With so many options these days, you have a lot to think about when finding golf clubs to help your game. Here is a golf club glossary of some of the terminology you need to know before you can make the decisions that will help your game.
Angle of Attack
the angle at which the club impacts the ball. That angle can be steep or shallow, descending or ascending. Ball flight, backspin and distance are all affected by angle of attack.
the wedge between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. Loft is typically between 46-52 degrees. Also called a Gap Wedge.
on wedges, the degree of roundness of the sole of the club. Bounce helps the clubhead get through sand and long grass without digging in. See “wedges” for more information.
a golf club used in golf’s early days and roughly comparable to a 2-wood.
Bulge and Roll
the convex head on woods that helps impart spin to the ball that helps it go straighter. See Gear Effect.
the type of steel used in forged clubs. A combination of iron and carbon minerals produces a soft steel that is more maleable for the forging process.
the type of club that removes weight from the back of the clubhead producing a cavity. That weight is then moved to the perimeter of the club (see perimeter weighting)
the manufacturing process where molten metal is poured into preformed casts of the clubhead (see investment casting). See golf club design for more information.
Center of Gravity
that point in the clubhead where the most mass is located. Also called center of mass.
in putters when the shaft enters the clubhead in the center. See putters for more information.
the type of club designed mainly for chipping. Mostly used by beginner to intermediate golfers.
the type of golf club made from openly available component parts. Clone heads are manufactured using similar designs, materials and technology as the brand name clubs they often look like. Both clone and brand clubs use shafts and grips that are openly available in the golf marketplace. Clone retailers usually assemble these heads, shafts and grips and market their clubs online. See “clones” for more information.
the adjustments made to a golf club to take into account a golfers height, swing speed and swing characteristics. See club fitting for more information.
the part of a golf club that strikes the ball. One of the three components of a golf club with the shaft and the grip being the other two. See components for more information.
the measurement of the speed of the clubhead at impact (measured in miles per hour). The higher the speed the farther and higher the ball will travel. See golf club fitting for more information.
the length of the club from one end to the other. In club fitting the length is adjusted for a person’s height, swing and golf club type. The shorter the club the easier it is to hit.
Coefficient of Restitution
the amount of rebound provided by a club face (see trampoline effect). A COR of 1 would mean that the ball would rebound at the same speed it impacted the club face (A COR of 0 would mean no rebound at all). The USGA has limited the amount of COR a club face can have to .83.
the top of a driver or wood. To control center of gravity the crown is often made of lighter materials like carbon graphite.
the longest club designed to hit the ball the farthest distance usually from a tee. See drivers for more information.
the part of the club that covers the connection between the clubhead and the shaft. Originally just cosmetic the ferrule now helps protect today’s graphite shafts from cracking due to too much shearing.
the adhesive used to connect the shaft to the clubhead. This powerful adhesive must cure for 24 hours before a club can be used.
the part of the clubhead that impacts the ball. Faces can be made of various steels for irons and fairway woods and titanium for drivers. See golf club design for more information.
slang for the putter.
adjusting the stiffness of the shafts of a set of irons to match a golfers swing speed. Iron shafts do not all have the same stiffness but progressively get stiffer as the shaft gets longer. A frequency matched set would insure the the progression in stiffness would be uniform.
the wedge between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. Because manufactures have made pitching wedges with less and less lofts, a gap developed between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. A gap wedge is designed to fill that gap in loft. See wedges for more information.
the effect caused by the convex face of a driver or wood that imparts a spin that reduces the amount of side spin imparted to the ball (see bulge and roll). In short it helps the ball go straighter.
in sand wedges the shape if the sole may be adjusted by grinding it into a different shape. Some advanced players like to have the bounce and flange of a club changed to meet their requirements. See wedges for more information.
the score lines or lateral slot-shaped depression on the face of most clubs (mostly irons) that impart backspin to a ball. Grooves used to be V-shapped but they changed to U-shaped (sometimes called square grooves) in the early eighties which imparts more backspin and allows more control of the ball for advanced golfers.
in putters when the shaft is connected at one end of the clubface. See putters for more information.
the part of the clubhead that connects to the shaft.
the type of club that combines wood technology with long iron technology. Hybrid clubs are typically the same length as the long iron they are meant to replace but the head design uses features from woods including wide soles and lower centers of gravity. Hybrids use iron shafts which are a little wider than wood shafts. See “hybrids” for more information.
the manufacturing process that pours molten mvetal into preformed molds. In investment casting the molds are used only once. This process is less expensive than the previously used forging process where clubs are pounded into shape. Casting allows more variations in head shape which has led to many innovations in weight distribution (see perimeter weighting). See irons for more information.
the golf club made from metal that has arious lofts so that you can hit the golf ball controlled distances. Irons are differentiated from drivers, woods and hybrids by their design. See irons for more information.
also called flex point and bend point. That place in the shaft where the most flexing occurs. Lower flex points (closer to the clubhead) tend to make the ball fly higher. See club fitting for more information.
see clone clubs. Also see “clones” for more information.
the angle at which the ball comes off the clubface. Today’s golf balls have less spin so the optimum launch angle is higher for maximum distance particularly with the longer clubs.
the part of the clubhead that contacts the ball first. In offset clubheads the leading edge is moved forward relative to the shaft.
the angle at which the sole of a club sits on the ground. Golfers of different heights and swing plane require different lie angles for accuracy.
the angle of the clubface relative to a perpendicular line up from the ground. More loft creates a higher, shorter shot with more backspin imparted to the ball. In drivers however, where the ball is usually impacted with an ascending blow, optimizing distance is a matter of balancing launch angle, spin rate and angle of attack.
the wedge with most loft, usually between 58 and 62 degrees. See “wedges” for more information.
the type of putter where the head tends to be larger with more weight back and away from the face. Mallet types of putters tend to have larger moments of inertia which means they tend to twist less when hit on the toe. See putters for more information.
a process that makes steel very hard. The implication is that the harder the steel the more energy gets imparted to the ball on contact. Many fairway woods use maraging metals.
a golf club used in golf’s early days and roughly comparable to today’s 5 iron.
typically for putters but also in better iron faces, the process of very precisely cutting the grooves in a clubface using a special process.
a type of clubhead design for typically forged irons where weight is positioned behind the face to add more power to the shot. This feature is found mostly in “blade” style clubs. See irons for more information.
a golf club used in golf’s early days and roughly comparable to today’s wedge.
the pronounced difference between the shaft leading edge and the clubhead leading edge. The clubhead lags behind the shaft to allow a little extra time for the golfer to square the face. This helps to reduce the amount of slice spin applied to the ball.
a pewter colored or rust like finish applied to a club usually a wedge. Not a playability feature…purely cosmetic.
oversized clubheads feature a larger sweet spot. The feature originally started with the Big Bertha wood and eventually was also added to irons.
Moment of Inertia
the golf club feature that promotes a resistance to twisting. More MOI the more resistance to twisting.
also know as spine alignment, this process compensates for the lack of actual roundness of a shaft. Once the high points of a shaft are determined the shaft is then aligned so the high point is parallel to the the target line. Many experts disagree on whether this feature actually provides any benefits to the average golfer.
the lowest lofted wedge usually between 44 and 46 degrees. PWs of 20 years ago had lofts of 46 to 50 degrees. See Gap Wedge. See “wedges” for more information.
the wedge with the middle most loft, usually between 52 and 56 degrees. This wedge usually has the most bounce (see bounce) so that it can be used out of the sand and deep rough. See “wedges” for more information.
the long golf club component to which the head and grip are attached. Early shafts were made out of wood. Later steel became the standard and now graphite is very common. Shafts need to be the correct length and flexibility for a particular golfer to balance the need for accuracy and distance. See club fitting for more information.
the bottom of the clubhead that sits on the ground. Wider soles go through the grass smoothly and add weight to the bottom of the club producing a higher ball flight.
the type of steel used in cast irons, woods, and hybrids. The better quality grades are 17-4 or 431. Forged irons use Carbon Steel.
one of the two types of shaft materials the other being graphite. Steel shafts are said to have more accuracy due to less twisting. Graphite shafts produce more distance due to their lightness.
the spot in the clubface that delivers the most energy to the ball thus producing the most distance and accuracy. Larger clubheads should have larger sweetspots.
the “apparent” weight of the club based on a balance point along the shaft. It is not a function of total weight but more related to how heavy the clubhead feels to the golfer. Ideally all clubs should have about the same swing weight. Swing weight is measured by a letter and number system from A1 – G10. The standard for most males is D1 and for women C5. To achieve a given swing weight shaft length is the main adjustment because clubhead weight is pre-defined and standardized for each club. See “club fitting” for more information.
also know as tip trimming. The process of preparing a shaft for installation by cutting it at the desired point for correct flex and swing weight. The cutting point is usually defined by the shaft manufacturer.
the tip of the clubhead farthest from the hosel or heel of the club. Additional weight on the toe helps keep the clubhead from twisting on toe-hits.
as viewed from address position, the top of the clubhead. Thick toplines tend to help players hit the ball higher and farther at the expense of workability.
the tendency for a shaft to twist. More torque means more tendency to twist. Early graphite shafts tended to be higher torque than their steel counterparts. Today graphite shafts are much lower torque. Just because torque is low does not mean that it is better for a given swing speed or swing type. Club fitters say that it is more important to have “correct” torque for your swing speed.
the angle at which the ball comes off the clubhead. For today’s low spin balls higher trajectories are more desirable in drivers. Yet many game improvement irons tend to launch at higher angles which may not be desirable to advanced players who want more control.
the tendency for a ball to rebound off of a driver face. Thinner faces are suppose to promote this. See Coefficient of Restitution.
usually a club used for special situations but today often used for the category of hybrid clubs. See hybrids for more information.
Working the Ball
being able to move the ball from left to right and right to left as well as high and low. Better players claim that this is more difficult with game improvement clubs and often prefer clubs with less offset, perimeter weighting, and thick toplines. See golf club design for more information.
a metal used in inexpensive golf clubs that tends to be very soft and breakable. High quality clubs are never made from zinc.