Iron Offset and Face Progression

Golf Club Specs: Iron Offset and Face Progression

Iron Offset and Face Progression

Here’s a very simple and helpful illustration of shaft axis through the clubface, albeit for putters.

Golf Club Specs: Iron Offset and Face Progression

What they are and why the difference matters for your golf irons.

Many of you may have heard the term “offset” when discussing iron design.There is another  part of iron design that goes along with offset and truly measures the actual relationship between the shaft centerline axis (its absolute middle) and the clubface (the actual front line border of the face). It is called “face progression” also known as “leading edge progression” or LEP.

Face progression is the measurement from the shaft centerline axis (C/L) of the hosel (and the shaft) in relation to the front leading edge of the clubface.

Different iron designs may have different size hosels. Some may be thinner (say 0.45 inches in diameter), while others may be beefier (say up to 0.60 inches).

Here's an excellent demonstration of iron offset from the hosel to the leading edge of the clubface.

Here’s an excellent demonstration of iron offset from the hosel to the leading edge of the clubface.

Some may have a tapered shape, while others may be more barrel shaped. All these variables will cause very different readings and visual looks in the offset of the clubs. Let’s say an iron has a hosel diameter of a half inch.

If it is designed with a large amount of offset, then the face progression (LEP) may be very small with most of the shaft centerline axis C/L intersecting the clubface very close to the front of the leading edge. 

The centerline axis (C/L) shown here and how it relates to face progression.

The centerline axis (C/L) shown here and how it relates to face progression.

Different iron designs may have different size hosels. Some may be thinner (say 0.45 inches in diameter), while others may be beefier (perhaps up to 0.6 inches). Some may have a tapered shape, while others may be more barrel shaped. All these variables will cause very different readings and visual looks in the offset of the clubs.

Let’s say an iron has a hosel diameter of a half inch. If it is designed with a large amount of offset, then the face progression (LEP), or leading edge progression, may be very small with most of the shaft centerline axis or C/L (These are new terms to most of us worth repeating.) intersecting the clubface very close to the front of the leading edge.

If a club is designed with a smaller amount of offset (and it still has the half-inch hosel diameter), then the LEP will be greater (See diagram above.).

And a larger portion of the front leading edge of the clubface will hang out ahead of the shaft centerline axis or C/L (See diagram below.).

So, what does all this engineering and physics mean to the average golfer?

  • A club designed with greater offset will help position the player’s hands ahead of the ball at address and aid the golfer in hitting down on the ball at impact.
  • It also helps the golfer in squaring up the face and limiting those nasty slices.
  • You can close the face, too, a wee bit to help draw the ball.
  • A better golfer who already is skilled enough to hit a controlled draw may prefer a club with less offset — and more LEP — to help him work the controlled fade shot and lessen the chance of hitting a hook.

Generally, a set of irons will be designed with progressive offset. This means that the longer irons will have more offset than the shorter clubs.

Say a 3-iron has 0.30 inch offset. The 4-iron may have 0.275 inch, the 5-iron 0.250 inch, going down to the pitching wedge with perhaps only 0.10 inch offset. This is because a golfer generally prefers (and requires) less offset as the club gets shorter and has more loft.

The result is that a player will not require as much help hitting a straight shot with a pitching wedge versus a 3-iron. Also, as the loft increases, the backspin will keep the sidespin from over slicing the ball.

So, the next time you are testing out a set of irons, line them all up together to see if they have the progressive offset and face progression that you think will help your game the most. Be sure that you are happy with the set-up and the look of each iron in the set as it transitions from long iron to short.

Good looking short irons (your scoring clubs) are very important so that you can  attack the pin with confidence after that great drive up the middle.

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