Loft is your friend

So I caught a little of the end of the PGA Tour event yesterday and watched Carl Pettersson win for the fifth time on tour.

He’s an interesting player. There are the tinted glasses, the super-long broomstick and the fact that he is among a smaller and smaller group of guys on tour who don’t appear to live in the fitness trailer. He even admits to liking a bit of beer.

But none of that is what I think is most interesting about his game. What I find both interesting and surprising is that he won yesterday while playing a driver with 11.5 degrees of loft. Yes, you read that correctly. It says 11.5 degrees of loft. You can see what else is in his bag here.

I have not always been the biggest fan of loft. I loved 8.5 degree drivers, maybe 9 degrees. Part of that is because my whacky swing allows me to hit it really high. It’s great at times, but can also be a curse. Let’s just say I’m not exactly the greatest wind player.

But studies have shown that more loft, for many players, equals more carry. And that equals more distance to a certain extent. And more loft also generally equals less side spin, meaning straighter shots. For a long time, the perception was that loft was only really needed by higher handicap players and that it was something that better players didn’t need. Clearly that isn’t the case. Loft can help good players as well. I currently have a driver that has 9.5 degrees of loft, but have had a couple of late with 10.5.

It takes a little while to get used to hitting it that high, but it quickly becomes fun to hit high, long bombs down the fairway.

The side note here is that I played with Carl a few times when I lived in Raleigh and he was a senior at N.C. State. The Wolfpack players would sometimes be out at the club I belonged at and I would play some holes in the evening with them. He’s a very nice guy and I was happy for him that he won.

But I still can’t believe he hits an 11.5 degree driver.

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