If your golf handicap index is 20 or greater, you’re typically considered a high-handicap golfer. This means you likely swing the club slower and with less accuracy than lower handicap players. These factors help determine your choice of clubs. You probably use game improvement irons, for example, which are more forgiving of poorly hit balls. Consider using a driver with plenty of loft to help your tee shots fly higher and straighter.
A club’s loft is a measure of the clubface’s angle relative to the ground when the clubhead’s sole is horizontal. In general, balls travel higher when struck with greater lofted clubs, but may not travel as far. Additionally, higher shots contain less side spin, so players who tend to hook or slice the ball should play clubs with greater than average lofts. The driver is the lowest lofted wood; each higher numbered wood within a set features progressively more loft. Professional and low-handicap players with high swing speeds, for example, typically use drivers with little loft, often less than 10 degrees.
All high-handicap players aren’t created equal. You may hit the driver fairly well, for example, but have trouble with your short game. To help determine the specifications you should look for in a driver, have a club fitter test your swing speed. The lower your swing speed, the more difficult it is to hit the ball in the air. Therefore, players with low swing speeds require more loft in their drivers.
Ideally, you’ll be fitted for clubs by a professional who’ll help you choose the correct loft. But if you’re on your own, consider that, at a typical women’s swing speed of 60 to 70 mph, you should choose a well-lofted driver. Don’t use anything with less than 13 degrees of loft in your driver, although you’ll probably do better at around 20 degrees. Unless you have a swing speed well above average, and consistently hit the ball in the fairway off the tee, a club with more loft will help you hit tee shots higher, farther and straighter.
Teeing the ball correctly can also help you hit the ball in the air. The rule of thumb is that half the ball should be visible above the clubface if you place the club next to your ball after teeing it up. Additionally, play the ball opposite your front heel. The combination of a forward ball position and a properly teed ball means you’ll strike the ball on a slight upswing.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.