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Let’s admit this right now: we ALL want to hit the ball farther.
It’s like a caveman (or cavewoman) instinct. But how do we do it? Too many of us see a Tiger Woods or Bubba Watson and see their drivers have something like “8.5” or “9.5” etched on the sole and think “that’s what I need!”
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
For the vast majority of us we need more loft than what we’re currently using. The importance of driver loft can not be understated… if you want to maximize your potential distance, you should really think about re-evaluating the loft on the 1W.
Why Should I Care?
Let’s take a look at this chart:
The black line is the line of maximum distance for that launch angle
The red line is the plot of various driver lofts, for an 86mph swing.
Simply put, the optimal driver loft is the one that has the red line intersect the black line… but notice that it doesn’t help reach the maximum potential?
It’s physics stuff that I won’t bore you with, but if you’re curious click the link- and read as much as you can while you’re there. I’m intentionally leaving a lot of information out- like adding to the max potential through changing your angle of attack, for example- because this is a barebones look into something that Mr. Tutelman does a very good job describing in his own article. “Fascinating” doesn’t do it justice… but I digress.
Don’t be discouraged if you think you’ll never reach some created maximum. For an 86mph swing, ~190y of carry distance is pretty good. But this chart shows the importance of driver loft: if you’re playing with a loft that’s too low, you don’t stand a chance of reaching your potential; you won’t launch the ball high enough or have enough backspin to make it stay in the air. If you have too much loft, you still rob yourself of any potential distance because the ball launches too high with too much backspin- it’d be like hitting a dreaded “balloon shot” on every tee!
That’s why you should care, though, because there’s a “just right” for everyone! What that is, unfortuntately, isn’t a cut-and-dry answer. This chart is based on a fairly accurate depiction of a typical recreational golfer. It goes without saying that there will be some that swing slower, as well as some that swing faster.
So… Now What?
Now is my blatant plea for you to get fitted for your clubs- including the driver.
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but you should really consider seeing a local clubfitter to handle this. If you can’t, for whatever reason, there are tools at your disposal. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re not keen on using these tools.
The trick to making online fitting tools work is to be as honest as possible. “Honesty is always the best policy”, as the saying goes… and it’s no different for finding the right gear for your game.
I’m not going to feed you crap; you can still play golf with the gear you have, even if you aren’t “optimized”. I know, because I wrote an article about it. I’m also a realist about what the majority of people want on the course, and driver distance is almost always #1. If maximizing your drives is a big (or the biggest) concern, the driver’s loft is one of the biggest factors in helping you make that happen.