In the first segment of this blog, we discussed hitting the ball on the sweet spot in order to optimize your “smash factor” or efficiency. In general, this will be a spot that is slightly towards the toe and just above the center of the clubface. Remember, to maximize distance, it is a combination of ball speed, launch angle and spin rate. In this segment, we are going to talk about the optimum launch angle for your club speed. Launch angle is determined by several factors:
- Club loft
- Angle of Attack
- Impact point on the clubface
- Forward lean of the shaft
Today we are only going to talk about club loft for the driver. Most drivers come in degrees of loft from 8.5 to 16. Long Drive competitors have drivers that have only 4 to 7.5 degrees of loft. This is because at higher ball speeds, there is considerably more lift created which allows the ball to climb rapidly after impact. In general, the slower the swing or club speed, the higher the loft of the driver to optimize both carry and roll. Let’s assume for now that you have a 100 mph club speed and your driver launch is 10.0 degrees, as shown in the chart above. Your maximum total distance would be 278 yards. Now, if you could increase the loft to 12.4 degrees, your total distance would increase to 293 yards, in improvement of 15 yards. In the chart on the left, that was gained by improving the attack angle, but that could also be accomplished by increasing the loft of the club from, say 9.0 degrees to 10.5. The same could happen if your launch angle was too high. By lowering your launch angle, you can actually increase the carry distance of your driver. If you have ever been out watering the lawn with a garden hose, you know that you can reach that farthest spot in the corner of your yard if you have just the right launch angle! Same thing with your driver. By optimizing the loft on your driver, you will maximize both the carry distance AND the rollout of your drives. The beauty of today’s modern drivers is that you can usually adjust your driver loft up or down by 1 to 2 degrees. So when you are getting fit for your next driver, you need to know the actual loft of your driver, your launch angle and your attack angle. If you assume that you cannot change your attack angle (we will show you how to do that in the next segment), you need to optimize the effective loft of your driver to give you the best carry and rollout. The image below shows the TrackMan Optimizer which we use to help guide our golfers to the best driver loft. In this case, this customer is leaving 20 yards of distance on the course because he is launching the ball too high.