Wedge Launch Angle

Here is a blog on launch angle with the wedge covering the factors that help launch that wedge like a tour player.  If you are not a reader and prefer videos here is the link to the video on YouTube

Tour players launch their wedges lower with more spin, lower overall heigh, and the carry distance is longer than the average golfer.  Let’s take a look at two different shots.  You can see on the left photo the ball is a foot above the pool noodle and on the right it is a foot below:

Below are the TrackMan numbers on those two shots showing the difference in Launch Angle, Spin Rate, Carry, Smash Factor, Ball Speed, but the club speed was the same speed.

What could cause a higher launch vs a lower launch?  I was not trying to push the handle forward to lean the shaft way forward to take a big divot and reduce the loft of the wedge 60* wedge on the right.  The left photo I let the club head pass faster at the bottom while the right felt my upper body to continue to turn through the shot.  Items that will help reduce your launch angle if it is too high:

1. Have a good wedge with decent grooves that are clean. Good players will take time to clean out the grooves with a damp towel then dry it off so the moisture is gone. Friction is king!!

2. Quality of the strike matters. If you are looking to keep the friction up the less debris you get trapped between the face and ball the better. Think of grass as a little bag of water. Add water between the club face and ball all friction will be lost.

3. Wide spin loft for a more deflected ball. Spin loft is the difference of your dynamic loft and angle of attack. On a GCQuad I have seen that the higher spinning wedge shots have a loft around 50-55* at impact. Anything higher than that friction is usually broke and the ball can launch higher. With a driver you are looking for a smaller spin loft to reduce spin.

4. Last is having a little shaft lean at impact. If you are stopping the upper body turn or throwing with the right side the club face will overtake too soon. That would get the club coming in too shallow which could get more debris between club and ball, land too early, or have too much loft at impact which is what you are looking for in a flop shot. Good wedge players on the PGA tour are somewhere between 8-12* down which will be on a little steeper approach and reduce the amount of debris that could be trapped between face and ball.

Let’s do some math to see how a 60* wedge can launch at 30* or lower:
-Start with a 60* wedge
-Have a few degrees of shaft lean at impact, say 10* which moves it to 50*.
-Tilt the spin loft downward with attack angle of say 10* and now your at 40*.
What is left? Friction!! A dirty wedge, moisture, etc would launch around the 40* number but add a dry face, premium golf ball, and no debris… BANG 30* or lower!!

If you are having trouble reducing the launch angle and have good strikes, a good wedge and ball, try moving from a 60* to a 56*. Your ball speed will go up slightly but launch control will go down. I use a 55* wedge 90* of the time since I am not a tour player and it is easier for me to control the launch that way.

Below is an example of an early release on the left just after impact.  The left photo is a 7iron and the right is a wedge.  You can see the left photo looks like the club head is pointing more to the sky than the wedge on the right.  Right photo was a low launching wedge and left photo was a high weak 7iron shot:

Here is how I set up the practice feedback station so you can see how high or low your ball is launching if you do not have access to a radar unit like TrackMan.  You want be 2 wedges or alignment rods behind the noodle or could use a string, tape, or anything else you can stretch across the top of the rods.  If you are using a wedge to measure you want the noodle one wedge high and if you used alignment rods it will be 1 alignment rod high.  Further back you will have to launch it lower to clear the constraint.  Click the link or picture below to watch the YouTube video on launch angle. YouTube Video Wedge Launch Angle

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