Are Deep Face Clubheads A Thing Of The Past?

Modern design has given the once top dog more competition

I have had a few people of late who have asked me “Why are driver heads are so shallow, what happened to the deep face clubs from a few years ago?” There are several reasons why with perhaps the biggest reason being manufacturers are attempting to enhance performance. While a deep face (59mm+ for drivers) club may provide added room for error and instill more confidence at address, there a few things to understand.

Center of gravity follows geometryDeep Face Drivers
The deeper the face the higher the center of gravity (CG) of the club will be. This is due to the fact the CG follows the geometry of the head. Most clubs today are nearly all the maximum 460cc. If a club face is deep (or tall), then the club cannot be as broad from face to back otherwise the volume will exceed the limits set forth by the USGA. And no manufacturer (or consumer) wants the club narrower from heel-to-toe to make up for that difference in volume. If a head is narrow from front-to-back (breadth) then the CG will be more forward or closer to the face as well. Why? If the area of the club face is bigger then more material is required. This additional weight pulls the CG toward the face. We will see what effect this has a little later. If the club is not as broad from front-to-back, the moment of inertia (MOI) will not be as high, at least as how golf manufacturers measure the MOI of their heads.

Launch Conditions
Let’s recap; the CG is both higher and forward with a deeper faced clubhead. This will create totally different launch conditions than the modern driver which is shallow and broad. Given the same loft, the ball flight with a deeper faced clubhead will be lower Acer XK Irons in Golf Digesttherefore the person might have to opt for a slightly higher loft. It was only a few years ago when launch monitor became widely available. Club fitters were telling people to use more loft. Is it any coincidence the driver heads were deeper face back then? Today you don’t hear that same suggestion with as much frequency. If the CG location is forward it will create a slightly higher spin rate; this is why the  is being broader to shift the CG back to reduce spin. So that equates to low launch / high spin

•    Deep Face    Lower launch, higher spin
•    Shallow Face    Higher launch, reduced spin

Additional spin can be good for some golfers. But if additional loft needed to achieve the optimum launch angle and you now have created even more spin (due to the higher loft) and potentially a distance killer for golfers with higher swing speeds (excessive spin).  If Flat Rate Shippingone can get the correct launch angle using a lower lofted driver, they can potentially obtain more distance as a higher initial ball speed will be a result.  This is why so many heads on the market today are shallower and/or internally weighted.  Choosing the right shaft can assist in promoting a higher launch angle, even if the shaft is more flexible.  After all, the massive driver heads are much more forgiving today to compensate for directional problems.

For fairways and hybrids, creating a deep faced design makes it more difficult to hit off of the ground (as they are primarily designed) because you don’t have the assistance of a tee as you do with the driver. One thing to remember, even the modern shallower drivers are deeper face compared to clubs made not that long ago.  The average driver face height today (53-57mm) is about the same as when 400cc drivers first appeared on the market. The actual face height is really only quarter-inch (6mm) or less than those really deep faced drivers. One more reason why golfers may feel the heads may not appear as deep since the modern clubhead is broader from front-to-back when in fact they really are. Lastly, the crowns are flatter on modern drivers reducing the head’s height giving the added perception that the actual face height may be shallower.

As you can see there is a number of reasons why deeper face clubs are not as common today. But if you hit a high ball with less spin than you need, a deeper faced club with reduced breadth might be for you.  Otherwise understand and take advantage of the current trend in modern driver design.

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  1. Jeff,
    I understand most of what you say, and it makes sense. But…

    What is the physics behind the notion that a further-back center of gravity produces less spin? That does not make any sense to me.


  2. Jeff Summitt says:

    Hi Dave:

    This is one time I wish I had a whiteboard as a series of pictures would help. But here is goes… Let’s say that the CG is toward the face. Upon impact the face is more apt to rotate in the crown-to-sole plane than if CG was moved further back but at the same vertical location.

  3. Chris Peters says:

    Perhaps a naive question – but why have much of a crown at all? Is thatt he evolution of drivers?

    The composite crowns can’t provide that much support to the face on impact that the body of the club has, and it’s just weight that could be better diostributed lower and rearward, no?

  4. Jeff Summitt says:


    The crown does add support as well as control sound. Even if you can get past the ear-piercing sound of a driver without a crown, many golfers would simply not purchase the club simply because it won’t look traditional at address. There are alternatives such as nano-composites to replace the unwanted weight, yet provide the adequate strength and durability. But at this point it is cost preventative. Right now crowns are getting as thin and light as possible introducing new materials or grades of titanium, chemical etching or milling. But all of these things add more cost.

  5. Marty says:

    I’m confused? On Titleist website it states that the deep face 909D3 Driver creates a lower launch and less spin.. And the shallow face 909D2 creates a higher launch and more spin..

    You are saying the opposite.. That Deep face = Higher Spin…

    Can you explain??

  6. Jeff Summitt says:

    The deep face usually places the CG higher which will lower the flight. Most drivers today are 460cc so a deeper face will result into one that is narrower from front-to-back. If that occurs, the CG is more forward and the spin is increased. It will depend on what lofts they offer and where they were able to place the CG rearward.

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