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Golf Tips from a Pro: Lofty ambitions

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Knowing the loft angles of your iron sets, which are typically 4 degrees apart between consecutive clubs, can help improve the selection of the woods, hybrids and wedges that fill out your golf bag. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK WEHRMAN


Are you using the correct loft?

In golf, loft is our friend. Generally, the more loft on the club, the easier it is to hit straight. A perfect example of this is how easy it is to hit your pitching wedge straight and how tough it is to hit the driver straight. You can only slice a pitching wedge or short iron so far, but there seems to be no bounds as to how far we can slice our driver. So picking the right loft for your clubs is often overlooked, but so important.

The reason why loft is so important these days is due to the construction of the golf ball. With the current “solid core” technology, the ball is designed to stay in the air longer. For reference, 20 years ago the golf ball was constructed with wound technology. Back in the day of wound golf balls, the ball would roll a lot more after it had landed. But with the current technology, the ball will travel further the longer it stays in the air. It will also not roll nearly as far once it lands. So we should be purchasing clubs with more loft and that extra loft will not only help us hit it further, but also straighter.

When it comes to the driver, I would say most people aren’t using enough loft. Unless you are an extremely high ball hitter, most people should have a driver with 11-13 degrees of loft. I usually see people with 9-10 degrees of loft, which will end up costing you distance. The ideal launch angle for a driver is somewhere between 11-14 degrees of launch off of the face. Most drivers come with adjustable loft and face angle. If you are not seeing your driver launch high enough you might want to consider adjusting the driver face to add a degree or two of loft.

In terms of irons, knowing your loft is important for different reasons. Knowing the lofts on your iron sets helps you decide what hybrids and wedges you should have in your bag. Typically, there is about 4 degrees of loft separation between each iron. You want to continue that loft separation as you go into your wedges. So, for example, if your pitching wedge has 46 degrees of loft then it would be beneficial to have 50-, 54-, and 58-degree wedges rounding out your set to keep the gapping consistent.

You also need to know the loft of your longest iron to help you decide what hybrids to choose. If your 4 iron has 23 degrees of loft then it would not be wise to also carry a 23 degree hybrid. You would be better off having a 19-degree hybrid that will bridge the gap between your 3 wood and your 4 iron, for example.

So, the next time you are purchasing clubs, please pay attention to the lofts so you are choosing the right clubs to complement the existing clubs in your bag. The clubs you choose should fill all the yardage gaps in your game so you don’t have certain distances for which you don’t have a club in the bag.

Mark Wehrman is the Head Golf Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course and has been awarded the PGA Horton Smith Award recognizing PGA Professionals who are model educators of PGA Golf Professionals.

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