“Offset” is a golf equipment term describing a club whose face is set slightly back from the hosel (neck), instead of aligning directly with the shaft. So-called “game-improvement” clubs are often built with offset, which is designed to limit left-to-right sidespin.
A driver with offset can dramatically help the golfer who tends to slice tee shots. Heres how:
• A slice occurs when the clubface is open at impact relative to the target line, with the swing on an “outside-to-inside” or “over-the-top” path. This combination creates left-to-right spin.
• Offset places the clubface a fraction behind the shaft, giving the golfer an extra split-second to bring the club to a square impact position (relative to the target line).
In addition to aiding accuracy, offset also moves the center of gravity slightly farther behind the ball, resulting in higher shots. This equates to longer drives for many players, especially those whose tee shots tend to start on a low trajectory.
An offset driver is recommended for players with slower swing speeds (less than 85 mph with the driver). Players with high swing speeds or quick tempos are better off without the offset.
Many putters, hybrids and irons also incorporate offset, which can make hitting middle and long-irons much easier for the average player.
Could an Offset Driver Be the Solution to Your Ball Flight Problems?
Using the right equipment is an easy step that you can take toward becoming a better golfer. Of course, new equipment alone wont allow you to reach your playing goals, but it can allow you to optimize the performance you get from your current swing. Short of making swing changes, finding the right gear to put in your bag is one of the best steps that you can take in the pursuit of lower scores.
Since you hit your driver so frequently during any given round, that is one club which is an obvious candidate for review and potential upgrade. Are you getting the best possible performance out of your swing using the driver that is in your bag presently? If you aren't sure of the answer to that question, it would be worth your time to look into other options. One such option is an offset driver, which can provide a very specific solution to a very specific kind of problem.
Countless right handed golfers struggle with the problem of missing their drives to the right of the fairway. In fact, that is probably the single most-common problem faced by amateur golfers. The difference between hitting the fairway on a regular basis and consistently slicing the ball into the trees to the right of the hole can mean a huge change in your score. Simply eliminating the right side miss from your driver swing can save you five or more shots in a single round of golf.
If you are a player that falls into the category of frequently missing drives to the right, an offset driver is something you should strongly consider. With the face set back from the shaft of the club, an offset driver makes it a little bit easier to get through the ball and impart draw spin – or at least less fade spin. Switching to an offset driver means that you could potentially be hitting straighter drives in your very next round without making even one change to your swing. That is an exciting proposition to consider, especially since most improvements in golf take weeks or months to translate onto the scorecard.
Of course, you need to have the right kind of swing to actually have an offset driver help improve your performance. If your swing isn't well-suited to the design of an offset club, you will do more harm than good by making the switch. Only once you have determined that you are a good candidate for this style of driver should you think about putting one into your bag.
Please note that all of the directions contained below are based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please be sure to reverse the instruction as needed.
Analyzing the State of Your Driver Performance
Assuming you dont already use an offset driver, you need to first take a close look at the kind of drives you are hitting with the driver presently in your bag. Take an honest assessment, and don't let any emotion or bias play into the mix. Only when you are completely honest with yourself regarding the drives that you can hit with your current club can you decide if a change will be a good idea.
For the next five rounds that you play, keep a log of each shot that you hit with the driver. This doesn't need to be a time consuming process, as you can just make quick notes on your scorecard while you play. The most important bit of information is whether or not you hit the fairway, and if not, which direction you missed. This point must be recorded for each drive. Other notes you may wish to take include what kind of ball flight you observed, how far the drive went, and any other details you feel are relevant.
After five rounds have gone by, take a look back at all of your notes and tally up the results. If you are hitting your driver at least 10 times during each round, you will have a sample of more than 50 shots with your driver to analyze. This should be more than enough to spot any trends that are present in your swing.
You should have numbers in three categories after you add up all of the drives – fairways hit, fairways missed right, and fairways missed left. Most likely, one of these categories will be over the 50% mark. Which one is it? If you are hitting more than 50% of your fairways, it would probably be a mistake to make a club change at this point. That kind of performance is more than adequate for most players, so you should just keep doing what you are doing with the same club.
If you are missing more than half of your drives to the left of the fairway, an offset driver isn't going to be a good choice for you at this time. You are already getting too much draw or hook spin on the ball, so switching to an offset driver is only likely to create a bigger problem. Rather than an equipment change, you may need to address the problems in your swing to bring your ball flight back into the fairway.
That leaves the missed to the right category as the last option. Should you find that more than 50% of your drives are missing the fairway on the right side, an offset driver is definitely an option for you. The offset design should work nicely to counteract the problems that are present in your swing. Whether you are slicing the ball to the right as so many players do, or just pushing it straight right with little fade, an offset driver may be able to bring your ball back closer to the short grass.
Putting an Offset Driver into Action
Once you reach the conclusion that an offset driver is something that could benefit your game, the only way to know for sure is to purchase one and give it a try for yourself. You don't even need to get rid of your current driver just yet – simply acquire an offset model to hit on the driving range and course for a period of time. It shouldn't take too long before you learn if the offset option is going to be one that works for you.
When you do get a chance to put an offset driver into the bag, follow the three tips below to give it the best chance of success on the course.
- At least two range sessions. Before venturing out onto the course to use your new driver, make sure you spend at least two driving range sessions getting used to the club. While you don't have to make any major changes to your swing in order to play with an offset club, it will take a little bit of time to adjust your timing and get used to the way the club looks. This is much better done on the driving range than on the course. If you skip this step and head straight out onto the course, you are likely to be disappointed with the results and you may give up on your offset driver before it really has a chance to succeed.
- Note your new ball flight. As the years have gone by, you have likely gotten used to your current ball flight and have made adjustments to your aim accordingly. For example, if you usually hit a big fade, you probably have started to aim well left of the fairway to accommodate that kind of flight. However, your new offset driver may be allowing you to hit straighter shots, meaning you dont need to aim out to the left anymore. Take note of what your ball flight looks like on the practice range so you can aim properly when you do go out to the course.
- Be patient. Making the switch to an offset driver does have the potential to allow you to hit better shots almost immediately – but there is a chance that it will take a little time for you to become comfortable with the new club. Just like anything else in golf, you need to be patient if you hope to succeed. As long as you are hitting some good shots mixed in with the bad ones, stick with it for a period of a few rounds. Hopefully, as time goes by, you will hit more and more good drives and the bad shots will become a rare occurrence. Patience isnt always easy to find on the golf course, but it is a necessary trait to possess.
There is a good chance that using an offset driver is going to have a positive effect on your game by helping you reduce the number of right side misses that you hit. Of course, nothing in golf comes easy, and it may take more time than you would like to start splitting fairways on a regular basis. Stick with it and give your offset driver plenty of chances to earn a permanent spot in your bag.
Adding Swing Improvements to the Mix
Assuming you were a good candidate for an offset driver in the first place, you have probably seen some level of improvement in your driving game simply by making an equipment change. However, that change alone might not be enough to get you where you would like to go. If you want to play golf up to your full capabilities, some swing improvements could be beneficial to go along with your new offset driver.
There are a number of common swing faults shared between golfers who struggle with missing fairways to the right. The first is a narrow backswing. When you make a narrow backswing with your hands in too close to your body, you are setting yourself up for failure later in the swing. Inevitably you will run out of room during the transition to the downswing, since your hands were already in so close to your back shoulder. When this happens, your hands are forced up and away from your body, and you swipe across the ball from right to left at impact. This is the typical way that so many golfers create a slice with their driver.
To correct the problem of a narrow backswing, try the following drill.
- Take your driver and stand on the practice tee ready to make a swing. You will not be hitting golf balls with this drill.
- Stand in your normal address position with an athletic posture and your hands in their normal position on the grip. However, prior to starting the backswing, slide your right hand down the shaft of the club approximately six inches or so. Your right hand should now be at the bottom of the grip of your driver, or even slightly below the grip onto the shaft itself.
- With that adjusted grip position set, start to make your backswing. You should quickly notice that your right hand being farther down the club forces you into a wider backswing than you are used to making. Don't fight that feeling – allow the club to swing back wide and keep your left arm extended throughout the backswing. When you reach the top of your backswing and your shoulders have made a full turn, pause the swing in place. You should notice that the club is farther away from your body than it is during your narrow backswing.
- While you are paused at the top of the swing, slide your right hand back into its normal position on the grip. From there, go ahead and swing down through the hitting area (with no ball in place) and on to a balanced finish. Repeat this drill as many times as necessary to learn the feeling of developing better width in your backswing.
This drill is great for helping you eliminate the narrow backswing which can be the root cause of so many swing problems. It is important to understand that it may take some time to learn how to make solid contact with the ball after you adjust your backswing to get more width. That is okay. Take the time to learn your new swing technique on the practice range before going out onto the course. When you are able to combine a wider backswing with the new offset driver you are using, good results should be right around the corner.
One other swing improvement that you might want to consider is working on your shoulder turn. Just like a narrow backswing, many amateur players who miss fairways consistently to the right also struggle with an incomplete shoulder turn. Rotating your shoulders fully away from the target is the best way to build speed in your swing, and maintain a good tempo. If you make a habit of cutting your shoulder turn short, however, it will be difficult to get the club face back to a square position at impact. The result is shots that will usually land to the right of the target.
A good way to improve your shoulder turn is actually to improve your lower body position at address. It is hard to make a good shoulder turn unless you are standing on a solid base, so working on your stance can help facilitate a bigger rotation in the backswing. At address, your feet should be at least shoulder width apart and your knees should be flexed comfortably. A good way to think about your knee flex is that you want to be standing in a position that would allow you to jump up into the air if you needed to. If your current stance doesn't have enough knee flex to allow you to hop into the air, try bending a little more at the knees prior to making your swing. Even a small addition to your knee flex can go a long way toward helping your shoulders reach a full turn in the backswing.
Adding some minor swing adjustments to the benefits that your new %Aoffset driver provides could be a great combination. As a golfer, you never want to stop looking for ways to get better. Equipment changes and swing improvements can both be used in order to help you lower your scores.
Consider Filling the Rest of Your Bag with Offset Clubs
With a combination of a new offset driver and some minor swing fixes, you might find that you are driving the ball better than ever before. As you start to get used to watching the ball sail down the fairway hole after hole, you may start to wonder if the offset-style of club head can help you with any of the other clubs in your bag. The short answer is yes, it probably can.
There are offset clubs available throughout the bag, from the driver all the way down to your wedges. If your swing is such that it is helped by the use of an offset driver, there is a good chance that it will benefit from offset fairway woods, irons, and wedges as well. Most golfers don't dramatically change their swing mechanics from club to club, meaning that the same swing faults you have with your driver most likely exist also in your iron swing. To get the most from your game, it may be a wise choice to use all offset clubs throughout your set.
You don't have to make this transition all at once, however. Try playing a few rounds of golf with your new offset driver while using the same clubs that you have been throughout the rest of your set. Take notice of your performance and see if the ball flight that you are getting off the tee is significantly better than the flight you get with your other clubs. Are you able to hit straight shots with the offset driver but not with your other, non-offset clubs? If so, there is a good chance that the offset is making a big difference, and you could benefit from making the switch with more of your clubs.
Once you are playing with an offset driver, the change to offset fairway woods should be a pretty natural one. After all, drivers and fairway woods are very similar in design, and they are hit with a very similar swing. Your improved performance with the driver should quickly translate to better shots with fairway woods once you acquire offset models.
However, the transition might not be quite as smooth with your irons. One way to make the process easier is to purchase just a single offset iron at first, rather than a whole set. This will give you a chance to hit plenty of practice balls with an offset iron so you can observe what changes it makes in your ball flight. If the change is for the better, you can go ahead and purchase the rest of the set. If you don't like what an offset iron does to your ball flight, you will only have had to buy one club in order to find out. Equipment choices should be all about which clubs give you the best chance to score well on the course. Whether that means a whole set of offset clubs or a mix and match set with an offset driver and traditional irons doesn't particularly matter. As long as it works for you, go for it.
Using an offset driver has many potential advantages to the average golfer who struggles with missing fairways to the right. If that sounds like you, make sure to at least give an offset driver a chance by trying one out at your local driving range. It isn't often you get the chance to improve your game without making many major changes to your swing – but this could be one such chance. Look into using an offset driver and you just might find that soon your whole bag is filled with offset clubs.