The Complete Golf Club Loft Guide

How well do you understand your golf equipment? Do you know the difference between a 7-iron and a 5-iron? Do you know when you should use them, and why?

Well, if you want to be any good at golf, you kind of should.

Being knowledgeable about your golf clubs can do wonders to help you score better on the course. Learn to properly use the golf club loft and watch your golf handicap drop. Simple.

Plus – golf clubs are pretty expensive. Make sure you actually understand what you are buying!

We answer all of your golf club loft questions below, including:

  • Why understanding golf club loft is important
  • The loft of every club in your bag
  • How to build the perfect set of clubs
  • How you can use golf club loft to give yourself more options on the course
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What Is Golf Club Loft And Why Is It Important?

The term ‘golf club loft’ describes the angle created between the clubface and the ground

The rules of golf state that you are allowed to carry up to 14 golf clubs. So, what are – or should be – the primary differences between the clubs in your bag?

Unless you’re Bryson DeChambeau, the length of your clubs will vary. The driver is the longest club in your bag and the putter is the shortest. The clubheads are shaped differently and your clubs are different weights.

Yep, clubs vary in a number of ways – but the different golf club lofts are why you carry 14 of them.

The loft is the primary reason that different golf clubs go different distances. The more loft the higher the golf ball will fly and the shorter it will travel.

There is a strategy involved in how you pick the 14 clubs you are going to use on the course. And a lot of it comes down to club loft.

You must understand golf club loft when building your set. A common mistake is carrying two clubs that travel the same distance.

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For example, you don’t need both a 3-iron and a 3-hybrid. Yes, they look different but if they both travel the same distance you are wasting a “slot” in your bag.

Scratch golfers know this fact. You want to use your 14-clubs to cover as many yardages as possible.

Related Article: Parts of a Golf Club Explained & Diagrams

Golf Club Loft: Drivers & Fairway Woods

Let’s start with the longest clubs in your bag (both in length and distance you can hit the golf ball).

Driver: 8.5 – 10.5 degrees of loft

The vast majority of drivers will fall within this range, but you can find or customize to a different loft. We have seen drivers with 5 degrees to 12 degrees of loft.

Unless you are being custom fit for clubs, we would recommend you stay within the typical range.

Fairway Woods:

  • 3-wood: 15 degrees of loft
  • 5-wood: 19 degrees of loft

These are the most common fairway woods used by golfers, but you can find 2-woods, 4-woods, and even 7-woods.

Building the perfect set of clubs for your golf game is a bit of a puzzle. Which 14 give you the best chance to play well?

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Golf Club Loft: Set of Irons

When you purchase a set of irons you will typically receive 6-8 clubs. Each club will have a 3-4 degree difference in the loft.

Three to four degrees of golf club loft typically equals approximately 10-15 yards of distance.

You may find that a set of PING irons has slightly different golf club lofts than a set of Mizuno irons.

The details we highlight below are typical, but we recommend you confirm the loft of the clubs you are using (they may or may not have this information on the clubhead).

Irons:

  • 3-iron: 21 degrees of loft
  • 4-iron: 25 degrees of loft
  • 5-iron: 28 degrees of loft
  • 6-iron: 31 degrees of loft
  • 7-iron: 34 degrees of loft
  • 8-iron: 37 degrees of loft
  • 9-iron: 41 degrees of loft
  • Pitching Wedge: 45 degrees of loft

You can find 1-irons and 2-irons, but they are challenging to hit and are rarely included in a standard set.

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Golf Club Loft: Wedges

Related Article: Golf Wedges Explained: Which Should You Carry?

Your set of irons will normally come with a pitching wedge – but that doesn’t mean you are done with this type of golf club.

Some golfers carry as many as 5 wedges, but the typical player uses 3-4.

We consider wedges multi-purpose “scoring” clubs.

You use them for full shots once you are within 100 yards of the green. You use them to chip around the green and to escape from sand traps.

Wedges:

  • Gap (Attack) Wedge: 50 – 52 degrees of loft
  • Sand Wedge: 55 – 58 degrees of loft
  • Lob Wedge: 60 – 64 degrees of loft

Phil Mickelson made the 64-degree wedge popular by using one to hit his famous flop shot.

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When you shop for wedges you will notice the golf club loft is listed on the wedge. You have flexibility in what lofts you want.

The key is to give yourself options once you are close to the green.

Golf Club Loft: Specialty Clubs

We are almost done, but there are a few additional club types that we haven’t covered yet.

Hybrids

The “hybrid” golf club gained popularity in the early 2000s and now most golfers have at least one in their set.

They are designed to replace your long irons (3-iron, 4-iron, 5-iron). Most players find them easier to hit, especially out of bad lies.

The lofts will be consistent with the irons they replace in your bag:

  • 3-hybrid: 20 degrees of loft
  • 4-hybrid: 24 degrees of loft
  • 5-hybrid: 27 degrees of loft

If you don’t already use one, we recommend you add a hybrid to your bag!

Related Article: Learn How To Break 80 In Golf With These 4 Tricks

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Driving Irons

Driving irons are a relatively new club to the game of golf. They are designed to be used off the tee when the hole is too tight (or short) for driver.

They are popular on the PGA tour and typically used by more advanced players.

The golf club loft of a driving iron will be between 18 and 22 degrees. Similar to a 2-iron or 3-iron.

For most players, a driving iron will produce a low, straight shot. They can be helpful on windy days and tight courses.

Putter

Have you ever considered the golf club loft of your putter? Did you simply assume your putter had zero degrees of loft?

The loft of your putter is important to help get your ball off the ground at impact and rolling smoothly. Too much or too little loft will cause the ball to bounce.

Putters typically have 2 – 4 degrees of loft. World-famous putter designer Scotty Cameron believes that 3.5 degrees is the perfect loft for most players.

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How To Build the Perfect Set of Clubs

During this article, we’ve talked about 20+ golf clubs but you can only carry 14 during a round of golf.

But how do you pick the perfect 14 for your golf game? Which clubs in your collection should make the “cut”?

First, make sure that every club in your bag travels a different distance. This gives you more options on the course.

Verify the golf club loft and test them out on the range. If two clubs do the same thing, you don’t need them both.

Pay attention when you play. Do you have clubs in your bag that you rarely use? If so, they are candidates to be replaced.

Finally, your 14 clubs can change based on the course or weather conditions.

A windy day may require a driving iron, but you might play a short course better with an extra wedge in your bag.

Picking the “correct 14” based on your course management plan will produce lower scores.

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3 Tips To Use Golf Club Loft To Your Advantage

#1: Let The Loft Do The Work

Never try to force the golf ball into the air. You don’t need to lift the ball with your swing.

Let the golf club loft do the work.

It may sound counterintuitive, but you want to hit down on the ball and let the loft of the club get it up to the appropriate height.

Trust your golf equipment and you will hit better golf shots.

#2: Understanding Loft Can Help You Escape From Trouble

The ability to escape from trouble on the golf course separates great players from good players.

You will hit bad shots and find yourself out of position. How do you hit your next shot under that tree limb? How do you escape and try to save par?

Pick your club based on the loft. Don’t try to manipulate the clubface of your 7-iron to keep it under the branch. Instead, use your 5-iron. It was designed to go lower.

Related Article: Golf Out Of Bounds Rules: Escape Golf Course Trouble

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Use the golf club loft to make the shot easier. Get back in the fairway and continue your round.

#3: Be Creative Around the Greens

Just because you need to chip the ball on the green doesn’t mean you have to use a pitching wedge.

Be creative – you have fourteen different clubs with different golf club lofts. Which one works the best for your next shot? You have options:

  • A bump-n-run with your 7-iron
  • A putting stroke with your hybrid or 3-wood

Learn to be creative with your short game and save more pars. Try hitting different types of chips during your practice time.

Every situation and shot on the course is unique. The more options you have the better.

The Complete Golf Club Loft Guide

What Other Golf Equipment Do You Need To Enjoy The Game?

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Ray has played golf for over 30 years and competed at the collegiate level. He enjoys growing the game of golf through coaching PGA Jr. and High School golf teams. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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