The discussion of more driver loft for increase distance has decided to rear its confusing head again. It is interesting that the hype created by manufacturers is fueling the potential desire to change driver settings without really understanding the reasons or science of why hitting it higher is important. I have recently changed my hitting technique to launch my ball a bit higher to gain some added distance, but that is because I was handcuffing myself by trying to drive the ball versus launching the ball. More on that below. Regardless, it is important to understand that hitting the ball higher does not necessarily equate to longer distances with the driver; there are so many other factors to understand!
Before I launch into my experiences (yes I went there 😉 ) I have added two videos that I feel are important to this conversation. The first is by Mark Crossfield who discusses some of the challenges to just hitting the ball higher. The second by Rich Shiels talks about optimum angles and spin rate that every golfer should know. Take a look:
My driver challenges started when I was fitted (yes fitted) for a 12° driver about six years ago. During that positive experience, the launch monitor seemed to provide the data the fitter was happy with, but when I actually received the new driver I could not hit it well at all. I look great coming off the tee, but just fell out of the sky at about 200 yards. I decided after a year that it was time to change back to my old driver. And I used my old equipment with a 9.5° loft for another 1.5 years. I still think to this day that this club was not suited for my game and I made a decision on the new club without fully understanding what I was looking for. Spin rate seemed to be the greatest culprit to my woes.
Fast forward to 2018 where I purchase my current Callaway Rogue driver. I have it set for 9° and hit the ball well most of the time. Like all players I have the odd miss hit, but that is the nature of amateur golf. My ball flight was low and driving, but recently I have decided that I need to make a minor change and raise my ball flight a bit to maximize the most from this very dependable club.
I was watching a video about driver verses iron swings. I realize that my driver swing was very iron-like and I was hitting the ball at the flat of my swing. I usually produced good results, but I thought I could do better and so I started down another minor path to improve my driver distance.
So, I launched (yes I went there) into my process of making minor changes to my swing when hitting the driver. Basically, I added a shoulder tilt to my set up. I dropped my right shoulder about two or three inches. This pushed my left hip forward just a bit into a better hitting position for my driver. Now, I hitting on the upswing part of my club arc and this is producing a higher ball flight.
The change in ball flight has not added any discernable difference in yardage yet, however I am swinging under control and my tempo is smoother. As a result I am not losing any accuracy and expect that as I continue to groove this minor change that I will also see more distance off the tee. The key, however, is to ensure that the swing remains comfortable and I do not lose any accuracy.
Back to the videos. Both Mark and Rick caution golfers not to chase distance by arbitrarily adding loft to the driver. If we do not understand why we are doing this change and what to expect, then making changes will just cost you money. An important point from the videos is that your current equipment might be perfect for your game, but is not set up properly. For that, I recommend that you visit your local professional and use a swing monitor to determine the best settings.
Chasing the latest trends in golf can be a costly venture. Even though my driver fitting failed in the past, I still believe that it is the best method to receiving the most value for your hard earned money. Every swing is different as as such one club cannot fix everyone’s challenges.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
6 thoughts on “Is Driver Loft Important For Increased Distance?”
Jim, I was recently fitted (indoors) for a Ping 425 driver at 10.5°. I like the club and hit it straighter than previous drivers. I’m 72 years old with swing speed in low 90s and I hit a natural fade. This week I adjusted the loft to 9.5° and am getting more overall distance although a little less carry but lots more roll. With my cut swing the 10.5° just hit and stopped with virtually no roll.
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I can see how that will happen. It is a challenge make adjustments at any age, but I find that my driver only works when either at 9° or 9.5°. I am glad that you were able to find the right loft that works for your game.
Jim, the last driver fitting I had was indoors on a launch monitor and I bought a R7. Took it out and hit nothing but pop-ups. I believe seeing actual ball flight is THE most important aspect of a driver fitting. The stats are great but there is no substitute for seeing your shots.
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I understand. In my case, my Rogue was fitted indoors and I could not be happier. My Titleist 915 was fitted outdoors and it did not work. I think in my case, it was a lack of understanding for the Titleist, that lack of knowledge is now rectified……I think. 😉
I do believe that an outside fitting is best for sure.
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Hold on to that 12 degree driver. It may come in handy in the future. I can’t imagine how they came to the conclusion that would suit you best right now at all. But someday….🤔
The average LPGA Tour player, who’s clubhead speed (94 mph) is much more in line with us recreational golfer’s, has an average vertical launch angle of 14 degrees and a spin rate of 2,628 rpm.
That’s average. For us, that means more than it does for those excellent women players in the LPGA. One day we’ll hit down on the ball. The next we’ll hit up on it. We won’t be as consistent there or anywhere else as those pro’s will. And that can and will effect our fitting success if we’re not careful. It’s also something that the fitter can’t judge. How is our swing on the day of the fitting? It might even be hard for us to judge unless we’re used to hitting in a simulator. You know how some days the swing feels good but doesn’t give the results you expect. A day like that in the sim getting fitted would be impossible to detect I think for most of us. That’s a possible explanation I guess for a fitter giving you a 12 degree driver. BTW, what the shaft specs he gave you?
As for hitting up on the ball, I still like looking at the spot where I want the club to bottom out and not the ball itself. That’s what we do in a practice swing and as long as the ball is in the path, that’s all we need to do in the real swing. Match the bottom of the arc to where we focus our eyes and we can control trajectory better. That’s all that’s saved me from 200 yard long drives with the old driver I’m still carrying. I still hit too high. It’s built for that purpose so there’s not stopping it from doing it’s job, but it is possible to tone the launch angle down by not hitting up so much and squeeze out 250. Tough, but possible. Even trying to bottom out just at the ball doesn’t work every time because that adds spin if you aren’t spot on.
I want height. But I also want some roll out. My driver is built to help me get it in the air because when I was fitted, that was my biggest issue. I hit them straight but lost a lot of distance because I didn’t get enough air between the ground and the ball. So I was given a light weight, regular flex shaft with a low kick point. That will do it for just about anyone. With how I used to hold the club though, that combo had me hitting out past 270 regularly and hitting 300 yard greens on occasion. My ball would carry over low trees easy enough, but tall ones required extra help swinging up to get over. I lost that flight like turning off a switch when I changed how I grip the club. I might have hit 270 maybe 5 or 6 times this past year with some help from the wind. A lot less than I’ve stayed short of 250. And less than I’ve barely made it past 200 from flying them too high. I know exactly that problem.
It’s a devastating loss but at the same time my irons got a lot better with the same changes to how I grip the club and approach the swing. I lost distance off the tee, and yet scored better in the process. My irons flew higher. My connection on the ball was better and more consistent. I lose a little distance with them too because of height, but the longer irons are easier to hit so that’s not a real issue either. And I can fly over tree’s that I never dreamed possible before.
So it wasn’t a total loss and the driver issue is easily fixed. Covid kept me from doing it my preferred way. Club day at the muni is a loss again this year so I have to resign myself to making my judgements from the simulator I guess, but pretty much anything with a stiffer shaft is going to be better than what I’m using at present. I’d just have liked to have the confidence in my choice that I got getting fitted on the range. They have trackman with them on the range too now and a screen so they can see numbers and you can see the pretty picture generated of the ball flight. But you can also see your ball flight. You can watch the ball soar over that 250 yard marker and hit the net 280 yards down right in the center of the goal posts two palm trees behind the net were made to aim for. You know you have the right tool for you then. The numbers are nice. Maybe the fitter can tweak even more, but for me, that sight will do the trick well enough to have confidence in the process. Not sure how well I’ll do on the confidence side with just a sim to go by.
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Wow, there is so much information in your comments. I did glean that like Brian, you like to watch your ball flight when being fitted. I agree. It is hard to get that service where I live. But, when hit happens I will be there for sure.