What Is The Right Angle Of Attack In Golf?

Knowing your angle of attack in golf could be key to unlocking your potential, says PGA pro Katie Dawkins

Angle of attack in golf
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

The optimal angle of attack in golf depends on so many factors. But before we talk about them, what is the angle of attack? In simple terms, it’s the angle the sweet spot of the clubhead is travelling at when impact occurs. Many of you might be scratching your head but bear with us, it’s important. 

There is a load of information out there on this topic and some of it will leave you looking blank, so it can be hard to know what to listen to. Luckily, PGA pro Katie Dawkins has a straightforward explanation...

What is the right angle of attack in golf?

First of all, what makes the ‘right’ angle of attack is all relative to the golfer in question and the club in hand. For example, those with a slower swing need to be careful not to hit down too much.

Understanding this concept can be a key component in unlocking your potential. And taking your game to new heights is made much easier if you know your angle of attack, as you can set your clubs up to match your unique delivery.

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So, if you are hitting DOWN on the ball, which is desirable when it comes to iron play and pitching, your attack angle will be NEGATIVE. Assuming your driver address position is optimal, hitting UP is ideal for a driver as you can sweep it off the tee - this would be a POSITIVE angle of attack.

Angle of attack in golf

Hitting up on the ball is ideal if you're looking to launch drives further than ever
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

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This is where modern technology comes into its own. Launch monitors such as Trackman can feedback an incredible amount of data to an incredible degree of accuracy.

Take the best players in the world. The average LPGA Tour player hits two degrees up with their driver, and they know that’s what they need to do to max out their delivery. 

The same is true in the men’s game. Most, if not all, of the PGA Tour’s longest hitters will have a positive angle of attack. Dustin Johnson averages around four degrees up when he unleashes a trademark ‘bomb’.

Going further still, the people who compete in long drive comps launch it out there with an ascending angle as high as eight degrees.

But, and it’s a big but, with this normally comes a loss of accuracy. So while it pays to be positive with the big stick, it’s important not to get carried away in a distance quest that can land you in trouble. 

Angle of attack in golf

With an iron in hand, a negative attack angle will help golfers optimise strike and control
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Moving onto the irons and this is where it all changes. With more loft comes a need for accuracy and control. A descending blow will generate more spin and give golfers more stopping power to hit and hold greens.

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If you aren’t hitting down on the ball or taking a divot, you’ll suffer from inconsistent strike, distance and direction. Therefore, work on brushing that grass and hitting down to get the ball to go up. 

And for those who think they are struggling when it comes to either aspect of the game, my advice would be to invest in a lesson where you’ll find out WHY you do what you do.

Often it’s a simple fix, but it can be one that has you achieving the perfect attack angle for your swing, resulting in longer drives than ever before, and deadly approach shots to match.

Katie Dawkins
Advanced PGA Professional and freelance contributor

Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.

Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple. Katie is now based at the stunning Hamptworth Golf Club on the edge of the New Forest. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF during lockdown and as well as coaching at Hamptworth she freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve. 

She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game. 

Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.