Most people know about CLUBHEAD PATH and FACE ANGLE. If FACE is open relative to the PATH, the ball curves to the right (slice). If FACE is closed in relation to the PATH, the ball curves right (hook). If both PATH and FACE are pointing in the same direction at impact, the ball flies stright. The relationship is absolute, but only if you hit the middle of the face.
So what happens if you miss the sweet spot? Years ago I wrote an article in Golf Digest Philippines explaining a phenomenon called GEAR EFFECT. Here’s a copy of that.
Basically, GEAR EFFECT causes the clubhead to rotate in a direction opposite that of the clubhead. This is most obvious with the driver.
Of course, that’s just theory, right? So I conducted another mini experiment using my FlightScope launch monitor to analyze the results. Aside from proving GEAR EFFECT, I also wanted to show you which type of mishit produced the most distance (hence the title).
The club I used was a 9 degree PING G30 (adjusted to 8.4) with an Adila Tour Blue 75 Stiff shaft. I tried my best to swing at around100mph with only minimal adjustments in terms of tee height and ball placement to achieve off-center contact.
Toe = hook, low spin
Heel = slice, high spin
Below center = low launch, high spin.
Above center = high launch, low spin.
Distance from best to worst? Toe > above center > heel > below center.
In other words, better miss it above center and off the toe for minimal loss of distance. If you find yourself missing towards the heel and low on the face, tee it high and stand farther back. At least until you see a professional to fix the mechnical flaws causing those mishits.
For better players, intentionally hitting off center can give you an edge in terms of strategy. Instead of a fairway wood, tee it down if there’s a hazard that is within reach of a solid drive. O.B. left? Hit it off the heel and slice it down the fairway.
And in case you’re wondering what centered contact can produce with approximately the same clubhead speed.
Obviosly, nothing beats the sweet spot with a properly fitted driver. This one in particular was 30 yards longer than the shots hit below center.