Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

A key phrase you will encounter when reading about the performance of golf clubs, especailly during custom fitting is launch conditions.

What are Launch Conditions?

Launch conditions are the four elements that combine at impact and determine the flight of the ball and how far the ball will travel (excluding external factors such as wind and ground conditions).

Clubhead Speed

This is the speed of the clubhead at impact and depends on how fast you can swing the club.

Ball Speed

This is the speed that the ball leaves the club. This is determined by the speed of the players swing and the translation of that energy to the golf ball.

Launch Angle

This is the angle that the ball leaves the club face both vertically and horizontally. This is determined by the dynamic loft of the clubface and the swing path at impact.

Spin Rate

This is the spin rate of the ball as it leaves the club measured in rpm. This is determined largely by the centre of gravity of the clubhead both vertically adn horizontally.

Launch Conditions Combine to impact total distance

Is there an optimal combination of launch angle and spin?

The theoretical optimum launch conditions for maximum total distance is 17┬░with 1700 rpm of spin. However given swing speeds and current club design, it is currently impossible to get near to this combination. For example only 6 out of 180 professionals on the PGA Tour have a spin average of less that 2300 rpm.

Given these restrictions most experts agree that a launch angle of around 14┬░ combined with 2200 to 2400 rpm of spin will result in the greatest distance, but this also depends on swing speed. Players with slower swings may achieve a greater total distance from different combinations of launch angle and spin.


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