Column: Golf Club Myths: The Lower the Loft on Your Driver, the Farther the Ball will Go


Commentary by Rob Thomas



That’s true with some of your fairway woods, hybrids and irons. But even with the swing speed of a top PGA pro, there is a point that the driver loft will be too low even for them to generate their longest driving dis­tance. Sure, for top pro’s that loft number is a single digit; but for the rest of us with our much slower swing speeds, to achieve our maximum possible distance we need a higher loft, one that for many golfers is a number with a “teen” after it.

It sounds counter intuitive but I’ll explain it this way.

Imagine you have a garden hose turned on full blast and you’re trying to get as much distance as possible out of the water spray. Now, suppose someone turns the water pressure back and you see the loss of distance in the spray. So, what do you automatically do to try to get some of that distance back? You raise the angle of the nozzle.

It’s the same thing with the driver.

If you’re among the relatively few golfers who have a very high swing­speed (i.e., the hose is on full blast), you need a lower loft to get maximum distance. If, like most golfers, you have a slower swing speed (i.e., the water pressure is lower), you need a higher loft to get more distance. What you CAN NOT do is match a low swing speed with a low lofted driver! That’s the equivalent of lowering the water pressure and lowering the nozzle angle, and wondering why the water isn’t going as far.

So, how fast can you reasonably expect to swing your driver with control?

Here are some numbers that might give you a sense of where you probably fall.

Average Lady Golfer: 65 mph

Average Male Golfer: 87 mph

Average Lady Tour Player: 95 mph

Average Male Tour Player: 113 mph

Based on a level angle of attack, you will not achieve maximum carry distance with any loft lower than 15 degrees, until your swing speed with control gets at or near 90 mph. When was the last time you walked into a golf retail store and saw a driver with 17 degrees of loft, or 15 degrees? How about a 13-degree? May we then assume that all of you have swing speeds with control of 100+ mph, at speed greater than the average LPGA Tour player and only a bit less than the average PGA Tour pro?

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes hit your 3-wood or even your 5-wood as far or even farther than you hit your driver?

Now you know why.

Think about that the next time you see row after row of 9- and 10 de­gree drivers on the rack.

You think those clubs were designed for YOU?

If you have an upward an­gle of attack, you can use a lower loft; if you swing with a downward angle of attack, you need to use a higher loft. In addition, if your fairways are firm/hard, you want to lower the loft by 1-2 degs to gain the most roll. Who can tell you what is your best driver loft to achieve your maximum distance? A trained, experienced clubmaker.

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