What is the Right Loft for Your Driver?
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Finding the right clubs (yes plural) for your swing speed, handicap, and build is not the easiest problem to solve. With a driver having so many characteristics, what parts can you discard and what parts are actually worth investing in? Well, in this article we’ll break down the aspects of loft and the relation to your swing speed, so you can pick the right driver. What is the right loft for your driver? Continue reading to find out!
Loft and its Importance
‘Loft’ is defined as the angle of the face of the club with regard to the shaft. Wedges and short irons are considered to have reasonable lofts, whereas drivers, 2, and 3 irons have little loft. Loft angles that are expressed in degrees are taken from a vertical standpoint rather than from the ground. The importance of the loft is linked to the trajectory of the ball, the higher the loft, the higher the trajectory of the ball will be.
A sand wedge, which is a high lofted club, is considered to have a loft of around 55 degrees. On the contrary, a 64 degrees loft angle is common in the case of lob wedges. But this all has to do with the practical limitation of the club, since for a flop shot to be perfect a loft angle of 60 degrees is required. Well, no official values for loft angles exist, it all depends on the manufacturers.
Besides loft, the term ‘Dynamic Loft’ is also employed, which is thought to be the actual loft at the point of impact, which can differ. It is influenced by a number of factors. Dynamic loft, in return, affect not only launch but spin and distance as well. A downward attack angle is responsible for the reduction of the dynamic loft.
Depending on the specific type of shots, different golf clubs are designed. The primary difference lies in the number of clubs in the bag, which as a result depends on the size of the head and also its shape, length of the shaft, and the loft of course. When the loft angle is low, clubs are thought of as long and medium, and as a high loft in the case of short club.
The driver, which is considered to be the longest club, is thought to have a loft of as little as 7 degrees (or in some cases 11 degrees). For the size to be maximized while maintaining the weight as well, the head is normally made of lightweight titanium. A driver is specifically used for tee shots, where it reaches maximum distance and height along with maintaining minimum side spins in the case of straighter shots.
It is also called 1-wood and has the characteristics of propelling the ball the farthest, i.e. 200 to 350 yards if used properly. Once, its head was actually made from wood, hence it was given this name. So, the driver, or 1 wood, is thought to be the least lofted to give the ball maximum distance coverage.
While having the longest shaft and lowest loft, this combo makes a 1-wood the most difficult club to hit accurately and perfectly. It is advised that a loft of 9.5 degrees or less is handled by advanced players while beginners or high handicap golfers should go with a driver having a comparatively higher loft.
As mentioned, drivers were typically made of wood, but nowadays a number of various materials are available to choose from. However, what kind of material is used in making a driver’s head and shaft will affect its price. Those made from steel are thought to be the least expensive. Whereas on the other hand, drivers having a head made of titanium and a shaft of graphite will be expensive. Well, there’s another class whose price is somewhere in between these two - it is basically a combination of steel and titanium.
It is to be noted here that the loft of the driver can be adjusted. For it to be adjustable, the screws in the heel has to be removed, which connects the shaft to the club head and eventually replacing it with already determined settings. This procedure will eventually result in either an increase or decrease in the loft by 4-5 degrees.
Changing the loft will result in the change of the lie angle, which in turn will affect the horizontal flight the ball has to undergo. But there’s an option of changing the loft angle without having to alter the lie angle. These are made adjustable so that the golfer can achieve optimum performance and a smooth flight.
A number of options are available:
With a loft angle of 9 and 10.5 degrees (adjustable +2/-1), it is designed in a manner to make small tweaks to get an impact location to line up with the gravity area. The price varies between $150-500. Given a four star rating, reviews of the players are satisfactory. It has a soft feel, high trajectory, a simple and effective adjustability.
This driver is designed for improving ball speed, launch angle, and direction and makes a perfect fit for tee shots and is considered to have a loft of 9, 10.5, and 13.5 degrees (adjustable +2/-1). With a price range between $200-450, its lightweight face helps in reducing speed, and the construction, which is also lightweight, allows less spin at the time of launch. Given a 4.5 star rating, it is light and fast but has a solid granite feel.
Speed and forgiveness is what golfers expect from their drivers, but the issue is that most of the time these two things are working against each other. Since the shape is aerodynamically inefficient, it’s harder to swing fast. Certain improvements are made to reduce aerodynamic drag. A lighter and thinner shallow face helps improving speed while saving weight. It has a loft of 14, 15, 17, 19, and 21 degrees and a price range of $240-$450. It has a four star rating with the right metal sound.
In the face and crown, lightweight titanium alloy is employed. Talking about the whole cobra family, this one’s the most stable. With an adjustable loft of 9-12 degrees, it offers less spin. It has a price range of $160-350. With a four star rating, it is thought to have covered effortless distance with a nice and easy launch.
For further stabilization of the head, a carbon composite crown and a lighter titanium alloy body is employed. It has an adjustable loft of 9-12 degrees or 7-10 degrees with a price range of $170-400. It has a 3.5 star rating.
6. Nike Vapor Flex 440 Driver
Instead of using titanium, carbon fiber reinforced with resin polymer is used in the club head construction (60% of the part), which eventually leads to a driver with less spin. It has an adjustable loft of 8.5-12.5 degrees with a price of $500. It has been given a three star rating. It has a silky sound and feel, no excessive noise is observed.
7. Nike Vapor Fly/Pro Driver
Talking about achieving flexibility and stability at the same time, Nike has achieved it in this model, where the flexibility in the face is combined with stability in the body. A thinner crown and the distribution of weight favors less spin. It has an adjustable loft of 8.5-12.5 degrees with a price of $350-450. It has a 3.5 star rating. Adjustability is prominent along with stable flight.
It has a thinner structure, with the most stable club heads in the history of the company. It has a loft of 9, 10.5/9, 10.5/10, 12 degrees (all adjustable +1,-1). It is has a low spin and a price of $240-400. It is given a four star rating, with consistent feel and offers a fast flight.
It has a carbon fiber crown and an adjustable hosel, which is responsible for the altering of the loft angle by plus or minus 2 degrees. It has a loft angle of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 12 degrees with a price of $250-500. It has been given a 5-star rating. It is considered to be very high tech with no spin.
It has a carbon composite crown and a more stable, forgiving head than the M1. It has a loft of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 12 degrees (Adjustable +2, -2). It has a price range of $260-570 and a 4 star rating. It is softer but powerful.
Considered to have the most accommodating Titleist flight ever, it offers a less spin with an adjustable loft of 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 12.5/7.5, 8.5, 9.5, and 10.5 degrees (adjustable =1.75/-0.75). It has a price range of $150 with a four star rating.
It has an adjustable loft of 8.5-12.5 with a price of $250 and a three star rating.
Swing efficient and boosting forgiveness is its main characteristics. It has an adjustable loft of 9.5, 10.5, and 12.5 degrees (+1/-1) with a price range of $150-350.
It offers more energy along with less spin and a perfect angle for distance coverage. It has an adjustable loft of 9 and 10.5 degrees (=2,-1) with a price range of $120-380 and a three star rating.
Golfers and Their Swing Speeds
Before the advent of the computerized technology and slow moving cameras, it was impossible to measure the exact swing speed of a golfer. Though it was possible to estimate it using distance, but with advanced measuring techniques, it came to the limelight that the swing speed varies from male to female and from amateur to professional. The concept behind swing is to maintain a right kind of balance between power and control.
Well, the speed of different swings observed at different national and various worldwide championships is 145-155 mph. Whereas for top PGA players a swing speed of 105 to 110 mph has been recorded; the swing speed for the average golfer is between 80 and 90 mph.
On the other hand, swing speed observed by average female golfers is between 60 and 70 mph. A number of custom-fit equipment are available and, depending on your overall performance, these equipments are used accordingly.
It is to be noted here that these equipments, which are made according to a need, are not just for handicappers and pros. If a player is new to golf, he will need more custom made equipment to meet his requirements to swing properly. Since, the game itself is complicated then obviously you won’t need any ill-fitted equipment that can hinder your capability and eventually will affect your game.
High or Low Loft
Keeping the above statistics in mind, there are two types of drivers on the basis of loft i.e. either a high lofted driver or a low lofted driver. Both of them serves a purpose and are suitable for different golfers.
A golfer with a low swing speed of 85 mph or less will need more loft on their driver. Golfers whose swing speeds lie in this range typically have a driver with a loft of 12-14 degrees. Golfers whose swing speed is around 105 mph won’t be needing this much loft, since for the optimum trajectory to be maintained, the ball speed itself is sufficient. So, a loft of 8.5-10 degrees will be enough. For golfers having a mid-swing speed of 95-104 mph, a 10-11.5 degrees loft is sufficient.
Choosing the Best Golf Club According to Swing Speed
If the cub chosen by a golfer doesn’t suit his/her abilities, it might have adverse effects on their game. It depends on a number of factors including shaft flex, torque, and the kind of material used in the construction. A number of steps can be followed to ensure you get the right club for you:
Determining your swing speed. This measurement can be taken by many retailers or can also be estimated with the help of a club that is hit approximately from a 100 yards distance. The range specified is: In case of a 3 iron or wood, the swing speed is less than 60 mph, for a 4-iron it is 60-75 mph, for a 5 iron it is 75-84 mph, 84-93 mph for 6-7 irons, and for 8-9 irons the swing speed is 93 mph.
On the basis of swing speed, shaft flex is to be determined. Shaft flex is responsible for the transference of energy to the ball during the swing. If the shaft flex turns out to be wrong, shots will be hooked, sliced, or inaccurate.
Graphite or steel are commonly chosen to be the material for the shafts of irons. Golfers having a low swing speed will opt for graphite for the ball to travel a maximum distance. On the other hand, to achieve greater consistency, golfers with a fast swing normally chooses steel. Well, if the swing speed lies in between the two, choose the club that feels the best.
Choosing a club head for low handicap players, half cavity or blue club heads are usually used for greater consistency and to achieve more control. Whereas the high handicap players go for high cavity club heads.
It is important that golfers test the club before purchasing it. In case you are not satisfied with the feel, select a different manufacturer keeping the configuration settings the same.
Swing Speed vs. Loft Angle
Keep in mind that swing speed plays a very vital role in determining what loft is best suited to a particular golfer. For a new driver to be perfect, the loft is thought to be one of the most misunderstood aspects while selecting one. With limitless options available these days, the market is normally flooded with drivers having a loft angle of 4-20 degrees, with the most common ones range from 9-11 degrees.
The point to be noted here is that what can work best in case of one player’s swing doesn’t hold true for the other. So, for an ideal driver loft, it is important that a correct assessment of the swing speed should be made.
The relation between swing speed and loft angle is clear: the lower the swing speed, the higher the loft is suited to that golfer. The reason behind this logic is if the swing speed is less, the backspin imparted on the ball will be more and hence for the ball to attain maximum trajectory, a lower loft angle is needed. So, the more loft angle there is, the more backspin is created enabling the ball to attain height.
The reason why an average touring professional reaches 300+ yards per driver is the combination of high swing speed (115+ mph) and low loft angle, which is 8.5 degrees on average. Whereas depending on your gender, build, skill level, and many other factors, an average amateur golfer is considered to have a swing speed of 60-100 mph.
A golfer, whose swing speed is either 70 mph or less than 70 mph, should go for a driver with a loft angle around 8-9 degrees which is the same in case of a 5-wood. Talking about an average handicap golfer, who has a swing speed of approximately 80-90 mph, can easily benefit from drivers having a loft angle of 10-12 degrees. A 100 mph swing speed is associated with a loft angle of a 10 degrees loft. But swing speed is not everything; the best is to choose a loft with which you are most comfortable.
If we are to choose a correct loft in a driver, it will help in achieving a proper launch angle; launch angle is responsible for maximizing distances. The optimal launch angle is primarily dependent on a player’s club head speed.
The range of launch angle is something between 12-15 degrees. Less swing speed and a high lofted driver results in an optimal trajectory and more distance coverage. Below is a guide for selecting a driver loft for a golf player. It is to be noted here that the figures only represent a starting point and does not apply to every player:
a. 60 to 70 mph (165 yards or less) = 12-15 degrees of loft
b. 70 to 80 mph (165 to 200 yards) = 11-13 degrees of loft
c. 80 to 90 mph (200 to 240 yards) = 10-12 degrees of loft
d. 90 to 100 mph (240 to 275 yards) = 9-11 degrees of loft
e. 100 mph + (275+ yards) = 8-10 degrees of loft
As we all know, the great game of golf can be a bit tricky to understand, and it definitely takes patient, practice, and some skill to master it. Getting the right equipment can be crucial, and learning which settings are right for you and how to use them will only better your game. In the end, it’s worth going through all the research and what may seem like hassle at the time.
What is the right loft for your driver? Well, a wide variety of drivers are manufactured every year by many companies with different characteristics just waiting for you to find them. The choice is all yours!