Frankly speaking – golf swing and related distance – Brief Article
All other factors being equal, does less loft on a driver mean more distance? For example, with a solid swing and a clubface square at impact, would a 9-degree driver send the ball farther than a 10-degree driver?
Erin Furey, Cleveland
It depends on your swing speed and the angle at which the clubhead approaches the ball. With a lower swing speed–less than 90 mph or so–it is generally better to get the ball launched higher, so use more loft to get more distance. For higher swing speeds, the optimal launch angle for maximum distance is around 12 degrees. (Most pros hit their 7- or 9-degree drivers slightly on the upswing.)
Why does a hook go farther than a slice? I’ve been told it’s due to overspin (a bogus answer, since only a topped ball has overspin) and because the ball is hit lower (more plausible). The factor that seems most reasonable to me is that hooks seem to be more solid hits than are slices. Can you give a definitive answer?
Jim Budelman, Cary, N.C.
If the launch conditions of a hook or a slice were mirror images, then there would be no difference in trajectory or distance. But a draw is launched faster than a fade. This is generally the result of a better strike with less loft, a lower trajectory and, in most cases, less spin (not overspin, as you say). This combination of launch conditions should almost always result in more distance for a draw than a fade.
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