RoboTest: How much does an open or closed clubface affect your drives?

Managing driver face angle is a great way to find more fairways.

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Unless you’re a robot and can deliver the face square at impact on command, it’s safe to assume you’ll hit at least a few squirrely drives during the course of a round. Minimizing those misses is the key to lower scores.

Earlier this year, we discussed several different drivers from GOLF’s 2022 ClubTest that are designed to help golfers with specific mishits. If your driver can combat unwanted twisting at impact or help get the face closer to square with regularity, the dispersion pattern should tighten up almost immediately.

Of course, it’s unrealistic to assume a driver is going to completely straighten out that slice or heel miss.

To further highlight the fact that golf is a game of millimeters, we left Golf Laboratories’ swing robot go to work to determine how a slightly open or closed club face can alter your drives.

Using a 10.5-degree head (stiff-flex shaft), the face was purposely opened and closed (1 and 2 degrees) with a center strike impact (0 degrees Angle of Attack) at 95 miles per hour.

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Results

Open/closed face (1 degree): 10 yards of deviation. That means impacting the center with a 1-degree open face is going to result in a ball that goes 10 yards right or left of center, depending on if the face is open or shut at impact.

Open/closed face (2 degrees): 20 yards of deviation. Impacting the center with a 2-degree open face is going to result in a ball that goes 20 yards right or left of center, depending on if the face is open or shut at impact.

To put those numbers in perspective, the average fairway is 40 yards in width, so the average played needs to be within 2 degrees to hit the fairway. The numbers aren’t meant to be a downer; it’s merely to show how knowing your face to target measurement is critical for accuracy.

To determine your face angle at impact, you will need to access a launch monitor — like Foresight’s GCQuad — to capture data. Face angle will change from one shot to the next, but understanding where you typically land can make it easier to find a driver that suits your tendencies.

With plenty of good options in the marketplace, you don’t need to be perfect to find more fairways.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below

JWall

Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.