Golf Club Specs: Loft Angles
A golf club’s loft is the angle of the clubface plane to a line perpendicular with the ground. Hence, if the club’s face is parallel to the ground, the club’s loft is 90 degrees, while a clubface that is straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground, has no loft, or zero degrees of loft.
A club’s loft affects the ball’s flight in many ways, including launch angle, trajectory, spin rate, and, most importantly, distance. The higher the degree of loft, the higher the ball will fly, resulting in less horizontal distance. Therefore, lower lofted clubs will tend to hit the ball farther than higher lofted clubs.
For this reason, many club manufacturers have lowered the standard loft of their irons to increase distance. For example, the standard loft of a pitching wedge is 48 degrees, but in many of today’s iron sets its actual loft is 45-46 degrees. While increased distance is a major selling point for consumers, they should focus instead on consistent distance gapping between clubs, especially in the critical range of 150 yards and in.
A club may or may not indicate the degrees of loft on the club itself. However, it is common to see the loft of the 1-wood stamped on the sole.
As wedges are becoming more and more specialized, the exact loft of a wedge is frequently indicated somewhere on the clubhead to help the golfer determine exactly which wedges he prefers to carry.
Although lofts vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it’s important to understand the most common lofts for woods and wedges, as indicated in the standard lofts chart below.
Standard lofts for woods and wedges:
1-wood = 9-11 degrees
3-wood = 13-15 degrees
5-wood = 18-20 degrees
7-wood = 21-23 degrees
Pitching wedge (PW) = 48 degrees
Gap wedge (GW) = 52 degrees
Sand wedge (SW) = 56 degrees
Lob wedge (LW) = 60 degrees