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Dynamic loft, angle of attack and your launch angle



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 ( 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: [email protected]



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  3. 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 ?

    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 ?


  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. AP

    Apr 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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


    • 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.

  10. 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


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

  11. tom stickney

    Apr 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm

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

  12. 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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What to look for in a golf instructor: The difference between transformative and transactional coaching



Golf instruction comes in all different styles, methods, and formats. With that said, you would think this would be a good thing due to there being so many different types of people in the world. However, it is my opinion that the lack of standardization within the industry makes it confusing for the athlete to determine what kind of golf instruction they should seek out.

Before we can discuss what may or may not be the best type of instruction for yourself, first we need to know what our options are. Whether we are taking a “broad-spectrum approach” to learning or a more personalized approach, it is important to understand that there are differences to each, and some approaches are going to take longer than others to reach goals.

Broad-Spectrum Approach

Welcome to the world of digital golf instruction, where tips from the most famous coaches in the world are a click away. The great thing about the internet and social media for a golfer is there has never been more access to the top minds in the field—and tips and drills are plentiful. With that said, with there being so many choices and differing opinions, it can be very easy to become distracted with the latest tip and can lead to a feeling of being lost.

I would describe “internet coaching”—or YouTube and Instagram surfing—as transactional coaching. You agree to pay, either a monthly fee or provide likes or follows and the professional provides very generalized tips about the golf swing. For athletes that are new to golf or golf instruction, this tends to be the first part of their process.

There are people who prefer a more transactional approach, and there are a ton of people having success working together over the internet with their coach. With that said, for someone who is looking for more of a long-term individualized approach, this may not be the best approach. This broad-spectrum approach also tends to be the slowest in terms of development due to there being a lot of trial and error due to the generalized approach and people having different body types.

Individual Transactional Coaching

Most people who are new to golf instruction will normally seek out their local pro for help. Depending on where you live in the country, what your local pro provides will vary greatly. However, due to it being local and convenient, most golfers will accept this to be the standard golf lesson.

What makes this type of instruction transactional is that there tends to be less long-term planning and it is more of a sick patient-doctor relationship. Lessons are taken when needed and there isn’t any benchmarking or periodization being done. There also tends to be less of a relationship between the coach and player in this type of coaching and it is more of a take it or leave it style to the coaching.

For most recreational or club-level players, this type of coaching works well and is widely available. Assuming that the method or philosophies of the coach align with your body type and goals athletes can have great success with this approach. However, due to less of a relationship, this form of coaching can still take quite some time to reach its goals.

Individual Transformative Coaching

Some people are very lucky, and they live close to a transformative coach, and others, less lucky, have had to search and travel to find a coach that could help them reach their goals. Essentially, when you hire a transformative coach, you are being assigned a golf partner.

Transformative coaching begins with a solid rapport that develops into an all-encompassing relationship centered around helping you become your very best. Technology alone doesn’t make a coach transformative, but it can help when it comes to creating periodization of your development. Benchmarks and goals are agreed upon by both parties and both parties share the responsibility for putting in the work.

Due to transformative coaching tending to have larger goals, the development process tends to take some time, however, the process is more about attainment than achievement. While improved performance is the goal, the periods for both performance and development are defined.

Which One is Right for You?

It really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your development. If you are looking for a quick tip and are just out enjoying the weather with your friends, then maybe finding a drill or two on Instagram to add to your practice might be the ticket. If you are looking to really see some improvement and put together a plan for long-term development, then you are going to have to start looking into what is available in your area and beyond.

Some things to consider when selecting a coach

  • Do they use technology?
  • What are their qualifications when it comes to teaching?
  • Do they make you a priority?

As a golf coach who has access to the most state-of-the-art technology in the industry, I am always going to be biased towards a data-driven approach. That doesn’t mean that you should only consider a golf coach with technology, however, I believe that by having data present, you are able to have a better conversation about the facts with less importance placed on personal preference. Technology also tends to be quite expensive in golf, so be prepared if you go looking for a more high-tech coaching experience, as it is going to cost more than the low-tech alternative.

The general assumption is that if the person you are seeking advice from is a better player than you are, then they know more about the golf swing than you do. This is not always the case, while the better player may understand their swing better than you do yours, that does not make them an expert at your golf swing. That is why it is so important that you consider the qualifications of your coach. Where did they train to coach? Do they have success with all of their players? Do their players develop over a period of time? Do their players get injured? All things to consider.

The most important trait to look for in a transformative coach is that they make you a priority. That is the biggest difference between transactional and transformative coaches, they are with you during the good and bad, and always have your best interest top of mind. Bringing in other experts isn’t that uncommon and continuing education is paramount for the transformative coach, as it is their duty to be able to meet and exceed the needs of every athlete.

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The importance of arm structure



How the arms hang at address plays a vital role in the golf swing. Often overlooked, the structure in which we place the arms can dictate one’s swing pattern. As mentioned in the article How Posture influences your swing, if you start in an efficient position, impact is much easier to find making, the golf swing more repeatable and powerful.

To start, I opt to have a player’s trail arm bent and tucked in front of them with angle in the trail wrist. While doing so, the trail shoulder can drop below the lead with a slight bend from the pelvis. This mirrors an efficient impact position.

I always prefer plays to have soft and slightly bent arms. This promotes arm speed in the golf swing. No other sports are played with straight arms, neither should golf.

From this position, it’s easier to get the clubhead traveling first, sequencing the backswing into a dynamic direction of turn.


When a player addresses the ball with straight arms, they will often tilt with their upper body in the backswing. This requires more recovery in the downswing to find their impact position with the body.

A great drill to get the feeling of a soft-bent trail arm is to practice pushing a wall with your trail arm. Start in your golf set-up, placing your trail hand against the wall. You will instinctively start with a bent trail arm.

Practice applying slight pressure to the wall to get the feeling of a pushing motion through impact?. When trying the drill with a straight trail alarm, you will notice the difference between the two? arm structures.

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What is ground force in the golf swing?



There is no doubt about it, the guys and gals on tour have found something in the ground—and that something is power and speed. I’m sure by now you have heard of “ground reaction forces”—and I’m not talking about how you “shift your weight” during the golf swing.

Ground force in the golf swing: Pressure and force are not equal

With respect to ground force in the golf swing, it’s important to understand the difference between pressure and force. Pressure is your perception of how your weight is being balanced by the structure, in this case, the human body. Your body has a center of mass which is located roughly one inch behind the belt buckle for men and about one inch lower in women. When we shift (translate and/or torque) the center of mass, we create a pressure shift as the body has to “rebalance” the mass or body. This pressure shift can help us understand some aspects of the golf swing, but when it comes to producing power, force and torque are where it’s at.

Pressure can only be expressed in relation to the mass or weight of the body. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can only create 150 pounds of pressure at one time. However, when we direct that mass at a larger object than our mass, all of a sudden that larger mass directs an opposite and equal reactionary force. So now, when a human being “pushes” their legs against the ground and “feels” 150 pounds of pressure, they now get 150 pounds of force directed back towards them from the ground, creating a total of 300 pounds of force that allows them to jump off the ground in this scenario.

If ground reaction forces don’t have anything to do with the “weight shift,” then what do they affect? Everything!

Most people use the same basic ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. However, almost everyone has chocolate chip cookies that taste slightly different. Why is that? That is because people are variable and use the ingredients in different amounts and orders. When we create a golf swing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are using the same basic ingredients as everyone else: lateral force, vertical torque, and vertical force. We use these same three forces every time we move in space, and how much and when we use each force changes the outcome quite a bit.

Welcome to the world of 3D!

Understanding how to adjust the sequencing and magnitude of these forces is critical when it comes to truly owning and understand your golf swing. The good news is that most of our adjustments come before the swing and have to do with how we set up to the ball. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time controlling low point due to having too much lateral force in the golf swing (fats and thins), then we narrow up the stance width to reduce the amount of lateral force that can be produced in the swing. If an athlete is late with their vertical force, then we can square up the lead foot to promote the lead leg straightening sooner and causing the vertical force to happen sooner.

While we all will need to use the ground differently to play our best golf, two things need to happen to use the ground effectively. The forces have to exist in the correct kinetic sequence (lateral, vertical torque, vertical force), and the peaks of those forces need to be created within the correct windows (sequencing).

  • Lateral force – Peak occurs between top-of-swing and lead arm at 45 degrees
  • Vertical torque – Peak occurs between lead arm being 45 degrees and the lead arm being parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical force – Peak occurs between lead arm being parallel to the ground the club shaft being parallel to the ground.

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember ground reaction forces are invisible and can only be measured using force plates. With that said, their tends to be apprehension about discussing how we use the ground as most people do not have access to 3D dual force plates. However, using the screening process designed by Mike Adams, Terry Rowles, and the BioSwing Dynamics team, we can determine what the primary forces used for power production are and can align the body in a way to where the athlete can access his/her full potential and deliver the club to the ball in the most effective and efficient way based off their predispositions and anatomy.

In addition to gaining speed, we can help athletes create a better motion for their anatomy. As golfers continue to swing faster, it is imperative that they do so in a manner that doesn’t break down their body and cause injury. If the body is moving how it is designed, and the forces acting on the joints of the body are in the correct sequence and magnitude, not only do we know they are getting the most out of their swing, but we know that it will hold up and not cause an unforeseen injury down the road.

I truly believe that force plates and ground reaction forces will be as common as launch monitors in the near future. Essentially, a launch monitor measures the effect and the force plates measure the cause, so I believe we need both for the full picture. The force plate technology is still very expensive, and there is an educational barrier for people seeking to start measuring ground reaction forces and understanding how to change forces, magnitudes, and sequences, but I’m expecting a paradigm shift soon.


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