Using the correct driver is clearly important, but with so many options out there on the market, it’s tough choosing the right one for your bag.
While some people go for brand names and technology that’s designed to help with the shot, we want to look at something that is sometimes overlooked. We are talking about loft.
What is the Loft?
The loft refers to the angle between the face of the club and the ground. The angle changes depending on the club, but where a driver is different is that you can often change the loft angle within the club.
By altering the loft angle, you change the type of shot you produce. However, understanding the different angles and what happens is important. To help, we will go through different types of players at various levels to explain what difference the loft will make.
The loft angle with a driver can vary quite considerably. For the average golfer, it will tend to move from anywhere between 8.5 degrees up to 15 or 16 degrees. That should cover most of the bases.
But where do you sit in between those two extremes? That’s where understanding the type of player you are and how it relates to driving becomes important.
A High Loft Driver
A high loft driver means a greater angle between the club face and the ground. It also tends to lead to greater distance with your drive, and the reason why that’s important will become apparent when you see the types of shots and players we will mention.
A high loft gets the ball up off the ground and into the air at greater heights than one with a lower loft. If you struggle to get the ball off the tee, then a higher loft gives an added push and changes the distance you can achieve.
Also, a driver with a higher loft angle has a tendency to lead to a more forgiving shot. An individual with a higher handicap will benefit as a result.
A Slower Swing Speed
If you tend to have a lower swing speed, then you generate less power and, ultimately, less energy when striking the ball. For most people, a slow swing speed is anything less than 85mph.
Here, a high loft angle of more than 12 degrees, and even up to 14 degrees, can give a real boost to the distances achieved with the driver. This is why it’s important.
In this instance, a higher loft gets the ball off the ground while requiring less energy to do so. Getting more height means the ball is then carried over a greater distance simply by the trajectory.
A high loft driver can easily add some extra yards to your shot without the need to change your swing in any way.
Using a Low CG Driver
If you prefer a driver with a lower center of gravity, or when the weight of the club is then pushed more to the front, then a higher loft will help.
This club setup will produce less spin. It also means a reduction in height and traction, so you need that higher loft angle to get the maximum distance possible.
Remember, it’s not just the power or height. You also need the run of the ball, and how you strike it off the tee has an impact on that factor.
Hitting Up on the Ball
If you become aware of tending to hit up on the ball, which also means you have a positive attack angle with your drive, then you need a higher loft to get that distance. You could lose a number of yards simply because of the angle you hit the ball at.
As with using a lower center of gravity club, hitting up on the ball produces less spin. Unfortunately, less spin will often mean less distance, and that’s where the loft angle comes into play.
But this is a key point.
Hitting up on the ball will often mean you won’t struggle to get height on the ball. So, that does sound contradictory about the higher loft angle.
However, it’s all to do with the maximum angle you should employ if this is your style of striking the ball.
A Low Loft Driver
When talking about a low loft driver, we mean anything below 11 degrees. However, most see this type of club around 9.5 degrees or even 10 degrees.
This club reduces the height at which the ball will launch off the tee. This does change the type of player who should use this type of driver, as we will now see.
A Fast Swing Speed
If you know your swing speed is above 105mph, then you won’t require a driver with a loft of more than 11 degrees at any point. In fact, we would recommend you sticking to around 8.5 degrees to 9.5 degrees for most drives.
The reason for this is the power you produce eliminates the need for the same trajectory as those with a slower swing speed. If you produce too much height, you lose some of that power simply because of gravity.
In saying that, you do still want a certain amount of height on the ball. You need the ball to cut through the air but adding a bit of height also helps with the roll of the ball upon impact. That alone adds some extra yards to your drive.
For those with an average swing speed, which means around the 95mph to 105mph range, a loft angle of between 10 degrees to 11 degrees is perfect.
When Using a Back-weighted Driver
If you use a back-weighted driver, or even a make that pushes the weight higher in the club, then you do not require too much loft.
With these types of drivers, the placement of the center of gravity will automatically push some additional height onto the drive. That means there’s no need for some extra help with a higher loft angle as getting the ball in the air is not a problem.
Once again, using a loft angle up to around 10.5 degrees is perfect for anybody using this type of club. You don’t want to go higher than this due to it then putting too much height on the ball and you lose some of that power you created.
When Hitting Down on the Ball
If you tend to hit down on the ball, then it’s often the case you will produce higher spin levels. A lower loft will reduce the level of backspin on the ball, and this has a direct impact on the distance that’s achievable on your drive.
The main difference with this part is the run you achieve on the ball. Backspin holds the ball up so it won’t scamper along the ground giving you greater distance than before. The lower loft angle will counteract this leading to you getting closer to the pin.
But in this situation it’s important to understand you cannot go too low with the loft angle. Ideally, it’s best to aim around 10 degree to 11 degrees to help generate enough height to get the maximum distance.
But What About the Average Golfer?
The different situations and shot types above may sound complicated for some, so what about the average golfer?
Well, let’s say you have a medium to high handicap. What kind of loft should you consider using with your driver?
The first thing is to forget about what the club is set at, and ignore what your favorite player uses as that will probably not help you at all. You must make this club your own.
The most important area for the average golfer who doesn’t want to make things complicated is to focus on your swing speed. Don’t stress too much about spin or trajectory. The average golfer simply wants to get more distance on their drives while also adding in some accuracy.
The basic principle here is as follows.
If your club head speed is below 85mph, then a loft of at least 14 degrees is best.
If your club head speed is between 95 to 105mph, a loft between 10 to 11.5 degrees is best.
If your club head is above 105mph, then a loft of between 7.5 and 9 degrees is best.
Sure, you could look into spins and how it gets the ball off the ground or deals with draw, but as we said earlier, most high handicap players merely want to get closer to the pin with their drive.
What we have shown here is the need to understand the type of swing you have before deciding on the best loft driver for your game.
This is not about choosing a driver that looks good or has so much technology crammed into it that it must work well. The loft angle will have such an impact on your ability to not only improve your driving game, but do so on a regular basis.
We advise you to seek advice from the pro at your club to gain some insight into your drive and requirements. Then, look for the perfect driver