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May 7, 2024 5:01 pm

Better ball speed helping Xander Schauffele keep pace on tour

xander schauffele

Xander Schauffele may not have a win on the resume this season, but he ranks third in the FedEx Cup standings for a reason. He has made cut after cut and keeps climbing leaderboards.

Schauffele, who has seven top-10 finishes already in 2024 and is knocking on the door of his first victory, said he’s already achieved one of the goals he set for himself this season: increasing his ball speed.

“I can’t really pin it on one thing,” Schauffele said Tuesday ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. “I started working with a new trainer. He’s definitely helped me feel a lot stronger, just my baseline strength is probably better.”

He brought up a swing tweak he and his coach made as another factor.

“I think a combination of the two. I don’t know how to weigh the situation between them, what’s more or less, but those two things have definitely helped me pick up some speed,” the World No. 4 said.

While club speed is the measurement that got the likes of Bryson DeChambeau some notoriety, it’s only one part of the equation. A golfer’s club speed, the club he’s using and the quality of impact with the ball all determine ball speed — and ball speed determines distance.

Schauffele, who ranked No. 34 on the PGA Tour last season with a 179.02 mph average ball speed, is currently 10th on tour with an average of 183.08.

In explaining the importance of the stat to him, Schauffele contrasted himself with the sport’s current standard bearer, Scottie Scheffler.

“Scottie is an outlier in many ways currently,” Schauffele said. “He’s actually dropped speed, which is just mind-blowing. … I haven’t really done too deep of a dive, I just saw that his average ball speed was down.

“I played with him a couple years ago and he was sending it past me, so at that time I feel like I needed to pick up some pace. And now that he’s dropped back, he’s just doing Scottie things. But in general if you look at the sort of top 10, 15, 20 players in the world, there’s sort of a threshold that you need to hit if you’re not sort of a crazy elite iron player or crazy scrambler or things of that nature.

“So I figured any edge I can get on the field, if it’s flying the ball 15 yards further and being able to take out a bunker on a hole that other guys can’t, that will help me over the span of a season.”

If it works, it works. Few golfers have reached Schauffele’s level of consistency in recent years. The 30-year-old has the longest active streak of made cuts on tour at 45. Scheffler is a rather distant second at 35.

Schauffele’s streak is not in danger this week at the pre-PGA Championship signature event, which will feature 69 players and no cut after 36 holes.

“I think (my caddie is) actually the one who brought it up to me a couple weeks ago maybe, but it is what it is,” Schauffele said. “I don’t know who else is playing a lot of the events and making the cut. I think it’s definitely a testament to consistency. All of us out here want to win tournaments and I guess that’s a different question, but yeah, I’m aware of it.”

–Field Level Media

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