Much like center of gravity, you’ll often hear that golf manufacturers have increased their sweet spot by 50% or more from one years designs to the next. But what does this actually mean? What is the sweet spot? Where is it on the club?
First and foremost, I want to dispel one rumor right now. The clubs sweet spot IS NOT its center of gravity. In fact, a club sweet spot is the exact spot on the club where if a ball hits it, the club will not twist because it has equal weight on either side of the club. Ever wondering why hitting the ball right on the sweet spot feels like you’ve hit nothing at all? Well, what you consider the ‘feel’ of a shot is in fact simply the vibrations you feel from impact and off-center hits. The better the shot, the less the vibrations, and the ‘better’ the feel. The poorer the contact, the worse it feels.
With all this said however, the center of gravity of a club does play a bit of a role in feel, but likely not in the way most of you would expect. When it comes to woods and irons, manufacturers, for the most part have been trying to keep the center of gravity’s low and back from the clubface. By doing this, it helps the average golfer get the ball airborne faster, but also, and most importantly, helps reduce the club twisting on off-center hits. Cavity back irons are a classic example. They are designed that way to help ensure off-center hits still ‘feel’ solid. So while you surely missed the sweet spot, the low and back center of gravity helps reduce the vibrations, and thus a poor shot, is no longer so poor, and feels less poor also. Another term used to describe this design type is around MOI. A back and low center of gravity helps increase the moment of inertia (MOI) of your shots.
The easiest way to prove all this is to stick a blade in the hands of an beginner. Blade style irons have no cavity and thus the center of gravity of these clubs is very close to face, so they have a reduce MOI, and off-center hits produce a ton of vibrations, and poorer results. Better amateurs and professionals use blades because of the added feel, and also their ability to work the ball. Luckily their swings are consistent enough to hit rather close to the sweet spot more times than not, so consistency is not a huge issue.
Last, but certainly not least is understanding exactly where your clubs sweet spot is. 9 times out of 10 its does not lie where the manufacturer put the X on the clubface, and thats because the sweet spot is rarely located smack dab in the center of the club. When you consider what a club looks like and its weight distribution, you’ll notice a fair bet of weight around the hosel of the club, especially in irons. This simple design characteristic will generally move the sweet spot closer to the heel of your club than the very center. An easy way to test is to hold your club in two fingers from the grip butt end, and then take the pointed end of a tee, and tap along the face. Tap the center of the club, and I’ll bet you, you’ll still see some twisting. The true sweet spot of your club lies where the club doesn’t twist at all.
Give it a shot, and start lining up your ball from your club actual sweet spot and start puring more shots!