What is Offset in Golf Clubs – Pros, Cons & Everything you Need to Know

The anatomy of the golf club is something that all golfers should familiarise themselves with. When getting a fitting or looking at clubs it is really helpful to know what each part is and how it all works. One thing that many golfers will be unaware of is offsetting.

You will have noticed that on some clubs, the leading edge is set back from the shaft. Why is this a feature on some clubs and not others? Today on the blog we’ll take you through this and how it could really help your game.

Offsetting – an explanation from a master

Tom Wishon founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology and one of the world’s finest clubmakers says:

“Offset is a design condition in clubheads in which the neck or hosel of the head is positioned in front of the face of the clubhead, so that the clubface appears to be set back a little from the neck of the club. (Put another way, offset is the distance that the forward side of the neck/hosel of the clubhead is set in front of the bottom of the face of the clubhead.)”

Offsetting was invented in the 1800s by the Scottish golf pro, Willie Smith. It wasn’t until around a century later that the modern offset really came to life when PING engineers added it to irons in the 1960s.

What does offsetting in a club do?

You may remember our article on delofting the club at impact, this is very relevant here. If you watch top golfers at impact, their hands are ahead of the club and this helps with the launch conditions required to lift the ball into the air. An offset helps you achieve this as you are learning how to play.

This feature increases the chances of you getting your hands to the ball before the club and reduces thin shots. It helps you present the face of the club nicely and should give you better ball-striking.

Offset vs non-offset golf clubs

There are degrees of offsetting and sometimes this can be quite subtle. As you look down on the club at address, you may not really notice this, you have to purposefully look to see it. The shaft will just be sitting ahead of the leading edge of the club face.

When you make the switch to using non-offset golf clubs you need to start getting your hands into a more aggressive position at impact. At first you may hit a few weak and “slappy” shots because you have lost a feature that you may have relied on. You will get used to it, don’t worry, just practice.

Advantages of an offset

Squaring the clubface at impact

This is a particular benefit when it comes to an offset driver, it can really help you reduce a slice. This is the shot that most golfers struggle to control with the driver and this may be the way to get a handle on it. The offset design really helps you deliver a squarer clubface at impact.

Due to your hands getting past the ball before the club reaches it, you have more time to get into an optimal position. This simple design feature isn’t the cure, however it can help you regain confidence in the driver and get you hitting more fairways again.

Higher launch angle

Modern golf clubs and golf balls are designed for flight, they increase the chances and make it easier to hit towering shots that land softly. This is very much dependent on the spinrate that you can get on the ball which helps lift it into the air with the magic of aerodynamics. This phenomenon is at the core of offsetting.

That slight tweak to the shaft position in relation to the club face helps you improve the launch conditions of your shots. This should give you a higher launch angle and a stronger ball flight.

Disadvantages of an offset

A crutch rather than a cure

Whilst it is great to quickly fix a slice and start hitting it straighter, an offset can mask the real issue. By just changing to this kind of club set-up, you will have no need to fix the swing issue that is actually causing the slice in the first place.

One way of getting round this is to take lessons, use the offset to help you regain confidence whilst also working on fixing your swing issue. That way you get the best of both worlds and you’ll improve your swing in the process.

Over-fixing

The offset can actually lead to you overdoing the shot that you are trying to cure. You can cure both a hook or a slice with this set-up as it gives you slightly more time and margin for error in squaring the face at impact. As you get better at fixing your ailment, you can eventually overdo it and reverse your fault.

Offset drivers

Should I use an offset driver?

The offset driver tends to be helpful for people who have slower swing speeds and are struggling to get the clubface square at impact with a driver. You may hook it, you may slice it, both shapes could benefit from an offset. Does this sound like you?

It is important that you also seek professional advice to understand what is causing the issue though. Take time and get lessons to learn why you get that shape, it will help you smooth it out over time.

How do I hold an offset driver?

This is the beauty of this kind of set-up, you shouldn’t change anything. You need to grip an offset driver as you would any other club or a non-offset driver. That way, the club can do what it is designed to do, help you hit the fairway.

Just grip it and rip it, as John Daly said. This club is designed to help build your confidence off the tee, use it to your full advantage and don’t change your grip, change nothing.

How to hit an offset driver?

As above, you should hit your offset driver the way you hit any driver. Set-up with the ball in line with your left heel (for right handers), tilt your shoulders so your right shoulder is slightly below your left shoulder, like you are launching the ball in the air. Then swing it.

Enjoy the increased consistency that this club should give you. Gain confidence in aiming at a target and hitting it. Remember that some lessons will help your further though so consider taking some.

Will it cure a slice?

No, it won’t cure a slice or a hook, but it can resolve it artificially. This is important to think about, as if you want to truly improve then tuition and hard work are the only way to get there. An offset driver can give you confidence again though and that is a huge step to getting better.

A slice is caused by poor swing mechanics which the offset is able to reduce the effect of. It doesn’t actually change how you swing it, you must keep that in mind.

Offset irons

What does offsetting do for irons?

This has the same effect as the offset driver, it gives you more time during your swing to make corrections and square your clubface. This helps consistency which is the key to a better golf game, it will also help you with confidence. As you move through your set you will need less offset though because your swing speed will naturally reduce as your clubs get shorter.

Again, for players with slower swing speeds, this feature on your irons can help you quickly start hitting the ball straighter and lower your scores. You will find that you start striking the ball better too, that means it will also go further which is a bonus.

How to play offset irons

You play these normally, we’ve been through this, but your club selection may change. As I mentioned above, this new improved strike will increase your ball speed on your shots, this means you’ll be hitting it further. It’s worth getting on a launch monitor and checking how much further so you can properly select your clubs for yardages on the course.

Try to practice a lot on the clubs with less offset, the shorter irons 8-PW. These will let you see if your swing is starting to improve with less influence from offset which is key to becoming a better golfer.

What are progressive offset irons?

This is what I have been describing, as the loft on the irons increases and the shaft length gets shorter, you need less offset as your swing speed is decreasing. This means that you have that bit more time to make the adjustments at impact and less offset is needed. This method also reduces your reliance on the offset.

It gives you some help where you need it most, the long irons, some top pros even use this to their advantage. You get a little more help in the mid irons and then little to know help in the scoring clubs. It is a good way to wean off of offsetting too, they can be a great option for junior golfers.

Can you use offset fairway woods and hybrids?

Absolutely, these clubs are designed to get the ball in the air fast and the offset is one way to help that happen. These are also clubs that should be fairly easy to hit and adding an offset can help club makers achieve that too. Many hybrids on the market have an offset, even slight, to give you a hand.

One of the best aspects of using a hybrid is that the ball lands very softly, even though you are hitting from some distance out. By adding an offset, you can improve the strike and therefore increase the spin on the ball. This all results in softer landing and more controlled shots onto greens.

What are the best offset irons?

Cobra F-Max Airspeed Irons

Cobra make are an underrated iron manufacturer and these are high performing yet highly forgiving irons. They look great and the progressive offset gives you the help where you need it. These clubs look great and are great value at around £550.

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PING G400 Irons

These guys modernised this technique so it would be rude not to put PING on this list. The G400 irons are for better golfers but they have added progressive offset to help consistency and ball striking. These clubs aren’t for beginners but will really help many golfers reach new levels.

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TaylorMade SIM Max Irons

These clubs are designed for maximum forgiveness and consistency. They have a progressive offset design to increase accuracy through the bag and they look great, especially at address. They are the most expensive clubs on the list here, but they are very impressive.

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What are the best offset drivers?

Cobra F-Max Offset Driver

This is an incredible golf club that will help golfers with a slow to mid swing speed and a slice hit more fairways. They have designed every aspect of this club to save weight and add consistency which all means good news for your clubhead speed. This is simply a fantastically engineered club.

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Callaway Women’s MAVRIK MAX Driver

For girls who need a little help with consistency from the tee, this masterpiece from Callaway is hard to look past. Again, this is designed to maximise clubhead speed using lighter materials and the offset will have you hitting more fairways in no time. The offset is subtle so the club looks fantastic, it is quite pricey but it is a very worth investment in your game.

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PING G400 SFT Driver

This club uses both an offset and a heel-bias on the weighting of the club to help you hit straighter divers. In fact, SFT stands for “straight flight” so they are putting it right there in the brand name, thankfully it works. PING are among the best engineers in golf and this is another great product from them.

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Conclusion

Golf is a hard sport, anyone that has played it knows this to be true. It takes constant practice to be good and get better, sometimes you just can’t commit to that sort of work on your game. This is where offsetting can really help you to become more consistent without too much practice.

I have already said that this is a crutch and it is worth working on your game to fix any swing issues that are holding you back. If you are really struggling, this can be just what you need to make you fall back in love with golf. Ask your local pro if offset clubs are for you and start hitting more fairways and making more birdies!