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Golf Club Center of Gravity (CG)

Golf Club Center of Gravity (CG)

Golf Club Center of Gravity (CG)

As part of 2nd Swing Golf’s continuing series to educate golfers and potential players about the game and equipment (like how to just start out or buy something new with more confidence), let’s go back to physics class for a few minutes and discuss center of gravity (CG) and how it relates to the performance of a golf club. 

The CG in a clubhead can be complicated to understand not just because is it a three-dimensional point located somewhere in the clubhead — actually, where all lines of balance intersect — but there are various beliefs about where to position CG for different club performance. Not all of those ideas match up, though, depending on the golf club manufacturer (Someone always wants to make a better mousetrap, right?). 

So, here we are trying to help you better understand this concept of center of gravity or CG (Golf club companies love their acronyms.).

The CG is important since is where the entire mass is at equilibrium in all directions. So, where the CG is placed within the clubhead impacts launch angle of the golf ball. In general, the higher the CG (or farther from the ground), the lower the launch angle, making it easier for instance to get loft from the deck of a fairway.

Every golf club manufacturer is claiming to have a new take on where to place the center of gravity in a clubhead, including TaylorMade's new 2014 SLDR S series.

Every golf club manufacturer is claiming to have a new take on where to place the center of gravity in a clubhead, including TaylorMade’s new 2014 SLDR S series.

Now, to figure out where the CG is located, balance the clubhead someplace on the head and you should be able to guesstimate where the different points intersect inside or — or look up the club specs online. Understand that since the CG is in three-dimensions (See diagrams above and below.), there is a vertical CG location or how high up its located from the sole or base.

bottom_view

It then has a horizontal CG, which is how far over it is from the center of the point where the shaft and hosel connect inside the head. Lastly, the center of gravity can be determined by how far back it balance is found from the clubface. Still following? Whew.

Most often, clubmakers, fix CG by playing with the clubhead’s height, width and breadth. Then, weight is distributed in different places within the clubhead’s cavity.

Now how does center of gravity placement affect your shot? Well, the horizontal CG, which is placement from the shaft, determines shot accuracy. Supposedly, common belief tells us that if the CG is closer to the shaft and hosel connection, you will be less like to strike the ball offline with a push or fade.

Manufacturers generally believe that the lower and farther back they place CG in the clubhead will produce a greater loft faster, which in turn produces less spin at impact, and results and carrying the ball farther.

So one way to remember it is that the higher the CG, the lower the launch angle or loft. And the lower the CG, the higher the launch angle or loft.

The concept of golf club CG gets even more complex from here. For instance, more often than not, forgiving clubs, or ones that aren’t really tough on miss-hits, feature a low-placed CG. It’s believe that a lower center of gravity also gets the ball in the air quicker, making tight lie shots easier to hit.

The newest trend, exemplified by the 2014 TaylorMade SLDR S series as well as other lines, is to have a low — and even farther forward — CG to increase loft, create less ball spin and add distance. This is a slight change in philosophy over the last decade.

Hybrid golf clubs have their center of gravity in numerous positions depending on what it's supposed to do.

Hybrid golf clubs have their center of gravity in numerous positions depending on what it’s supposed to do.

Conversely, with many longer irons, the center of gravity is placed “low and away” from the face on the 3 to 7 irons to help elevate the ball.

It also is believed with irons in particular that a higher center of gravity helps control trajectory by elevating the shot. So with shorter irons, a higher CG is used for a more controlled ball flight on chip-style shots. This is supposed to give you more feel and workability with the 8-iron through pitching wedge.

In other words, keep in mind as a general rule that a lower, deeper set CG in the clubhead is supposed to increase forgiveness or create a larger sweet spot and less brutal miss-hits. Meanwhile, a higher, more forward CG will give you greater feel and control (if you have the skills) for boring shots, if that’s what you want, but is less forgiving overall.

Here are just some of the myriad modern methods used by golf club manufacturers and garage engineers today to manipulate the CG, mostly to lower it:

  • Using rubber or thermoplastic inserts.
  • Deeper set clubfaces.
  • Removing weight from certain parts of the clubhead, such as at the topline on an iron.
  • Adding weight behind the sweet spot or on the bottom of a cavity back.
  • Using progressive offsets for hosels.
  • Perimeter weighting, which is distibuting weight evenly around the sweet spot in the face.
  • Carving or grinding metal or other pieces off a clubhead.
  • Lengthening an iron from heel to toe.
  • Increasing clubhead overall size.
  • Using “pads” or repositioning weight from the from a club’s walls to its sole.
  • Widening the club sole.
The center of a gravity is probably manipulated the most or respostioned in irons because of the variety of shots required from club to club.

The center of a gravity is probably manipulated the most or respostioned in irons because of the variety of shots required from club to club.

 

 

 

 


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