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The Myth of the Closed Face Driver

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Dave asked me a great question in a previous thread I thought might help everyone.


Before I go further into exactly why exactly driver face angle is often a myth, there are two principles you should understand and accept. They are easy to explain in person, but difficult purely in words. Many people feel they are counterintuitive, but they are true, so please bear with me and accept them as dogma.

1. A closed face driver actually increases effective loft at impact (assuming you keep the face square). 2. An open face driver actually decreases the effective loft at impact (assuming you square the clubface). As Dave mentioned, most companies do produce a variety of face angles because of both manufacturing tolerances and clubhead design to help amateurs for a variety of reasons. However, testing has shown that even a moderately closed clubhead (1-3 degrees) will not have an adverse effect on face angle at impact for most players . Nick Price, a player who has made a career of moving the ball both ways plays all his woods with a two degree closed clubface and has shown no adverse affects from it. The big reason why most companies perfer to use a closed clubface is because it increases the effective loft of the driver face at impact. Just about all golfers these days need more loft, but refuse to get away from their 9.5 and 8.5 degree drivers despite lower spinning driver heads and golf balls. Manufacturers have decided to be proactive and give the customers what they need without telling them. Measure the loft on most off the rack drivers these days and you might be surprised at what they truly measure. A closed face is one way to do this without actually misleading the customer. There are a select few players (who mostly use a severe rotation of the forearms at impact like Vijay Singh) who can not play closed face drivers. These players require an open faced clubface so they can freely rotate their arms through impact without fear of delofting the clubface. Dave, it's entirely possible you might fall into this category. However, what I've found most often is that better players (who often fear the left miss) see a slightly closed face and they instinctively try to compensate holding off their release, suddenly their body tells them they are out of position and they end up over compensating and hitting a low liner OB left. One example is a customer who just ordered a superquad from me. When it came in, he was so excited he took it out to the course, and called me just before closing saying he wanted to send it back because the face was closed it was going left of left. I said, "Sure, but let's check the face angle tomorrow and see what we're working with." Sure enough, when I put it on the loft lie machine it measured a half degree open. No complaints from him since. That's an extreme case, but it happens more often than you might think. With better players especially who have the memories of a thousand bad hooks, when something looks like it's going to go left, more times than not it's going left. There are also other variables involved, hand positon at address for one. Keep you hands forward of the clubhead, and it looks a little open, put your hands behind it, and it looks a bit closed. Some drivers also have soles which are conducive to being closed, the superquad is definitely one. If you take your hand placement with the club resting on the ground, it might be resting in a fashion that is a bit closed. One huge factor which few people mention is paint. Tom Wishon did experiments where he repainted the same heads (all the square face angles) in various ways. His heads with paint breaks on the hosels all appeared to lay open to the majority of golfers, paint that extended slightly onto the face in the toe gave the appearance of a closed clubface. All in all, there are many variables that relate to face angle, it's not purely a cut and dry issue, and I hope this mini-opus has given you guys a little more insight into why manufacturers make face angles the way they do. I also neglected to mention heel weighting which is for the express purpose of helping close faces on metal woods, but that is another issue for another time. I will say for all the better players out there that truly want a square face angle (in appearance and measurement), look into Bridgestone metal woods. I have yet to have a Bridgestone wood come into the shop that hasn't been square to one degree open in terms of face angle and within a half degree of the stated loft. No other OEM comes close to replicating Bridgestone's attention to detail, although others like Cleveland are beginning to follow suit.

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Great post! Just 5 months ago, I didn't know the difference between an open, closed, or square face. I would just grip and rip. I used to lace my 4 wood down the fairway until I learned more about my golf clubs. I looked down at my 4 wood differently, and it was obviously pointing to to left. All I could think when addressing the ball was "snap hook". The result? A snap hook of course. Your post makes a lot of sense, and makes me realize how important the mental game is.

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