This section of the 2nd Swing Fitting site explains and defines golf club specifications, such as loft and lie, bounce angle, and more.

Clubhead Size

Golf Club Specs: Clubhead Size

golf club forgiveness chart

Clubhead Size Definition

When comparing golf clubs, the size of the clubhead is often the most readily apparent indication of the skill level that club is intended for: the smaller the clubhead, the more skill is required to consistently play well with that club. This is because clubhead size directly correlates to the amount of feel and forgiveness the club offers, as the charts below illustrate.  2nd Swing classifies clubheads into three different sizes: Traditional, being the smallest; Midsize; and Oversize.

 

golf club head feel

 

 

hosel offset

Golf Club Specs: Hosel Offset

 golf club offset definition

Golf Club Specs: Hosel Offset

In golf club terminology, offset occurs when the leading edge of the clubface is placed behind the hosel’s leading edge, as shown in the diagram below. An offset head gives the golfer a fraction of a second longer to square up the clubface at impact, which aids in the reduction of slicing. Conversely, a golfer who already squares the clubface properly may find that using offset heads leads to an overly closed face at impact and a tendency to hook the ball.

Golf club offset is typically measured relative to the width of the shaft, with common terms being “half-shaft” and “full-shaft” offsets. While all clubtypes can exhibit offset, it is uncommon for any club except  putters to have more than one full-shaft of offset. Offset is more common and more pronounced in game-improvement or oversize clubheads than it is in traditional or blade-style heads.

lie angle

Golf Club Specs: Lie Angle

golf club lie angle

Golf Club Specs: Lie 

Measuring Lie Angle 

A golf club’s lie angle is a measurement of how parallel the club’s sole is to the ground at address. The measurement, in degrees, is given as being “flat” or “upright” as compared to the club’s “standard” lie angle. The performance of the club during the swing will best determine each club’s proper lie angle:  If the lie angle is too upright, the heel will dig into the ground, and if the lie angle is too flat, the toe will dig into the ground.

Lie Angle Fitting and Adjustment (The flatter against the ground, the better.)

Determining the proper lie angle of each iron and wedge is a crucial part of the golf club fitting process. A lie angle that’s off by even one degree can result in up to 10 yards of side-to-side dispersion from your intended line on a well-struck ball. For example, a tall golfer may desire to stand straighter at address, and thus would require an upright lie angle.  By adjusting the angle 2 degrees upright, for example, the golfer may make a more comfortable address position and thus the club need not be lengthened.

golf club loft and lie

 

Adjusting Forged Vs. Cast Clubheads

While it is rare for metalwoods to need lie adjustments, lie angle in irons and wedges may be adjusted by bending the hosel to the desired position.  It’s important to note, however, that clubheads manufactured using the casting method usually should not be bent more than two degrees in either direction (upright or flat).  Forged clubheads are easier to bend and are much less susceptible to breaking during the bending process.

clubhead materials

Golf Club Specs: Clubhead Material Evolution

golf club material evolution

Golf Club Specs: Clubhead Material Evolution

The Evolution of Golf Clubs

Sure, some clubs are still called woods, but the game of golf has moved way past the days of persimmon heads and hickory shafts. For a game that was played with wooden clubs for its first 400 years,  golf has come a long ways in a fairly short span of time; TaylorMade was one of the very first companies to begin selling steel-headed “woods” in 1979 (metal heads for irons first become widely popular in the early 1900s). Now, clubs are made with aircraft-grade titanium alloys, performance-engineered blends of carbon steel, and rare metals strategically placed in dense plugs and thin films for to enhance feel. In general, modern woods and irons use slightly different materials based on the performance characteristics each is trying to achieve.

Iron Heads

Typically, several different materials make up an iron head, but steel is nearly always the starting point. The steel used in iron heads is often blended with carbon to produce a softer, less rigid feel when the golf ball is struck. With steel comprising the frame of the iron head, other metals are added during club construction to enhance the club’s performance. These are either placed within the head or added as a finishing coat at the end of the process. A few decades ago, soft copper and nickel alloys were popular as finishes, but these metals aren’t often used anymore because of health concerns for workers exposed to them during manufacturing. Chrome and other non-hazardous material have now taken their place.

As more has been learned about how weight placement within a clubhead affects performance, it’s becoming increasingly common to find high-density materials such as tungsten added in strategic areas, usually around the perimeter of the head to increase forgiveness. In cavity-back irons, specially made plastics and polymers are often affixed in the cavity or behind the clubface to optimize sound and feel.

Metalwoods

While it’s rare titanium to see titanium used in iron heads, it’s very common in modern metalwoods. The important feature of titanium is that it’s lighter yet more durable than steel, allowing the clubhead to expand in size without becoming too heavy. This is the primary factor that has caused the volume of metalwood heads to balloon rapidly in the past 20 years. High-strength steel is still found in many metalwoods, especially the comparatively smaller faces of fairway woods and hybrids.

golf clubhead loft angles

Golf Club Specs: Loft Angles

golf club loft definition

A golf club’s loft is the angle between the face, ground line and hosel bore.

Golf Club Specs: Loft Angles

A golf club’s loft is the angle of the clubface plane to a line perpendicular with the ground. Hence, if the club’s face is parallel to the ground, the club’s loft is 90 degrees, while a clubface that is straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground, has no loft, or zero degrees of loft.

A club’s loft affects the ball’s flight in many ways, including launch angle, trajectory, spin rate, and, most importantly, distance. The higher the degree of loft, the higher the ball will fly, resulting in less horizontal distance. Therefore, lower lofted clubs will tend to hit the ball farther than higher lofted clubs.

For this reason, many club manufacturers have lowered the standard loft of their irons to increase distance. For example, the standard loft of a pitching wedge is 48 degrees, but in many of today’s iron sets its actual loft is 45-46 degrees. While increased distance is a major selling point for consumers, they should focus instead on consistent distance gapping between clubs, especially in the critical range of 150 yards and in.

A club may or may not indicate the degrees of loft on the club itself. However, it is common to see the loft of the 1-wood stamped on the sole.

As wedges are becoming more and more specialized, the exact loft of a wedge is frequently indicated somewhere on the clubhead to help the golfer determine exactly which wedges he prefers to carry.

Although lofts vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it’s important to understand the most common lofts for woods and wedges, as indicated in the standard lofts chart below.

Standard lofts for woods and wedges:

Woods

1-wood = 9-11 degrees
3-wood = 13-15 degrees
5-wood = 18-20 degrees
7-wood = 21-23 degrees

Wedges

Pitching wedge (PW) = 48 degrees
Gap wedge (GW) = 52 degrees
Sand wedge (SW) = 56 degrees
Lob wedge (LW) = 60 degrees