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 Launch Angles
 Spin Rates
 Influencing Spin Rates & Launch Angles
 By the Numbers...

Vector Launch Monitor
The dynamics of fitting golf equipment continue to progress. Realizing that static measurements were the initial step to properly fitting a golf club to an individual, club fitters are focusing on the dynamics of the golf swing and the equipment, in order to achieve a sound fit. The exercise of dynamic fitting has now been refined enough to fine-tune the components of the golf equipment, using high-speed cameras and high-tech electronics. Launch monitors can capture the spin rate of the golf ball upon impact and chart its launch angle, trajectory path, direction and carry. But all of this is meaningless unless clubmakers understand the impact spin rates and launch angles have on clubhead performance.


Launch Angles
A clubhead with a higher launch angle will initially propel the golf ball higher at impact than a clubhead with lower launch angle data. This information is important when selecting a clubhead for trajectory specific applications. A golfer who wants to get the ball airborne with ease tends to benefit from a clubhead that yields a higher launch angle. Many tournament-caliber golfers who do not need assistance getting the ball airborne but would prefer to have better control, typically benefit from a clubhead with a lower launch angle. Most recreational golfers benefit from higher launch angles. There are always exceptions to the rules, but this does provide a good rule of thumb for fitting.
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Spin Rates
The spin rate pertains to the amount of backspin of the golf ball upon immediate impact. The amount of spin that a golfer desires from a clubhead is dependent upon the individual’s needs and the shot at hand. Not every golfer requires high spin for every shot or visa versa. Skilled golfers typically prefer a transitioning spin as they work from the driver down to the wedge. A much higher spin rate is beneficial for wedge play, because maximizing control around the greens is paramount. Less spin is sought with the driver because the objective off the tee is to promote distance and roll. When focusing on the needs of recreational golfers, there is a greater contrast of spin rate needs, especially when focusing on the lower-lofted clubs. Slower clubhead speeds benefit from higher spin rates by sustaining the flight time of the golf ball, keeping it airborne longer. The backspin provides the energy to keep the ball airborne, sustaining its flight time to maximize carry. Imparting backspin, not side sp in, is the objective to straighter ball flights. A clubhead that has a lower backspin rating may be prone to greater side spin when miss-hit.
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Influencing Spin Rates & Launch Angles
Not every clubmaker and club fitter has access to a launch monitor. It can provide insightful information in regard to pairing up the best components with a golfer’s swing.

It’s important to note that not all clubheads are created equal. Two different drivers with identical lofts will not necessarily have the same launch angles. One driver may have a much higher launch angle than the other due to many variables that can influence its performance. These factors include the head size (volume), face progression or offset, vertical height of the clubface, breadth of the head and many other design elements. Each have their own impact on the characteristics of the clubhead. Due to these variables, selecting a clubhead based solely on its loft may not necessarily lead to the performance that the clubmaker or golfer is seeking. This is where a launch monitor is beneficial in fine-tuning the performance of the equipment's performance. The additional launch angle and spin rate data provided in the specification charts assist in targeting customized clubhead performance. Marrying the launch angle and spin rate data together is as much an art as it is a science. There is a great deal of focus on drivers with high launch angle and low spin-rate on the ball for maximum driving distance. This formula is a good pursuit only if the golfer has a high enough clubhead speed and appropriate angle of attack on the golf ball. Most recreational golfers that we test see a far greater benefit from a high launch angle and high spin rate condition with their slower clubhead speeds. This situation is applicable throughout the set, not only with the driver. Simply changing the angle of attack on the golf ball can alter both the launch angle and spin rate numbers. For instance, Golfsmith’s R&D team members have observed major changes in launch angle and spin rate conditions by altering the vertical height of the golf tee, with significant gains in total driving distance with higher tee positions. An ascending angle of attack for a driver will also lead to a higher launch angle and increased ball flight.

The shaft also plays an important role in the launch angle and spin rate condition. Softer-flexed shafts tend to lead to higher spin conditions, as do lower bend point designs. Lighter shafts will typically increase the launch angle trajectory, but can also increase the spin rate of the ball. Club length will also alter the spin rate and launch angle conditions with longer length clubs yielding a higher trajectory compared to identical clubheads with shorter specifications. The construction (architecture) of the golf ball will also play an important role in regard to spin and launch conditions. The spin rate and launch angle data included in Golfsmith’s specification charts is intended as a guideline to assist in clubhead fitting to a golfer’s needs. All of the data in the Ultimate Clubmaker's Catalog was acquired using Max Headspeed.

The clubheads were built to the following specifications to ensure consistency.

Drivers:

 
Published head weight: 10 to 11 degrees of loft, unless it is a high-lofted model
  Club length: 43.5-inches
  Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 PUREd
  Tee height adjusted for center impact on each model

3-Woods:

 
Published head weight: 15 to 16 degrees of loft
  Club length: 42.5-inches
  Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 PUREd

Utility Woods:

 
Published head weight: 22 to 23 degrees loft
  Club length: 41 inches
  Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold, X100 PUREd

5-Irons:

 
Published head weight; published loft
  Club length: 38 inches
  Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold, X100 PUREd  

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By the Numbers...
Adjusting launch angles and spin rates can yield similar total distances for golfers who generated different clubhead speeds.

Avg. Total Carry
Avg. Clubhead Speed
Avg. Vertical Launch
Avg. of Backspin
207
207
83.3
95.8
16.8
14.9
2199
5592
222
222
101.0
85.3
14.1
21.3
5801
2689
232
233
102.1
92.1
12.4
13.8
1735
3201
248
248
96.6
103.9
12.2
10.5
2506
3983

Even though two golfers have identical clubhead speeds, the example below indicates that by changing either the vertical launch angle or spin rate will yield completely different carry distances.

Different Launch Angles
Similar clubhead speeds and backspin.

Clubhead Speed
Vertical Launch
Avg.
Backspin
Total Carry
103
103
10.5
15.2
3983
3864
248
260

Different Spin Rates

Similar clubhead speeds and launch angles.
Clubhead Speed
Vertical Launch
Avg.
Backspin
Total Carry
87
87
15
15
4918
4004
189
205

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