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When it comes to drivers, the two most popular loft options are 9 and 10.5 degrees. The best choice for you will depend on a number of factors, but in this post, we’ll be talking about what loft is best for the average golfer.
For the average recreational golfer with an average swing speed, a 10.5-degree driver will likely perform the best. The average distance will be very close between them, but a 10.5-degree driver will be more forgiving and will hit more fairways.
Again, it’ll depend on your skill level, swing speed, and launch angle. Better players with faster swing speeds will probably prefer a lower lofted driver. The average player shoots above 90 and swings the club less than 95 MPH, and if that’s the case, 10.5 degrees is a good starting point.
Is A 9 Or 10.5 Degree Driver Better?
The ideal driver loft depends on your swing speed and the attack angle. Average players that swing the club less than 95 MPH will likely find that a 10.5-degree driver performs the best. Better players who can control their drives and want the most distance will lean more toward a 9-degree driver.
I had always heard that more loft equals more forgiveness, but I never actually tried it out for myself. I got a new driver recently that can be adjusted between 9 and 12 degrees, so I wanted to see what would work best for me.
What I decided to do was take 10 shots with each loft to see what hit the ball the longest and which hit more fairways. For me, hitting more fairways is the most important.
When it comes to drivers, the best loft will depend on:
- Your swing speed
- The launch/attack angle
- Your ball control
Having a driver with less loft will require more speed to get the most out of it. If your swing speed isn’t fast enough then you’ll likely get lower shots that won’t go as far.
You also need to look at the angle your driver hits the ball. Do you hit the ball on the downswing? Do you hit the ball on the upswing? Or maybe you hit it somewhere in the middle.
If you have a 9-degree driver and you hit the ball on the downswing, you probably won’t get much distance. More loft will be your friend here.
Obviously, the best thing to do is test them out for yourself and see what works. Most drivers are adjustable, so it shouldn’t be hard to figure it out. According to a few people I talked to, picking the right shaft for your driver makes the most difference.
9 vs 10.5 Degrees: Distance
To figure out what driver loft was right for me, I took 10 shots with each loft and recorded how far each shot went. Here are the shots:
|9 Degree Driver||Distance||10.5 Degree Driver||Distance|
|Average Distance||253 yards||Average Distance||249 yards|
So, what is the distance between a 9 and 10.5-degree driver? For average golfers, the distance between a 9 and 10.5-degree driver will be between 3-5 yards. For me, a 9-degree driver rolled a bit more, which gave me an extra 4 yards on average.
With a 9 degree driver, my average distance was 253 yards. My longest hit was 270 yards while my shortest was 230 yards. The slightly lower ball flight made the ball roll a little longer, and that’s where the distance came from.
If you live in a really dry area then you might get an even higher number. It’s pretty wet here so the ball doesn’t roll down the fairway that much. If you’re curious about how far most people drive the ball, you can see the average driver distance by age here.
With a 10.5 degree driver, my average distance was 249 yards. The longest drive was 265 yards while the shortest was 220 yards (bit of a heavy shot). The ball went slightly higher, but it wasn’t a huge difference.
My initial thoughts were that the 10.5-degree driver would hit the ball farther because it launched the ball higher. That clearly wasn’t the case for me. My swing speed is a bit faster than the average weekend player, but if it was slower, I think more loft would have benefitted me.
Since the distances were very close, it would all come down to what hit more fairways. Let’s take a look at how they compared when it comes to accuracy.
9 vs 10.5 Degrees: Accuracy
The most important thing for me is actually hitting the fairway and setting up a good second shot. If you’re always hitting your second shot from the rough, it’ll be really tough to put up some good scores.
After the 10 shots, I wanted to see how many hit the fairway and what the dispersion was (distance between the most left and most right shot). Let’s start with the 9-degree driver:
|9 Degree Driver||Fairway Hit?|
|Shot Dispersion||90 yards|
Out of the 10 shots, 5 of them hit the fairway, which is pretty average for mid handicappers. Some of the shots did curve a bit more than I’d like, but the distance between the most left and most right ball was 90 yards. Now, let’s look at the 10.5-degree driver:
|10.5 Degree Driver||Fairway Hit?|
|Shot Dispersion||75 yards|
Out of the 10 shots, 6 of them hit the fairway, which is a bit better than before. I noticed right away that the ball didn’t curve quite as much, and that decreased the dispersion to 75 yards.
So, is it harder to hit a 9 or 10.5-degree driver? The average golfer with an average swing speed will have an easier time hitting a 10.5-degree driver. More loft will increase forgiveness, will straighten out your drives, and will require less club speed to get the ball in the air.
Since the distance between the two lofts was pretty close and the 10.5-degree was a bit straighter, the choice for me is the higher loft. Better players might not feel the same, but for average players, loft is your friend.
Who Is A 9 Degree Driver For?
A 9-degree driver will be best for golfers who have an upward angle of attack on the golf ball. Hitting the ball on an upward angle with a lower lofted driver will increase distance and lower spin.
The way to get the most distance out of your driver is to use less loft and make contact on an upward angle. This will decrease the amount of ball spin and will roll down the fairway longer.
The reason average players probably shouldn’t use a 9-degree driver is that they don’t hit the ball at an upward angle. Most people hit downwards on the ball just like they would with an iron. That’s one of the reasons you get big hooks and slices. You can see how backspin and sidespin affect a golf ball here.
Hitting a 9-degree driver on a downward angle with an average swing speed probably won’t give you enough distance. Swing speed is another factor that helps figure out what loft to use.
What swing speed is best for a 9-degree driver? For the majority of golfers, having a swing speed of 105 MPH will be best for a 9-degree driver. A 105 MPH swing speed with an upward angle of attack will result in more distance and straighter shots for a lot of golfers.
Who Is A 10.5 Degree Driver For?
A 10.5-degree driver will be best for golfers who have a slower swing speed or don’t hit the ball on an upward attack angle. Average golfers typically hit downwards on the ball and they don’t have the fastest swing speed, and since that’s the case, a 10.5-degree driver is likely the choice.
For me, my swing speed is somewhere around 95 MPH. That’s right on the edge of which driver will give you the most distance. After testing it out for myself, the 9-degree driver gave me slightly more distance (but not much).
What swing speed is best for a 10.5-degree driver? For the majority of golfers, having a swing speed less than 95 MPH will be best for a 10.5-degree driver. Having more loft will help get the ball in the air and will give the majority of average players more distance off the tee.
If you hit the ball on a downward or flat angle, 10.5 degrees of loft will help get the ball in the air. This was the case for me and is what I see quite often for the average hacker.
How Far Should You Hit A 9 Degree Driver?
On average, golfers who use a 9-degree driver hit the ball 273 yards but can range between 225 and over 300 yards. Typically, golfers who use a lower lofted driver are better than average golfers, and that’s why the average driving distance is high.
To figure out the average number, I found 10 different golfers who use a 9-degree driver and asked how far they normally hit the ball. Here are the numbers they gave me:
As you can see, the average distance was 273 yards. That’s quite a bit higher than the average player, but I don’t think it’s quite accurate. Here’s why.
I’m sure these numbers are rough estimates and I’m sure the “average” number doesn’t take into account topped or chunked shots. These numbers are probably the average of their well-struck shots.
If you took into account mishits, I’m pretty sure the average number would be 10-15 yards less. As long as you’re somewhere close to 250-275, you’re probably close to average. You can see the average driving distance by age here.
The reason this number is a bit higher is that better players normally use a lower lofted driver. They also tend to hit the ball on an upward angle of attack. Both of those add distance (and it’s not common for the average golfer).
How Far Should You Hit A 10.5 Degree Driver?
On average, golfers who use a 10.5-degree driver hit the ball 237 yards but can range between 210 and 280 yards. The reason the gap is so high is that each golfer swings the club at a different speed, they hit the ball at different attack angles, and they hit the face of the club in different spots.
To figure out the average numbers, I found 10 different golfers that use a 10.5-degree driver. I asked what their average distances were and these are the responses I got:
As you can see, the average number is 237 yards. Just like before, I don’t think this number is that accurate, and I’m sure the average is somewhere around 10-15 yards less. That brings the number down to 222-227 yards, which is very close to the average across all golfers.
The reason this number probably isn’t true is that mishits aren’t taken into account. If you hit the ground before the ball and only hit the ball 180 yards, that brings the average down a lot (and I’m sure people don’t take that into account).
237 yards is probably the average distance for well-struck shots. As long as you’re somewhere between 220-240 yards, you’re going to be in good shape compared to the rest of the golfers on the course.
Do Any Pros Use A 9 Degree Driver?
- Tony Finau.
- Kevin Na.
- Francesco Molinari.
- Tiger Woods.
- Matthew Wolff.
- Louis Oosthuizen.
Do Any Pros Use A 10.5 Degree Driver?
- Jon Rahm.
- Marc Leishman.
- Dustin Johnson.
- Brooks Koepka.
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