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Wishon: Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting

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For golfers who have a chronic fade/slice or draw/hook misdirection tendency, the specification of the face angle of the driver, woods and hybrids is the most effective accuracy improvement factor in fitting.

The face angle can also be a remedial fitting specification for golfers who repeatedly pull or push the ball too, although a key reason for a pull or push tendency is an incorrect fit of the total weight and or swingweight to the golfer.  Being fit for the proper length is also very important to accuracy improvement with the driver/woods/hybrids, but when it comes to an immediate reduction in a fade/slice, draw/hook misdirection tendency, face angle is No. 1.

As an aside before continuing the face angle fitting discussion, it is common for good golfers and players who hit the ball straight to criticize fitting golfers with a remedial face angle as being a “band aid,” as if the incorporation of a more open or closed face angle in the fitting is a bad thing to do for the golfer. No question, in a perfect world, all golfers who slice or hook the ball would take lessons, adapt to the swing change, and become straight hitters of the ball to then use a square face angle.

Sorry, but that’s not the way it is for a huge percentage of golfers. Some years back, Golf Digest published a cover story in which they stated that more than 70 percent of all golfers sliced the ball to some degree. It is a fact that learning the swing characteristics to hit the ball consistently straight is an athletic move that a whole lot of golfers simply do not have the ability to do. For them to continue to enjoy the game as much as possible, having a properly fit face angle in their driver and woods is critical.

In addition, TrackMan research has proven that face angle is responsible for 80-to-85 percent of the starting direction of a shot. This too supports the decision to make fitting the face angle a very important part of fitting for improving shot accuracy with not just the driver, but the fairway woods and hybrids as well.

But let’s get back to the topic of how face angle is properly fit to the golfer. In the fitting process, the clubfitter has to evaluate the following points.

Knowing the face angle of the golfer’s current driver/woods/hybrids and knowing the average misdirection amount with the current clubs is KEY to determining the golfer’s best face angle specs. You can’t determine the best face angle without knowing the current face angle on the golfer’s driver/woods that is contributing with the swing tendencies to create the golfer’s misdirection tendency.

Based on a driver carry distance of 200 yards, a 1-degree change in the face angle from the golfer’s current face angle will reduce the misdirection tendency on average by 4 to 5 yards. Based on a driver carry distance of 250 yards, a 1-degree change in the face angle from the golfer’s current face angle will reduce the misdirection tendency on average by 6 to 7 yards.  This fact is the club fitter’s primary guideline for determining the best face angle for the golfer.

For example, let’s say over the course of 10 shots with the driver, the golfer displays a 15-to-35 yard range in his slice, with most of them being in the area of a 20-yard slice. With this, let’s say the golfer has a clubhead speed that carries the ball on average 200 yards with the driver. And finally, after measuring the face angle of the golfer’s current driver to be square, the clubfitter now knows he should start the golfer’s test club work with a driver with a 3-degree hook face angle to begin to see how this change will affect his average slice tendency.

Keep in mind, the goal of face angle fitting is NOT to enable the golfer to hit the ball straight. The goal is to REDUCE the misdirection tendency so the golfer can keep the ball much more in play than before. Good clubfitters also know that because driver length has a very strong effect on accuracy, a balance between a shorter driver length with a face angle change that may not be as extreme as indicated by the golfer’s amount of misdirection shot tendency is often the way to reduce a slice or hook.

With these points in mind, it becomes easy for the good clubfitter to identify what new face angle will bring about a visible improvement in accuracy for the golfer with the driver, woods and hybrids to reduce the misdirection tendency and keep the ball much more in play.

If the golfer needs a specific face angle for accuracy improvement, he should never consider playing with an adjustable hosel driver. All adjustable hosel drivers require the golfer to hold the face square to the target line to achieve the loft change from the adjustable hosel sleeve. While it is possible to adjust the hosel sleeve and then SOLE the driver to achieve a face angle change, when doing this it is just not possible to also end up with each golfer’s best fit driver loft at the same time, concurrent with the proper face angle.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Luke

    Feb 8, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Tom,

    Love your work! You have cleared up a lot of myths I used to believe and now hear people bang on about and roll my eyes and direct them to read your articles. If I understand the adjustable driver properly. If I set it to -1 deg loft and sole the driver and setup normal to this, then I have not changed the loft but I have opened the face by 1 deg instead?

  2. Progolf

    May 5, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Dear Tom, could you be kind enough to give some insight into my face angle issues. I have just recently earned my professional touring card and I have never been fitted or been coached. I am a hitter not a swinger. My observation is this, during my routine , I pass the club from my left hand to my right hand and I have observed that it is always in a closed position. Then , when I place the club behind the ball with my right hand , again it is closed with the result being poor consistency and poor scores. However, when I open the face angle in my left hand to place in my right hand and then place the club face behind the ball and adjust the face angle to open , this has allowed me to be very accurate, consistent and has allowed me to pass the playing test to become a professional tour golfer. Is it possible to have the face angle adjusted to open so that I would not need to be adjusting / twisting the club head until it is open , from left to right and then right to right . I understand that what I have explained sounds weird, but is factual. Thank you

  3. snowman

    Jan 26, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Tom: Can you elaborate on your comment regarding Chronic Pulls / Pushes being related to total weight of club? (My Stock Shot is a Pull)

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Snowman:
      Sure thing. For many golfers, when either the total weight or the swingweight is too low for the golfer’s swing tempo, timing, rhythm or sense of preferred weight feel, the initial tendency is for the golfer to get too quick and a part of this can be pulling the club across his body on the downswing to hit a pull or even a pull hook. Also can be more off center hits, especially more heel side hits. The only thing that makes this tricky to diagnose and remedy is that the too light feeling can be caused either by the total weight being too light OR the headweight (swingweight) being too light, or both together.

      So the best way to go about determining which one is to first start by adding weight a little at a time to the head, hit several shots, add a little bit more weight to the head, hit more shots and try to get to a point where the clubhead is starting to feel just a little too heavy for your swing tempo and timing. Experimenting first with headweight is a whole lot cheaper than experimenting with total weight, because changing total weight means changing the shaft and its weight, which can get more $$$ than adding lead tape to the head. Once you get to this point of the headweight feel heing a little too heavy for your preference and your tempo and swing effort, then dial it back a little and go with that for a couple of weeks to see how it settles in with your tempo. If the club just keeps feeling too light during your swing, then you can look at a heavier shaft to get the total weight up – and then experiment with the headweight with that heavier shaft to find the right headweight feel for your tempo, timing.

  4. Rusty Putter

    Jan 25, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Tom
    Playing the 919 w S2S red and doing pretty well and wanted to where the best part of a substandard round. I hit the best drive of my life on par 5, it ended up hitting hard and rolled out to 337 yds as the cart measured. I was so stoked i flew the green on my next shot and made par. I am reading Common Sense Clubmaking and it has helped me tremendously on understanding the how and why s.

    Cheers from San Diego
    Kurt

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you Kurt for being interested in this stuff. Very glad to hear that the driver and Red shaft are performing well for you! Now if you can send a little bit of your weather out here to Durango, CO, we’d sure appreciate that because this is now the time of the winter when the golfer in us starts to get real tired of the cold !!!!

  5. Rich

    Jan 23, 2015 at 4:10 am

    One of the most basic fundamentals of alignment is to set your club face perpendicular with the target and then set you feet in place parallel to that target line. If you align in this manner (ie properly) then a closed (or open) clubface isn’t going to do diddly squat unless the lie angle of the club has been changed.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 23, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Rich, I am sorry but you must be blessed with the swing characteristics to be a straight hitter and thus have never needed an open or closed face angle to reduce a tendency to hook or slice the ball. Fitting such golfers with a remedial face angle has been done for YEARS, even going back to the persimmon days when custom wood makers would bore the head to create the needed open or closed face angle.

      Thus it has always been the practice that the fitter has to explain to the golfer that they set up to the shot in a normal on target stance for feet, shoulders, hips and simply rest the club on the ground to allow the face angle to assume its designed position. Tons of golfers have done this and found it is not distracting and easy to get used to the face pointing a little more left or right in the address position. Countless fittings over the decades have proven that a change in the face angle can and does reduce a player’s tendency to slice or hook the ball.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 23, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      RICH
      You must be a golfer who has been blessed with the ability to learn the proper swing characteristics to hit the ball straight, and thus you have never needed the remedial fitting help of a custom face angle to help reduce a slice or hook. Fitting golfers with an open or closed face angle to reduce a tendency to hook or slice the ball has been done for decades, even going back to the days of wooden woods when clubmakers could custom bore the hosel to create a different face angle. For golfers who are unfamiliar with an open or closed face angle on a driver/wood, some do have to be “coached” to understand that they simply take their normal stance, sole the clubhead to allow the face angle to be present, then make their normal swing to see the corrective effect of the face angle. It’s been done for decades with tons of golfers and they do get used to the fact that the face points a little left or right in the address position once they hit a few shots and see the results.

      • Rich

        Jan 25, 2015 at 5:14 pm

        Not sure I understand the need for the 2 responses. Sounds to me like you’d be relying heavily on the flatness of the ground from where you play your shot. Sometimes you don’t get a flat piece of ground on a tee, let alone on the fairway. Good luck with that.

  6. Brandon

    Jan 22, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I am 5 foot 5 tall 35 years old. I been playing a lot since I got serious and obsessive about golf at 11 years old. I have struggled with club lengths being short and also hate how OEMS keep strengthing lofts and making clubs longer. I used to play the old standard 37.5- 37.75 on a five iron. If I cut them down you mess the swing weight and its gets into the c range or put lead tape it works OK but a pain. I just picked up a set of custom MacGregor blade irons in mint shape similar to the Ones Norman Strange Nicklaus ext were using back in the 90s and I am glad I did hitting them how I want after bending to my specs. I am really not into all the new technology its 85% marketing and gimmicks. Golfers need to experiment with what works for them when it comes to equipment. You can custom fit any 15-25 handicap players all you want and it will help with 15% of there game. Face angle is important but high handicap players don’t swing consistent enough IMO and probably only benefit from it 15% of there swings. Swing, BODY MOVEMENT, Aim, feel, grip, ect. Same reason you see a lot of slicers hit nasty duck hooks too and most slicers already compensate by hooding closing there club face and aiming left which makes it worse. To quick fix the majority of slicers I would tell them to open there face and fix there aim to start. Sure you need your clubs set up to fit you. Lengths, Lie Angles, proper grip thickness, and shaft flex ect this is not new and Ping been custom fitting since the ping eye irons. However I believe face angle tinkering is for the more advanced player and beginning golfers should start with neutral face angles or slightly open on the driver to aid them in getting the ball up.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 23, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Brandon
      I am sorry that you have not had the opportunity to know a truly knowledgeable clubfitter to be able to see first hand what he can do, how he does it, and what the results can be, especially for average golfers who do shoot in the mid 80s to 100. Without question, in a perfect world every golfer would take lessons and have the athletic ability to learn and groove all the proper swing characteristics. But that will never happen because golf does require a level of athletic and neuro-muscular ability that so many people who love this game will never possess.
      Yes, the average golfers are inconsistent – one time they may fade the ball 10yds and the next time they may slice it 35 yds. But they are “consistently inconsistent” which means that clubfitting can step in when done right to REDUCE, nor cure, but REDUCE the severity and the frequency of their poor shots. So the slicer’s range then can be reduced to being from occasionally straight to a 15 yard slice. Point is while it is still a slice, IT IS IN PLAY MORE OFTEN THAN BEFORE which then leads to game improvement. And it is the same way for the other fitting specs like length, loft, lie, shaft, total weight, swingweight and grip size. Fitting does not CURE anyone – it reduces the severity and the frequency of their poor shots form which they gain improvement and enjoy the game more than before.

  7. Scooter McGavin

    Jan 22, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I’ll be perfectly honest. I worked in the golf business for several years, and I still have trouble wrapping my head around some of the finer points with adjustable heads. I get the basics of how it ideally works, but I still don’t quite understand how the adjustable head compares to just gripping the club more open or closed, or how soling the club then affects whatever adjustment was made.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Scooter:
      Let me try to help with a little explanation. First, let’s imagine you have a driver with a flexible hosel that you can move around with your hands. Now let’s say you sole the driver on the ground and you push the shaft forward toward the target. OK, the shaft and grip is now in front of you which is not where you want it to hit a shot. So while keeping the hosel bent forward you move the grip back to be in front of your body. As you do this the face angle will start to point to the left, more closed. As long as the sole remains flat on the ground, the loft remains the same as it always was. But the movement of the hosel forward caused the face angle to change to be more closed.

      The adj hosel drivers work the same exact way except for one thing. They all say the rotation of the sleeve to change the angle of the shaft into the head changes the LOFT. From our first example, we know that if you KEEP THE HEAD SOLED, when you move the hosel forward or back to change the angle of the shaft into the head, you are changing the FACE ANGLE. Not the loft.

      So for these adj hosel sleeves to change loft, you cannot sole the head on the ground. Let me explain more.

      Let’s say you take your adj hosel driver and you move it to the lowest loft setting, say 8*. Now SOLE THAT DRIVER ON THE GROUND with the grip right in front of your stomach. Look down at the head and you will see that it sits quite OPEN for the face angle when the head is soled. To get that 8* loft, you then have to turn the club in your hands to rotate the face from open to square. At this point, the loft is 8* but the sole cannot sit flat on the ground because it is now tilted from the turning of the head you had to do to turn the face from open to square. And to then get the 8* loft when you hit a shot, you have to HOLD the face square as you address the ball and take the club away.

      This is fine for straight hitters who play their best with a square face angle. But if you need a specific loft AND a specific face angle on the head at the same time, together, you really can’t do that with an adj hosel driver. All you can do is to rotate the face in your hands and hold it a little open or a little closed to get that face angle – but when you do this you are changing loft again at the same time.

      Hope this helps

  8. confused

    Jan 22, 2015 at 1:48 am

    I think Tom is one of the best in the industry, but this story is way too confusing… Please explain: if you have adjustable hosel or a bendable hosel, aren’t they exactly the same? You change shaft position in regards to the head? Please answer only to this 🙂

    • Colin

      Jan 22, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Good question. In depth reply from Tom here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrTSEZuzlic&feature=youtu.be

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 22, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Confused:
      Thanks so much for asking the question because as your avatar indicates, this is a VERY confusing situation that most definitely will have golfers scratching their heads. At the same time, please bear with me as I explain because this is a question that is so much easier to answer if you were side by side with me as I would be able to show you in person using an adj hosel driver vs a bendable hosel driver. Explaining this with words only is more difficult but I will do my very best.

      First off, when you talk about a lie angle and a face angle on a driver or wood head, you can only have a lie and a face angle exist separately when the head is soled. So all my explanation about changing a lie or a face angle in a head require the head to be soled when preparing to hit a shot. As I have stated several times which is absolutely correct, the only way the adjustable hosel heads achieve a loft change is if the golfer holds the head with the face square in the address position. Thus when this is done, it is impossible to have a loft change WITH a face angle change.

      With the bendable hosel, let me first explain the two different directions the hosel can be bent to achieve changes in the lie and then the face angle. If you bend the hosel in a direction parallel to the face, you are changing the lie only on its own. And then if you bend the hosel 90* to that and in a direction perpendicular to the face, you are changing the face angle only on its own. So with a bendable hosel, you can achieve a specific lie and face angle independently of each other because you can bend the hosel first to change the lie, and then without affecting the lie change you can bend the hosel to achieve a separate face angle.

      So you bend up or down first to change the lie. The hosel stays in this newly bent position up or down to achieve the lie change. Then you move the bar around 90* from the direction of the bend for lie and you bend for face angle while not changing the bend you just did to change the lie. Thus the new spec for the lie and the new spec for the face angle exist both on their own, independent of each other.

      With the adjustable hosel driver, every one of them work on the same principle. The bore in the sleeve is not straight down the center of the sleeve. The bore is made at an angle down the inside of the sleeve. Thus when you rotate the sleeve, you are changing the angle of the shaft into the body of the head.

      The reason this is different than a bendable hosel is because when you rotate the sleeve to change the angle of the shaft into the head, you cannot have this angle of the sleeve be in two separate positions as you can with a bendable hosel. Remember, with the bendable hosel, we can bend the hosel first for lie (or face angle, doesn’t matter which bend is done first) and after the bend, the hosel stays put in that new position which brought about the change in the lie. Then you can bend the hosel perpendicular to that first bend to change the face angle WHILE KEEPING THE HOSEL IN ITS LIE CHANGE POSITION.

      With the adj hosel heads, as you rotate the sleeve the shaft can only go into one angled position in to the head. So as you rotate the sleeve, you start changing BOTH the lie and face angle at the same time and never independently of each other.

      Again, this is talking about what happens when you SOLE the head because that is the only way you get a face angle change on any head.

      In talking about loft, as I said, to get the loft change in an adj hosel head, after the sleeve rotation you have to hold the head square behind the ball. And in doing this, you eliminate the face angle as ever being able to be open or closed while the loft stays what it is.

      With the bendable hosel drivers, the way we achieve a different loft to go with the separately ordained lie and face angle is by having multiple driver models made with different lofts. So if a golfer wants a 11* loft with a 2* closed face angle and a 2* flat lie all on the same head, we first start by selecting one of the 11* loft heads. We SOLE it in the measuring gauge to verify it has the 11* loft. Then we take the head and we bend the hosel in two separate bend directions to first get the lie and then turn the bar 90* from there to bend the face angle to its required spec.

      Then in the end, when the head is soled, it has the 11* loft AND the 2* closed face AND the 2* flat lie – all three specs existing on their own, on the same head at the same time.

      That you cannot do with any adjustable hosel driver because first to get the desired loft, you have to hold the face square after the sleeve rotation to that desired loft. And because the angle of the shaft can only be in one position to achieve that desired loft, you do not get a separate face angle because you have to hold the face square to get that desired loft, and you just get whatever lie goes along with that angle of the shaft sleeve that was done to get the desired loft.

      I know this is confusing but I can assure you with 100% guarantee that this is correct.

      • confused

        Jan 23, 2015 at 4:58 am

        Thanks Tom again for the deep clarification. Okey, now we talk about lie and face-angle independecy, I see that. What was talked about earlier was that right face-angle and loft couldn´t be achieved by adjustable hosel. Cannot see a difference there with bendability and adjustable hosel. I always measure the true loft first and then set the face-angle to fit the golfer to achieve the best flight pattern.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      CONFUSED
      I penned an explanation to answer your question the other day and somehow it never showed up in the comments here – sigh. So I shall try again and hope it works.

      First off let’s set some groundwork here for the explanation. Adjustable hosel woods can only off a change in loft from the sleeve rotation when the head is then manually squared and held in that position before hitting the shot. Thus when this is done, with the face always being held square, the face angle can never be an additional fitting spec to help a golfer. The only way that the face angle can become a separate and additional spec to the woodhead is if the head is SOLED ON THE GROUND. OK, now on to the explanation.

      With any adj hosel driver, they ALL work the same way. The bore in the sleeve is made at an angle and is not dead straight through the center of the sleeve. Thus when you rotate the sleeve, you are changing the angle of the shaft into the head. For this rotation to bring about a change in the LIE and the FACE ANGLE, remember, the head has to be SOLED. But as you rotate the sleeve, the lie and the face angle are locked together and cannot be changed separately from each other.

      With a bendable hosel, it is different because you can achieve the lie and the face angle spec separate from each other because you can bend the hosel in different directions. Let’s say we have a golfer who needs a 11* loft with a 2* closed face and a 3* flat lie to best fit him. We start by selecting a driver head with the 11* loft as measured when the head is soled. We then take the head to the bending machine and we place the bending bar on the hosel and pull the hosel DOWN in a direction that is parallel to the face and perpendicular to the target line. The hosel bends into its desired LIE position. AND IT STAYS THERE.

      Now we move the bar around 90* from this lie bend position to where the bar is now perpendicular to the face and parallel to the target line. We now bend the hosel to change the face angle. But the first bend done to flatten the lie remains as it was because our face angle bend in no way is moving the hosel up or down. So presto, we get the loft as measured when the head is soled, we get the lie as bent, and we get the face angle as bent. All three specs existing independently of each other on the same head.

      You cannot do that with an adj hosel sleeve because the rotation of the sleeve is just changing one angle of the shaft into the head. So as you rotate the sleeve, the specs of lie and face angle change TOGETHER – not separately from each other. And then of course if you want that sleeve rotation to be a loft change, you have to hold the face square which means you get no face angle customization and you have to live with whatever lie was tied into the one angle of the shaft that resulted in the loft change when you squared the face manually after the rotation.

      Hope this helps.

  9. otherpaul

    Jan 21, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I play a ping anser 9.5* driver. The 4th position on the hosel is unmarked but i hear it is supposed to be 2* flat. I am also playing a pull draw right now. 20-30 yards. If I decided to use the 4th position on my hosel to try and correct it temporarily (course demands a fade or straight shot) would it help enough? I hit it about 260-280. And how much would that change loft?

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      PAUL
      It’s too bad that all these companies that have such good engineering capability have done such a poor job of actually telling golfers how to really use these clubs to get precisely what they want for specs. I don’t intend that to be a troll comment whatsoever – just a statement of fact.

      If you want to reduce your pull draw tendency, try this. First set the sleeve to whatever loft you wish that you feel is about what you need for loft. When you address the ball, turn the club in your hands until you see the face be a little bit open. For each degree you turn the face open, that loft will increase by 0.6* from the 11* it should be WHEN YOU HOLD THE FACE SQUARE. Hit some shots and see what happens to the flight. If the shot height is too high for you, then dial the sleeve to a lower loft than 11. And then once again turn the club to open the face slightly, hold it there a little open, and hit some more shots to see if the height of your shots is better. And observe over time what happens to your pull draw tendency when you continue to hold the face a little bit open in the address position.

      Hope this helps

    • RI_Redneck

      Jan 24, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      If the 4th position is 180* (or opposite the Neutral position, then the loft is the same as it is in the neutral position, but you are 2* flatter lie. In other words, you changed the offset from pointing at the toe of the club to pointing at the heel of the club.

      BTW, great article Tom. Being a hoverer of the club, I used to argue about using FA as a fitting parameter. After spending much time conversing with you and others here in the forums, I now agree that it is quite often better to use FA than to try to change a golfers swing that he is already comfortable with.

      BT

  10. mike

    Jan 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    It seems like it would be more beneficial to switch to a driver with more offset than to change the face angle to correct the problem. Isn’t that the theory behind offset irons?

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      MIke:
      Doesn’t work that way with offset with the same assuredness as does a face angle change. Golfers who slice or hook the ball all make swing mistakes that one way or another deliver the face to the ball either X degrees open or X degrees closed. Face angle is a degree for degree reduction in the degrees that the face is either open or closed. So from this we can find a few facts that I mentioned in the article about how many yards of slice or hook reduction you can expect from each degree of face angle change.

      Offset doesn’t work that way because it requires a specific type of release to impact before one can know if it can reduce a slice. If the slicer has a release such that the lower hand on the grip pronates over the upper hand on the grip upon releasing the club, then offset can bring about some reduction in the slice. But if the golfer releases the club such that the lower hand never really pronates over the upper hand and stays more “under” the grip through impact, then offset will do nothing to reduce a slice and in some cases with this type of release can actually make the slice worse.

  11. Chris C

    Jan 21, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Mr. Wishon has contributed much to my understanding of this game. Alas, I appear to be the exception that proves the rule. After some 55 years of golfing (5 years hooking and 50 years fading/slicing) I have found my comfort zone gaming 45 to 45.5 inch drivers. Last year I once again ventured forth in an attempt to game a shorter driver. I acquired a beautiful 919 driver in 11 degree loft with a closed face. I took baby steps and had it shafted at 44 inches. I then proceeded to hit shot after shot 175 yards forward and 150 yards due right. not only could I not keep my drives in a fairway, I had difficulty keeping them on a driving range. Interestingly, I also had a 929 fairway wood( 16.5 degrees ) and two 775 hybrids built to shorter lengths. Argh, the same frustrating result. Huge slices. Not fades – slices. I have dozens of hybrids and I can’t remember if I have ever sliced them. I absolutely accept that shorter length is the way to go – except for me. Indeed, I so like my Wishon clubs that I will probably be having all of them lengthened.

    • Chuck

      Jan 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Most hybrids are hook machines. Maybe the Wishon hybrid is neutral and your swing flaws are more evident on them. A shorter shaft would not cause a slice

  12. Chuck

    Jan 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Tom, you have (persistently; I was going to say consistently) done an exemplary job of breaking down the issue of adjustable drivers and face angles. You are to be commended.

    Where I disagree with you is on the utility of the major-manufacturers’ use of hosel sleeves for adjusting face angles (they would say “loft” but you and your readers know better). I happen to think that those adjustability features are highly useful. Readers of this site, and its predecessor blogs/message boards, know very well about how many of us struggled with trying to find clubmakers who would dare to bend the hosels on our woods before the days of hosel sleeves. We didn’t have access to tour vans, and unlimited supplies of heads in the case of breakage. And we all need to remember just how easy it is to switch shafts for demo purposes now.

    I know that Ed Mitchell (of loft/lie machine fame) opposed the USGA’s allowance of adjustability features in hosel sleeves; I very respectfully disagreed with Ed. And then bought one of his superb loft-lie machines for my irons. I think Ed wanted to be the leader in measuring and bending woods, and the change in the rules allowing adjustable hosel sleeves was seen by Ed as a threat to his business.

    I think adjustability in this regard is a DEMOCRATIZING feature in golf club design. We avid recreational players and club tinkerers now have something extra to work on at the range, with a wrench in our pockets, and it eliminates one of the many great gaps between recreational players and tour pros with their omnipresent tour vans.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      CHUCK:
      For the golfers who never need any face angle other than a square face and who are comfortable with holding the face square behind the ball, the adj hosel drivers are fine. I’ve said that many times in my various explanations about the adj hosel technology.

      But the majority of golfers do not hit the ball straight consistently and do have swing errors that cause varying degrees of a slice or hook. As I said in the article, GDigest mag did an article in which they said over 70% of all golfers slice the ball to some amount. So for these people, they need to have a different face angle WITH the right loft that matches their clubhead speed and angle of attack. You can’t do that with an adj hosel driver. So that means while some golfers are definitely ok with an adj hosel driver, at least 70% and more are not because they need BOTH a specific custom face angle and a loft to play their best.

      Now as to bendability, virtually no drivers, woods or hybrids are bendable because they typically are made from Ti or steel alloys that are not ductile enough to be bent. It’s just the way drivers, woods and hybrids have been designed. That’s why it hit me a couple of yrs ago to use my metallurgy experience to find Ti and steel alloys to make the hosel of my drivers, woods and hybrids from that are bendable. And now we do that so all our 919 drivers, 929 and 950 woods and 775/335 hybrids with bendable hosels so the lie and face angle can be changed separately and independently from the loft.

      Besides, when the adj hosel drivers all the players tend to buy off the racks are all made with a 45-46 length and 90% of all golfers should never be playing with lengths over 43.5 and 44, what good does that do to have a wrench to mess with the loft.

      • Chuck

        Jan 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm

        Tom I am already a complete convert on the issue of driver length. You won me over before I finished reading your first writing on that subject which was a long time ago.

        As for bendability, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the tour vans all had special form-fitted clamping molds to hold driver heads as they were bent to fit tour players’ preferences.
        Did they break heads? Sure.
        Did their “customers” care? Nope.
        Is the demographic that formed GolfWRX attuned to what tricks were performed in the tour vans for elite players? You bet!
        And while lots and lots of recreational players have trouble getting the ball into the air and fight a bad slice, I think the GolfWRX players might not fit that pattern. I fight a hook, not a slice. And I constantly work with shafts and techniques to keep my trajectory down. TaylorMade, crafting retail drivers with shut face angles and vastly understated loft numbers, seemingly did try to address the 70%. But here at GolfWRX, quite a lot of readers are looking for different characteristics.

  13. Philip

    Jan 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Keep the info coming – its helping me a lot with designing my bag for this upcoming season. Appreciate the time you put into these articles.

  14. Philip

    Jan 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I guess I’m an oddity because whenever I tried to the above logic to reduce my slice it only made it worse (kept me going in circles for the last 3 years). For whatever reason, having my club face sit slightly open at address actually removes my slice, whereas having a square to slightly closed face only exaggerates my slice and opens up more chances of hooks.

    Granted I’ve improved my setup immensely, but even now, if the club face visually appears even a bit closed to my eyes I will have to fight an over-the-top swing path for both my backswing and downswing. I cannot seem to stop my arms from starting the swing path going back in a straight line from the club face whenever it is closed. Yet, no matter how open the club face I have a consistent slightly in to out swing path. Likely some kind of internal optical illusion – lol.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Philip:
      There is no question that if a golfer has never seen a closed or open face driver/wood, the difference in how the face points left or right when the head is soled can be distracting. From this it is possible to see the golfer push the hands forward or change his set up in a way to try to make the club look more “normal”. And when that happens, the possible benefits of the new face angle can be erased.

      We teach clubfitters when giving a golfer a driver/wood with a different face angle to always “coach” the golfer to just let the head point as the face angle is ordaining and just make a normal swing. Sometimes this takes a few gentle reminders before the golfer accepts this and leaves things be to let the face angle do its thing in combination with the golfer’s swing error.

      What can also help the golfer who has a hard time getting used to the look of the face pointing left or right in the address position is to get some colored vinyl tape and cut a small piece into the shape of an arrow or other such alignment aid like you see in the form of a decal or engraving on the top of some companies’ woods. Put that alignment tape piece on the front middle top of the driver so it points at the target when the face is pointing in its left or right position from its designed face angle. Focusing on an alignment aid that IS pointing at the target while the actual face is pointing left or right can help a lot of golfers get over the hump in terms of not letting the face angle get to them psychologically.

      • Philip

        Jan 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        Thanks Tom. I’m going to add an alignment decal on my woods – that’ll help a lot in helping me get over needing the club face square as I tend not to have an issue if I can ignore the club face, which I am not that good at yet. That is an amazing tip that is just too obvious for me to think of – lol. Getting excited for the winter to end now!

        • Duncan Castles

          Jan 22, 2015 at 10:44 am

          Can vouch for the alignment decal idea. Began using one when I had a closed-face driver to align properly and have continued using them following a change to square-faced head and for my hybrids. True Aim produce an interesting product that I found changed ball flight as described. http://www.mytrueaim.com/

  15. Nolanski

    Jan 21, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Thanks Tom! Love your stuff and I’m still ready your book “the search for the perfect club”. Switching to 43.5″ driver shaft length changed the game for me. I can now find my ball after teeing off.

  16. Brian

    Jan 21, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Can a fitter bend drivers? I just got fitted for irons, wedges and putter and need to go back for driver and woods.

    Which new clubs are non-adjustable?

    • Enrique

      Jan 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

      It’s not recommended that woods be bent – it can flake the paint and isn’t very easy to do. But the SureFit system on Titleist clubs has a flat and upright setting. Up to 1.5* one way and .75* the other I believe.

      • Brian

        Jan 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm

        But the article said you shouldn’t use an adjustable club if you need this sort of help as the grounding is affected. Maybe I misread. Just want the best results from my upcoming driver fitting.

        • Golfrnut

          Jan 21, 2015 at 1:08 pm

          Some can in fact be bent, but most out there cannot. The newer drivers out with the adjustable hosels have way to short of a neck to do so. This is where physically being able to hand-pick heads with face angles is paramount if they cannot be bent. Some companies, like Tom owns, can hand-pick heads to meet this requirement. Other OEMs, unfortunately, are very limited to the average consumer. About the only way to get a good head that meets all the specs a person might fit in to might come from just blind luck of finding an off the rack head that happens to have the right specs that a person needs or finding some of the “tour issue” heads out there that have specs stickers on then that have been measured and their specs annotated. One of the heads that deviated from this a little was the older TM R series heads that had the sole plates. They allowed the sole to be manipulated to allow the sole to rest in a certain configuration that allowed you to set a head up either open/closed based on soling the head on the ground. Not sure exactly why they dropped the option, but there isn’t really anyone to dabble with that since.

          So, in short, options are limited. You have to source someone that can provide the service(IE Wishon Golf, etc) that have bendable hosels or offer the hand-picking of heads, or source out heads(retail or tour issue) that meet the requirements of what you need.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 21, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      Brian
      Right now, and I really say this as a technical face and not as a “shameless commercial plug”, but our drivers, fwys and hybrids are the only such models designed with a special hosel that is bendable. With my experience in metallurgy, it finally dawned on me two yrs ago that there were titanium alloys for driver hosels and steel alloys for fwy wood/hybrid hosels that were more ductile and thus able to be bent for such lie and face angle changes in custom fitting.

      So starting two yrs ago I began to change over all of our driver, wood and hybrid models to be produced with these bendable hosels. All the other companies use un-bendable/hardly bendable alloys for the hosels of their drivers, woods and hybrids – or in the case of drivers many companies use an adj hosel sleeve which is completely unbendable and very limited in what lie and face angle specs that can be offered. So for us, because we are 100% about custom fitting, this move into the bendable hosel technology was just a smart and better thing to do in our design work.

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On Spec

On Spec Special Edition: Houston Open winner Lanto Griffin talks equipment

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In this special edition of On Spec, Ryan has the chance to interview recent PGA Tour winner Lanto Griffin. Lanto talks about what it’s like to stand over an event winning putt, finding the right wedges, and how testing gear sometimes happens right out of another player’s bag.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The “70% Rule” is still the winning formula on the PGA Tour

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In June of 2010, a year before the Tour launched Strokes Gained Putting analysis, I published an article on my blog (www.NiblicksOfTruth.blogspot.com): “PGA Tour Winner’s – 70% Rule.”

I had been studying the winners of each tour event for years and realized that they all had specific success in three simple stats–and that the three stats must add up to 70 percent

  1. Greens in Regulation – 70%
  2. Scrambling – 70%
  3. 1-Putts from 5 to 10 feet – 70%

Not every one of the three had to equal 70 percent, but the simple addition of the three needed to equal or exceed 70 percent.  For example, if GIR’s were 68 percent, then scrambling or putting needed to be 72 percent or higher to offset the GIR deficiency—simple and it worked!

I added an important caveat. The player could have no more than three ERRORS in a four-round event. These errors being

  1. Long game: A drive hit out of play requiring an advancement to return to normal play, or a drive or approach penalty.
  2. Short game: A short game shot that a.) missed the putting surface, and b.) took 4 or more total strokes to hole out.
  3. Putting: A 3-putt or worse from 40 feet or closer.

In his recent win in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Kevin Na broke the rule… by a bit.  He was all good on the 70 percent part of the rule

  1. GIR’s: 75 percent
  2. Scrambling: 72 percent
  3. 1-Putts 5-10 ft.: 73 percent

But not so good on the three-error limit

  1. Long game: Two driving errors and one approach penalty (three errors).
  2. Short game: A chip/pitch shot that missed the green and took FIVE strokes to hole out (one error).

No wonder it took a playoff to secure his win! But there was another stat that made the difference…

The stat that piqued my interest in Kevin’s win was connected to my 70 percent Rule.  It was his strokes gained: putting stat: +3.54, or ranked first.  He gained 3.5 strokes on the field in each of his four rounds or 14 strokes. I have never seen that, and it caused me to look closer. For perspective, I ran the putting performance of all of the event winners in the 2019 Tour season. Their average putting strokes gained was +1.17.

Below, I charted the one-putt percentages by distance range separately for Kevin Na, the 2019 winners, and the tour 2019 average. I have long believed that the 6–10 foot range separates the good putters on Tour from the rest as it is the most frequently faced of the “short putt” ranges and the Tour averages 50 percent makes. At the same time, the 11-20 foot ranges separate the winners each week as these tend to represent birdie putts on Tour. Look at what Kevin did there.

All I can say again, I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS. Well done Kevin!

For the rest of us, in the chart below I have plotted Kevin’s performance against the “average” golfer (15-19 handicap). To see exactly how your game stacks up, visit my website.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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