Golfers should be fit for their equipment on a launch monitor -- Trackman, Flightscope, SkyTrak, Ernest Sports, there are all kinds that can help you -- to better understand how a golf club works with your game. Increasingly, more instructors are also implementing the use of a launch monitor to help their students figure out changes that lead to desired results -- hitting the ball farther, higher, spinning it more, etc.
But, before you start working with a launch monitor, you should know how to interpret those results, so you can be an informed golf consumer.
Trackman golf terms: What Trackman results mean
- Club head speed: Club head speed is the speed that the club head is traveling at when it makes impact with the ball. This one measure tells you the most about how far a ball will travel. In the words of Hank Haney, club head speed determines your potential as a golfer. For every 1 mph of club head speed you have with the driver, you gain 2-3 yards more distance.
- Attack angle: Attack angle is the angle the club head takes, relative to the ground, to hit the golf ball. If the angle of attack is negative, you're hitting down on the ball, which you typically want to do with irons. If the angle of attack is positive, you're hitting up on the ball, which you usually want to do with the driver in hand.
- Club path: Club path is the horizontal angle, left or right, at which the club head is moving at impact. If the club path is positive, the club head is moving to the right, marking a likely inside-out swing. If the club path is negative, then the club head is moving to the left, typically representing an outside-in swing for a right-handed player.
- Swing plane: Swing plane means the angle made between the ground and the plane of club head trajectory at the bottom of the swing arc, as measured down the target line. The higher the value, the steeper the swing. The lower the value, the flatter (or less upright) the swing is.
- Swing direction: Swing direction is the orientation of the club face in relation to the target line at the lowest point of the swing. This concept is different from club path, which is measured at the point of impact.
- Dynamic loft: Dynamic loft is the loft that is actually delivered to the ball at impact. This figure is influenced by the angle of attack and shaft lean at impact. If the dynamic loft is greater than than the static/stated loft of the club, then the player is adding loft and perhaps "flipping" the club, which leads to worse impact and less reliable distance and ball flight. If the dynamic loft is less, then the shaft is leaning forward and delivering good impact.
- Spin loft: Spin loft is the difference between the angle of attack and the dynamic loft. It is one of the numbers that can help explain back spin imparted on the ball. The lower the spin loft number, the better the contact, generally speaking. Changing the angle of attack almost always leads to a degree-for-degree change in dynamic loft.
- Face angle: Face angle measures the orientation of the club face at impact relative to the target line. If the figure is positive for a right-handed golfer, then the face is open relative to the target line. If the figure is negative, then the face is closed relative to the target line.
- Face to path: Face to path measures where the club face is at impact relative to the swing path. If the figure is positive for a right-handed golfer, then the face is open relative to the path. If the figure is negative, then the face is closed relative to the path.
- Ball speed: Ball speed is a pretty simple term: It is the speed at which the ball is traveling when it leaves the club face. Ball speed will not completely tell you how far a ball will travel since other factors impact total distance. However, it is an important factor.
- Launch angle: Launch angle is the angle, as measured from ground level, that the ball launches at impact. If the ball launches too high at impact, it could lead to ballooning and a loss of distance. If the ball launches too low, it may not carry its maximum, also causing a loss of distance.
- Launch direction: Launch direction measures, relative to the target line, how the ball launches.
- Spin axis: Spin axis is the measurement of the axial tilt, when applied to the ball at impact, causes it to spin one direction or the other. A ball tilted to the right will spin to the right, while a ball tilted to the left will spin to the left.
- Spin rate: Spin rate is the amount of spin, as measured in RPMs, imparted on the ball at impact, a measure of all types of spin combined.
- Smash factor: Smash factor is a ratio that is derived from dividing ball speed by club head speed. It indicates how well you've struck the ball.
- Height: Height is also called apex, and it measures the maximum height of a ball as it travels through the air.
- Carry: Carry is the measure of how far the golf ball travels in the air from impact to first landing on the ground.
- Total: Total distance is measured using the carry number and adding in the anticipated bounce and roll from a standard PGA Tour fairway at sea level, accounting for spin rate, landing angle and landing speed rate.
- Side: Side indicates the dispersion from the target line as the ball lands. If the number is positive, it measures a ball landing to the right of the target line. If the number is negative, it measures a ball landing to the left of the target line.
- Side total: Side total indicates the dispersion from the target line after bounce and roll. If the number is positive, it measures a ball landing and stopping to the right of the target line. If the number is negative, it measures a ball landing and stopping to the left of the target line.
- Landing angle: Landing angle refers to the angle at which, relative to the ground, the ball first lands and hits the ground after a shot. That angle will change based on the club being used and the amount of spin put on the ball, where spin increases the landing angle. The angle is typically steepest (largest) with full wedges, and it's typically flatter (smallest) with long irons where the maximum height and launch angle are typically smaller. Typically, a driver-hit ball lands at about 40 degrees, while a wedge comes in closer to 50 degrees. For every degree flatter the landing angle with a driver, a PGA Tour player can expect to pick up closer to 2 yards.
- Hang time: Hang time, just like with a punt in football, is how long your ball stays in the air after impact to when it hits the ground the first time. That number will vary based on how far the ball travels, its apex height and the amount of spin put on the ball, as well wind.