A Matter of Offset
One of the things that I always notice first about a golf club is the amount of offset it has – the distance out in front of the leading edge that the hosel is positioned. If you peruse the iron rack in any golf store, you can see irons with various amounts of offset, and I’m sure that many golfers are confused by this design feature and why it exists. At least that’s the impression I get from the golfers I visit with each week.

The topic comes up today thanks to an email from Anton B., who asks:
"How does the offset in a wedge affect its characteristics on various shots? I understand that normally the offset does two things in irons: 1) helps to close the clubface; 2) gives higher trajectory with CG being pushed further back. For wedges neither makes much sense really, and yet there are wedges out there with various amounts of offset, sometimes quite pronounced. Why is it there exactly and what it does from a club designer perspective?"
Well, Anton, first of all, congratulations for submitting today’s topic – you win a new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge, and the first of our Vari-Loft™ Concept to be given away by The Wedge Guy. Now let’s get on to your question.

First of all, your understanding of the purpose of offset in irons is almost dead on. By adding offset to an iron, it does help the clubface to close through impact, which can help a great number of players, particularly with the long- and mid-irons. The reason this happens is that the offset puts the center of gravity of the club in a slightly different relationship to the centerline of the shaft. If you simply lay an offset and non-offset iron on a table with the heads hanging off the side, you’ll see that the face of the offset iron will point slightly upward, while the face of the non-offset iron will be nearly vertical. This is a simple re-arrangement of the balance point, so that in the downswing, the offset iron is already “seeking” a more square position through impact.

Obviously, because the offset iron tends to close through impact, such an alignment is exactly the wrong thing for any player with a tendency to pull or draw the ball. It’s a slicer/pushers fix only.

Now, onto your second point – that offset produces higher trajectories. Actually, I’ve always believed the reverse to be true. Having a slight offset produces a lower trajectory than if the same club head design were made without any offset. Though to a very slight degree, the hosel offset allows the golfer to get his or her hands through impact just ahead of the clubface itself, and “leading hands” are what helps keep trajectories down. This is even more important for golfers playing cavity back irons with a lower center of gravity. That distribution of weight produces much higher trajectories than a more muscle-back design, so the addition of offset to most such clubs help keeps shots out of the clouds. The problem arises when that offset is applied to the shorter irons, which are easier to pull anyway, so you’ve aggravated that tendency.

What gets me the most about offset in irons is the number of players I see, particularly better players who have a tendency to draw or pull shots, and yet they are playing an iron with an offset. I’ve shown dozens of them that simply going to an iron with less or no offset is much easier than trying to develop a “block move” through impact in an attempt to overcome what the club was designed to do in the first place. I fought my brother for years to ditch his Tommy Armour 845s for a more traditional set up for that very reason. And when he finally did, his draw/pull tendency disappeared overnight.

I hope that answered your question, Anton, and I hope you enjoy your new EIDOLON V-SOLE Vari-Loft Concept wedge. And for all you other readers, if you have a question you’d like to see me address, just click the link below and send it to me.


photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
I never did like offset on any clubs. even when i went through my "slice" phase and all the people were telling me to buy offset drivers, my answer to them was "well what do i do when i fix my slicing problem?". nobody had an answer. IMO, getting an offset club is like buying another computer to surf two different web pages at the same time. Sure, it works, but if you just learned a little more about what you've already got you could save yourself some money and aggravation.
10/19/10
 
Dazinkster says:
Thanks for that info, very interesting.

Personally I think too many players look for "quick" fixes through equipment rather than spending a bit of time with a teaching pro.
10/19/10
 
Matt Otskey says:
Clubs don't fix your swing. Clubs don't fix your swing. Clubs don't fix your swing.
10/19/10
 
Matt Otskey says:
But it was an informative article though =]
10/19/10
 
Bryan K says:
I play offset irons, but I think I've outgrown them.

This Spring, my well hit irons shots had a tendency to go just right of center. They didn't slice. They just pushed ever so slightly. The offset irons fixed that without doing any other tweeks to my swing.

A couple of months ago, I added some dimensions to my game that really improved my iron distance. The result was also that I'm now slightly pulling my well hit shots to the left of the target.
10/19/10
 
legitimatebeef says:
Too much offset is gross.
10/19/10
 
sepfeiff says:
Terry is saying that it's the shape driven out from an original shape in equal distance and direction, normally or perpendicularly to the original shape? Whats the problem? >:O
10/19/10
 
knh555 says:
If an offset helps a player who slices, wouldn't an inverted offset (onset?) help a player who hooks?

Or you could just fix your swing.
10/19/10
 
Banker85 says:
i am pulling my irons now as well after my swing overhaul this year (got my path to come from the inside finally!) now my well struck shots pull a little to the left. not dramatic but i feel like i hit it solid and it goes left and long. I have a minimal offset in my irons too. what could help me from pulling my shots like this?
10/19/10
 
TWUES17 says:
Banker - you're probably still coming over the top. I'm no expert, but I struggle with a pull too and it's generally because I'm too steep. Only have the problem with my 4 iron and up, but I'm sick of trying to adjust my stance to compensate, so I'm looking for a fix as well.

Had a lesson recently that pointed out two things: 1. Straightening my right knee in my backswing, which tended to lead to (2) me casting the club to try to get back to the ball. May want to start looking there...
10/19/10
 
TWUES17 says:
And, mine sounds, based on your comment above, to be a lot more severe than yours. The 'pulls' typically start about 20 or so degrees left of my intended target line. A recipe for a disaster when eyeing up tight fairways.
10/19/10
 
tiger-tiger says:
there are very few if any zero offset blades out there. in fact i havent seen a spec for any modern blade that has zero offset quoted in its specs. some blades have very little offset, some have so little that you cannot tell by simply looking at it let alone hitting it, you have to measure it to realize its actually there. to Banker85 & TWUES17 my advise is to get a modern set with progressive offset ie more offset in longer irons less offset in shorter irons. almost all modern blade irons, if not all, are made with progressive offset. best thing to do is go to a good club fitter and try out few models or just demo few sets so you at least gonna have some idea what you are looking for. general rule is that cbs will have more offset and muscle backs less but there are some so called "players' cbs out there with very little offset too.
10/19/10
 
ajdaddy says:
Trap the ball. Terry does mention going to a less offset club, and I've read it elsewhere (The Impact Zone-Clampett's book) about how a lot of 'modern' club design and 'game improvement' actually hinder the development of the proper strike. A lot of offset and weight on the bottom of the club are meant to correct for thin shots and poor path. Less offset and even 'gasp' blades actually reward the proper strike, if one is willing to put in the time.
10/19/10
 
knh555 says:
@ajdaddy: While I agree with you, I'd like to play devil's advocate here. What's wrong with an "improper" strike if you're playing quality golf. Or to put it another way, even if you fail to trap the ball, if the offset club works well with your non-trapping strike and you get a decent ball flight, why would it matter? Ultimately, it's about how many shots you hit and nothing more, right?
10/19/10
 
Matt Otskey says:
@Banker

Definitely think about your descent angle into the ball. Most likely as TWUES17 said, you're coming in to the ball too steeply.
10/19/10
 
Banker85 says:
I know i am coming in steeply. How do i level it off? feels like i am in a tottaly different plane when i try to be more i want more of a shallow golf swing i guess right? any tips?
10/20/10
 
Banker85 says:
my backswing is straight back and up like i am putting my club in a catchers mit then to get my swing inside on the downswing i act like i am hitting it out to right field (first basebal player, turned golfer.) not understanding where the steepness is coming from?
10/20/10
 
birdieXris says:
@banker - you can probably fix that by backing up off the ball a little. When you're too close though you may not feel it, the body yanks the club left through the ball, to try and get it "back on line". I go through that a lot when i'm having an off day. It's more than likely a setup issue that compounds a swing issue. Oddly enough it' what i'm going to the range to work on today. :)
10/20/10
 
Banker85 says:
thanks guys
10/20/10
 
birdieXris says:
Every fix starts with PGA. Position, Grip, Alignment
10/20/10
 
buayakk says:
Some offset will make your 3 and 4 iron useful.
2/5/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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