If you have found yourself out on the golf course, preparing to take a shot out of a sand trap or over a tree, you may have found yourself wondering, “How can I possibly get the ball high enough?” The answer lies in the concept of loft.
The more loft you can get on the ball, the better you can get the ball up in the air quickly.
To get loft on a golf ball, you will want to choose a club with a high loft, move the ball back in your stance, hit down on the ball, and hit it at full speed with a strong follow-through. Following these tips will help the ball get up into the air quickly, allowing you better control of your shot.
In the rest of this article, we will take a closer look at what you can do when maximizing the amount of loft on your shot. We will explore the concept of loft in terms of the physical equipment in your golf bag as well as what you can do as a player to maximize the trajectory of your shot.
We will also discuss some concrete tips to get you hitting higher the next time you find yourself in a tough spot on the course.
Understanding Your Clubs & Their Loft
When you look at the clubs in a golf bag, you will notice how each club gives a different angle when positioned with the ground. This angle is referred to as “loft” in golf.
These angles are designed in order to get the ball to do different things, depending on the shot. Numbers are assigned to the clubs in order to rank the amount of loft it has.
Essentially, the higher the loft, the higher the trajectory the ball is capable of when hit with that club. This means, when using a club with a high loft, it will go further up into the air but a shorter distance.
Typically, your first shot off the tee will require a low loft club because you are concerned with distance as opposed to height.
As you get closer to the green or encounter varied terrain, you will want to select a club that gives you more loft potential.
When evaluating loft, there are three main categories of clubs we can examine.
- Woods and Drivers are considered low loft clubs, and these are typical choices when the top concern is hitting the ball a long distance.
- Hybrids, Irons, and Wedges are higher loft clubs, and these clubs typically come into play the closer and closer you get to the green.
- Putter, the last category of club, but these are not relevant when it comes to getting loft on a shot.
Club Categories and Measurable Loft
Now let us take a closer look at each category and explore which specific clubs work best in different situations.
The angle measurements provided here will give you an idea of the progression of loft in any particular category of club.
Low Loft Clubs: Woods, Drivers, and Hybrids
Woods are the largest clubheads and are best for hitting the ball long distances. These have low loft and are not designed to hit the ball high, but they are ideal for hitting the ball far. These are often chosen at the beginning of a hole when the distance is the top priority.
Even within the club category of woods, there is a particular club head that possesses the most gentle angle or the lowest loft. This club is the driver. This can also be referred to as a 1 wood and has a measurable loft of 7 to 12 degrees.
Other popular woods that many golfers will carry in their bags are 3 woods and 5 woods. As the number next to the club’s title increases, the angle of the loft increases as well.
For these particular clubs, a 3 wood will have a measurable loft around 15-18 degrees, and the 5 wood should have around 20-22 degrees. You can see the incremental pattern of loft increase as the number of the club increases as well.
Hybrids bring in elements of both woods and irons. The clubhead will resemble that of a wood while the shaft will resemble that of an iron.
These have caught on in popularity because golfers have found these easier to hit than traditional irons. Their loft can be a bit higher than that of a typical wood, but these clubs are still designed for long-distance shots on the fairway.
High Loft Clubs: Irons and Wedges
As you get closer to the green and as you encounter more obstacles, you will be able to choose clubs with higher and higher lofts. This will begin with your set of irons and move on to your wedges.
Irons are still typically used on the fairway when you are no longer hitting off a tee, but you still need to be thinking about distance. You can begin to see the subtle difference in loft with a low numbered iron and can see how this loft increases by the time you get to an 8 iron or 9 iron.
For example, a 4 iron will have a loft around 25 degrees. For a 5 iron, it should measure around 28 degrees, and a 7 iron should be around 34 degrees.
By the time you get to the 9 iron, you will see loft angles of about 41 degrees. These are not absolutes, but these measurements give you an idea of how much the loft changes in one category of clubs.
When it comes to wedges, the loft gets higher and higher. If you are pulling out one of your wedges, you are probably quite close to the green and need a nice trajectory on your shot.
Typical wedges in your bag may include a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and perhaps even a gap wedge.
A pitching wedge will measure in at about 45-50 degrees of loft. Your sand wedge will be around 55-58 degrees. If you have a gap wedge in your bag, this will be at least 50 degrees of loft. The gap wedge loft should be between the loft of your pitching wedge and your sand wedge.
If you do happen to have a lob wedge in your bag, this will have the highest loft of any of the clubs. These usually measure in at about 60 degrees.
These are typically the highest loft clubs you will have access to during your round on the course. Sand wedges are excellent if you found yourself stuck in the bunker and need that lift and power to get back on track.
If you are within 100 yards of the green or so, grabbing your pitching wedge is a good choice.
While putters are an important category of golf clubs, they would simply not be a choice if you are looking to make a shot with high loft.
These are for making shots on the green with no upward trajectory at all. Therefore they are not relevant to our conversation on how to get loft on a golf ball.
Now that we have a better understanding of the concept of loft and how your equipment will directly impact the potential trajectory of your shot, let us take a look at the top 6 tips to increasing your loft on the course.
Choose the Right Club
As we have just explored, to get more loft on the ball, your club choice itself will have an immediate and tangible impact. If you hit the ball in exactly the same way with two clubs with different lofts, you will have two very different shots.
Essentially, once you have hit the ball off the tee, you will need a club that offers loft in order to get the ball off the ground. The amount of loft required will depend on the conditions you find yourself in as well as the distance you are to the green.
Lower irons are a classic choice if you are still a ways from the green, and you can increase the iron loft as you get closer.
Your wedges will offer you the most loft and are especially useful in emergency type scenarios. If you find yourself in a sand trap and you need to get the ball up in the air fast, the high loft of the sand wedge is exactly what you need.
If you tried to use this type of club when not faced with a sand trap, it would most likely be too much loft and not enough distance.
By getting a feel of the clubs in your bag, you will understand better what their loft number feels like on the course. With more experience, you will be able to make an appropriate club choice without much thought. It will become an intuitive reflex that will serve you well on the course.
Position the Ball
Once you have chosen your club, and before you take your swing, you can still make adjustments that will help you increase the loft. In your golf stance, between your front and back foot, you have the power to position your ball in a way that will impact its trajectory.
This is due to the fact that you will bring your club in at a different angle depending on where the ball is in relation to your foot. This angle translates directly to a higher or lower loft.
This brings us into the discussion of a dynamic loft, or the ability to change the amount of loft beyond its clubhead measurement. By adjusting your stance and swing, you will be able to increase or decrease the loft presented by a club at any given moment.
This is happening whether or not you are aware of it, so it is best to grow your awareness and skill in order to have this phenomenon work in your favor.
In order to position the ball in a way to maximize loft, you will want to move it towards your front foot. This will slightly adjust the way you will hit the ball, maximizing the loft potential of your club and sending the ball higher into the air.
Simply put, move the ball towards your front foot for more loft. Move it back towards your back foot of less loft.
But how much is enough? Begin by placing the ball right in the middle of your stance, with an equal distance to the front foot and the back foot.
Now, roll the ball over about one full rotation towards your front foot. This should move it just a few inches, about the size of a ball itself. This is sufficient positioning to increase your loft on your shot.
This is something you can experiment with on the course as well. You can move the ball around in your stance and see the impact it has on the loft of your shot.
The more you get used to the position’s impact on your loft, the more you will get a feel for it, and the more you will be able to create the desired outcome each time you step up to hit.
Hit Down on the Ball
It is a common mistake for beginner golfers to think that they need to somehow hit up with their club to get the ball up in the air.
However, this assumption comes from not understanding the design of the clubhead and the loft that is built into every club in your bag.
Since the clubs are designed at an angle, it is as if they are doing the work for you of hitting the ball up with their angle of impact.
In order to harness the power of a club’s loft, it is actually necessary to hit down on the ball in order to get it to go up. This can be effectively achieved by practicing a powerful, accurate, and efficient golf swing.
In order to do this effectively, fully engage in your backswing and downswing, moving your hips with the natural movements of your arms coming down and through the swing.
Your hips should end facing the direction that you want the ball to go. Fully engaging in the movement of the swing will help you approach the ball in the correct way with your club at the angle it was intended to be used.
If you are struggling with this and find yourself still hitting up on the ball, before you take your swing, visualize yourself following these steps effectively and hitting down on the ball.
Breaking your mental misconception of the physics behind this movement will help remove any unintentional, harmful movement in your swing that comes from this mindset.
Hit at Full Speed
In order to give the ball the velocity and power it needs to get it up in the air, you will need to hit the ball fast and hard.
One way you can be sure your muscle and enthusiasm translate into the right kind of energy being transferred to your ball is to make sure you hit through the entire hitting area with speed and power.
This means that you must maintain your full-power swing through the entire hitting zone where you are making contact with the ball and even beyond it.
Do not back off once your club has made contact, but rather make sure you have a strong follow-through to maximize your loft.
This is important as well as you choose clubs with increased loft. The higher the iron you choose, or if you grab a wedge out of your bag, you will need to increase your power behind each of these shots. The higher the loft of the club, the more speed and power you will need to hit it with.
PGA Professional Rick Shiels gives a lovely demonstration of how to do this effectively in his Youtube video that can be found here:
Finish Your Swing Strong
Once you have made contact with the ball, giving it your best speed and power, make sure you do not give up just yet. Bring that strength all the way through your shot and your follow-through, making sure to end your shot with your hands up over your head.
If you are envisioning your hands ending in this position, it will have an overall beneficial impact on how you are bringing your club through the downswing, giving it the best angle to make contact with the ball.
So, as you step up to hit the ball with a high loft, imagine your hands ending the swing well above your head, and then let this vision become a reality through your powerful swing.
Do not allow yourself to fear the power or back away from the shot too soon. Fully commit to what is necessary and push all the way through. This will give the ball what it needs to get up in the air quickly and effectively.
Now that you have a better understanding of the concept of loft and how to be in better control of your own dynamic loft on the course, there is still one more essential tip: practice.
In order to make this theoretical knowledge useful to you as a golfer, you will need to spend time experimenting and practicing in order to get a real-life feel for each of these concepts.
Experiment with both the loft of the clubs in your bag as well as your ability to influence the dynamic loft. You will get a better sense of how different clubs react to your different positioning and swing and will gather experience that will help you hit the shots the way you want to in the future.
When to Avoid High Loft Shots
After reading this article, you might be excited to hit the course with your high irons and your wedges and practice getting some lofty shots. However, there are also many times that reducing loft on the ball would be advantageous as well.
If the wind is strong, a lot can go wrong if you hit a high loft shot. The higher up the ball goes, the more it will be impacted by the strong wind.
So, if you are out on the course and the wind is blowing hard, consider reversing your knowledge of getting high loft on a ball and instead follow these steps to keep the ball closer to the ground and under better control.
How to Deloft Your Shot
When the conditions call for you to deloft a shot, you can follow the same tips as above, but this time in reverse. This is called delofting a shot.
A simple way to do this is simply choosing a lower iron to immediately take some of the loft potential off of your shot. However, there are ways to decrease the loft of a club without actually exchanging it for a different club altogether.
Dynamic Loft also exists for decreasing the amount of loft you want. You can influence this by moving the ball back a bit in your stance. This will create an impact on how you angle the club towards the ball and will cause it to present with less loft.
In your swing, you can hold back a bit on your speed and range of motion. Imagine hitting with three-quarters of your potential speed and doing the same for the range of your swing.
Do not bring your club all the way into your backswing or follow through. By limiting it a bit, you will keep the ball from getting too high up in the air.
Golf Pros and Driver Loft
An interesting shift has occurred in modern-day golf, where pros are actually choosing drivers with slightly higher loft than has been done in the past.
This goes against the common conception of low loft translating into the greatest distance. With a driver, the priority is usually distance– so why are pros making this shift? Is it something weekend drivers should do as well?
The change has come about through innovation in club head technology. In a large clubhead like a driver or wood, manufacturers have figured out how to manipulate the center of gravity, which makes a direct impact on how much the ball spins.
This means that from company to company, the amount of spin can vary on the same number club head depending on where the center of gravity is.
Another factor impacting the amount of spin on the ball is the golf balls themselves. The way golf balls are being manufactured now is quite different from a few decades ago.
The golf balls that are on the market today do not tend to spin as much as older balls do. This is due to newer, more effective materials and other innovations in design.
So, as golf equipment has improved, the amount of spin on the ball has decreased. This means that adding a bit of loft to your driver is now possible in a way that it was not before.
Doing so would have meant far too much spin on the ball in previous times, but now it is an adjustment that can be made safely.
Guidelines for the Weekend Golfer
For the amateur golfer, your swing speed will be a great determining factor in the loft you want on your driver. Typically, the slower you are swinging, the more loft you will want on your club.
For example, if your average swing speed is somewhere between 95 mph and 104 mph (153 kph and 167 kph), a driver with a loft of around 10 or 11 degrees should suit you well.
If on average, you are hitting the ball faster, you could select a driver with a lower loft. Say your average swing speed is between 105 mph and 115 mph (169 kph and 185 kph); you would be better suited to use a driver with 7 to 9 degrees of loft.
In order to make the best selection, consider going into a golf shop where they will be able to access your personal abilities and make an informed recommendation.
You will also have the benefit of being able to try the different clubs and how they feel in practice.
As a golfer, you have a lot of control when it comes to how much loft you want to get on your shot. You can manipulate this with the club that you choose, the way you place the ball, and how you execute your swing.
You’re able to control the loft in both directions, to add height to the ball’s trajectory, or to do the reverse and hit it lower to the ground.
By understanding the concepts and following the tips here, you’ll be able to better understand how to approach any shot depending on the amount of loft that will bring you success on that hole.