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Dynamic loft, angle of attack and your launch angle

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I want you to remember way back to when launch monitors first became commercially available and what they actually measured. My first monitor showed me club speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, carry distance and smash factor. That was it.

Such data is pretty basic by today’s standards, and as time has progressed and we’ve come to understand more about the club and ball interaction. I want to introduce you to two other terms that you need to understand and their efforts to control your ball’s initial launch angle: dynamic loft and angle of attack.

We’ll examine the data given to us by the old launch monitor and how these two new data points will help us to better understand what is going on in more detail.

Photo 01

As we examine the driver swing of a tour player friend of mine, I want to show you what the old launch monitor would have told me.

  • Club Speed: 110 mph
  • Ball Speed: 162.4 mph
  • Smash Factor: 1.48
  • Spin Rate: 2629 rpm
  • Launch Angle: 11.9 degrees
  • Carry: 268 yards

Based on this information, all I could tell this player with the old launch monitor is that we need to get his launch angle up a touch. But I really wouldn’t know why it was too low until years later when launch monitors like Trackman and FlightScope became available. They give me two other vital pieces of the puzzle: dynamic loft and angle of attack.

Since we now know that the launch angle is too low, the real question is why? Based on information given to us Trackman, we now understand that launch angle is comprised of two factors:

  • Angle of Attack: The vertical (up and down) angle the club is moving on during impact.
  • Dynamic Loft: The loft angle of the club at impact.

Factor in the following numbers for this shot:

  • Launch Angle: 11.9 degrees
  • Dynamic Loft: 13.5 degrees
  • Angle of Attack: 2.8 degrees

Understanding that dynamic loft is 85 percent of your ball’s launch angle and angle of attack is 15 percent of your ball’s launch angle, we now see that the dynamic loft of this shot hit was a touch too low.

  • Dynamic Loft: 85 percent of 13.5 degrees is 11.47 degrees.
  • Angle of Attack: 15 percent of 2.8 degrees is 0.42 degrees.

Add those numbers up and you get 11.89 degrees for your launch angle.

Knowing this simple math can really help you to fine tune your ball’s launch angle, and it is now easy for me the teacher to understand exactly what piece of the puzzle is causing your launch angle issues. It might be your dynamic loft, it could be your angle of attack or it could be both!

Knowing all of the information help me make a more educated decision regarding your fitting. So the next time you have a fitting and the fitter says your launch angle is too high or too low, remember these two factors and you will have a better understanding of just why that is.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Golfinghound

    Oct 3, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Tom, Just found this article – very illuminating. Thanks for the clear description. One question i had was – given the Launch Angle and the Static Loft of the driver, couldn’t you just calculate the Dynamic Loft(DL) and the AoA ?

    Since
    DL = Static Loft + AoA
    &
    Launch Angle = 85% of DL + 15% of AoA
    You already know the launch angle from the old trackman data and the static loft on the club. So you now have 2 equations with 2 unknown variables, which should be easy to solve to get the values of DL and AoA. You dont need the fancy new trackman numbers.

    What am i missing ?

    cheers
    U

  2. Chuck

    Apr 26, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I am so grateful for straight, solid, plain-English, authoritative writing like this.

    Thank you Tom.

    I am as much of an equipment junkie as the next guy at GolfWRX. “Tour only” could be my middle name. But if I’ve learned anything in the era of internet-fueled golf equipment fanaticism, it is that “Lessons are the best equipment you can buy.”

    • tom stickney

      Apr 26, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Thank you very much for your comments….I try to do my best to make things easier to understand.

  3. BG

    Apr 24, 2014 at 9:37 am

    So how do you use this to fit a club?

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

      The correlation of dl and your aoa controlls your launch angle. All if these factors influence spin rate, carry, landing angle, and roll…which are the keys to your distance output.

  4. AP

    Apr 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    If your angle of attack increases, won’t your dynamic loft increase as a byproduct too?

  5. Mekong

    Apr 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Hi tom
    What is the optimum numbers for spin rate, landing angle, launch angle?
    Thanks tom

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 22, 2014 at 1:05 am

      All depends on your ball speed…

      • Mike

        Apr 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

        Can you expand on this answer? For example, would optimum stats for someone with 154 to 157 avg driver ball speed be very different from the example dissected in your article?

        Thank you. Very cool article.

  6. Mekong

    Apr 22, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Hi tom
    How can i compute the spin rate and angle of descent?
    Thanks tom

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 22, 2014 at 1:07 am

      You need a fitting with someone whom uses a TrackMan, flightscope wyc.

  7. Eric

    Apr 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    “Understanding that dynamic loft is 85 percent of your ball’s launch angle and angle of attack is 15 percent of your ball’s launch angle”

    Do you mean…?

    “Understanding that launch angle is the sum of 85 percent dynamic loft and 15 percent of angle of attack”

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 22, 2014 at 1:08 am

      Yes

    • mike wakes

      Feb 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Eric; I’am on your side. either tom’s not listening or he does not understand the math. Tom,this is good stuff.

  8. MHendon

    Apr 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    That’s some pretty slow club head speed for a 6’4″ tour pro.

    • tom stickney

      Apr 21, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      Always in the top 20 of the ball striking category…works for him…never the longest but boy can he hit it! Shot 64 on the last day of qschool to get his PGA Tour Card on the number at PGA West two years ago. Good dude.

    • JJ

      Apr 22, 2014 at 12:34 am

      @MHendon

      Typical “WRX” pro douche comment with your XX 118mph SS. He’s on tour, stick to your day job bud.

  9. tom stickney

    Apr 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    The driver is 85/15. The irons are 75/25. Testing done by Trackman.

  10. Gary McCormick

    Apr 21, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Where does the 85/15 split for dynamic loft/angle of attack come from? Is it always the same?

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