You’ve probably heard about forgiveness when it comes to golf club design. Known as “game improvement clubs,” these sticks have design elements to minimize the effects of a poor swing. They are great for high handicappers who need help on their shots because they often mis-hit the ball.
But is forgiveness real?
There is such a thing as forgiveness. But the truth is that there is a debate on whether or not if the design elements on golf clubs are actually forgiving. There are a variety of features which claim to give golfers forgiveness. Let’s look at some examples to see if they are actually myth or fact.
Forgiveness in Golf Club Design
ELEMENT: Perimeter Weighting
Karsten Solheim, the founder of Ping, first created forgiveness in golf clubs with perimeter-weighted irons. These irons moved mass to the perimeter of the head rather than distributing it behind the center of the club face or evenly spreading it across the face. The result was improving the “moment of inertia” or MOI. A higher MOI means golfers will experience less of a loss on distance on their mis-hits.
Since perimeter weighting improves MOI, this design element does support the existence of forgiveness.
ELEMENT: Over-Sized Club Heads
The volume of a club head can be any size that does not exceed 460 cubic centimeters. The size of clubheads grew in the late 1990s as companies were able to produce larger sizes at lighter weights by using titanium. When it comes to drivers, larger club head sizes create a higher MOI, just like perimeter weighting. Manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on how to best utilize volume to maximize performance.
Larger club heads increase MOI, therefore large clubheaded sticks have more forgiveness.
ELEMENT: Cavity Backs
A cavity back refers to an iron head which has been hollowed out in the back. This design removes weight from behind the center of the club face and distributes mass to the perimeter. Cavity backs make irons easier to hit for a wider range of golfing abilities.
Just like perimeter weighting, cavity backs improve the MOI of golf clubs. Cavity backs = Forgiveness!
ELEMENT: Thicker Toplines and Wider Soles
Another way to increase MOI is to have a golf club with a thicker topline and wider sole. Weight is distributed to the outer edges of the face increasing MOI and producing less twist on off center hits.
More MOI means thicker toplines and wider soles support the existence of forgiveness.
ELEMENT: Low, Deep Center of Gravity
Center of gravity or CG is the point at which a golf club is perfectly balanced. Located near the center of the clubhead, CG can be moved lower and deeper for more forgiveness. Some clubs have adjustable weights to help you move the CG front of back in the clubhead. Small CG movements can have a significant impact on performance, even if it’s just millimeters.
CG increases dynamic loft, MOI, closure rate, and spin on the ball. Forgiveness at its finest.
Offset is when the leading edge of a clubface is set back from the hosel or the neck of the club. The shaft will appear to be front of the clubface which will help golfers get their hands ahead of the ball at impact. Used in most irons and some hybrids and woods, offset is aimed directly at high handicappers who have trouble squaring the clubface at impact. Offset gives the golfer more time on the downswing to rotate the face of the clubface back around, i.e. the clubface arrives at impact a little later than a club with no offset.
Also, the CG is back from the shaft giving higher trajectory for any given amount of loft on the face. If a golfer has trouble getting the ball up in the air, offset will help make it fly.
Offset helps golfers square the clubface at impact and get higher-hitting shots. Due to these improvements, offset is another foundation for forgiveness.
Forgiveness Is Not a Myth
Forgiveness is real and can help you make better contact with the ball. However, it won’t cure a bad swing. The only way to improve is to practice. If you’re struggling with mis-hits then a game improvement club could be the solution for you. Just remember, it won’t solve your problems – it will just make your shots less bad.