Instant Golf® Special Report
Driver Loft and Max Distance
Robert Cotter (About
Golf Ball Engineer
of Swing Instruction, Instant Golf®
is a revolution on the PGA Tour regarding Correct Driver
Loft and Golf
Ball Selection for max distance and accuracy. All the
rules have changed, yet the golfing public has been
left in the dark. The evidence is on display again this
week at The Players Championship.
Mickelson entered this week's prestigious event
with a win already in 2013 (Phoenix Open)
and 2 third place finishes including last weekend. This year
he has been driving the ball longer
and straighter than ever before.
long, towering blasts off the tee have been incredible. The 42
year old even hit a confirmed 450 yard drive at the WGC - Cadillac
Championship in Miami. It's also pretty amazing considering
he battles psoriatic arthritis.
has credited a driver
change for his win and prolific driving improvement.
The adjustment was quite novel for him given his prior
paying huge dividends
his first major title last Summer after shooting a brilliant
round of the
U.S. Open. In 2012, he won 2 events in 3 consecutive
second of which came after an exciting playoff at the Deutsche
already has 4 top 10 finishes in 2013 and
has moved into contention this week at The Players Championship.
He is arguably the most reliable and steady performer
on the PGA Tour.
Johnson (below) won the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of
Champions and the 2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
He now has seven wins at only 28 years of age. He has already
come close in a few majors and definitely has a major championship
title in his future.
is a long hitter and is always in
the Top 10 in Driving Distance on Tour (averaging 303
yards in the 2013 season).
addition, Nick Watney has 5 Tour wins in his
young career, including an important World Golf Championship
title against the best
players in the world. He won twice in 2012
and his modern, but simple golf swing is one of the best. He
is also one of the longest hitters on Tour throughout
the bag, from driver to wedges.
this is really shocking..
Dustin, Nick, (and a growing number of others)
their huge driving distances using 10.5
degree lofted drivers! And Phil has increased
his loft by almost 2 degrees with his recent change.
more, 2012 Heritage winner Carl Petterrsen uses
an 11.5 loft driver (and is ranked high
in driving distance)!
Westwood is one of the best drivers in the game and
uses 10.5-11.5 degrees of loft. He has moved into contention
at The Players as the final round gets underway.
a Partial List of 10.5-11.5 Driver Loft Players and
Titleist 909D3 10.5
U.S. Open Championship
2011 Wyndham Championship
2011 Deutsche Bank Championship
G25 10.5 and 11.5!
Nike VR_S Covert 11.5!
2011 World Golf Championship
2011 AT&T National
R9, R11S 10.5
TaylorMade R1, 10.0
2013 Hyundai TOC
FedEx St. Jude Classic
2011 The Barclays
VR Tour 11.5!
Nike VR Pro 11.5
Heritage (Hilton head, SC)
2010 RBC Canadian Open
Launcher TL 10.5
Byron Nelson Championship
2011 PGA Championship
2011 Aust. PGA Championship
VR Tour 10.5
VR Tour 10.5
Speedline Fast 10.5
Trust Open (Riviera)
Rapture V2 10.5
WM Phoenix Open
2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Farmer's Insurance Open
S9-1 Pro D 10.5
S9-1 Pros 10.5
Callaway RAZR Fit 9.5+
2011 RAZR Hawk 8.2!
2011 RAZR Hawk 6.3!
Nike SQ Dymo 10.5
2011 Nike SQ Dymo 8.5!
2012-2013 Nike VR Tour 8.5!
- 6 PGA Tour wins!
2010-2013 - 5 wins in 3 years
(no majors) using 8.5 loft.
for Mr. Woods,
before the 2009 Memorial Tournament he switched from
an 8.5 degree driver to a 10.5,
hit 49 of 54 fairways and lapped the field. Yet he still averaged
well over 300 yards for that week.
fact, he averaged a hefty 306.4 yards when he
crushed the field by 8 strokes later in the year at the
BMW (with his "old" swing).
would argue that this simple driver loft change kick
started his consistency as he won 6 tournaments, the
FedEx Cup, and Player of the Year in 2009, and no one was even
his 68.06 scoring average.
Tiger took his 10.5 degree Nike driver with his 118 mph swing
speed, lost no distance, and improved
fairways hit dramatically (hence 6 wins). And all this with his
"inefficient", pre Sean Foley swing.
that when he came out on Tour he used a 6.5 degree
to an 8.5 in 2011 with his new swing
and struggled off the tee.
was ranked 186/190 in driving accuracy, hitting
only 48.9% of the fairways!
accuracy improved somewhat in 2012-2013 given that the new swing
is finally burned in,
despite his multiple wins on old familiar venues like Bay Hill.
So far in 2013, he is ranked 154/190 in driving accuracy
with his 8.5 degree driver.
is challenged by courses with more penal fairways, i.e. -
he missed the cut at the 2012 Wells Fargo, visiting the woods
several times on Thursday and Friday.
the 2012 U.S. Open he tied for 21st, and hit only 5 of 14 fairways
(36%) on Sunday (the 4th worst % of any player in the field).
These results have come while playing his driver with 8.5 degrees
of loft. You see, less lofted drivers encourage more
side spin (hook, slice) on the ball. At his high swing speed, this can
Carl Pettersson (shown w/iron) used an 11.5 degree driver to
win the 2010 Canadian Open and the 2012 Heritage Classic and
still averages 295+ yards off the tee (he was ranked
32 out of 185
players in Tour driving distance)!
You May Be Thinking to Yourself...
going on here, I use a 10.5 (or 9, 9.5, 10) degree driver
and my swing speed is no where near Dustin's or the other
guys on that list. The
sales person at the store said that was the best loft for me!"
should be concerned. Again, Nick, Webb, Dustin, Phil, and Carl
lash their big sticks at over 120 mph. What's more, the average
is a hefty 112 mph.
average golfer swings their driver only about 88-90 mph.
what's the deal? A
heck of a lot of misinformation, that's what.
fact is that the study of optimal flight patterns for maximum
distance has made
leaps and bounds in just the past few years.
radar devices like the Trackman have quantified and pinpointed
optimal flight and how to achieve it.
combined with a drop in golf ball compressions over the years
and incredible driver design advances, the flight patterns for
optimal distance have been so refined, they can be literally
be mapped on a screen and traced with a pen. Incredible.
the resultant equation for distance in its simplest form is:
Initial Ball Spin + High(er) Launch Angle = Maximum Distance
by studying the diagram above you can see why the "higher" lofted
drivers are finding their way into the bags of the best golfers
And these guy and gals are winning... a lot.
believe it or not, when
Tiger came out on Tour, he used a 6.5 degree driver! The norm
10-15 years ago was 7.5-9.0 degrees. Then it crept up to the
it was at that time that a lot of recreational golfers made their
big, driver purchases. Yes, just a few years ago they were getting
settled into their 9-10 degree, $300 titaniums.
they feel have lost distance, particularly relative to their
peers who are gearing up with more recent equipment, newer balls,
and fittings. You may be one of these folks.
do I know this? I have evaluated 100's of golfers (their
games, equipment, distances, flight patterns, etc...) and the
story repeats itself over and over.
Let Me Share Some Points...
average swing speed golfers (~90 mph) don't use enough loft in
their drivers due to seeing the pros using 9-10 degrees effective
typically recommend 10.5-12.0 deg loft for the avg. club head
speed for maximum distance, particularly carry. This
even applies for golfers up to 100 mph.
Unless you are playing consistently in extremely (and I mean extremely)
windy conditions where control and roll are paramount, I encourage players
average, the ball spends most of the time in the air and roll
typically contributes only ~10% to the total distance under
standard conditions. You can see that in the chart above.
Champ Bubba Watson, typically one of the longest driver on the
has a very high ball flight as he has maximized the carry
portion of the Carry and
Roll. But it is a high ball flight with low spin.
spin ball flight, improved dimple patterns, etc... have also
created an angle of approach (ground impact)
change that still provides great roll with “higher” lofted
drivers. We call this the ground attack angle.
more loft can dramatically reduce your unintended side
that over fade/slice, or the effects of that nasty duck hook.
I once worked for a golf equipment company that discontinued
an 8.5 degree version of a titanium driver because even Pros
couldn't keep it on the fairway. It was a slicer's nightmare!
Driver loft and effective launch angle can vary per golfer,
given the same club loft.
ball launch angle is quite different than the driver
loft for two golfers, even if
they are swinging the same club. This is because some golfers
will have a negative attack
ball (hitting down more like an iron, imparting extra spin – the
high dying quail effect in
Red on the diagram),
while others will upsweep the ball off the tee.
is a perfect angle of attack for each golfer for max distance
that can be determined on the range with practice. Or you can
perfect your flight and distance with a launch monitor (like
the Trackman) and a qualified pro or technician.
ball position and tee height adjustments can
mean another 10-20 yards as long as you are compressing the ball
efficiently for your swing speed. Impacting the upper, outer
quadrant of the face also reduces more spin and encourages a
a flat angle of attack or
a bit of
for almost all golfers. Again, that high launch with low spin condition!
given a ~90 mph swing speed, 13.5-14 degrees ball launch (not
necessarily driver loft) at about 2900/3000 rpm is close
to optimal. But as stated,
it depends on the golfer (and the golf ball).
I would encourage most golfers to experiment (don't
run out and buy) with more loft for more total distance
and/or for reference if you have the opportunity
(particularly on the course).
is the time for early season Demo Days and Sales... take full
also add that club fittings in a booth where a golfer is firing
off 20 balls is
not always representative of a 20 minute interval between each
drive on course. Historically a golfer can be fit with a driver
with too little loft as they are in a groove, loosened up, and
thinking about best case scenarios.
is also not always another’s. You may also have physical
challenges that will become variable affecting on course play,
swing speeds, etc..
you wind players, a
higher lofted driver in the bag, even a cheap, 2nd hand one (Ebay,
$50), is also great for those downwind holes. Tee it high, let
fly, and go after a few of those 300 yard blasts.
remember to work towards low
initial ball spin combined with a high(er) launch angle for maximum
tee shot distance.
doing so you are one big step closer to playing like today's
PGA and LPGA stars.
fact, here's my simple 3 step summary of what the best golfers
do to achieve max distance and accuracy with all their clubs,
which ultimately leads to very low scores:
compress the ball on the center of the club face
with a Repeating Golf Swing that minimizes
slice and hook spin.
the ball leave the clubface at the correct launch
angle and spin rate for the golfer's swing
the correct golf ball for a given golfer's swing
report addreses the "how and why" of point #2.
Points 1, 2, & 3 will give your Power, Accuracy, and Consistency.
your permission, I
would like the opportunity to help you further by showing
you my swing technique. You will benefit from my firsthand
experience inside the ropes, working with some of the top
players in the
game. I am convinced you will benefit tremendously from my
swing instruction (and golf ball expertise).