Why Zero Offset
What is offset?
Offset is defined as the measurement of the distance between the leading edge of the face of an iron or wedge and the front part of the hosel that points to the target at address. Offset means the leading edge of the face is sitting behind the front part of the hosel.
Onset is the contrary; the leading edge of the face is located ahead of the front part of the hosel.
A little history
Offset was invented by a Scottish pro by the name of Willie Smith in the late 1800s, however offset was never really used on irons and wedges until Ping implemented it on their game improvement cavity back irons in the late 60s. The golf club industry has never looked back ever since, and to this day, all major golf club manufacturers include some level of offset even on irons targeted for the better players.
A FEW ZERO OFFSET FACTS
As our zero offset journey keeps expanding, one thing has never been clearer, for all golfers who don’t like the look of offset on their irons and wedges to begin with; offset is nothing but a useless annoying feature that should never be there in the first place
The unavailability of no offset irons has left hundreds of thousands of golfers worldwide with no other option but to play with a slice correcting feature on their irons while their other clubs don't have it. The toughest clubs to hit, to close the face at impact don't have offset, golfers don't want to see it on those clubs, yet they are the clubs that likely need it the most. Irons are shorter, have more loft and are by far easier not to slice, but need offset?
Jeff Summit on offset
“For golfers who are new to the game, there are lots of confusing terms associated with golf clubs. In addition, some of the explanations are inaccurate as well. One of which I want to address is offset. Many times I see the explanation that offset shifts the center of gravity further back in the head resulting into a higher ball flight. I want to dispel this myth and help those understand the function of offset better.
More…First, it is difficult to truly tell what offset does by itself. Typically heads with reduced, little or no offset tend to be designed differently from irons with more offset. Increased offset irons are designed as game improvement clubs, many of which have more upright lies, wider soles and shorter hosels positioning the center of gravity lower than comparable profiled irons. In this case, there are too many other parameters that have changed to honestly know what effect offset itself does to ball flight.
I am fortunate to have accumulated a lot of different irons over the years. One particular model was a Ping Eye II style iron that every manufacturer had their own version back in the late 1980’s and early ‘90s. Dynacraft’s version was called the “4140”. This was a progressive offset, cavity back design with the offset of the 5-iron being 3.5mm. Dynacraft also tooled up another design called the On-line. This head was made from virtually the same mold as the size, shape and profile were replicated. The only difference was the On-line featured no offset at all. Finally, two heads that was so similar to one another that the effect of offset can honestly be tested.
To understand how small difference this really is, look at the value. In metric, 3.5mm might seem like a lot, but in imperial measurements this amount to only 0.138” or just over 1/8th of an inch. The other important consideration is the ball position in the stance. Let’s say a golfer is at the driving range hitting off of the grass. The golfer drops or rakes a ball somewhere on the ground in front of them.
From there he or she attempts to align themselves to the ball and their target. The ball may be nestled down in the grass or maybe sitting up on a little patch of grass. The ball will be a positioned in relationship from the distance of their body and also in relation between their front and back foot. I can tell you that the difference from one time to the next, the position will be greater than 1/8” difference, especially if the person is a higher handicapped golfer. Remember this very important point as clubs are played by humans and not swing robots.
With these two clubs in hand, they were measured very carefully to make sure they had the exact loft and lie, if not they would have been adjusted. As luck would have it, both measured 28° loft and 60° lie. Again these were older clubs as reflected by these angles. Each clubhead was built as a demo with the same shaft, shaft weight (within the gram), frequency, grip weight, while the shaft were carefully cut on a cutting jig to ensure the exact amount was trimmed from the tip and butt and then assembled to the same length and swing weight. The offset head required two small strips of lead tape to achieve the exact same weight.
What happens when these two clubs are hit side by side at the range? Remember what I said earlier about the position of the ball in the stance and how it sits does in the grass. The average golfer upon solid contact can hit the ball straight with the offset club, but also the non-offset club too. However, the tendency on the majority of the shots was that the offset club would yield a ball flight more left than the reduced or non-offset club (this for a RH golfer). The other thing that was apparent was the trajectory, with the non-offset club hitting the ball higher. To understand why can be explained by the position of the center of gravity.
The center of gravity of the non-offset club is actually further behind the face of the club. The hosel does contribute a considerable percentage of the overall clubhead weight. The clubhead with more offset actually shifts more weight forward of the face rather than backwards. However, the center of gravity in relationship to the centerline axis of the shaft is further back in the offset head. This is what helps the clubface assist is closing the face. A reward center of gravity increases the center of gravity angle, therefore naturally closing the face.
I asked a few other very low handicapped golfers who are knowledgeable about the equipment and the swing to tell me if they thought offset hit the ball higher or lower. The best response I share is that offset tended to “trap” the ball at impact and effectively cause the ball to produce a slightly lower shot that will tend to go more to the left for a right-handed golfer. This has always been my experience as well with the same angles, shafts, shaft flexes, etc.
There has been much debate over the years on the effect of offset. I am sure that I will hear arguments from fellow golfers who will read this and make a judgment based upon that golfer’s past experiences. My contention is the clubhead design, aside from the actual offset, may be the reason for their response. I simply wanted to conduct a scientific approach to limit all other variable as physically possible to test only one parameter – offset.”
Don Trahan on offset
"I have covered wood head design with the discussion of the anti-slice mechanisms of hook face and upright lie angles to help slicers cut down their slices and even maybe hit it straight. Now, I will cover the concept of irons with OFFSET hosels.
The primary purpose of OFFSET hosel clubs is that they are the anti-slice mechanism built into irons (Note: there have been some offset head woods made over the years) to reduce slicing and help hit more solid and straight shots 'If you need that assistance.' The concept is that the offset gives the head a little more time for the club face to square up at impact and thus, the slice will be reduced and maybe even eliminated to give the player a straight shot. Sounds good and it really works just as shut wood club faces and upright lies work to reduce the regrettable rights for woods. Many manufacturers offer offset models with varying amounts of offset from none, to barely some, to a lot of offset. This is great, as a golfer can choose the same head design with the amount of offset needed to reduce and eliminate his or her slice.
The problem with offset clubs, as I see it, is twofold. First and most important is that a player using offset clubs to reduce and or eliminate a slice, will likely never really develop a good on line swing at impact, to hit good, straight shots. They doom themselves to their swing flaw because of the crutch they play with. The offset club is bailing them out. And, if they do take lessons, practice and develop a straight on line swing path to and through impact (that should produce straight shots) they will then begin to hit a lot of pull shots to the left. When a player who hits it straight doesn't think about this built in flight correction aid, and he or she buys a set of offset clubs, they get their straight corrected to pulls left.
I saw this the other day when I was playing with Larry, a good friend and zero to plus one handicap player. Larry reminds me of myself in that he hits it solid and exceptionally straight with every club in his bag. He is 'robo' golfer, just hitting fairways and greens. When you play with him, you can wear out your tape recording of 'Good shot, Larry.'
Well this day Larry was hitting it pretty good, striping woods down the middle and fairways woods straight as laser beams. He hit a lot of good and solid irons, but pulled left of the pin way more than normal. I noticed he had a set of offset irons in his bag, and when he hit another pull way left of the pin on the backside, I asked why he was playing with those offset irons. 'Sold my old set and am waiting for my new set to arrive, so I had to dig out this golden oldie set out of the closet,' he said.
I just had to comment that his swing looked just fine, and I hoped he realized that his pulls were club issues, not his swing. He has been playing with non-offset clubs for years, and the offset clubs delayed the face squaring up and getting to impact late.
The face was closed and thus the cause of him hitting the pull shots. His new set is shaft in line to leading edge (non-offset), so when they arrive and go into the bag this problem will go away into the closet with the old offset clubs.
My feeling about offset clubs is they are OK and serve a good purpose for helping golfers who don't have the skills or time to develop the skills to play better golf and shoot lower scores by hitting better and straighter golf shots.
But, if you have the skills or the desire, time, energy and goals, to learn and develop a quality on-line swing to hit solid and straight shots, then offset is the wrong way to go. To hit it solid and straight, you would have to learn to hold off your release a micro second for the face to stay square to impact. This is OK but can be a nuisance, especially because it adds unneeded stress to the wrists and elbows, and is reduces the built-in physiological guarantee of square hands at 6:00 o'clock at the bottom of the arch of the arms swinging at impact.
My belief and suggestion for anyone who wants to hit it solid and straight, and be the best golfer they can be, is to play with non-offset, shaft in line with the leading edge of the club face, iron heads. Perimeter weighted shaft in-line heads are OK, but I believe 'Muscle Back Blade' heads, forged or cast are the best head design money can buy.
I have played blades all my life, except for a few stints of trying cavity back perimeter weighted heads and disliking the harder feel of impact and the pulls. D.J. has always played blades, except for his first junior set that was perimeter weighted. From around 7 years old, he has played only blades, except for a one time stint as a pro when his club endorsement company asked him to play an in-line shaft cavity back club. That lasted two months because his hitting greens in regulation (GIR) stat was running 15 percent lower. He asked for and got a new forged combo set (wedges ' 8 are blades and 7 ' 3 iron are modified mild cavity back) blades and his GIR immediately, if modestly, improved. Two months later they brought out a pure muscle back blade and D.J. was the first to get it. He was quickly back to hitting his usual higher number GIR stat. Right now D.J. is ranked number 2 on the PGA tour in the ball striking stat and 7th in greens in Regulation."