With all of the new golf technology on the market, you may be having difficulty determining what these stats and information mean.
Getting a printout with information like the angle of attack, launch angle, spin rate, and swing speed is helpful, but what can you do with it all?
The angle of attack greatly impacts where the golf ball travels and how it gets there. Stay with us if you want to fully understand the angle of attack and how it impacts your game.
What is the angle of attack?
The angle of attack measures the exact angle your golf club is moving when you strike the golf ball. Although golfers commonly talk about having a steep or shallow angle of attack, the measurement is recorded in degrees, and there are optimal angles of attack based on the results you seek.
The angle of attack will impact spin rate, launch angle, hitting the ball on the sweet spot, and carry distance. If you are working on your golf swing, it pays to ensure your attack angle is correct.
How does club selection impact the angle of attack?
Wouldn’t the golf game be more straightforward if one angle of attack worked for all golf clubs? Unfortunately, that is not the case, and club selection will impact the angle of attack.
With a driver, you will often be hitting up on the ball with an upward angle of attack. With the irons, there is a steeper angle of attack while you hit down and through your shot. Although it may not be discussed as often, hitting the ball on a level plane is also possible.
A club with a low loft angle (like a driver) and a longer shaft requires a more upward attack angle. The shorter clubs with higher lofts and shorter shafts have a downward angle of approach.
A steep angle of attack is often considered a problem for some golfers. You may have heard that a steep angle could cause a slice or a push; this is not always true.
In fact, if you want to get spin and control in your wedge shots, the angle needs to have a negative angle of around 5 degrees.
If your angle of attack on a wedge is positive, you will likely not get the spin or ball speed you need.
The shallow angle of attack is ideal. After all, if you dig the club too far into the ground, you will lose some distance. With the shallow angle of attack, expect to have a smaller divot, higher shot, and less trouble with hitting chunk shots.
The impact position also changes based on the ball position, so you’ll want to have those in the proper place before perfecting your attack angle. Most of the time, a negative attack angle is ideal until you get to the driver.
This club path is slightly different, and a few degrees positive on the driver’s head is acceptable.
You can see our detailed description of Golf divots here.
How does player skill level impact the angle of attack?
Now that we have golf equipment that can measure the angle of attack and its impact on ball flight and overall shot results, we have learned yet another difference between professionals and amateurs.
The angle of attack for professional golfers
With the studies golf manufacturers and educators have done on the optimal angle of attack, here are a few things to know about professional players:
Although it feels different to hit a driver than a 60-degree golf wedge, the difference in the angle of the club at impact is usually about 5 degrees only. The club delivery among professional golfers is more consistent than in the average golfer.
Next time you watch professionals play a round of golf, pay close attention to the size of the divot they take. Even though the divots are long, they are shallow across. This is because the angle of attack is not too steep (generally less than 6 degrees for all clubs). See our post on how-to Shallow the golf club.
With the club speed professional golfers get, they also want to ensure they have high carry on their shots to the green. When they enter this slightly shallow range, they often find more consistent success even though the ball flight is high.
The average attack angle for an LGPA golfer is just a little higher than a PGA Golfer’s. Again, you must remember that the player’s body style and swing path also impact the angle of attack. For a PGA Professional, you may see zero or one degree for a driver, but with an LPGA, expect closer to 2 or 3 degrees.
Both professionals can play well, and it’s rare to see a Fat shot from any of these golfers.
The angle of attack for amateur golfers
Amateur golfers may have a considerably higher attack angle than professionals. This is one of the more common flaws among amateur players. Remember angle of attack can cause you to forfeit maximum distance, but it also leads to significant issues in consistency.
Amateur golfers may have a 2-degree attack angle for a driver and a -10-degree angle of attack for a wedge. This is a gap of 12 degrees, and some major changes in the swing occur for this to happen. With professionals, you usually see a 5-degree difference between the driver and the wedge and slight differences of 1.2 degrees between most clubs.
- Trouble with ball flight consistency
When you approach your iron or driver shot with a club head coming from a different angle, expect the consistency to be off.
Most amateur golfers complain that consistency is the worst part of their golf game. Surprisingly a lot of this can be tied to the attack angle.
- Decreased driving distances
Even if you are a strong amateur golfer, increasing your average club head speed is essential to the game. Slower club speed decreases total distance, and the angle of attack can impact this data point. How does your distance compare? See our article on average Distances for golf clubs.
What is the right angle of attack in golf?
The standard amount of attack angle at impact for a driver is zero. But depending on the player, this can vary, with many professionals being closer to -1.8 degrees and some LPGA professionals being closer to +2 degrees.
For irons, you will see a slightly steeper attack angle but still not near the -5 or -6 that we see with a Wedge. That number also can change based upon the Types of golf wedges you are hitting.
Remember that the angle of attack is very specific to the player hitting the ball. In addition, things like weight transfer, ball position, and the individual characteristics of the club head will impact the angle.
How to collect swing data about attack angles in golf?
As you can see, it’s hard to know your exact attack angle if you are trying to judge based on a deep divot or shallow divot. Although these can give us an indication as to the angle of our downward strike or upward strike, it’s not the full story.
The only way to get the full data stats, including spin loft, smash factor, swing direction, and more, is to go for a custom Golf club fitting. Using a Trackman or a Foresight GC3 can give you accurate data on whether or not you are in the correct range.
In addition, many personal launch monitors can measure things like:
- Attack angle at impact
- Speed at impact
- Dynamic loft at impact
- Optimum launch angle
- Smash factor and more
Golf tips to improve the angle of attack
For the average amateur, understanding the issue of attack angle is only half the battle. The more important factor is learning how to fix this angle. Here are a few simple drills to ensure your attack angles are within range.
Use alignment sticks to help with the swing plane
If you think your swing radius is too steep or shallow, you can use an alignment stick to help sort out the proper angle of attack. A shallow angle of attack can be achieved by putting an alignment stick in the ground at an angle you must stay under as you swing.
Play with the ball position
To have a consistent golf swing and results on the course, it’s important to keep the ball position the same each time you use a specific club.
For golfers with too upright of an angle, an excellent drill is to move the ball up slightly in the stance. Any scratch golfer will tell you even the slightest movement in the ball position can help you make big changes in the angle of attack.
Make sure your takeaway is not throwing you off
The takeaway is the first motion in the swing. A key drill to improving your overall attack angle in golf and making it a little shallower is to ensure your golf backswing starts a little lower to the ground. This won’t impact distance in golf or cause you to lose spin. Instead, it keeps the club from getting too steep.
Golfers love to talk about things like carry distance and total yardage, but one of the most common mistakes in the game is an incorrect attack angle with the club. Looking at professionals like Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Justin Rose can teach you that high-level players take shallow divots and have consistent attack angles.
But with practice and attention to detail, you can improve your attack angle and make it more consistent. Most important, when you can control your angle of attack, you also can control your ball flight.