Have you ever wondered what loft angle is best in a driver? It’s one of the most common questions at golf shops around the world. Drivers can range from about 7 degrees to 12 degrees in loft, which is a pretty big difference. Many amateurs assume the lower the loft, the farther they will hit the ball. As with many aspects of golf, those tricky assumptions can wreck your game!

First, understand that loft affects more than just how high you’ll hit the ball. That’s only one directional dimension. Probably the biggest potential hazard if you go with a low loft angle driver is side spin. You see, the higher the loft angle, the more backspin and less sidespin will be imparted to the ball at contact. For the vast majority of amateurs, sidespin is evil. It leads to those nasty banana slices and stomach-turning hooks. Off the tee on a long hole where driver is required, you’ll all but guarantee bogey or worse if you put severe sidespin on the ball.

The bottom line is this: if you choose a driver with very low loft (7 or 8), you better be hitting the ball very close to the sweet spot and with a square face, or you run a high risk of hunting in the woods or thick rough for your second shot!

So, you’re much better off using a higher lofted driver (11 or 12). The launch angle (the angle between the ground and the flight path of the ball coming off the driver’s face) will be higher, which can rob distance if you’re hitting into the wind. However, for most amateurs, control outweighs distance, especially on tee shots. And most importantly, the higher loft reduces sidespin, so even if you do impart some hook or slice spin, it won’t be as severe a curve as it would have been with a lower lofted driver.

Give up 20 yards in distance and keep it in the short stuff. Your scores will probably drop.