The key launch mon­i­tor data ex­plained


If you can in­ter­pret and fol­low the in­for­ma­tion pumped out by launch mon­i­tors such as Track­man and GC2, you will be able to have a more mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with your fit­ting pro­fes­sional.

1 Club speed This is how fast the club­head is trav­el­ling at im­pact in miles per hour. It will be high­est with the driver and grad­u­ally de­crease as you move through the set and the clubs get shorter. Faster is ob­vi­ously bet­ter and many coaches see club speed as a good in­di­ca­tor of a golfer’s po­ten­tial. PGA Tour av­er­ages are 113mph with driver, 90mph with a 7-iron and 83mph with a wedge; 90mph with driver is a club golfer’s av­er­age.

2 Ball speed This is how fast the ball launches off the club­face in miles per hour. It’s a prod­uct of your swing speed and the ef­fi­ciency of your strike. Faster is bet­ter and longer, and it will de­crease as you move down the set from driver to pitch­ing wedge. The av­er­age on the PGA Tour is 167mph with driver, 120mph with a 7-iron and 102mph with a pitch­ing wedge. That typ­i­cal 90mph driver speed for a club player will pro­duce a ball speed of about 140mph.

3 Smash fac­tor This shows how ef­fi­ciently you trans­fer energy from the club to the ball. It’s cal­cu­lated by di­vid­ing ball speed by club speed. A smash fac­tor of 1.50 is re­garded as op­ti­mal, but the de­sign of modern drivers means you can see higher num­bers. The higher the num­ber, the bet­ter you are hit­ting the ball. The PGA Tour av­er­age with a driver is 1.48, 1.33 with a 7-iron and 1.23 with a wedge. You may see higher num­bers if you’re be­ing fit­ted into game-im­prover and dis­tance-ori­ented irons.

4 At­tack an­gle This is the an­gle the club­head is trav­el­ling at im­pact in re­la­tion to the hor­i­zon­tal ground at zero. A pos­i­tive num­ber means you’re hit­ting up on the ball and a neg­a­tive num­ber means you’re hit­ting down on the ball. The fur­ther you are from zero, the steeper you are hit­ting up or down. You want to hit up with modern drivers – the PGA Tour av­er­age is -1.3° but the best drivers hit up by around 4°. You want to hit down for all other clubs with in­creas­ing steep­ness as the loft in­creases. The PGA Tour av­er­age is -4.3° with a 7-iron and -5.0° with a pitch­ing wedge.

5 Launch an­gle This is the an­gle the ball launches off the club­face in de­grees from hor­i­zon­tal. Higher is gen­er­ally bet­ter, but you have to strike the right bal­ance with your ball speed and spin to pro­duce the op­ti­mal flight.

6 Spin rate This is the amount of spin on the ball in rev­o­lu­tions per minute. The more spin there is, the faster it will lose speed and the more it will climb dur­ing its flight. Many modern clubs are hit­ting the ball fur­ther by re­duc­ing spin. But you need a com­bi­na­tion of spin, ball speed and launch an­gle to keep the ball in the air, so play­ers with more club speed and a higher launch an­gle can get away with less spin and hit the ball fur­ther. The av­er­age on the PGA Tour is 2,686rpm with driver, 7,097rpm with a 7-iron and 9,304rpm with a pitch­ing wedge. Be­tween 2,000-3,000rpm is gen­er­ally a good num­ber with the driver and irons should be 1,000 times the club (so 8,000rpm with an 8-iron), but don’t be sur­prised to see 1,000rpm less than this as modern irons get high­er­launch­ing and lower-spin­ning.

7 Carry dis­tance The dis­tance in yards the ball trav­els through the air be­fore it lands. Longer is usu­ally bet­ter, but that has to be in con­junc­tion with a height and land­ing an­gle that en­ables you to stop the ball on a green if it’s an ap­proach club. Although a more use­ful num­ber than to­tal dis­tance in a fit­ting, you must be mind­ful of the to­tal.

8 To­tal dis­tance This is the dis­tance the ball will travel in to­tal be­fore it comes to rest in yards. You have to be mind­ful of whether your fit­ter is talk­ing about carry or to­tal dis­tance as they don’t al­ways go hand in hand. A ball re­leases more af­ter it lands if it has a lower flight, less spin and a shal­lower land­ing an­gle so it could have a shorter carry and more to­tal dis­tance. The key is to find the right mix for you with each club.

9 Dy­namic loft The ac­tual loft on the club­face at im­pact in de­grees from ver­ti­cal. Shaft lean, at­tack an­gle and club path in­flu­ence this. Dy­namic loft in­flu­ences launch an­gle, ball speed and spin. There isn’t a right and wrong here as it all de­pends on what works with how you de­liver the club­head and the club’s tech­nol­ogy. Gen­er­ally, dy­namic loft of the driver should be more than its stated loft be­cause you hit up on the ball and all other clubs will de­crease in loft at im­pact be­cause you’re hit­ting down.

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