Originally Posted by iammatt
Sure, though I would bet that the efficiency of strike, the angle of the club on the ball etc is more different than the speed.
Of course all are important, but if we're strictly talking distance, a lot of the differentiation is that longer hitting professionals are able to generate enormous clubhead speed while at the same time delivering the club in the proper position at impact. For example, the average amateur has a clubhead speed in the low 80's, the average scratch player or professional probably gets into the lower 100's. Tiger Woods and his ilk deliver the clubhead to the ball at around 125mph. Instantly he's got a 40-50% or so advantage in force.
Remember that we're only talking about what generates distance here. The same clubhead impact at 90mph will obviously not hit as long a shot as if it were at 125mph. However, a more efficient (i.e. better) golf swing will also, typically, allow for an increase in clubhead speed.
When Nicklaus was just starting to play as a kid, his teacher taught him to hit the ball as hard as he could and worry about direction later.
THIS IS HORRIBLE ADVICE FOR ANY ADULT LEARNING TO PLAY THE GAME AND WILL DO NOTHING BUT SCREW YOU UP. However, if you're looking for the reason why pros generate more distance, it's simple physics of force. They have trained themselves to make a really hard swing at the ball, smoothly and efficiently. Paradoxically, the best way for most people to increase clubhead speed over time is to focus not on clubhead speed, but on a smooth and efficient swing that stays on a simple plane. If you eliminate elements of the swing that are inefficient, you actually increase the force, without increasing the effort and you do so on a plane that keeps it in control as well.