Game improvement clubs designed to be more forgiving of mis-hit balls than standard clubs typically feature a wider sole -- the bottom of a golf clubhead -- compared to the clubs used by top professionals. A wider sole produces a higher shot, though it may sacrifice some distance. The wider sole also provides more bounce when it strikes the ground, which is particularly advantageous when you're hitting iron shots on softer turf.
Measure the clubhead from its bottom front edge to its bottom back edge to find out exactly how wide the sole is at a given point. Compare the measurement to other clubs you're considering, if sole width is a factor in your choice. Game improvement irons, for example, typically feature 1-inch-wide soles.
Check with the manufacturer to determine the club's center of gravity. A wider, heavier sole produces a lower center of gravity, which helps wide-sole clubs produce higher shots.
Match the club to the type of game you play. If you're a casual player, you'll likely benefit from wider-sole clubs, due to their forgiveness. Golf writer Mike Stachura adds that a wider sole may also help you square the club toward the target when you address the ball. More advanced players must be cautious of wider-soled clubs because a very low center of gravity may cost you some ball speed and therefore distance.
- If you're planning to hit with wide-sole clubs, check the club's trailing edge. Golf Channel writer Adam Barr says the rear portion of a wide-sole club must curve upwards. If it's flat in the rear, the back of the sole will bounce. Ideally, only the center of the sole should bounce on the turf.