// Worst Kept Secret In Golf!
What loft is your driver?
9.5°...maybe a 10.5?
What if I told you that what you thought was a 9.5° was actually a 12°? Paying attention now? Whatever loft is written on the sole of your driver is probably wrong. To be more exact, in our study we found that 92% of the time it's wrong!
Shocked? You shouldn’t be: the fact that most OEM drivers are stamped inaccurately is one of the worst kept secrets in golf. But why? We went straight to the biggest names in golf and asked, so check into the "MyGolfSpy Lab" to learn why your 9.5* is probably an 11*…and why that might not be a bad thing.
// The Problem with Buying a Driver
With most things that you buy, you have the ability to verify that you’re getting what you asked for. When you buy a dozen eggs, you can open the carton to verify that you’re not getting eleven eggs instead of twelve. This is not the case when buying a driver. When you buy a driver, you simply have to trust that the manufacturer has accurately labeled the club.
This uncertainty leads to one of the most common rumors in the golf industry: club manufacturers consistently stamp lofts that are lower than the actual loft. We put this rumor to the test by measuring over 100 drivers and comparing the actual loft to the stamped loft. The results will shock you.
*All measuring was done by master club builders on Mitchell loft and lie machines. Any adjustable heads were set to stamped loft/neutral before measuring.
:: Overall companies missed their intended loft 92% of the time.
:: Mizuno was within the standard manufacturing tolerance of (+ or - 1°) 93% of the time.
:: Cobra was only within the standard manufacturing tolerance of (+ or - 1°) 40% of the time.
:: With the exception of Mizuno (0.7*) and Titleist (0.9*), every manufacturer that we tested missed the stamped loft by an average of 1* or more.
:: Only 8% of the drivers tested were accurately stamped for loft.
:: Over 16% of the drivers measured were off by 2° or more. This means you are twice as likely to buy a driver that’s 2° off as you are to buy one that is marked correctly!
:: Cobra had the largest % off by 2° or more with 40%.
:: Only 7 drivers out of 105 had less loft than advertised.
The question that remains is WHY?
The boring half of the answer is that it’s hard to make thousands of drivers with the exact same loft. As a result, club makers accept that there will be some variation from club to club. The industry-standard tolerance is 1° above or below the “target” loft.
Now, if you look at our fancy graphic above, you’ll see that the vast majority have more loft than advertised. Why? Because the stamped loft is not always the target loft.
What is target loft? Glad you asked. The target loft is the loft that the manufacturer wants the club head to have. For example, the target for a “9.5°” might be 11°, so, with a +/- 1° tolerance, you would see club heads ranging from 10° to 12°. That brings us back to the question of “Why?”…
// Loft Issues
Having fit hundreds of golfers, I know firsthand that the average (male) golfer does not want to play more loft on their driver. If I had a dollar for every time I heard one of these…
“I’m more of a 9.5° guy.”
“10.5° seems to go too high.”
“I tried a 10.5°, but I didn’t like it.”
…I’d have a lot of dollars. Like, “sitting on a beach with a briefcase full of money” lot of dollars.
Why the issue with loft? Well a big part of it is rooted in the (inaccurate) perception that the guys on tour all play super low lofts. If the guys on tour play low lofts, you should, too, right? Because, you know, you’re super manly and stuff. WRONG!
First, the guys on tour play more loft than most people realize because they understand that you need loft to create the High Launch/Low Spin conditions that lead to longer drives. You won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t believe me on this, so I asked the guys who build the pros' clubs. Tom Olsavsky, Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods at TaylorMade, told us that “many tour players use 10.5°”.
Second, the guys on tour create WAY MORE club head speed than you. Because of this, their driver needs have as much in common with yours as your physique has in common with LeBron James’, which is to say NOTHING.
So let’s knock it off with the 9.5° stuff, ok?
// The OEMs Know About Your Ego
I’m not the only one who has noticed that golfers don’t like buying more than 9.5° or 10.5° on their driver; the manufacturers know it, too. That’s why your “9.5°” driver is closer to an 11°. (Actually after our study we found the average loft to be 1.02° higher compared to the stamped loft. So your 9.5° is actually more like a 10.52° to be exact.)
Our targets have been historically 0.5-1° weak in loft for drivers and fairways to account for the buying psychology of not buying enough loft. Usually we err on the side of more loft to help golfers, even though they won’t admit that they need more loft. – Tom Olsavsky, Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods at TaylorMade
Why do they do this? Because they know that the average golfer can’t hit a true 9.5° out of their shadow. Combine that with the knowledge that the average golfer isn’t going to buy anything stamped 10.5° or higher, and the companies end up in a situation where they can:
A) Stamp the loft accurately, have you hit it nowhere, and not sell the club
B) Mis-label the club, have you hit it better, and sell the club
If your job is selling clubs, which one would you pick?
// WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
You now know that the loft on the club can vary up or down 1° from the target due to manufacturing tolerances, and the target may not even be the loft stamped on the club. So what should you do with this knowledge? We have two suggestions:
1) Work with a good, reputable club fitter who can measure the actual loft of a driver and get you fit into the club that you need. A launch monitor fitting to assess your loft needs is a must.
2) Buy the club that you used in your fitting. If you were fit with a demo club or a club off of a fitting cart, insist on testing the actual club you are going to purchase before you buy. You may have hit the fitting club well, but it may have an entirely different loft (2° or more) than the club on the rack. A good club fitter will have no problem with you wanting to verify the results.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you care how accurate the stamped loft is? Should the club makers label their drivers accurately? Would you buy a 12° driver? TELL THE MANUFACTURERS WHAT YOU THINK!