What is your AOA?

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Have you ever heard the term Angle of Attack? Simply defined, it refers to how much down or up the club head is moving at impact in relationship to the ground and is measured in degrees. So you may be asking why is this so important to your golf game? I personally feel angle of attack is one of the most critical components to hitting good golf shots.

AOA can only be measured using a launch monitor and it is critical to maximize your AOA for all your clubs if you want to be a good ball striker. Did you know that on the PGA TOUR the average AOA for a wedge is -5 degrees down and -1.3 degrees down for a driver? Keep in mind these are averages and it is certainly interesting to reflect on this data.

So what does this mean for you and how can you maximize your AOA?  

Most of the higher handicappers I teach have too shallow of an AOA. For example: I see a lot of 1 or 2 downs with a wedge. I have even seen golfers hit up on their wedges. When this occurs the shaft is leaning backwards at impact and the club head has passed the hands. The result is a clubface that has too much dynamic loft being applied to the ball. If you hit behind a lot of your iron shots and come up short of the target consistently, there is a pretty good chance your attack angle is too shallow.

Do you slice your driver? Did you know the more you hit up on your driver the greater chance of curving the ball to the right – for a right handed golfer? It is true. So, AOA not only affects your ability to hit solid golf shots but also affects how the ball curves.   

AOA is a technical term that many golfers keep from talking about because it is oftentimes misunderstood. The concept is actually quite simple. If you apply your golf club through impact properly, with the hands in front of the club head, there is a pretty good chance you are managing your AOA correctly. So next time you are taking a golf lesson and your professional is teaching you to maintain your lag with more forward shaft lean, work as hard as you can to master it. You will hit the ball farther, straighter and with more consistency than ever thought possible.

John Stahlschmidt is ranked by Golf Digest as the #12 “best teachers in the state of Arizona” and is ranked “Top 30” in the world by Golf Tips Magazine. John is the PGA Director of Instruction at the JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ. To comment or book a lesson, email John at jjs.golf@hotmail.com or visit his new website at johnstahlschmidt.com