Knowing your launch angle with the driver is powerful information.
When you find your launch angle, it can tell you if you're hitting the ball too high or too low. That's important because both of these conditions can rob you of your potential distance.
Hit it too high, you get "balloon" shots that fly really high and just fall out of the sky, like a dead duck. Hit it too low, and you won't just maximize your carry distance, but the friction of the ground will rob you of roll-out distance, as well.
Knowing your angle of attack (AoA) is also a good thing. It's no secret that hitting up into the ball (an ascending AoA) can lead to a higher launch angle, less backspin, and more distance. If you want to change that, you gotta know where you're starting from, right?
The good news is, you don't need an expensive launch monitor to do this!
You can find your launch angle and AoA with just a few things:
Optional: a golf hitting mat.
Not optional: you and your driver.
If you want to find your launch angle, you- and your driver- have to participate!
side note: I have a disclaimer, but I want you to know that the above links are affiliate links. If you don't have the things listed already, I'd appreciate it if you followed them and bought what you needed from Amazon, but you're under no obligation to do so. You'd be doing me and GLG a huge service, though!
Before we go further into finding your driver's launch angle, there are a few measurements that you need to ensure are correct:
OK, so now that we know all of that, I think you get the gist. Use the masking tape to secure the newspaper to the hitting net.
Place the impact label or sunscreen on the driver and hit a shot. You're looking for solid contact on the "sweet spot". The label helps you to keep track of what shot is what.
For example, you hit one shot. Mark a small "1" on the label, as well as on the newspaper. Mark a "2" for the second, etc., until you get one that's on the "sweet spot".
One final measurement: the distance from the ground to the center of the hole.
The distance from the ground to the center of the hole will not only tell you find your launch angle, but your angle of attack, as well! Use this table to help you figure it out:
Distance From Ground (or Floor) to Center of Hole
Launch Angle (degrees)
Angle of Attack (degrees)
There’s (always) a catch: This table is for an 11* driver.
That’s OK, though, because figuring out the difference for your driver isn’t difficult math. Just subtract or add the difference of your driver to each of the numbers.
For example, let’s say your driver’s 10.5*:
- 11 – 10.5 = 0.5
- 10.5 is less than 11, so now it’s -0.5
- That means, we subtract 0.5* from each of the numbers.
Using the chart above, let’s say you measured 23 1/4″. You have to subtract the 0.5, so the launch angle would now be 9.5* (10*-0.5), and the AoA would be Downward -1.3* (-0.8-0.5; put another way it’d be minus 0.8 subtracted by 0.5).
If your driver is 12*:
- 12 – 11 = 1
- 12 is greater than 11, so now it’s +1
- That means, we add 1* to each of the numbers.
For that same 23 1/4″ measurement, the launch angle would now be 11 (10+1), and the AoA would now be Upward +0.2 (-0.8+1).
That’s it! You now know your approximate launch angle and angle of attack!
As a note: I didn’t come up with this all by myself. This was gleaned from Tom Wishon’s The NEW Search For The Perfect Golf Club (pg. 280-284). You can get it on Amazon here; it’s worth the read, I promise.
I wanted to recreate it for people that might not’ve read his stuff, but were curious about this and didn’t have access to a launch monitor.
Wait- What About Backspin?
Don’t worry your little head about that. There are three things to know when it comes to backspin:
- When the ball flight’s too high: the ball will “balloon” and fall, like a dead duck
- If the ball flight’s too low: the ball will hit the ground sooner than you’d like
- When it’s just right, it won’t be too high or too low. The best blend of carry distance and roll-out
People want to obsess over the numbers, but really, it’s not worth the headache. Yes, you want to get an idea of these things, but honestly… how often are you gonna hit those numbers exactly?
The answer: not that often, if at all.
Not even the best players do it. That’s OK, though, because it’s just a baseline. You’ll be over the numbers, under the numbers, well over/under the numbers… it’s just not worth obsessing over.
Get your clubs fitted without obsessing over finding some “ideal”, to get you into a good starting point. The rest is up to you.