The degree of a club’s loft angle is relative to the vertical plane rather than the ground. The more loft a club has, the higher the trajectory of the ball it hits and the higher the number assigned to the club.
|Golf Club||Drivers||Fairway Woods||Hybrids||Irons||Wedges|
|Loft||9-12 degrees||15-24 degrees||14-30 degrees||20-42 degrees||45-60 degrees|
A driver has the longest shaft and the lowest loft of all golf club types. This combination can make the driver the most difficult club to hit accurately. Typically, the driver comes in a loft of 9 to 12 degrees. Beginners and high-handicap golfers should stick with a driver with a higher loft, while more advanced players may be able to handle a loft of 9.5 degrees or less.
The 3- and 5-wood are carried by many golfers. Some prefer a 7- or even a 9-wood, because they tend to be more forgiving of mishits. The 3-wood typically has a loft angle from 15 to 18 degrees, the 5-wood has a loft from 20 to 22 degrees, and the 7- and 9-woods have a loft of at least 24 degrees. The lower-lofted woods also have longer shafts. Beginners and high-handicap golfers generally find that a higher-lofted wood is easier to handle because of the shorter shaft, although it will not provide the distance of a 3- or 5-wood.
Hybrids combine features of both woods and irons. They have a flat face and even weight distribution like an iron, and a wide sole like a fairway wood. Golfers often use hybrids to replace lower-lofted irons such as the 3-, 4- and even 5-iron. Hybrids also can replace woods, because they tend to be easier to hit accurately. Hybrid lofts typically range from 14 to 30 degrees.
The traditional iron set ranges from the low-lofted 3-iron to the higher-lofted 9-iron. Loft angles of specific clubs may vary between manufacturers. Long irons (2-, 3-, and 4-iron) traditionally range from around 20 degrees for the 3-iron to 25 degrees for the 4-iron. Because the 2-iron has such a low loft, it is seldom used. Many golfers have started replacing these with hybrids. The typical loft angle for middle irons (5-, 6- and 7- irons) ranges from 28 to 34 degrees. Due to their loft and the distances they can achieve, these clubs are the most useful on the fairway. Short irons are high-lofted clubs ranging from 37 to 42 degrees. Because of their high loft, these irons tend to be the easiest to hit.
Wedges are specialized irons for use close to the green. A pitching wedge is usually included in a set of irons with a loft of around 45 to 50 degrees. A sand wedge is also usually included in an iron set, and it can be lofted around 54 to 58 degrees. Gap wedges, purchased separately, are lofted at 50 degrees or more. The key is to purchase a gap wedge that has a loft in between that of your pitching wedge and sand wedge. Advanced players sometimes carry a lob wedge, which will have a very high loft (around 58 to 60 degrees) for a short, controlled shot that stops on the green quickly. Most players favor a 4-degree loft gap between wedges.
Over the years, some manufacturers have changed the loft assigned to their clubs. This is possible because there is no “official” loft for each type of club. So, the 8-iron of yesteryear can become the 9-iron of today. If you’ve ever wondered why you used to hit an old 8-iron 120 yards, and today you only need a 9-iron to achieve the same distance, compare the loft on each club.