What Is An Open Club Face?

Golf is full of technical nuances that can make a significant impact on your overall performance. Among these, club face position is one crucial factor that can make all the difference in the accuracy of your shots.

The position of your club face at impact ultimately determines the angle and trajectory of your golf ball and, therefore, the shape of your shots.

This makes it essential for all golfers, regardless of skill level, to understand the effects of club face position on their game to improve at the sport.

There are three orientations of club face in golf: square, closed, and open.

Today we’ll be focussing on the open club face – but what exactly is it? How does it affect your shots, and when should you use it on the course?

This article will answer the above questions and more as we take a closer look at the open club face position to help you add finesse, accuracy, and strategy to your game!

We will cover:

  • What Is An Open Club Face In Golf?
  • What Does An Open Club Face Mean?
  • When Do You Need An Open Club Face?
  • Complications Of An Open Club Face
  • Open Vs Closed Club Face – What Are The Differences?
  • What Causes An Open Club Face?
  • How To Open The Club Face Properly
  • The Short Of It

Let’s get started!

A golf club rests on the ground near a golf ball sitting on a tee, with the words what is an open club face in the foreground.

What is an Open Club face in Golf?

An open club face is when the face of the golf club is angled so that it points to the right of the target line (for right-handed players).

This is in contrast to a square club face, which sees the face of the club pointing directly down the target line.

An open club face can occur during the golfer’s setup and at impact with the ball and can be caused by grip, swing technique, and setup.

Experienced golfers may deliberately use an open club face for particular shots, but for amateur players, an unintentional open club face could be the reason you are facing difficulties on the golf course with your ball flying off target.

What Does an Open Club face mean?

An open clubface can greatly impact the direction and trajectory of the golf ball.

When the clubface is open, the ball tends to veer towards the right of the intended target.

This occurs because the position of the clubface has the most influence on the ball’s direction at the beginning of the shot.

In addition to affecting the direction, an open clubface can increase the loft of your club, resulting in a higher trajectory of the ball than its usual flight path.

The club’s bounce is also accentuated with an open clubface, which can cause it to bounce off the ground or sand instead of digging through it, especially if the club has a lot of bounce.

For right-handed golfers, an open clubface causes a slice or a left-to-right curve on the ball, while left-handed golfers experience a hook or a right-to-left curve.

But be warned, accidentally meeting the ball with an open clubface can send your shots flying off course – so it’s crucial to use this technique intentionally and with caution.

A golf coach teaches an old man how to putt on the golfing green.

When Do You Need an Open Club Face?

So, when would you need to employ an open club face on the golf course?

#1: Extra spin

An open club face promotes a fade or a slice spin on the ball, which causes the ball to curve from left to right for a right-handed golfer.

This type of shot is often useful when there are obstacles to the left of the fairway or when a golfer wants to intentionally shape their shot around a bend to the right in the course.

Another scenario is when a golfer needs to hit a shot with a significant amount of sidespin.

An open club face can create the necessary spin to curve the ball around obstacles, such as trees or bunkers.

#2: High And Soft

Another situation where an open club face can be useful is when a golfer needs to hit a shot that needs to be played high in the air with a soft landing.

An open club face can create a higher launch angle, resulting in a softer landing on the green.

An open club face is commonly used in greenside bunkers to expose the bounce on the wedge and increase loft to glide through the sand and create a splash for the ball to launch off of.

However, note that using an open club face can also cause the ball to go too far right, leading to a miss or even a lost ball.

So, while an open club face can be a valuable tool in a golfer’s arsenal, it requires precise execution and an understanding of how it affects the shot.

A golf ball flies through the air on a golf course.

Complications of an Open Club face

While an open club face can be useful in certain situations, it can also cause complications for golfers, and it’s important to be aware of the effects.

One of the most significant complications of an open club face is the loss of distance.

When the club face is open, the angle of attack on the ball is reduced, leading to a loss of energy transfer from the club to the ball.

This loss of energy can result in shorter shots than intended.

Another complication of an open club face is the inconsistency in shot direction.

An open club face requires a precise swing technique to ensure that the ball travels in the desired direction. If a golfer fails to execute the swing correctly, the ball can veer off in an unintended direction, leading to errant shots and increased scores.

While golfers may intentionally open or close the clubface to achieve a certain ball flight, an open face at impact is often an unwanted mishit that results in a slice, a shot that veers to the right for right-handed golfers.

Open vs Closed club face – what are the differences?

An open club face and a closed club face are two opposite positions of the club face.

A golf ball sits on the grass with a golf club behind it.

Open Club Face

While an open club face promotes a left-to-right ball flight for right-handed golfers, a closed club face promotes a right-to-left ball flight and draws your ball.

One significant difference between an open and a closed club face is the amount of sidespin they produce.

An open club face creates more sidespin, resulting in a more significant curve in the ball’s flight path.

Closed Club Face

A closed club face, on the other hand, creates less sidespin, resulting in a more muted curve in the ball’s flight path.

A closed club face is when the club face is pointing to the left of the target line at impact.

A closed club face is useful when a golfer needs to hit a shot that needs to be played low with a lot of roll.

For example, when playing in windy conditions, a closed club face can reduce the amount of loft on the ball, resulting in a lower ball flight that can cut through the wind more efficiently.

A golfer grips a golf club with two hands.

What causes an open club face?

Experiencing an unintentional open club face during your golf swing can be frustrating.

You may recall a time on the course when you felt your swing was correct, yet the ball unexpectedly curved to the right of your intended target, with an open club face being the primary cause.

But what aspects of the swing cause an open club face when you don’t intend to have one?

There are several potential causes of an open club face, including a poor grip, an incorrect swing path, and a lack of wrist control.

#1: Weak Grip

A weak grip leads to an inconsistent position of your club through the swing, causing your club to meet the ball with an open face.

#2: swing Path

Similarly, an out-to-in swing path, where the club comes across the ball from outside the target line, can also lead to an open club face.

Club face position at the top of the swing can be key in helping you play accurate shots.

#3: Wrist Control

An open club face at the top point of your swing sees the face point flat up to the sky, which is usually a symptom of cocking the wrists back too far in the takeaway.

This makes it harder to return back to square at impact and thus makes an open face contact with the ball more likely.

Finally, if the wrists are not fully releasing through impact, the club face can remain open, resulting in a slice or a high, weak shot.

Proper technique and practice can help golfers address these issues and improve their ball flight.

A golfing coach wearing a striped jumper shows a man how to hit a golf ball.

How to open the club face properly

If you want to use an open club face intentionally, it’s crucial that you do it the right way to maintain control and achieve your intended shot.

If you’re looking to open up the face of your club, it’s actually pretty simple – just give it a little twist!

For right-handed golfers, rotate the club to the right so that the toe is positioned behind the heel. Lefties, on the other hand, should rotate the club to the left.

But be careful – you don’t want to rotate your hands, just the club itself.

Once you’ve got the face in the desired open position, go ahead and take your normal grip.

If you’re a seasoned pro with amazing clubhead control, you can even try “holding off” the clubface through impact.

This means delaying the release of your hands, almost like a baseball player hitting the opposite field. It takes a lot of skill and practice, but it can really pay off on the course.

The issue with an incorrect open club face lies in the way golfers adjust the clubface.

They grip the club as they normally would and then try to rotate the face by twisting their hands while the club is on the ground at address. For example, they might try to open the face by rotating their hands clockwise.

Here’s the problem: this method only adjusts the clubface through changes in grip strength. But as soon as you swing the club, your grip will naturally revert back to its usual position, meaning the clubface will be back to its original, square position by the time it hits the ball.

So, if you think you’re setting up for an open face at address, you’re in for a surprise. The reality is that your clubface will likely be back to its square position by the time you take your swing.

Don’t let this common mistake ruin your shot – try adjusting your clubface in a different way, such as rotating the club itself, to get the best results.

A golfer wearing a white glove places the golf ball onto the tee.

The short of it

In conclusion, an open club face can have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of your golf shots, specifically enabling fades and slices.

By understanding the mechanics behind the open club face and practicing the techniques we’ve discussed, you can increase your accuracy and smarten up your game strategy, and ultimately, lower your scores!

So, whether you’re looking to add some finesse to your shots or simply impress your golf buddies, mastering the open clubface technique can make all the difference on the course.

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George Edgell is a freelance journalist and keen golfer based in Brighton, on the South Coast of England. He inherited a set of golf clubs at a young age and has since become an avid student of the game. When not playing at his local golf club in the South Downs, you can find him on a pitch and putt links with friends. George enjoys sharing his passion for golf with an audience of all abilities and seeks to simplify the game to help others improve at the sport!

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