A student asked me the other day, “What loft should I get in my new driver?”
I don’t think he was prepared for the complexity of the answer. Because it just isn’t that simple, although the guy selling you the club at the golf store will try to make it seem that way.
Head designs change from year to year, company to company. So your standard 10.5 degree driver can vary greatly in its performance.
A lot of this has to do with where the CG is located. CG is the center of gravity of the head, or the balance point.
And although companies will tout how they moved the CG low or back, it doesn’t really move all that far – really just a few millimeters. But this slight movement can change the club’s performance a great deal.
So let me do a quick summary of what happens when you relocate the CG of any given driver. This can be done by the shape of the head, the internal weighting, or through adjusting the external weights that often come with adjustable drivers:
If the CG is forward, or towards the face you will get less dynamic loft and less spin. You will also get a lower moment of inertia. This is good for a golfer with high clubhead speed, say 120 mph or more.
If the CG is back, you will get more dynamic loft and more spin. You will get a higher moment of inertia, or greater face stability on a slightly off center hit. This is a great combo for a slower swinging golfer who needs more lift – say under 80 mph.
If the CG is high, you will get less dynamic loft, and more spin. I’m not sure many golfers would benefit from low launch and high spin.
If the CG is low, you will get more dynamic loft, and less spin. This leads to high launch and low spin, which is the best combination for distance in most cases.
Often these days a club company will tout the change in the CG of their new driver in their advertising, if you look carefully enough.
A great example of this Taylormade, whose R9 (2009) driver was incredibly high spinning, while their R15 (2015) driver of the same loft created considerably less spin. So a 10.5 loft driver from one year may play like an 8 degree driver from another year.
Indeed, Taylormade’s big ad campaign included the motto, ‘loft up!’. The M3 and M4 drivers out in 2018 slightly differ in their CGs.
And if you’ve got an adjustable driver, you can custom fit it better to your swing once you know what each setting will do. Most golfers never touch the settings because they lack this information.
Before you plunk down your $499 for this year’s new model, you will benefit by hitting each model on a Trackman launch monitor to see exactly how it performs for you, and if it’s even an improvement over your current driver.
So the next time somebody asks you what loft you’re playing, go ahead and answer ‘10.5’, but know that it’s much more complex than just one number.