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May 2008 Golfsmith Clubmaker Back to Main
clubfitting tip
The Lowdown on Driver Loft and Distance
by: John Mathieson

In Golfsmith’s Master Craftsman School, we teach students how to use the Vector Launch Monitor from Accusport. During this test, we ask our students to hit drivers with different lofts. All of the data is compiled and presented to the class the following day. The students in our Master Craftsman School are the best of the best, and they typically have years of experience in fitting and repair. Yet even these experienced clubmakers often discover that a driver loft different from what they currently play may increase their distance.

Since the majority of our/your customers want additional distance off of the tee, we thought it would be an interesting case study to combine all of these data gathered over the last three years, in order to see the overall performance of the different lofts with a much larger sample than just 5-10 players.

The compiled data below include over 1600 shots from 112 students. The average clubhead speed was 89.77 mph, with an average launch angle of 14.84° and average spin rate of 3011.82 rpm. The average age of our students was 50.1 years, with an average handicap of 12.8. Names have been left out to protect the innocent.

Launch monitor data — all handicaps
Loft 7.5° 9.5° 11.5° 13.5° 15° 17° Total
Average of Clubhead Speed 90.21 89.59 89.64 89.69 90.84 87.86 89.77
Average of Vertical Launch 12.78 13.92 14.98 15.41 16.10 15.77 14.84
Average of Ball Speed 132.55 131.25 130.03 129.94 129.71 125.15 130.04
Average of Back Spin 2147.59 2436.84 2923.78 3103.31 3778.80 3808.64 3011.82
Average of Carry Distance 191.18 197.10 201.54 206.58 204.14 191.51 199.57
Average of Total Distance 211.19 215.28 216.97 220.84 216.00 203.39 214.90
Max of Total Distance 343.90 340.30 329.10 309.10 299.50 295.00 343.90
Min of Total Distance 49.30 14.20 57.30 88.10 114.00 83.20 14.20
StdDevp of Back Spin 1249.42 1250.27 1123.57 1239.91 1029.03 1262.07 1322.81

When breaking down the data by handicap, we see that the even though the average swing speed had increased to 97.54 mph, the higher-lofted drivers still outperformed the lower-lofted drivers. The significant increase in the performance of the shots that are not struck perfectly (how many of us hit the driver solid every time?) is the primary factor in the overall increase in the average distance. Clearly there are players who can hit the 7.5° driver farther, but on average, the higher lofts yield remarkable stats under controlled conditions.

Launch monitor data — 0 to 8 handicaps
Loft 7.5° 9.5° 11.5° 13.5° 15° 17° Total
Average of Clubhead Speed 97.19 97.13 96.90 98.91 97.75 97.77 97.54
Average of Vertical Launch 12.44 12.45 13.31 14.26 15.32 16.48 13.78
Average of Ball Speed 142.62 142.02 141.03 143.25 139.97 138.42 141.45
Average of Back Spin 2057.82 2642.53 2923.37 3201.25 3786.92 4144.92 3006.77
Average of Carry Distance 217.07 223.57 230.44 238.49 229.45 227.09 227.62
Average of Total Distance 237.53 240.93 246.10 252.67 241.26 237.74 243.16
Max of Total Distance 292.20 303.90 303.10 302.10 287.60 295.00 303.90
Min of Total Distance 149.00 180.80 118.00 167.40 177.00 102.40 102.40
StdDevp of Back Spin 1078.88 983.03 835.61 1046.54 953.95 1371.56 1208.67

Launch monitor data — 9 to 16 handicaps
Loft 7.5° 9.5° 11.5° 13.5° 15° 17° Total
Average of Clubhead Speed 89.02 88.57 88.91 88.48 90.05 87.22 88.83
Average of Vertical Launch 12.85 13.83 14.99 14.96 16.67 15.32 14.83
Average of Ball Speed 131.25 130.45 129.42 128.98 128.91 124.22 129.14
Average of Back Spin 2090.07 2206.52 2763.96 2923.45 3679.51 3888.60 2897.86
Average of Carry Distance 188.66 193.95 202.74 207.09 204.99 191.78 199.41
Average of Total Distance 208.90 213.38 218.16 222.12 217.10 203.38 215.16
Max of Total Distance 291.10 304.40 321.60 282.60 277.90 267.30 321.60
Min of Total Distance 77.90 82.30 128.60 131.60 115.50 123.60 77.90
StdDevp of Back Spin 1139.25 1229.43 1161.24 869.73 1003.20 962.71 1238.22

Launch monitor data — 17 to 24 handicaps
Loft 7.5° 9.5° 11.5° 13.5° 15° 17° Total
Average of Clubhead Speed 81.34 79.62 81.45 80.86 85.07 82.01 81.89
Average of Vertical Launch 14.85 18.14 18.92 18.96 16.87 21.20 17.81
Average of Ball Speed 119.81 116.87 116.39 117.23 120.57 115.20 118.02
Average of Back Spin 2258.18 2455.37 3301.45 3152.11 3928.47 4161.87 3165.13
Average of Carry Distance 169.78 172.27 171.60 179.55 180.15 177.15 174.87
Average of Total Distance 187.82 189.09 184.53 192.48 191.20 186.43 188.60
Max of Total Distance 240.40 231.80 251.00 240.20 221.90 211.50 251.00
Min of Total Distance 64.70 59.00 74.80 138.00 148.80 147.20 59.00
StdDevp of Back Spin 1053.07 1078.97 1128.12 940.16 969.08 854.90 1208.34

We challenge you to have a higher-lofted driver for your customers to try out on the course. In many cases, they will need to play a few rounds with the demo driver in order to convince themselves of the benefit of improving their worst shot (Min of Total Distance). Often, missing a shot with the higher-lofted driver will still afford the opportunity to hit the green in regulation and avoid a really big number. Improving your clients’ mis-hit tee shots has the added benefit of improving their emotional states, as well.

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FEATURE
The Short and Long of Fitting Driver Length
DEPARTMENTS
Tech Talk: Snake Eyes 675T and Lynx Black Cat Drivers
Clubmaker Profile: The Principles of Pro Service
Shaft Talk: UST Introduces Proforce V2 Iron Shafts
Chip Shots: The China Factor
Clubmaking Tip: Measuring Loft
 Clubfitting Tip: The Lowdown on Driver Loft and Distance
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