Measuring bounce is simpler than you think
I recently had a nice long conversation with a professional club fitter regarding the bounce article that I had written a couple years ago that prompted me to write this Blog posting. One of the questions he had was related to finding a way to accurately measure bounce. While this might sound like an easy answer, it was not. You really need to have pictures there in front of you to explain it better, after all a picture is worth a thousand words.
To measure bounce, we first need to measure the loft of the club with the shaft perpendicular to the ground line. This is often done in a specification gauge or even in a good quality loft and lie machine. If you take a look at the diagram to the right, this is the same view as how you would measure the loft, but upside down. We will show you why in a second.
If there is bounce on an iron or wedge, then the contact point of the sole will not occur in the center of the sole. If there is positive bounce, the contact point with the ground or surface will be toward the trailing edge of the club and negative bounce the contact point of the sole will be nearer the leading edge.
To measure the bounce we want to mark the center of the sole. Start by measuring the width in the center of the sole with your calipers or a very good machinist ruler. With a Sharpie pen, place a small mark on the center of the sole. Double check that you mark is indeed located in the center. If not rub off the mark and try again.
There are commercially available bounce gauges that can run in the couple of hundred dollar range. While extremely accurate, most club fitting shops will not have invested into one. So what is the simple solution?
I had a machinist protractor that I picked up at my local hardware store a few years back. I am sure I didn’t spend more than $20 on it, but it has come in handy many times. One use is for measuring the bounce angle of a golf club.
Place the base of the protractor against the flat face of the iron or wedge. Loosen the wing nut or thumb screw so the arm is free to move. Adjust the club in the protractor so the face is good and tight against the base of the protractor and the arm of the protractor is just making contact with the mark you made on the center of the sole. It might take a little practice to make sure that it is just touching that mark and not to one side or another as it will through off your reading.
Next, measure the angle. Chances are the protractor will measure the supplement angle so you will need to subtract the reading from 90 degrees. For example, this was a 4 iron. The protractor read 69 degrees, therefore 90 – 69 = 21 degrees.
To obtain the bounce measurement, we simply take the loft reading (either from our specification gauge or loft & lie machine) and subtract the loft we obtained in the machinist protractor at the center of the sole.
If the loft was originally 23 degrees, this means the bounce of our club is 2 degrees. See, there is always a simple and often inexpensive solution to everything. The only time it doesn’t work is in the case where you might have a wedge with a concave sole, which are far and few between.