Do you know what the loft of your driver is? Do you know if it’s the correct loft for your golf game?
Loft is kind of a misunderstood concept in the game of golf, and we are here to clear that up. Most modern golf drivers have an adjustable loft, therefore making it easier to fine-tune the performance that you need.
Whether you are a beginner or a more accomplished player, you will still need to understand what loft in the driver is and how it will impact your golf game.
What is The Loft on a Driver?
The loft is the angle of the clubface of a driver. Most drivers have a loft between 8 and 13 degrees. The 8 degree driver will have a much lower launch than the 13 degrees, and it will also impact overall distance and forgiveness.
Many players think that the loft on the driver will impact only the launch angle of your golf shot, but there is quite a bit more to it than this.
How Driver Loft Affects Your Ball Flight
The interesting thing about the loft of your driver is that it is not just about how high you hit the golf ball. In addition, the loft will help you with distance, accuracy, and forgiveness.
The total distance of the golf shot is impacted by the club’s loft. One of the myths of the game is that when you can keep the ball lower, you will get more distance. For some golfers, a lower lofted driver does maximize distance, but that is more about their path and their speed than the driver.
Many professional golfers can hit a driver with 8 degrees of loft and get it to fly 300 or more yards. When you watch the ball flight of this drive, it is still quite high. The higher lofted shot allows the ball to stay in the air for quite some time. The air provides less resistance than the ground.
However, slower swing speed players often struggle to get the distance they need with the lower lofted driver. The lower a loft gets on a golf club, the harder it is to get the ball up off the ground.
High lofted drivers that are 11 or 12 degrees offer great distance for the slower swing speed players.
In addition to golf driver loft impacting distance, it will also impact forgiveness. The forgiveness of a golf driver is considerably higher when it has a higher loft. The higher the loft, the easier it is to get the ball straight down the fairway.
You may be wondering why golfers don’t want to use higher lofted drivers all the time.
The reason here is that for certain swing speeds, you will eventually hit the ball so high that it costs you the distance.
Golfers need to find that perfect combination of loft and launch angle to ensure maximum distance. Luckily with modern fitting equipment, this is easier than it ever has been.
I have always played with a 10.5 degree driver. Most recently, I tried to adjust the loft down to 9.5 to see if it would give me a more piercing ball flight, something that I thought would be helpful.
The ball flight was more like what I thought I needed, but the total distance from my golf shot was lacking. This just further proves the point that the best loft is the one that works the best for your speed and your angle of attack to the golf ball. For me, that is 10.5 degrees of loft.
Forgiveness and accuracy can go hand in hand. When golf drivers are the right loft for your swing speed, you should have an easier time controlling them. For instance, a player may find that with an 11 degree driver, they can be more accurate than they can be with a 10 degree driver.
The way to fine-tune this is to test your accuracy while setting the club to several different lofts.
You will quickly be able to see that at certain lofts, the slice and hook start to come out. The club feels considerably less forgiving, and your dispersion rates increase. Better players can hit their drives within a few yards of a target.
I found that the difference between swinging a 9 degree driver and a 10.5 was enough to make the sport incredibly frustrating!
How Much Difference Even 1 Degree of Loft Change Can Make on a Driver
When I’ve tested the difference that one degree of loft change makes on a driver, I’ve found the results to be within 3 to 5 yards. Where you really see the difference is when a player who was using a 12 degree driver switches to a 10 degree driver.
If you are not careful about this, you could see differences of up to 10 yards, which significantly impacts the approach shot you will have to the green.
PGA Tour players will tell you that in addition to the difference that loft makes in their shots, it is also crucial to consider the shaft in the club. The shaft can increase launch, have an impact on spin rates, and even make it so that you have a faster swing speed.
Is a Higher Loft Driver Better?
A higher lofted driver is almost always better for a golfer with a slower swing speed. When you use a higher lofted driver, the ball will stay in the air considerably longer. With a golf ball that has plenty of time in the air, you almost always see more distance.
However, if you are a fast-swinging golfer that has a steep angle of attack, the higher launch angle can create problems in your game.
You may notice that the ball goes too high, and when it lands, there is almost no forward roll. This is where you will need to work on lowering the ball flight a bit by adjusting the loft or the angle of attack.
How to Figure Out What Loft You Should Be Using on Your Driver
Now that you can see how important it is to have the right loft in your golf driver, let’s take a look at a few ways you can determine if your golf driver loft is correct.
Go to a Golf Club Fitting
A golf club fitting is a great way to narrow down which golf club driver loft could be best for your golf game. When you go to a fitting, you will work with a professional that gives you information on the perfect angle of attack and the way that impacts the actual loft of the club.
With a golf club fitting, you will tap into some great technology but also the advice of a fitting professional that understands the science of the game.
I like to go for golf club fittings where I can see the tee shot. Even though simulators are incredibly accurate, there is something about seeing the complete ball flight that makes it easier to pick the proper loft for the driver.
Get a Portable Launch Monitor
If you don’t want to go for a fitting, you can always conduct your own! Portable or personal golf launch monitors have come a long way and are now more affordable than ever. For less than $500, you can hit golf balls on the range and get some accurate information about the shots you are hitting.
Portable launch monitors may give you less information than you get during a complete custom fitting, but this is a great place to start.
I like to hit 5 shots with a certain loft and collect measurements, and then switch to another loft and collect some more data. You will quickly be able to see which golf club is the one that could work for you.
Test It Out The Old School Way
If technology is just not your thing, feel free to pick a target on the range and experiment with different lofted drivers to see which gives you the best results.
I highly recommend testing on the course and the range so that you get a better idea of how the ball spins and how accurate it is. Sometimes, with a wide driving range, we assume the strike was relatively good, but it’s just a bit off. The golf course gives us more accurate results.
Use an Arccos Grip
The Arccos Grip may be something you already have in your golf club. Many Ping and Cobra clubs have this grip in place, and it will essentially track information about your drives as you play.
With the Arccos Grip, you can experiment with different driver lofts and get concrete evidence as to which is the right fit for your game. These grips work for slower swing speeds, average swing speed golfers, and even fast swing speeds.
The grip is less accurate than something like a Trackman golf simulator, but it’s a good step toward getting you some information.