Loft in a Driver

by David Green
    One of the primary factors in determining optimal driver loft is knowing your average swing speed.

    One of the primary factors in determining optimal driver loft is knowing your average swing speed.

    Harry How/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    Understanding golf club loft can improve performance on the course. This is most important with a driver. Driver loft determines ball trajectory. While some drivers will work for most people, variables such as swing speed and swing arc can make a difference. Understanding those variables can help ensure selection of the proper driver and help golfers obtain the correct mix of trajectory and power.

    Loft

    Loft is the angle formed between a vertical line and the club face when the ball is addressed. So, a club with a higher loft will form more of an angle when placed near the golf ball. That means that a greater loft will send the ball higher in the air. Ideally, golfers would prefer that the majority of the energy of the golf ball be dedicated to moving the ball forward, rather than upward. The key to maximum distance is finding the right mix of loft and power.

    Swing Speed

    Swing speed is the measure of how quickly a golfer swings the club. In general, men and more skilled golfers are able to generate the most swing speed. Golfers who generate the most swing speed should use a driver with a lower loft. Golfsmith suggests that golfers who swing between 110 and 120 miles per hour should use a driver with a loft of seven to 10 degrees. As the swing speed decreases by increments of 10, the loft on the driver should increase by one degree, so a golfer who swings at 90 mph should use a loft of 10 to 13 degrees.

    Swing Type

    One other factor to consider when choosing a driver is your swing type. Some players naturally hit a shot with a certain trajectory. For example, if a player naturally hits a high ball, they should opt for a driver with a little less loft. If a player hits a low shot, a little more loft might add a few yards to their drives.

    Distance

    In general, the longer a golfer can keep the ball in the air, the more distance they will get from a drive. Opting for more loft is generally smarter than using a low-lofted driver and counting on roll for distance. Many professional players have added additional distance off the tee by choosing a driver with slightly more loft.

    Considerations

    The average male golfer swings his driver at 84 miles per hour and hits a 6-iron about 145 to 150 yards. According to Golfsmith, if you don’t hit a 6-iron farther than 150 yards, you may benefit from selecting a driver with a loft of more than 10.5 degrees.

    About the Author

    A former sports and lifestyle reporter at the "Daily Nebraskan," David Green is a writer who has covered a variety of topics for daily newspapers. He was selected by the "Los Angeles Times" to participate in the Jim Murray Sports Writing Workshop. Green holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska.

    Photo Credits

    • Harry How/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images