The loft of any golf club, including a driver, is what determines how high a shot will go when the club head strikes the ball, according to GolfEngineering.net. Loft is the degree of the angle formed between a straight line from the ground and the club head, when the club head is sitting squarely on the ground. Drivers have the lowest loft of all clubs, except putters. Loft in drivers ranges from 7 to 20 degrees, though most off-the-rack men's drivers have lofts between 8 and 11 degrees.
Recreational golfers who have a swing speed of 110 to 120 mph should select a driver with a low loft of 8 degrees. According to PatRyanGolf.com, the average club head speed for a recreational male golfer is 84 mph, so most recreational golfers would seek a higher loft. Because 8 degrees is a low loft, the trajectory of the ball will be low. Davis Love III uses an 8.5-degree driver.
Besides club head speed, the angle at which the club head hits the ball is relevant when selecting loft, so a player whose downswing is particularly steep may select a lower-lofted driver than a player whose angle on the downswing is less severe.
A driver with a loft of 9 or 10 degrees is suitable for a low-handicap or fast-swinging recreational golfer, as it is recommended for players whose swing speed is 90 to 110 mph. According to PatRyanGolf.com, the average club head speed for a PGA Tour player is 108 mph, and most touring pros select drivers with a loft of 9.5 to 10.5. Tiger Woods, who has one the fastest swings on the PGA, uses a 10-degree driver, according to "GolfWeek." At the 2009 Memorial, 28 players used drivers with a loft of 10 degrees or higher. LPGA golfers, whose average swing speed is 96 mph, also fall into this category.
Recreational golfers with swing speeds of 80 to 90 mph should select a driver with an 11-degree loft. This loft would fit most recreational golfers, with the exception of low handicaps or those with very fast club head speed. This loft will make it easier to launch the ball off the tee, though golfers may give up some distance in exchange for accuracy.
According to PatRyanGolf.com, the average female recreational golfer has a club head speed of 64 mph and should choose a driver with a loft of 12 to 15 degrees. Most major club makers make ladies drivers with high lofts. Older golfers should also consider increasing the loft of their clubs.