4 Signs You Need More Loft On Your Driver

There’s a old joke in the golf industry about golfers who need drivers with more loft. They are said to have a “Lack of (freaking) talent.”

That may have been true long ago, but what we’ve learned in recent years from new technologies such as Trackman is that certain players, regardless of their ability level, can improve their games with higher-lofted metal woods. That’s because golf equipment designers have learned how to make metal woods with variable center of gravity (CG) locations, which has a huge effect on ball flight. For example, one company’s 10.5-degree driver can actually create less spin than another company’s 8.5-degree driver.

Most golfers play drivers with too little loft, and for that reason I recommend they visit a reputable custom club fitter so they can learn what’s best for their game. If they can’t do that, I encourage them to at least test clubs with more loft than they think they need.

But before I convince you that your driver doesn’t have enough loft, let’s go through the 4 signs that you need more loft on your driver, which I’ll explain in more detail below.

They are:

  1. Your course conditions are soft.
  2. You have shot dispersion problems.
  3. You have a swing pattern that requires more loft.
  4. You have a forward CG driver.

No. 1: Your course conditions are soft

Take a moment to think about the course you usually play. Are the fairways hard, medium or soft? And do the course conditions change as the seasons change?

Below is a Trackman screenshot of the shot pattern I tend to see from amateurs regardless of the course conditions they play. They hit low, flat drives that rely on roll to achieve the overall distance they desire, often because they do not have enough loft on their driver.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 10.30.46 AM

While this type of trajectory is not optimal, it can work, buy ONLY when the fairways are firm and fast. If you hit this type of shot on a soft fairway, you will find that even a very flat landing angle of 22.7 degrees won’t create enough roll for the trajectory to be effective.

When conditions are soft, golfers must carry the ball as far as they can — regardless of its landing angle — to achieve maximum distance. The shot pattern below with a higher apex height will help golfers optimize carry when conditions are soft. And the easiest way to achieve these more optimal launch conditions is to use a driver with more loft.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 10.46.33 AM

As you can see, the higher launch angle (+3.2 degrees) and spin rate (+356 rpm) created a shot that carried 26.1 yards farther despite a small loss in ball speed (-2.1 mph). Wouldn’t you like to hit one, two or even three less clubs into every hole? That would make golf easier, wouldn’t it?

No. 2: You have shot dispersion problems

Do you have a tendency to hit the ball all over the golf course with your driver? If you do, you may not know that the curvature of your golf ball is greatly influenced by the loft of your driver itself. Think about how easy it is to curve the ball with your 5 iron and how hard it is to really curve — not push or pull — a high-lofted wedge.

Golfers who understand launch monitor terminology know that the more narrow the gap between their Angle of Attack and Dynamic Loft (called Spin Loft), the more something called the D-Plane will tilt. The more the D-Plane tilts, the more they will curve the golf ball. What this means is that loft is your friend if you struggle with too much shot curvature. And while more loft might not create the most overall distance, it will help you hit drives closer to the fairway when you are struggling off the tee.

Curvature (with center impact) is created when the face angle and club path are moving in different directions. For every additional degree difference in the face-to-path ratio, the spin axis of the ball will tilt more left or right. Further, the less spin loft you have, the more the spin axis will tilt with each additional degree of face-to-path ratio. This is shown in the chart below.

  • 10-degree Spin Loft: 5.7-degree Spin Axis
  • 20-degree Spin Loft: 2.9-degree Spin Axis
  • 30-degree Spin Loft: 2.0-degree Spin Axis
  • 40-degree Spin Loft: 1.5-degree Spin Axis

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 11.00.15 AM

In this example above, you see a face-to-path difference of 6.8 degrees, which makes the ball curve to the right. That’s a pretty big gap, but because of this shot’s 30.2-degree Spin Loft it created a shot with a manageable amount of curve. If this shot’s Spin Loft was lower, however, the ball would curve more to the right with the same face-to-path relationship.

To add more Spin Loft, simply use a higher-lofted club. So if you are hitting the ball sideways, a higher-lofted club will most likely help you will find more fairways.

No. 3: Your swing pattern requires more loft

There are many swing patterns that make it prudent for golfers to use a driver with more loft. A new club probably won’t fix a faulty swing pattern, but it will make your bad shots much better than they otherwise would have been.

Here are a few examples swing patterns that are helped by higher-lofted drivers, which are written in terms that right-handed golfers will understand. If you’re left handed, simply reverse the terms.

Pull Hooks: Whenever golfers hit shots that start left of their target and move farther left, they have a club face that is pointed to the left of the target at impact. Usually, the club path is also pointed left of the target, but not as far left as the club face. This combination tends to reduce the club’s static loft at impact and will create low, flat shots that will not carry as far as they should. Therefore, these types of golfers should add loft to their driver so they can maximize carry on their bad shots. And remember, the added loft will also help minimize curvature, keeping the ball in play more often.

Shut Club Face During the Swing: If your club face tends to be shut throughout the golf swing, you will also have a tendency to hit balls that begin left of the target. Shut club faces also tend to reduce Dynamic Loft and Spin Loft, causing shots to fly low and curve offline more than normal. Like pull hooks, adding loft to your driver will help mitigate these symptoms.

Lack of Overall Clubhead Speed: Golfers with slow club head speeds most often hit shots that fly too flat and low to the ground, substantially reducing carry distance — especially when they don’t have enough loft on their clubs. So if the conditions are not optimal for roll, then these types of golfers will hit the ball shorter than they should. Adding loft to your driver for these types of golfers is like lifting your garden hose higher when you’re watering your grass. A little extra lift, or loft, makes the job much easier. Too much, however, can make your shots fly even shorter. For these golfers in particular, it’s important to have your clubs fit by a professional to make sure that you’re maximizing the distance potential of your limited club head speed.

Lower-than-Normal Ball Flight: Just like the garden hose example. If you have a lower-than-normal ball flight you need more loft to increase your launch angle so you can carry the ball further.

Overly Steep Angle of Attack: When golfers hit down on a driver too much, they tend to de-loft the club as well. When this happens, the dynamic loft of the driver is too low for their ball speed, so they need to add loft so they can maximize their carry distance.

An exception to this rule is when golfers hit the ball low on the face with above average club head speed, as the added loft will cause the ball to spin too much and the ball flight will be too high. Most better players who hit down on their drivers tend to contact their drives on the upper portion of the face, however, increasing the need for loft because of something called Gear Effect. If you do this, you’re in good company. Dustin Johnson, arguably the best driver of the golf ball in professional golf, has a downward attack angle and a high contact point that requires more loft.

No. 4: You have a forward CG driver

When buying a new driver, golfers must be careful to select the correct CG location for their swing and tendencies.

Let’s take two of today’s most popular drivers: TaylorMade’s R15 and Ping’s G30. Both are fantastic clubs that have been used by the best players in the world to win on the PGA Tour, but they have very different CG locations.

The R15 has one of the most forward CG locations (closer to the face), while the G30 has a CG that is located much farther back from the face. For this reason, the R15 tends to spin less than the G30 with all things being equal. Thus, golfers can get away with using less loft on a rear-CG driver such as the G30 than they can with a forward CG driver like the R15.

If you think about the benefits of each design, you can see why different players use drivers with different CG locations. Loft for loft, the G30 will tend to launch higher, spin more, and have more forgiveness. When properly fit, it is common to see the R15 driver help golfers create more optimal launch conditions — a higher launch and less spin — but its forward-CG design lowers the forgiveness of the club on off-center hits.

It should be noted that both TaylorMade (Aeroburner) and Ping (G30LS Tec) make drivers with more rearward and more forward CG designs, respectively, in an effort to fit a wider range of golfers.

If forgiveness and consistency is what you want, rear-CG drives like the G30 and AeroBurner will help golfers gain more control and distance from their mishits. Those types of designs also make it ok to play slightly less loft than golfers may expect. If you’re looking to maximize distance on your best hits, however, the R15 and G30LS Tec are better options, as they can create more optimal launch conditions. You’ll want to use slightly more loft than you would expect, however.

That being said, error on the side of having too much loft if you identify with any of these 4 signs, as you now understand the benefits.

By Guest Instructor Tom Stickney II