Wishon: Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting.
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 theaverage 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.