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Critical Decision: What Driver Loft Should You Use

What Driver Loft Should I use

Golf is a never-ending quest to be your best. This could be changing your swing, purchasing new equipment, or getting lessons.

Your driver is one area that can make a huge difference in your game. Most golfers don’t like their driver and will leave it behind for their more reliable 3-wood. Others love their driver, and they hit it as much as possible.

It is easier to score well if you are able to hit the ball off the tee. While there are a lot of components to becoming a good driver of the golf ball, the loft on your driver is a big factor. 

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “What loft should my driver be?” 

As you’ll learn today, picking the right driver loft can be easy or slightly complex to try and get the most distance possible. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed with technical jargon that won’t help you improve your golf game.

To help you find your perfect driver loft I divided it into two parts: the beginner version for everyday recreational golfers and the advanced version for those who want to achieve their golf potential. 

Driver Loft Pt 1 – Beginner

If you’re struggling to hit the ball consistently well off the tee, your loft might be to blame. Loft is a key factor to consider, along with shaft weight, shaft flexibility, and driver head. 

To get more distance, many golfers attempt to hit a lower lofted driver. This is because most people think in loft and assume that loft is the best way to get more distance. “Higher loft means the ball won’t go as far.” 

Although it is logical in theory, the 6-iron has a lower loft than your pitching wedge so it goes farther. However, you must also consider shaft length as well as club speed. 

When it comes to driver ball flight, it’s an entirely different story. Playing an 8-degree driver vs. a 10-degree driver doesn’t guarantee that you’ll hit it longer. This may be true for some golfers. However, everyone must experiment to find their ideal loft.

Let’s dive into why that’s the case… 

Most Golfers Need More Driver Loft 

If you’re an everyday golfer, remember these two statements:

  • Driver loft can help you hit further
  • More bounce can help you get rid of the bunkers

While I won’t go into why bounce is your friend in the bunkers (read more about that HereFor most players, driver loft is an important ally. Loft is a great idea for everyday golfers because it will allow you to hit the ball longer (with both maximum and carry distance).

How can more loft help you achieve your goals?

Loft can help golf ball stay in the air for longer. This allows them to have more carry and roll, which will allow them to travel further. This is especially good for those with a slower swing speed or don’t have an upward attack angle. It is no surprise that beginner drivers have higher lofts.

A second reason that most players can benefit from as much loft is their accuracy off the tee. Because who doesn’t want to hit more fairways? Slices are all too common for most golfers. A lower lofted driver can make it worse. 

The loft of your big stick is the lower it is, the easier it will be to slice more severely. If you’re slicing the golf ball more than you care to admit, you would benefit from a 10.5 degree or maybe even 11+ degree driver. This will improve your ball flight and increase your total distance. 

Standard Driver Lofts

So, what is the best driver loft without getting into all the details the average golfer doesn’t need?

The average driver loft for most golf clubs is between 8 and 11 degrees. For example, the Callaway Rogue ST Max driver comes in three loft options: 9, 10.5, and 12. The TaylorMade stealth is also available in these three options.

These adjustable drivers are available on the market, just like any other golf equipment. You can adjust a driver to hit the ball higher or have a greater launch angle.

Overall, a lofted driver with a higher level of loft will be the best for most players. 9.5-10.5 degrees loft. A shaft that is in the right position and has the proper spin rate will result in more consistent drives.

Higher swing speeds and a lower attack angle may benefit from less loft. (More on that in the next section).

Driver Loft Pt 2 – Advanced

The first section is a good starting point but there’s a lot more we can get into when it comes to finding the correct loft on your new driver. If you’re reading this section, chances are you’re ready to geek out some golf knowledge to play your best.

Getting the right golf clubs, including driver loft, can help your ball flight, consistency, and confidence. These are just a few of the other factors you should consider when choosing the loft for your driver. 

Swing Speed

Before you decide on a loft, it is important to determine your swing speed. 

Why is swing speed so important, you ask? 

Swing speed (also known as club head velocity) is the club’s speed before impact. The greater the speed, you will travel farther.

During the 2014 World Cup, Connor Powers recorded a speed of 156 mph. Long Drive Championship.  Obviously, 99.99% of us aren’t long drive champions and thus, need a different loft to match a lower swing speed. 

So, what’s the average speed for a male golfer? 

According to a study by TrackmanAccording to data gathered from more than 10,000 amateurs, the average male golfer has an average score of a 93.4 mph club speed for a distance of 214 yards

The study also revealed that only 7% of players could swing over 110mph (the PGA Tour Average was 113mph and the LPGA is 94mph), and that 45% were between 91-100mph. 

This is the most common swing speed of the average golfer. You can see more average swing speeds in the graph below.  (You can read the entire article about average distances for golfers.)

Average Distance Golf Clubs Chart

This is why it is important to choose the right loft for you driver.

You will likely need less loft with a driver if you have more speed in your swing. 

Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and other publications all state that players with higher handicaps need more loft. This is a general rule but as you’ll learn below, there are other factors too. This is because slower swing speeds don’t have as much speed and those players can’t get the ball high enough to max out distance.

A lot of times golfers would buy a club that didn’t have enough loft and their drives would suffer as a result. 

How to Measure Swing Speed 

Step one is measuring your swing speed which is pretty easy thanks to personal launch monitors. If you’ve already bought your own launch monitor for a golf simulator setup or to make practice more efficient, use it to measure your driver swing speed. 

Warm up by hitting 20-30 balls. Then, move up to hitting driver. Next, hit 10 shots and note the average swing speed of the driver. The average of the 10 balls will give you a baseline. 

If you haven’t invested in a personal launch monitor yet, you can also get this measurement at your local golf store. You don’t need to do a personal club fitting either and they should help you 100% free. 

Attack Angle 

Before you pick loft, the second metric you need to determine is your attack angle. 

This Golf Digest article provided some extra insight about the importance of attack angle. Specifically, how players now have a positive attack angle, which wasn’t always the case in the past.

“With an upward angle of attack, a player creates a more dynamic loft at impact, or the way the loft measures at impact compared to its static measurement. With less measured loft, an upward angle of attack and more dynamic loft, you’re creating the opportunity for high launch and less spin, a key metric for longer drives that hit the ground on a flatter angle, leading to more rollout.”

The same article discussed how attack angle is changing. The average PGA Tour player has a negative attack angle, whereas LPGA Tour players have a positive angle. The upward angle is different from the downward angle. This is why every player needs the best loft for their golf swing. 

Launch Angle 

Launch angle is a third consideration. It is different to attack angle. Launch angle refers to the angle at which the ball takes off relative the horizon. This number is closely related to dynamic loft which we’ll cover in the next section. 

Jamie McConnell is a certified fitter. “Having the correct launch angle and combining it with the correct spin rate is really important in order to get the most out of a golfer’s clubs during a fitting. Too high or too low a launch angle and the golfer will lose distance.”

The average launch angle for the PGA Tour is just under 11 degrees, while the average for the LPGA is around 13 degrees. What about amateur golfers, though? 

Trackman discovered this data for male amateurs launch angle:  

  • Scratch or better = 112 degrees
  • 5 handicap = 11.2 degrees
  • 10 handicap = 11.9 degrees 
  • “Average handicap golfer” (14.5) = 12.6 degrees
  • 18 handicap = 12.1 degrees 

Dynamic Loft

In the past, players could easily determine which loft they needed by comparing their clubhead speed to their skill level. It is now more complicated to choose the right driver loft with dynamic loft.

Trackman Golf describes dynamic loft as, “The vertical angle of the club face at the center-point of contact between the club and ball at the time of maximum compression. Dynamic Loft is the amount of loft on the clubface at impact and is measured relative to the horizon.”

What does dynamic loft have to do with it?

There are many factors to consider, including: 

  • How the shaft bends at impact 
  • How the golfer releases a club 
  • Attack angle (as described previously)
  • The face of the club (open or closed to it)
  • Wherever the club comes in contact with the ball 

This is why it’s not as simple as saying slower swing speeds need more loft. Does this rule still hold true? Yes, but it’s not quite as cut and dry as it was in the past now that we can measure dynamic loft. 

Trackman mentioned in the same article that dynamic loft is vital. Here’s why…

“Creating the proper dynamic loft is important to creating the optimal trajectory and maximizing carry. Too much dynamic loft can send the ball too high into the air and reduce the golfer’s distance. Too little dynamic loft can send the ball too low making the ball roll out excessively causing it difficult to judge distance.” 

Here are the Trackman averages based on different types of handicaps.

  • Scratch or Better = 13 degrees
  • 5 handicap = 13.2 degrees
  • 10 handicap = 14.1 degrees 
  • “Average handicap golfer” (14.5) = 15.1 degrees
  • 18 handicap = 14.3 degrees 

Dynamic loft is essential in dialing in the perfect loft. That’s why working with a professional club fitter might be the best choice. 

Spin Rates 

The spin rates are another important consideration when selecting the right driver shaft. You might need to consult a fitter to test out different shafts. The right shaft is essential for solid ball strikers.

A bad shaft can make playing golf more difficult as your missed shots will be scattered all over the course. The right shaft can make golf much easier by allowing for consistent shots and tighter shot dispersion. 

Graff Golf says: “When the average PGA Tour player hits a driver, their spin rate is typically in the area of 2,700 RPMs. A player with a scratch handicap averages around 2,900 RPMs. If you are a 10-handicap, you are probably around 3,200 RPMs.”

What Driver Loft Should I use

FAQs about Driver Loft 

Do you still have questions about how to find the right amount of loft for your driver. You can find more information in our FAQs and answers.

What loft driver do pros use?

Professional golfers can use all kinds of lofts and are completely dependent upon their swing speed, attack angle and launch angle. As mentioned, the most important factor for elite golfers is Living in a dynamic loft. 

Andrew Rice, Berkeley Hall Golf Club, had this to say about dynamic loft. “Dynamic loft often will show me what a golfer is capable of, as better golfers seldom hit shots with too much dynamic loft. Learn to deloft the club face into impact and you are well on your way to being able to compress the golf ball.”

The best players in the game know how to lift the club. However, swing speed, ball speed and other factors all play into driving off the tee. Bryson de Chambeau, for instance, uses very little loft.

As quoted in Golf Monthly“Bryson was using a Cobra King Radspeed driver which had only 7.5 degrees of loft but in 2023 he has switched to a Cobra LTDx which only has five degrees of loft.”

With that little loft, most golfers would not be able to lift the ball more than 10ft off the ground. Justin Thomas, a professional golfer, uses a driver with 9.5 degrees loft. 

Needless to say, there’s a big gap between the lofts of professional golfers. Some may play as low as five, like Bryson, while others might use more traditional lofts. 

Do I need to fit a driver?

If you’re a committed golfer and someone who takes your game seriously, I think a driver fitting is the best $100 (or so) you can spend. Think about it: The driver sets up your approach shots for almost all par 4s or par 5s. The better you can hit your driver, the easier you’ll have it 14/18 holes during the round.

As you can see, there are many components to getting the perfect loft. For solid golfers it’s not as simple as just playing a little more loft. There are many factors you need to consider such as shaft flex, shaft weight and overall club weight, driver head, driver Loft, hosel settings, and so on.

You want to have an enormous amount of confidence with your driver, which is why it’s such a good idea to get a custom club fitting. A fitter can also give you best practices for matching your fairway woods or hybrids to your driver settings.

What is spin loft?

Spin loft is another piece that can help you determine the best loft for your driver.

According to Peter Field Golf“Spin loft is approximately the angle between the dynamic loft and attack angle. Spin loft is actually the three-dimensional angle between the direction the club head is moving (both club path and attack angle) and the direction the club face is pointing (both face angle and dynamic loft).”

What is the difference between a driver with a 9.5 degree and a driver with 0.5 degrees? 

The difference between the lofts is only 1 degree. It can have a significant impact on your golf swing and speed. A slight adjustment in your driver loft can make a big difference in your distance, accuracy, or ball flight.

Adjustable drivers allow for loft adjustments of up to two degrees per club. Which is why it’s a good idea to test out different lofts on the range to see which performs best. 

Driving performance will be improved for most everyday, high-handicap, middle- to high-handicap golfers. Senior golfers looking for senior drivers should consider at least 10.5 degrees of loft. You can even experiment with a little loft.

Can a driver with a lower loft go further? 

A lower loft driver may be able to make the ball go further, depending on the conditions. A lower loft driver will result in a shorter trajectory. If the conditions are good, it will increase the distance. 

If the weather is wet or cold, a lower loft could actually reduce your distance. 

Do you need loft?

Christop Bausek of Progress Golf said this on Trackman’s website about adding or taking away loft in the swing:

“Dynamic loft is a very good indicator of whether a golfer is adding too much loft or delofting the club too much. But be careful with drivers…hitting the ball high on the face will create a higher dynamic loft due to the roll of the club face.

Dynamic loft is the key factor in launching a ball into air. There is a myth that “hitting down on the ball gets the ball up. Instead, pay attention to the dynamic loft if you want to get the ball up.”

Remember that a teeing-up a driver requires you to hit the ball. This is not a time to practice your golf swing. You want to tee the ball high and hit up on the ball.

Can a higher loft driver increase my slice?

More loft can help reduce your driver slice but it’s not an instant cure. You can make a significant difference by adding loft or adjusting your clubhead to a draw setting.  They also offer anti-slice drivers with offset to reduce slice.

But don’t forget, this is a short-term solution. Fixing your slice involves changing your grip, backswing or other aspects of your swing. This requires more practice to make the changes stick.

While you’re making swing changes, it’s always a good idea to optimize your driver settings to help you in the short term. 

Which degree driver does Tiger Woods use 

Tiger has used many different types of equipment throughout his long and distinguished career. According to the PGA TourTiger is a TaylorMade Stealth Plus 9-degree driver. But he isn’t opposed to changing out shafts and club heads on a week-to-week basis. 

It’s still hard to believe that in his dominance in the early 2000s this guy was playing a steel shafted driver! And he is absolutely leading the field in terms most distance.

Last Thoughts for Maximizing Distance

Driver loft is an important aspect of your tee game. It doesn’t matter if you have the best or worst skills, it just depends on your ability.

A lot of amateur golfers have a 14+ handicap. A little more loft can help with accuracy and distance. But since most drivers are adjustable, it’s worth trying out on all settings to see how more/less loft impacts distance and trajectory.

Driver loft is important for scratch golfers and single-digit handicappers. Dynamic loft, attack angle and launch angle, as well as the driver shaft, are all important considerations. It’s best to use a launch monitor and/or get a professional fitting to make sure the most important club in the bag is dialed in. 

Regardless of skill level, don’t be afraid to experiment with different lofts, club heads, and driver shafts. The driver is one of the three most important clubs in the bag so make sure it’s optimized for your game.