How to Measure the Launch Angle in a Golf Swing

By Jim Thomas

The launch angle of a golf swing is the initial elevation angle of the ball immediately after impact with the club head. Randy Peterson, Callaway's director of fitting and instruction, says that the optimal launch angle, coupled with the optimal backspin and ball speed, "allows you to achieve your maximum drive distance." The easy way to get your launch angle measured involves the use of a high-tech launch monitor, which measures all three key elements described by Peterson. The do-it-yourself method takes more time, but it can produce comparable results.

Find a driving range that will allow you to set up your video equipment so that you can record a clear view of the ball as it is launched by the club.

Select several clubs to test. A driver, mid-iron and short iron or wedge will give you a comparison of different launch angles, which increase as your clubs become more lofted.

Hit 10 to 20 balls with each club and record each shot. Also write down the length of the shots and their deviation in either direction from your target.

Cover the monitor with a piece of plastic wrap. Mark the starting position of the ball before impact. Advance the video one frame at a time from impact until the ball leaves the club face. Mark the new position of the ball. Keep marking the position of the ball frame-by-frame until it can no longer be seen.

Measure the angle of the marks from the point of impact until the ball can no longer be seen. This measurement is the launch angle. Do the same for each shot with each club.

Calculate the average launch angle for each club.

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