Does Offset Matter? – Golf Myths Unplugged

Often Discussed?  Yes.  Important?  Let’s Find Out!

Whether they know the term “offset” or not, most golfers’ opinions of an iron’s looks will be dramatically shaped by it.  Higher handicap players tend to see a an iron without offset and cringe in fear.  Better players will stick out their tongues at more than a whisper of offset.

We wanted to know whether this strong visual preference is based in performance or not, so we put it to the test.

The Myths

Myth #1 – Offset promotes a draw

Myth #2 – Offset creates higher ball flight

How We Tested

For this test we brought together five testers with handicaps ranging from scratch to 15.  Each player hit seven shots with four irons – each one with different amounts of offset.  Every shot was captured on Trackman.

Each player used the same shaft in each iron, and each iron was set to the same loft.  Unfortunately, the heads were slightly different, so the data and conclusions here are imperfect.

Testing was done at, and with the help of, Club Champion.

The Results

Myth #1 – Offset promotes a draw

In our test group, 4 out of 5 testers saw more offset correlate to more draws.  Those four players hit the most offset iron with a face-to-path that was, on average, two degrees more closed than the next closest iron.  That’s a substantial difference.  It can turn a small fade into a straight shot, a straight shot into a tight draw, and a draw into a hook.

We also looked at other effects of offset on accuracy and dispersion.  Three of the testers hit their single most leftward shot with the most offset iron.  Additionally, every tester saw their overall dispersion shift left with the most offset model.

Myth #2 – Offset creates higher ball flight

On a robot, it’s possible that offset will create a higher ball flight.  With our testers, however, that was not the case.  Though offset moves the center of gravity back, it also created a closed face-to-path which neutralized that affect.

Ultimately, we saw the highest peak height from the least offset iron.  On average, the least offset iron’s peak height was six feet higher than that of the most offset iron.  Individually, four testers hit their highest shots with the least offset iron.

Similarly, the least offset iron had the highest launch angle.  Spin rates were less predictable: some players had more spin with more offset, others had more spin with less offset.

Player Preferences

The most offset iron was universally panned.  Comments ranged from “I’m fighting this” and “It looks closed” all the way to “I just hate this thing.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the least offset iron was admired.  Every golfer rated it as their favorite to look at.

What was most interesting was how the testers correlated offset with forgiveness.  When asked which of the irons they would choose, most selected the iron with the 3rd most offset.  Their answer usually sounded something like, “I would like the (least offset) but it would be smarter to take (more offset).”  These answers came in spite of the fact that many had just hit the two irons with less offset as well or better on the launch monitor!

Conclusion

Does offset matter?  Only if you care where your golf ball ends up.  For players that struggle with a slice, more offset can be a great way to straighten out ball flight.  Golfers who already hit a draw, however, would do well to look for an iron with less offset.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

10 Comments

  1. Dear Matt, great review and answers. However, I miss there a question, or test, if higher offset leads to tighter dispersion of shots. As the Myth (or selling line….) of having more offset is that it is more forgiving than no offset. From your testing, are you able to make any conclusion on this question? Thanks…

    • Matt Saternus

      Peter,

      Our data does not show a correlation between offset and dispersion. I would guess that such a claim is being made with the high handicapper in mind, the thinking being, “If you stop hitting shots to the right, your dispersion will be better.” A little dubious in my mind.

      Thanks for the question.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. John Loffler

    Matt,

    Really interesting. I might be being stupid but are the figures implying that thrre is little correlation between forgiveness and offset, and following that bad shots are not less bad with more offset. Hope so as I an justify to myself getting some Srixon 765’s to replace my M2’s which I often pull

    • Matt Saternus

      John,

      Great question. I’m not “yelling” at you, but I want the people skimming to see this:

      THERE IS NO INHERENT CONNECTION BETWEEN FORGIVENESS AND OFFSET

      That said, the most forgiving irons tend to have a lot of offset, so people connect the two.

      Sounds like you made a solid choice with the Srixons. Those are great irons.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Blake Ellis

        Go for the Srixons! They’re fantastic clubs. I am far from a scratch golfer and I love them. I got the 5i and 6i in the z545, then 7i-PW in the z745. I’ve heard the newer “65” line keeps all the best of the “45” line, plus a little refinement. They’re fun to look at and even more fun to hit.

  3. Anthony Rocco

    Does the off-set irons data also apply drivers?

    • Matt Saternus

      Anthony,

      Drivers weren’t included in this test, but I would guess the results would be similar.

      Best,

      Matt

  4. curtis brzyski

    Great article !!

    I have always struck my irons well with a baby draw. Since I golf once a week I always looked for new irons
    with maximum forgiveness ( sweet spot size of quarter vs a dime ) with minimum offset . Irons like that are just hard to find.
    Most of the time big sweet spots come with maximum offset. The Ping I 200 was my latest upgrade from old Taylor made R7 tour irons.
    I have only used the I 200 for 1 season. With the I 200 I find the green more consistently and have gained yardage do to stronger lofts. But I still miss the pinpoint accuracy I had with my R7 . With my R7 Tour I could hit an 8 iron 155 or 9 Iron 145 or PW 135 and turn around and tell my foursome I m all over it just by the feel I would end up within 5 feet every time. But with the R7 I lacked consistency and that feel shot happened twice a round. Other shots were off the green left. Do I just need more time with my I 200 ?
    Or should I look at another iron set ?

    • Matt Saternus

      Curtis,

      I think the i200 is a great set, but another two to consider would be the TaylorMade P790 or the Callaway Rogue Pro.

      Best,

      Matt

  5. Todd Williams

    Looks like I need to try some offsets. #SecretGiveaway

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