Hosel Definition and Importance in Golf – HowStuffWorks

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Golf is a notoriously difficult game. Major League Baseball great Hank Aaron famously said, "It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. It took one afternoon on the golf course." Part of its allure is what appears to be its simplicity. Use a club to hit a ball into a hole? How difficult could that be? But there’s much more to the sport than that, including the design of the equipment.
Golf clubs might’ve started out simply but now are highly designed and engineered pieces of sporting equipment. The hosel is a little piece of metal that plays a big part in both golf club construction and in the club’s performance (depending on the type of club), as well as its design and how well it’s wielded.
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Golf clubs have three basic parts: the clubhead (sometimes spelled as "club head"), the shaft and the grip. The hosel (pronounced "hozzle" as in "nozzle") is a connection piece. It’s best described as the socket-like part into which the shaft is inserted. Once it’s connected it’s covered with epoxy and topped by a small plastic part called a "ferrule" (who knew all these little parts had names?).
To be clear, you don’t actually see the hosel. It’s an interior joint of the club. But the weight of the hosel is part of the overall weight of the clubhead and impacts the club’s center of gravity. Even small amounts of weight and distribution can affect the way a club performs on certain shots like draws (where the golf ball curves to the left in the case of a right-handed golfer, or to the right in the case of a lefty).
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In most golf clubs, hosels are static. They don’t move and golfers don’t mess with them. However, these days golfers can purchase drivers (clubs designed to produce the most distance) with adjustable hosels. According to the manufacturers, this adjustability allows golfers to raise or lower the loft of the ball off the tee, the face angle of the club or the lie angle.
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Yes, hosels can also affect putter performance. The putter, with its low, flat head, is the club used for relatively short, low-speed strokes. And as the connection point between the shaft and clubhead, the hosel can affect the balance and release pattern of certain models of putters. Golfers can enhance their performance by selecting the putter that best suits their stroke.
For example, according to some experts, golfers whose putts take an arc shape should try a short putter hosel, while golfers who have more of a combination stroke — an arc and straight back, straight through — might try a plumber neck hosel putter. Those whose putts are straight back, straight through should check out a center shaft hosel putter.
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Whatever club a player is using, one of the worst things to witness on a golf course is someone "shanking" their shot. This happens when a golfer misses the ball completely, hitting the ball with the hosel instead. And when that happens all bets are off. Because the hosel is round, there’s no telling which direction that ball will go. And it can be dangerous. A ball hit on the hosel will fly off at a sharp angle — 70 degrees or more — in almost any direction (though righties typically send their golf balls toward the right, a lefty toward the left).
There’s no doubt, golf is a humbling game. Take it from Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers of all time with 120 professional tournament wins in his career, including 18 professional major championship titles (six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, and three Open Championships), who once said, "A perfectly straight shot with a big club is fluke."
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Like actors referring to Macbeth as "the Scottish play" while in a theater, golfers can be superstitious about shank shots to the point that they won’t even say the word "shank" while playing. If anything, they prefer the terms "hoseling" or "hosel rocket," as in, "Wow! Bill really hit a hosel rocket on the third tee."
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