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Along with your putter, the driver is one of the most frequently used golf clubs in your bag, making it one of the most important to get correct regarding set-up. If you are able to put the ball in play off the tee, then your scores will only improve.
There are a number of factors that can hinder your performance with your tee shot, one of those being loft. However, what is the correct loft that you should be using? It’s a frequently asked question and one that will vary from person to person and is dependent on a number of factors that could get very technical and in-depth.
While things like launch angle, dynamic loft and impact location are important and play a role in deciding the best loft for you, we're going to try and keep it simple. Ultimately, there's no substitute for going to see your local pro and have a hit on a launch monitor to assess your swing properly.
Why Will Most Golfers Benefit From More Loft?
Generally, the slower the swing or club speed, the higher the loft of the driver needs to be to optimise both carry, roll and forgiveness. However, it must be said, a higher loft won’t always work for everyone. If you do have more loft though, you are more likely to get the ball airborne off the tee.
What Is Spin Loft And Why Is It Important?
It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. The reason you need to know what spin loft is, is because it affects the amount of backspin you create, which in turn affects the distance the ball will travel.
Spin loft is the difference in angle between your attack angle (how much up or down the clubhead is traveling at impact) and the dynamic loft (the loft presented to the ball at impact).
The higher the spin loft, the more backspin you create. So, if your attack angle is downward significantly, the chances are your spin loft is quite high and you create high levels of backspin. By high, we mean above 3000 rpm. This tends to be great for accuracy, but not for distance.
Who Needs A High Lofted Driver?
1. Slow Swingers
Someone with a slow swing speed (85mph or less) needs more loft on their driver. Why? Well, imagine firing water from a garden hose at a plant pot on the other side of the garden. If someone were to turn down the pressure of the hose, you would have to tilt the nozzle upwards to try and maintain the distance the water is traveling. The same applies to the loft of your driver. Golfers with this swing speed would typically benefit from a driver between 12-14° of loft.
2. Upward Hitters
Golfers that hit up on the ball (have a positive attack angle) will tend to spin the ball less because their spin loft is lower. So they can therefore afford to have slightly more loft to maximise distance. However, an upward attack angle will also tend to launch the ball higher anyway, so the 'loft up' message applies slightly less here.
3. Those That Use Low And Front Weighted Drivers
Drivers that possess a low and forward centre of gravity, be it through the position of front tracks or heavier sole weights, tend to generate less spin so require a higher launch angle (created by using a higher loft) to maximise distance.
Currently on the market, there a number of best golf drivers for distance. However, it is worth noting that a higher lofted driver is also more forgiving because it is harder to curve the ball.
Who Needs A Lower Lofted Driver?
1. Fast Swingers
If you’re in this bracket (105mph club speed or more) then you probably don’t need as much loft as a slow swinger because your ball speed is sufficient to keep it traveling on the optimum trajectory. Anywhere between 8.5-10° will usually suffice. If you have a mid swing speed of 95-104 mph, a driver loft of between 10-11.5° will normally be a good starting point.
2. Downward Hitters
If you hit down on the ball, you’re likely to have high spin loft, so using less loft will actually reduce your backspin and should help you hit the ball further. However, you need to make sure you maintain a high enough launch angle in the process, above 11 degrees ideally.
3. Those That Use High And Back Weighted Drivers
Drivers with a back CG (Centre of Gravity) placement in the head naturally create a higher launch and higher spin. You therefore don’t need as much loft to get the ball airborne and keep it there. The CG also helps your strike, with an array of the most forgiving drivers now available on the market.
Other Things To Consider…
If you’ve got a driver that offers clubface angle adjustment, changing the face angle can also affect the loft – unless the two work independently. When you open the clubface, you increase the loft and vice versa. So be wary of this when tweaking yours.
Dynamic loft is the actual loft you present to the ball at impact and it can differ greatly to the loft etched on the sole of your driver. There are many factors that affect it. A downward attack angle tends to reduce dynamic loft, as does having the hands excessively ahead of the ball at impact. Remember, dynamic loft affects launch, spin and ultimately distance so have a go on a decent launch monitor to see what yours is.
Here’s a fact for you. The loft on your clubface varies from top to bottom by up to six degrees! Loft is at its lowest on the bottom of the clubface and is at its highest on the top. Strikes above the clubface centre will tend to launch higher with less spin and vice versa on shots from low on the clubface.
As you now know, there are a lot of factors that you should consider before choosing the loft of your driver and the best way to ensure you make the right choice is to go and get fitted by a PGA professional on a launch monitor. Thanks to some of the best golf drivers, you should have no problem finding one that suits your game.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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