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An interesting debate among golfers and golf instructors involves the question of whether golfers should fix their mechanics so they can swing standard golf clubs properly, or if they should use clubs that help compensate for their swing deficiencies. Proponents of the latter idea are more likely to appreciate offset golf clubs -- in which the clubhead's leading edge is set back from the main portion of the shaft -- because the primary purposes of offset clubs are to help golfers square the clubface and to improve their angle of attack on the fairway.
A non-offset club has a completely straight shaft, from the top of the grip down to the hosel, the part that connects the shaft with the clubhead. A great majority of woods are non-offset clubs, although offset woods, as well as hybrids, do exist. There are plenty of offset and non-offset irons and putters for golfers to choose from.
Offset Club Advantages
One purpose of an offset club is to help prevent slices. Slices are often caused by a failure to rotate the clubhead sufficiently during the downswing, so the clubface doesn't square up to the target line at impact. Instead, the club's toe lags behind the heel and the clubface is angled slightly to the golfer's right -- for a right-handed player -- at impact. The clubface's angle imparts sidespin to the ball, causing the slice. However, because an offset clubhead is set back from the ball, the golfer has an extra split-second in the downswing to rotate the clubhead a bit more, giving him a better chance to square the clubface at impact.
Offset set clubs can also help golfers take the proper angle of attack when hitting an iron from the fairway. Novice golfers, in particular, may not understand that you must hit fairway iron shots with a steep downswing angle, striking down on the ball, to get the ball in the air. Offset clubs automatically set your hands in front of the clubhead, helping you strike down on the ball.
Offset Club Disadvantages
As golfers improve their swings and learn the proper fundamentals, the swing flaws that an offset clubhead corrects may disappear. The offset clubhead may then do more harm than good. For example, if an ex-slicer learns how to square the clubhead properly, the split-second delay caused by the offset may create a hook.
There are two main reasons that putter clubheads are offset. For players who tend to pull their putts to the left, the offset putters help to even out their stroke, leading to more accurate putts. Additionally, some experts believe it's more advantageous to place your dominant eye above the ball. If a right-handed player has a dominant right eye, for example, the offset leaves his right eye closer to the ball at address.