Do Lower Lofts mean More Distance?

It is true to a point that a driver with a lower lofted head will result in greater distance from the tee, the same goes for fairway woods, hybrids and irons?

Even with the clubhead speed of a Bubba Watson, there is a point that the driver loft will be too low even for him to generate his longest driving distance.

For Bubba that loft number is a single digit; but for those of us with much slower clubhead speeds, to achieve our maximum possible distance we need more loft, and one that for many club golfers is a number with a “teen” after it.

This may sound counter intuitive, so Ill explain it this way. Imagine having a garden hose turned on full blast and trying to get as much distance as possible out of the water spray.

Now suppose someone turns the water pressure down and you see the loss of distance in the spray. What do you do to try to get some of that distance back – you raise the angle of the nozzle!!!

It’s the same with the driver. If you have a golfer with a very high clubhead speed (i.e. the hose on full blast) they’ll need a lower loft to get maximum distance.

For a slower clubhead speed (i.e. the water pressure is lower) they’ll need a higher loft to get more distance.

What you CANNOT do is match a low clubhead speed with a low lofted driver!

That’s the equivalent of lowering the water pressure and lowering the nozzle angle and wondering why the water isn’t going as far.

So, what do the average clubhead speeds look like? Here are some industry stats to give an indication.

  • Average Lady Golfer: 65 mph
  • Average Male Golfer: 87 mph
  • Average Lady Tour Player: 95 mph
  • Average Male Tour Player: 113 mph
  • Female Long Drive Competitors: 105-120 mph
  • Male Long Drive Competitors 135-155 mph

In the chart below, cross reference the loft and swing speed to arrive at the longest distance denoted by the highest figure. Notice how the slower the clubhead speed and the higher the loft is required to maximise the distance and the opposite for the higher swing speeds. The distance figures are based on a level angle of attack.


A golfer will not achieve the maximum carry distance with any loft lower than 15 degrees until their clubhead speed (with control) gets at or near 90 mph. And this is the reason why many golfers hit their fairway wood further than their driver!!!

Note: the total distance shown here are achieved using a level angle of attack into the ball with average fairway  conditions at sea level. For an upward angle of attack consider a lower loft and conversely for a downward angle of attack consider a higher loft.

In the summer months on a fast running course you may be able to achieve more distance with 1 or 2 degrees less loft so consider purchasing a driver with an adjustable loft.