The club that is designed to hit the ball with the highest launch angle is the lob wedge. All wedges have high launch angles; however, the lob wedge has a 58-60+ degree launch angle – the most out of any club.
The loft angle is essential in determining which club is designed to hit ball with the highest launch angle since it determines how the ball flies off the club. Ideally, you want to hit a higher launch angle when closer to the green, so your ball sticks the landing and doesn’t roll past your target.
Another thing to think about when using a wedge to hit a high launch angle is the backspin created on the ball. According to TrackMan Golf, who analyzed the launch angle of PGA Tour golf shots, a wedge will produce a backspin of 9600 rpm on the ball.
A driver typically has a loft angle of 8-16 degrees. When comparing the backspin on the ball from a wedge, we can see that a driver produces an average spin rate of about 2700 rpm — nearly 3.5x less than the backspin created from a wedge.
What Is Launch Angle?
In short, the launch angle is the angle at which the ball leaves the club after contact. This numeric value is represented in degrees and vastly affects how the ball flies and lands.
Many factors play into what the launch angle of the ball is after impact. The most notable element in achieving a high launch angle is the club that is being used. So while a wedge has a 60-degree loft angle, the launch angle is, on average, about 20-25 degrees once the ball leaves the club.
Loft Vs. Launch Angle
We mentioned loft and launch angle many times, and I wanted to clarify the difference between the two. The loft angle is the angle at which the clubface sits relative to the ground. Launch angle is the angle created from the impact of the club and the ball.
Using a club with a high loft angle (wedge) and creating a launch angle that suits the club you are hitting is the most effective way to have a beautiful golf shot.
A general rule of thumb is: the higher the loft angle, the higher the launch angle.
Why Does Launch Angle Matter in Golf?
Using a wedge will create the highest launch angle out of any golf club in your bag. But why does this matter? Using a lob wedge is very situational. It is for those shots where you need to have a high shot to avoid an obstacle, or you need to land a ball in a precise spot on the green.
Watching ball flight from professional golfers in the clip below, we can notice a couple of things. The first thing we see from these golfers hitting their approach shots is the ball’s launch angle. Remember, wedges have a loft angle of about 60 degrees, which creates a higher launch angle.
When the ball leaves the club, the ball flies in a high arch known as the launch angle. They achieve this by using a wedge. Using a club with a high loft angle creates a large amount of backspin on the ball. Of course, it isn’t just the club that creates this backspin.
How Launch Angle Affects Backspin
You don’t have to have your doctorate in physics to understand how launch angle affects backspin. Take a golf ball (I am sure you have one lying around the house) and drop it from one hand. Use your other hand and hit the ball softly from a 90-degree angle. You can see that the golf ball tends not to have much spin as it travels toward the ground.
Now take your hand and adjust it to 45 or more degrees. Repeat this process, and you should be able to see the ball spinning backward as it travels toward the ground.
This is amplified with a golf club. While using golf clubs with a higher degree of loft, you create more backspin on the ball.
Club loft isn’t the only thing that creates a backspin. Golfers can generate that crazy backspin by doing a couple of things:
- Using a club with a high launch angle (wedges).
- Have sharp grooves, which “grab” the ball as it is hit.
- Have a great form that allows the wedge to get under the ball.
Knowing what club to use to create the highest launch angle is an excellent starting point for turning a good golfer into a great one.
The next time you have a shot where you risk overshooting the green or need to avoid an obstacle, think about using a wedge to create that excellent launch angle that you see Tiger Woods hit on TV.