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How to Know Whether to Use a 10.5 or 9.5 Loft

by M.L. Rose

    This article is one of our editor's top picks this month.

    A golf club’s loft refers to the club face’s angle relative to the club’s shaft, according to PGA pro Mark Blakemore. The least-lofted golf club, other than a putter, is the driver. Drivers are typically lofted between 8 and 11 degrees, so drivers with lofts of 9.5 and 10.5 degrees are common. The higher-lofted driver is typically a better choice for an amateur player.

    Step 1

    Consider your swing speed. The lower your swing speed, the more you’ll benefit from a club with greater loft. A “Golf Digest” study of drivers with a variety of lofts concluded that players with average swing speeds will hit the ball farther with an 11-degree driver than a driver that’s lofted by 9 degrees.

    Step 2

    Decide whether you need help getting the ball in the air. If your tee shot trajectory is too low, then choose a 10.5-degree driver rather than its 9.5-degree counterpart. All else being equal, you’ll hit the ball higher with a greater-lofted club.

    Step 3

    Consider the weather. On windy days it’s better to hit the ball low than high. So if you own a 9.5-degree and a 10.5-degree driver, you may wish to put the less-lofted club in your bag on a windy day.

    Tips

    • A less-lofted iron will hit the ball farther than an iron with greater loft, all else being equal. But that’s not necessarily the case with drivers, which require higher swing speeds to take advantage of the club’s full potential. Golf writer Steve Newell notes that if you hit a low-trajectory shot with below-average swing speed, “the ball will not spend enough time in the air to achieve a decent length.”
    • Likewise, “Golf Digest” writer Mike Stachura says that almost all casual golfers “would see better results if they could add 1 or 2 degrees of loft to their drivers.” In a 2012 survey of Golf Magazine’s top 100 teachers, 75 percent of respondents said the average amateur uses too little loft on his driver. Stachura concludes that if your driver’s loft is less than 10 degrees “and you are not a member of the PGA Tour, try a driver with more loft. It could change your life.”

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images