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4 signs you need more loft on your driver

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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.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. humberto montero

    Feb 3, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

    I’m interest in start playing golf. I was wondering if height plays a role in order to buy a driver. I’m 6’2″ – 6’3″.

    Best,
    HM

  2. myron miller

    Aug 26, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I just don’t understand some of the comments versus my swing. He says if your a senior you generally need more loft and need to hit the ball higher. I’ve found thru extensive launch monitor testing and personal testing on the course, that if I go with a higher launch angle, I generally hit the ball shorter. My good swings might get up to 80 mph if I’m lucky. I took identical taylor made r25s and one was a 10.5 degree and the other was 9.5. Consistently I get about 10-15 yards further with the 9.5 than I do with the 10.5. Tried a 12 degree SLDR and never had a launch angle over 9 degrees.

    My best launch angle for distance (carry) is about 11-12 degrees. getting to 14-15 yields about 15-20 yards less (160-170 with higher angle versus 180-200 with lower launch. And I can easily measure the carry distance as I play in florida where lots of the courses have zero roll. Ball leaves divot and backs up in the fairway. And I found that the best overall distance was with a high draw/hook.

    I do tend to have a positive AofA though as I don’t hit down but slightly up on the ball (2-4 degrees usually).

    So I’d say I fit the conditions for higher lofted clubs except that they don’t work at all for me. As the saying goes, been there, bought the tee shirt and it didn’t fit. I’d love to have 15020 more yards but don’t see how yet. My old optimized r-425 taylor made with aldila dvs-60 shaft still seems to be the best. New tech just doesn’t provide more carry or roll.

    ANd I certainly don’t believe several launch monitors on what they say about roll. How many people play where they get 40-70 yards of roll or more. 20-30 is what most people get at the courses I play (and that’s for the bigger hitters, often its less than 20 down to minus yardage.).

  3. Mac n Cheese

    Aug 26, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I like this, but not the first point. I play on 4 different courses so if I went off of number 1 I would need 4 drivers to rotate between. I find that carry distance is what you should be concerned with most when it comes to a driver, not roll. Roll to me is dependent upon the course, like you mentioned, but carry is not. For players who play more than 1 course, getting a driver that fits that course is a bad idea. Also the time of day makes a difference as well. However; carry is completely independent of the course you play and if you maximize your carry distance with an appropriate loft of driver, there is no harm to your game, and the faster rolls will give you more distance than slow rolls, but at least your carry is max!

  4. Mike

    Aug 22, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Tom, I agree with certain points of your article but I just would like to ask a question. For the two different charts of trackman data in #1 did you have the person hit two different drivers or the same?

  5. ph00ny

    Aug 21, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Wouldn’t someone like me who hits the ball extremely high need lower loft on softer condition? I recently played in a relatively long course and struggled with fairway being soft. My drives would land on fairway and create a huge divot and bounce back a pace or two. It was pretty frustrating.

    I thought about getting a new driver setup with lower spin and lower ball flight. I want to see some rolls on tee shots!!!

  6. Doug Lounsbury

    Aug 21, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Tom, according to data found on another reputable site your comparison of the Aeroburner and R-15 is incorrect. The Aeroburner CG is higher and further forward than the R15 giving is slightly lower MOI and less forgiveness. Both the R15 and Aeroburner have CG’s further back than the SLDR.

  7. Steve

    Aug 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    What the article doesnt state is location. I lived in the northeast where high bombs were untouched by wind and that was the play for me throughout the bag. Now i live in south Florida where it blows 25 mph and high bombs are a death sentence. Need a more peircing flight

  8. Bob

    Aug 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    And that is the reason for more actual loft on every driver then what is stamped or stated on the sole of the club.

  9. Old Tom

    Aug 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    I agree in principle with everything outlined in this article except 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.”
    You do make reference to the positive attack angle between the two Trackman photos, but you don’t give it enough emphasis. The swing change, not the static driver loft angle is what dramatically changed the carry distance here. There is an overall change of 5 degrees from negative to positive attack angle that changes the dynamic launch of the driver. This has zero do do with the static driver launch. Bottom line, if you want more carry, you should always first start with understanding your driver attack angle and optimize that number first. If you’re swinging sub 100mph, you need a positive attack angle or you will constantly be compensating with spin, shaft, and loft. Find that swing change first before buying a new driver.

    • Bacon

      Aug 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      I noticed the same thing. -1.0 vs. +4.0 AoA is a big change when you’re insinuating that a driver with more loft produced those results.

      • KK

        Aug 22, 2015 at 7:57 am

        Word.

        • Mike

          Aug 22, 2015 at 10:49 am

          However the guy is less efficient when he tries to hit up on the driver this much case in point his smash drops from 1.49 to 1.44. A change in loft of the head shaft etc might make him hit it more efficiently, ultimately leading to more distance.

          • Old Tom

            Aug 24, 2015 at 12:31 pm

            I’m not an expert, but a student of the game with a growing understanding of trackman data. I’m guessing this ball was hit middle toe, and slightly impacted by gear effect. Hence lowering the smash factor and increasing the spin (should be less when hit 4 up and center face). No doubt, if this player stays with this new swing, they will eventually need a new driver, or more reasonably changes to their existing adjustable one.

  10. Gubment Cheeze

    Aug 21, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Just another way to say get fit

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Instruction

Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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Fix early extension: 3 exercises to get your a** in gear

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It’s pretty common knowledge that “early extension” is a problem for golfers everywhere, but how does it affect your body and your game? And what can you do to fix it?

First, let’s look at early extension in its most simple form as a physical issue rather than a technical issue.

During the swing, we are asking our body to not only create force, but also resist a number of different forces created by the aggressive rotational pattern we call a golf swing. The problem comes down to each player’s unique dysfunction which will likely include bad posture, weak glutes or a locked out thoracic spine for example.

So when we then ask the body to rotate, maintain spine angle, get the left arm higher, pressure the ground, turn our hips to the target (to name a few) a lot of mobility, strength and efficiency are required to do all of this well.

And not everyone, well actually very few of us, has the full capability to do all of this optimally during the swing. The modern lifestyle has a lot to do with it, but so does physiology and it has been shown that tour players as well as everyday golfers suffer from varying levels of dysfunction but can ultimately get by relative to learned patterns and skill development.

But for the majority of players early extension leads to one or more of the following swing faults:

  • Loss of spine angle/posture. During the swing, a player will ‘stand up’ coming out of their original and desired spine angle, this alters the path and the plane of the club.
  • “Humping” the ball. Johnny Wunder’s preferred term for the forward and undesirable movement of the lower body closer to the ball.

Lack of rotation during the swing occurs due to the shift in the center of gravity caused by the loss of posture as your body does its best to just stay upright at all.

Ultimately, early extension leaves us “stuck” with the club too far behind us and nowhere to go—cue massive high push fade or slice going two fairways over (we’ve all been there) or a flippy hook as your body backs up and your hands do whatever they can to square it up.

Not only is this not a good thing if you want to hit a fairway, it’s also a really bad way to treat your body in general.

As a general rule, your body works as a system to create stability and mobility simultaneously allowing us to move, create force, etc. When we can’t maintain a stable core and spinal position or force is being transferred to an area that shouldn’t be dealing with it, we get issues. Likely, this starts with discomfort, possibly leading to prolonged pain, and eventually injury.

The body has a whole lot to deal with when you play golf, so it’s a good idea to start putting in the work to help it out. Not only will you reduce your risk of injury, but you’ll also likely play better too!

So we have three simple exercises for you here that you can do at home, or anywhere else, that will help you with the following elements

  • Posture
  • Core strength
  • Glute function
  • Thoracic mobility
  • Asymmetrical balance
  • Ground force development

#1: Forward lunge with rotation

  1. Standing tall, core engaged with a club in front of your chest, take a reasonable step forward.
  2. Stabilize your lead knee over your front foot and allow your trail knee to move down towards the ground, trying to keep it just above the surface.
  3. Maintaining your spine angle, rotate OVER your lead leg (chest faces the lead side) with the club at arm’s length in front of your torso keeping your eyes facing straight forwards.
  4. Rotate back to center, again with great control, and then step back to your original standing position.
  5. Repeat on other leg.

#2: Bird dog

  1. Get down on all fours again focusing on a quality, neutral spine position.
  2. Extend your left arm forward and your right leg backward.
  3. Control your breathing and core control throughout as we test balance, stability and core activation.
  4. Hold briefly at the top of each rep and return to start position.
  5. Repeat with right arm and left leg, alternating each rep.
  6. If this is difficult, start by working arms and legs individually, only life 1 arm OR 1 leg at a time but still work around the whole body.

#3: Jumping squat

  1. Start with feet shoulder-width apart, eyes fixed forward.
  2. Engage your squat by sending your knees forwards and out to create pressure and torque, whilst sending your hips down and back.
  3. Squat down as far as possible whilst maintaining a neutral spine, active core and heels on the ground.
  4. As you naturally come out of the squat, push the ground away using your whole foot, creating as much speed and force as possible as you jump in the air.
  5. Land with excellent control and deceleration, reset and repeat.

Got 10 minutes? Sample workout

3 Rounds

  1. 10 Forward Lunge with Rotation (5 each leg)
  2. 10 Bird Dog (5 Each side or 5 each limb if working individually)
  3. 5 Jumping Squats
  4. 1 Minute Rest

If you can take the time to make this a part of your routine, even just two or three times per week, you will start to see benefits all round!

It would also be a perfect pre-game warm-up!

And one thing you can do technically? Flare your lead foot to the target at address. A huge majority of players already do this and with good reason. You don’t have to alter your alignment, rather keep the heel in its fixed position but point your toes more to the target. This will basically give you a free 20 or 30 degrees additional lead hip rotation with no real side-effects. Good deal.

This is a great place to start when trying to get rid of the dreaded early extension, and if you commit to implementing these simple changes you can play way better golf and at least as importantly, feel great doing it.

 

To take your golf performance to new levels with fitness, nutrition, recovery, and technical work, check out everything we do on any of the following platforms.

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