The 'Crown' of a Golf Club: What It Is and Design Considerations

Cleveland Golf driver viewed from above, showing the crown
Looking down at the crown of a Cleveland Golf driver. Cleveland Golf

The "crown" of a golf club is the top surface of a clubhead: That part of the club that you see when you are in the address position, looking down.

Clubs with hollow-body constructions — most hybrids, all fairway woods and drivers — have crowns. (The top of an iron clubhead is called a "topline.")

In terms of appearance, golf club crowns were once very boring — one, solid color (usually black) — and many still are. But beginning in the early 2000s, and increasing ever since, golf club manufacturers have gotten much more creative in the appearance of the crown. That means different colors, graphics, maybe a clear-coat top layer of paint that allows what's underneath to show throw (which can show off different construction techniques). This became possible when the old persimmon drivers died off as metal woods took over the market. Metal wood clubheads are painted, and you can do a lot more with appearance when paint is involved.

There have also been variations introduced in the shapes of crowns. Traditionally, crowns were somewhat rounded on top, and most still are. But taking aerodynamics and other design considerations into account when creating new clubs has resulted in some crowns that slope back or taper back from the top of the clubface, or even scoop back.

Also note that some crowns include an alignment mark (or markings) near the front (over the clubface) to help golfers set up and aim properly.

The Crown In Golf Club Design

Golf club designers are always searching for ways to save weight or to impart more speed into the struck golf ball, and that has led to innovations in the materials and construction techniques used in golf club crowns, particularly in drivers. Making the crown of a lighter (but at least equally strong) material lets the club designer re-position that saved weight to other, more beneficial areas on the clubhead.

So crowns made of, for example, carbon composites have come to the market. When a golfer sees a club's crown described as involving a composite or a matrix or having "multi-material construction," these are code words for "we figured out how to save a little weight in the crown."

Saving weight can't mean giving up any strength in the crown material, however, because that might affect the structural integrity of the clubhead.

Mishits Off the Crown

A mishit in which the golf ball glances off the crown of a club at impact (rather than hitting somewhere on the face of the club) is often called a "skyball" (or pop-up or rainmaker or various other slang terms). Skyballs are no fun — they are terrible shots that travel short distances. Your golfing companions may even laugh at you.

Worse, skyballs can damage the crown. They can leave scratches known as "skymarks," or, in worst-case scenarios, dent or crater the crown.