By: Jordan King Thomas, PGA
Two things that new fitters and apprentices should look at are dynamic loft and launch angle. Described simply, dynamic loft is the loft of the club at impact and launch angle is the angle in which the ball is coming off the clubface. These, along with spin, loft and angle of attack, are the swing measurables most directly related to distance. Imparting the proper dynamic loft is important for creating the optimal trajectory and maximizing carry. Too much dynamic loft can send the ball too high into the air and reduce distance. Too little can send the ball too low, causing the ball roll out excessively and making it difficult to judge distance.
For your average amateur that swings the club at 94 mph and has an angle of attack of 0.0, the proper dynamic loft of a 10-degree driver should be 15.6.
The next key in looking for proper dynamic loft is launch angle. Fixing the launch angle is a much quicker way to change the dynamic loft. Most of the time when we see that the launch angle and dynamic loft are too high, it means that the golfer is not letting the hands lead the club head — they’re essentially flipping the club with their hands at impact, and sending the clubface skyward instead of down the line. Or, with irons in particular, the golfer does not have enough shaft lean at impact. This issue is not always 100 percent fixable with clubfitting, but it sure can help.
The fitting tactic I’ve seen work the best to lower dynamic loft and launch angle in players who have too much, is a shaft that with lower torque and a stiffer butt section. When a player has a quick or violent transition, starting from the top of their back swing, it can lead to added flex and an improper bowing of the shaft at impact – which promotes the clubhead jumping in front of the hands and increasing dynamic loft and launch angle to undesirable arenas.
From a teaching standpoint, getting the player to engage the body more and create more of a rotational turn through the ball is exactly what we want to fix this issue. The body is the engine of the golf swing, the arms guide the club and the hands will fine-tune the shot.
When we see that the launch angle and dynamic loft are too high with irons, it is a direct result of not compressing the ball. Ball position and not letting the handle lead the club head are direct causes of this issue. Also another large cause is the player trying to hit the ball with their hands.
From the fitting standpoint, an iron shaft that is too light or too weak for the player can promote a whipping of the clubhead. A good shaft that I’ve seen to help fix this issue has been KBS C-Taper. The C-Taper and C-Taper Lite are known for being a little stouter. This will help golfers keep the clubhead trailing the handle and provide better compression and contact.
Looking at it from the teaching perspective, putting a tee in the ground just in front of the ball at the height you would tee it up on a par 3 and asking your student to knock the tee out of the ground when they strike the golf ball will help them learn how to properly compress the golf ball and not swing with their hands – where the club flips upward and a tremendous amount of dynamic loft is added. It’s a drill to help keep the handle in front of the club head while imparting proper dynamic loft, launch angle and angle of attack.
Clubfitting is a big part of the equation when it comes to helping golfers obtain the best dynamic loft and launch conditions for their swing. The other half, particularly if the student has far too much or far too little, are minor swing changes that can get them to a point of consistency where clubfitting is the next step.