Proper loft fitting involves more than just the loft of the driver. Since loft is the main factor of shot distance, trajectory and backspin for each club in the bag, the clubfitter has to consider several factors for each golfer when making the recommendation for the best lofts for each club.
Factors for determining loft
Key to this is the right set makeup for each golfer. As such the most important golfer inputs that are used to help determine the best initial lofts prior to hit testing are shown above.
The following is an overview of the key points in loft determination for the driver, woods, hybrids and irons.
The higher the clubhead speed and the more upward the angle of attack, the lower the driver loft should be for optimal tee shot performance.
The lower the clubhead speed and the more downward the angle of attack, the higher the driver loft should be for optimal tee shot performance.
Launch angle is the No. 1 most important launch monitor parameter to observe and react to in determining the golfer’s best driver loft. Spin outputs come a distant second behind visual observation of the ball flight and the golfer’s clubhead speed. The higher the clubhead speed, the more possibility there may be for a spin issue to be considered in the fitting of the loft. But never should the spin output of the launch monitor trump the importance of the observation of the ball flight shape.
Too many golfers focus too much on the backspin measurement for the driver on a launch monitor – ball flight shape tells you more about driver backspin fitting than a launch monitor.
Learn what a driver shot hit with too much backspin looks like. Achieving the best launch angle and ball flight shape is more important than achieving the best backspin measurement.
Loft is the No. 1 way to change backspin and launch angle. The shaft will change spin and launch angle for golfers with later-to-releases, but only SLIGHTLY. The only way the shaft can reduce backspin for a golfer with an actual high spin problem is if the new shaft is stiffer overall and or stiffer in the tip section than the golfer’s current shaft. It is NEVER wise to increase stiffness in a shaft beyond what is the golfer’s proper flex and bend profile as the way to try to reduce the spin.
When the golfer does actually have a problem of too much backspin with the driver — one that is verified with a visual analysis of the ball flight shape –98 percent of the time it is a problem that has to be resolved by a swing change and not from an equipment change.
Knowing the lowest fairway wood loft and lowest iron loft that the golfer can hit consistently well up in the air to achieve proper carry distance is the key for choosing:
The golfer’s first fairway wood after the driver.
The number of hybrids or high-lofted fairway woods a golfer needs.
The first iron in a golfer’s set.
This is why proper loft fitting also involves deciding what the golfer’s best set makeup will be at the same time.
If you doubt the golfer’s own evaluation of the lowest loft wood and iron they hit consistently well, always recommend more loft for the first fairway wood after the driver and one more hybrid or high-lofted fairway wood before starting the iron set makeup.
The current lofts of the golfer’s irons play a role in iron loft fitting because no golfer wants a new set of irons that he hits shorter in distance per each number. There is nothing wrong with very low lofts in an iron set as long as the correct judgment is made for the golfer’s set makeup recommendation. For example, the stronger the lofts in the irons, the more hybrids or high-lofted woods there would be and the higher the number of the first iron.
Much lower-lofted iron sets may require a change in the set makeup such that the golfer’s first iron may need to be a 6 iron or even a 7 iron. Never fit a golfer with a loft that he/she cannot hit well up in the air to fly with reasonable consistency.
Loft gaps between clubs should be greater as the golfer’s clubhead speed is slower
4-degree gaps: 5 iron swing speed of 80 mph or more
5-degree gaps: 5 iron swing speed of 65-to-75 mph
6-degree gaps: 5 iron swing speed under 65 mph
Nine times out of 10, when a golfer hits the ball VERY high the reason is a swing error in which the golfer is releasing the club in a way that allows the clubhead to pass the hands before impact and thus adds dynamic loft to the clubhead to result in the very high flight. In such cases, lower loft(s) will only help a little. The remedy to bring the ball down to a reasonable height will almost always be lessons to correct the impact position error.
Clubhead center of gravity (CG) can help more with loft fitting to achieve a little bit better trajectory for proper carry distance in the fairway woods first, hybrids second and irons last. But the effect of CG on shot height is ALWAYS proportional to the golfer’s club head speed and angle of attack.
The higher the clubhead speed, the more the CG can visibly affect the trajectory of a given loft angle and vice versa.
The more downward the angle of attack, the less the CG can visibly assist the trajectory from a given loft angle.
In other words, the slower the clubhead speed and more downward the angle of attack, the less the CG has any effect on shot height and the more that loft becomes the only factor to improve shot height and with it, proper carry distance for optimizing distance.