3 numbers every golfer should know to get their clubs dialed in

HAVEN, Wis. — Players spend a lot of time on the range getting dialed-in. Checking up on the numbers. That’s especially true this week, where the Wisconsin weather is so far cold and somewhat gloomy, which will have obvious effects on the way the ball flies.

But what does dialing-in your equipment mean? And how can you do it?

Put simply, it means keeping an eye on a handful of really few important numbers that stem from the way you hit the ball. Any good clubfitter knows these by heart, and as GOLFTEC’s VP of Instruction and GOLF Top 100 Teacher Nick Clearwater explains above, they’re simple enough for every golfer to get a firm grasp on them.

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1. Launch Angle

Launch angle means, simply how high the ball takes off when it leaves the clubface, relative to the ground. That’s the first of the two most important factors to hitting the ball longer, so keep an eye on it.

“For a driver, somewhere between 12 and 13 degrees with that is a really good baseline,” Clearwater says. “Anything more or less than that and you’re really losing some maximum distance.”

2. Spin Rate

Outside of launch angle, the other half of the equation that will help you find your optimal launch conditions is knowing your backswing. When the ball contacts the clubface, it imparts backspin the ball — it’s what helps the ball fly into the air. But too much of it can be a bad thing, Clearwater explains:

“With a driver somewhere between 2,000 to 2,500 RPMs,” he says, “With an iron, somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000.”

3. Descent angle

This last metric may be the most important, Clearwater says: The angle of descent. This, as you might surmise, is the angle at which the ball comes back down to earth in relation to the flat surface of the ground. The more severe the descent angle, the faster the ball will come to rest without having to relay on potentially distance-costing backspin.

“It’s critically important for different clubs,” Clearwater says. “For a shot that’s coming off a tee, 35 to 38 degrees is a great range. For a shot that’s going to land on the green and stop, we want that closer to 45 degrees.”

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.