A customer recently asked me to check the loft of his Cobra driver as he was wondering why he was hitting drives so high when set at 10.5 degrees. It actually measured 12.5 degrees which explained the high ball flight. On the lowest loft setting of 8.5 degrees it measured 11.3 degrees, so at least this improved his ball flight and he could then brag he was able to hit an 8.5 degree driver. This didn’t surprise me as Cobra drivers have a reputation for being significantly more lofted than their stated value. However Cobra is not the only OEM company guilty of this. MyGolfSpy showed that Callaway and Ping have equally suspect driver lofts
OEM companies will say that to maintain current price points they have to work to tolerances of +/- 1 deg. That is understandable. This means a 10 deg. driver should have a loft within a range of 9 – 11 degrees. However in our experience it is rare for a driver loft to be less than the stated value so it appears these OEMs are purposely adding loft to their drivers. Their logic might be that whilst most amateurs would like to be seen using a 9 degree driver, they would benefit from playing with 11 degrees or more. However rather than solving a problem they are just creating another one because not every player needs more loft and the confusion of not knowing the true driver loft is just adding to the problem. The golfing public would be much better served if the measured loft was closer to that stated on the club.
Whilst at St Andrews, AGT offered Trackman troubleshooting sessions and a common request was to investigate high ball flight from drivers. Our first step was to check the driver loft and invariably the loft was higher than that stated on the club. In one instance the player had a Mizuno driver which measured 2 degrees more than the stated loft. This was before driver loft could be adjusted so he took the driver back to his pro and asked for a replacement driver with the correct loft. The following week I received a call from a Mizuno representative criticising us for measuring the driver loft. He said, “Surely you know that the stated loft on our drivers doesn’t mean much. We used to keep to the stated loft but we found that Callaway’s drivers were outperforming ours because they were adding loft, so we now do the same.” I told him that was his problem not ours and that in this case their elevated loft was causing too high a ball flight from increased launch angle and spin, so we felt the customer’s complaint was justified. On another similar occasion a customer took a driver back to Auchterlonies in St Andrews and as a result Callaway instructed us (the Scottish Callaway Performance Centre) never to check the loft of Callaway driver, even if the customer requested it. They didn’t want any customers asking for replacement clubs because of erroneous lofts.
It could be argued that the current trend of adjustable hosels allows golfers to vary their driver loft 1 or 2 degrees and that the stated loft is irrelevant, as in the case of our Cobra customer. However it was only by measuring his driver loft that we put his mind at ease since he didn’t think he was capable of hitting a true 8.5 degree driver. Much of golf is played in the mind, so confusing the player is just adding to the problem, not resolving it.
Our solution to the problem
Here is what we would suggest:
1. Equipment manufacturers should ensure that their driver lofts are within +/- 1 degree of the stated loft on the club. If you buy a club off- the-shelf then that is what you should expect to get. If the loft is found to be outwith this range then the customer should have a justifiable complaint.
2. Equipment manufacturers should carefully check the driver lofts on their fitting clubs at authorised dealers or national performance centres, in order to make sure that they are within 0.2 degrees of what is stated on the club. Otherwise the custom fitting process is at best misleading and at worst totally pointless.
3. If a player has been fitted for a driver at an authorised dealer or national performance centre, then the clubhead selected for his/her custom build should be measured for loft to make sure it matches the loft in the fitting spec. with the same tolerance of +/- 0.2 deg. Even if there was a minor charge for this then I am sure the customer wouldn’t complain.
This driver loft problem has existed for far too long. It is about time that equipment manufacturers accepted responsibility for correct product description and stop misleading or confusing the golfing public. Surely this is in the player’s best interests and should help to avoid unnecessary customer complaints in the future.