf
6 Reasons Why You’re Losing Distance On Your Golf Shots
The natural process of aging is one of the most common reasons for a loss of distance on the golf course.
Most golfers will achieve their max distance around the age of 30 or younger. After that, however, you can expect to lose about 10 yards every ten years.
So if your average driving distance is 250 yards at age 30, it will drop to 240 yards by age 40, 230 yards by age 50, and so on.
Keep in mind, this is just an average and there are exceptions.
For example, if you don’t maximize the efficiency of your swing in your 20’s and 30’s, but then get a golf coach to help you out in your 40’s, you might actually see an increase in your distance.
The reason you lose distance as you age is that your average clubhead speed starts to slow down. To learn how to add 10 mph of clubhead speed to your swing, check out this article:
The tips mentioned in the above article will at least help slow down the loss of clubhead speed in your swing.
The next reason for a sudden loss of power in your golf swing is an injury.
The golf swing involves a very technical series of movements. If just a single body part is moving incorrectly due to injury, then other parts of your body will compensate. This sets into motion a chain reaction that affects the efficiency of your swing.
And if you’re swing is less efficient, it becomes much harder to generate power and hit the ball a long way.
A golfer playing with an injury is much like a car engine with a damaged part. Yes, the engine might still run, but it won’t be as efficient and powerful as it would be if the issue was resolved.
What you do off the course is just as important for avoiding injury as what you do on the course.
For evidence of this, just look at most modern pro golfers. The vast majority of PGA pros these days have a strict workout regiment.
When they hit the gym, they’ll focus on golf-specific strength training exercises that help build speed, power, and other essential components of the golf swing.
Strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and joints puts you in a better position to handle the physical demands of the golf swing and prevent injury.
Not only do you preserve distance by preventing injury, but you can also add distance by building strength!
3. Poor Contact
Poor contact is another reason golfers notice a sudden decrease in distance. The further away from the center of the clubface you contact the ball, the less distance the shot will have.
If your golf shots don’t feel completely solid, it’s a good idea to take a look at your swing and see what’s causing the problem. In most cases, it will be a simple fix.
For example, someone struggling with toe hits might notice they’re standing one or two inches too far away from the golf ball.
What’s interesting is that, even at a lower swing speed, a center strike will travel further than an off-center strike at a higher swing speed.
This means that by slowing down your swing (with the goal of improving contact) you’ll actually hit the ball longer.
4. Swing Faults
As mentioned earlier, the more efficient your swing is, the greater your ability to produce power.
Swing faults are unnecessary movements that reduce the efficiency of your swing. Here are two of the most common swing faults that result in a power leak.
Creating Too Much Spin With The Driver
The driver is often one of the hardest clubs for amateur golfers to hit. The fact that the ball is propped up on a tee just makes you want to swing harder at it.
However, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with the driver swing – one of them being too much spin.
If you swing your driver on a negative attack angle (hitting down on the ball), it will create more spin. If you’re putting more spin on the ball (backspin, sidespin, or otherwise) you use up energy that could be spent propelling the ball forward.
The average spin rate for a tour player is 2,685 rpm. Now, let’s compare the tour average to various levels of amateur golfers.
*The data below is from TrackMan Golf.
|Skill Level||Average Spin Rate|
|Scratch or Better||2,896 rpm|
|5 Handicap||2,987 rpm|
|10 Handicap||3,192 rpm|
|Average Golfer (14 hcp)||3,275 rpm|
|Bogey Golfer||3,127 rpm|
As you can see above, as the handicap of the player rises, so does the spin rate. You’ll also find that a decrease in the average distance is correlated with an increase in spin rate.
So how do you reduce the spin rate on your drives?
Well, remember that excessive spin with the driver is caused by having a negative (downward) attack angle. This means you need to try and shallow out your downswing path as much as possible.
You should be attacking the ball from a level or even slightly upward angle (hitting up on the golf ball).
Here’s a great video by online golf coach Clay Ballard to help you understand the importance of attacking the ball with the driver from the proper angle:
Interestingly, a significantly lower swing speed can result in a much longer drive if you reduce the spin rate of the ball.
Swinging On An Out-To-In Path
Just like how hitting down too much on the golf ball can cause you to lose distance on your golf shots, the same can be said about swinging on an out-to-in path.
This swing path is commonly referred to as an “over-the-top” swing and usually results in a slice.
This is where you cut across the ball and put too much sidespin on it.
To address this issue, you need to start trying to attack the ball from the inside. This means swinging on an in-to-out path.
A good way to visualize this feeling is to draw a small dot on your golf ball. When you tee it up, make sure the dot is on the inside portion of the ball.
Now when you’re swinging, pretend there’s the sharp end of a nail sticking out of the face of your driver and that you’re trying to drive the nail through the dot on the golf ball.
This will help keep you on an in-to-out path and possibly even hit a draw.
The tempo at which you swing the golf club has a huge impact on how much power you’re able to generate. The vast majority of golfers swing the club back too quickly. And it makes complete sense – you’re eager to hit the ball!
The problem is, rushing the backswing prevents you from making a full turn, which is necessary to store power in preparation for the downswing.
So if you notice a sudden decrease in power off the tee or with your irons, it’s a good idea to stop and check your tempo.
A good feeling to have is to imaging a slight pause at the top of your backswing. This will ensure that you’ve made a full turn and will prepare your body for proper sequencing on the downswing.
Equipment malfunctions can also lead to you losing distance with your driver and irons. If you have been using the same clubs for more than five years, there’s a good chance you’re sacrificing distance.
This is because, not only has club making technology improved over that time, but repetitive impact with your clubs can take the “pop” out of them after a certain amount of years.
Here are a few of the most common equipment issues that lead to a loss of distance in golf:
Cracked clubface – over time, small cracks can develop in the face of your driver and woods. These cracks affect the structural integrity of the club, causing you to lose distance. This issue is more common for those who play in cold weather as decreases in temperature increase the risk of cracking your clubface.
Worn-out golf club shafts – the shaft of each club deals with an enormous amount of force on every swing. It needs to be able to bend slightly without breaking. It also needs to be able to handle rotational forces (torque) produced by the golf swing.
After a certain amount of time, club shafts can wear out. When this happens, they’ll usually lose some of their stiffness, which can result in less distance with each of your clubs. Keep in mind, steel golf shafts are generally more durable. Check out this article to learn about the difference between steel and graphite golf shafts and which one is better for you.
Loose components – sometimes the glue that keeps the clubhead connected to the shaft will degrade. When this happens, you’ll notice that your club doesn’t quite feel solid through impact. Needless to say, this can have an adverse effect on your distance.
If you hear a rattling noise during any point of your swing, it is probably the loose glue bouncing around inside the club.
6. External Factors
The final reason why you might be losing distance on your golf shots has nothing to do with your swing. External factors like wind, temperature, elevation, and humidity can have a significant effect on your distance on the course.
So if you’re hitting your driver 300 yards one day, and 275 yards the next, don’t get discouraged and immediately start changing your swing. Ask yourself…
Is it cooler out today than it was yesterday?
Is there more wind today?
How humid is it?
People will notice more drastic changes in distance due to external factors when they’re on a golf trip far away from their home course.
For example, if you travel from Canada to Arizona for a golf trip, you’ll notice you’ll hit the ball a lot further due to the thin desert air and hot temperatures. When you travel back, you might notice you’ve lost distance. But don’t panic – that’s perfectly normal!
FAQ’s About Losing Distance In Golf
Why am I losing distance with my irons?
The number one reason players lose distance with their irons is that they’re not compressing the golf ball. This is done by hitting down on the golf ball and letting the natural loft of the club get the ball into the air rather than trying to pick it off the turf.
Doing so will compress the golf ball more, resulting in more distance with your irons.
Why am I losing distance with my driver?
The most common cause of a sudden loss of distance with the driver is that golfers hit slightly down on the ball, which causes it to spin more. The more spin you put on the golf ball, the more energy is diverted from propelling the ball forward.
Contrary to hitting irons, with the driver you actually want to have a slightly positive attack angle. This will help launch the ball into the air with minimal spin, allowing it to carry further.
At what age do you start losing distance in golf?
Golfers generally max out their distance before reaching 30 years old. After that, they can expect their average driving distance to decrease by 1-2 yards per year.
If you hit the ball 250 yards when you’re 30, expect to hit the ball about 230-240 yards when you’re 40 years old.
Keep in mind, strength training, speed training, and proper technique can help delay the decrease in distance as you age.
Do drivers lose their distance over time?
If used frequently, drivers will lose distance over time. This is because the repetitive impact between the golf ball and the clubface will slowly wear out the face of the driver. Also, during each contact with the golf ball, the shaft will flex causing it to wear out over time. Combined, these things can result in a decrease in distance.
Keep in mind, in order for your driver to lose distance, you’ll need to hit thousands of drives. You can check out this article to learn how often you should replace your driver in golf.
Why do all my irons go the same distance?
If all your irons are traveling the same distance, it’s likely because you are not using the loft of each club correctly. Instead of hitting your irons with a downward strike, you’re probably releasing your hands too early and “scooping” the golf ball. This will add loft to each club, thereby reducing the potential distance for each of your irons.
Instead, you should maintain lag in the downswing (keep hands ahead of the clubhead) and hit down on the ball with your irons. This will ensure you’re using the loft of each iron properly and that it travels the appropriate distance.
The Takeaway – Why You’re Losing Distance In Golf
If you experience a sudden loss of distance in your golf game, it’s likely due to one of the following reasons:
- Poor Contact
- Swing Faults
- External factors
It’s important to recognize which of these possible power leaks are causing your lack of power with your irons and driver and fix the problem immediately. If you’re struggling with distance in your golf game, I’d recommend checking out this online course:
This course was created by Piers Ward and Andy Proudman, the cofounders of Me and My Golf – one of the best online instructional resources on the internet.
In How To Play Golf – The Long Game, you’ll learn how to create more distance on all your shots and how to be more consistent with all of your clubs.
All you need is access to a driving range and to be able to commit to two practice sessions per week and you’ll be well on your way to regaining your distance and consistency!
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand some potential causes of a sudden loss of power in your golf swing.
For other helpful golf resources, feel free to browse through the rest of the content Wired2Golf has to offer!
Looking to take your game to the next level? Check out our recommendations page which is packed with helpful resources for golfers!
Ivan Boychuk is a freelance writer, golf-enthusiast, and the founder of wired2golf.com. From writing about golf to playing in tournaments to instructing junior golfers, he has been heavily involved in the golf scene for more than 15 years.