What Is Loft (or Loft Angle) in Golf Clubs?

An illustration of loft angle in golf clubs

"Loft angle" - which most golfers shorten to just "loft" - is an important measurement (in degrees) applied to the clubheads of all golf clubs. Technically, loft angle is the angle formed by a line that runs down the center of shaft and a line running down the face of the club.

Not-so-technically, you can think of loft in these ways:

  • Loft is how much the face of a club is angled upward;
  • Or loft is how much the top of the clubface is angled back from the shaft.

The clubface of a golf club with a higher number of degrees of loft will look more horizontally angled compared to the face of a golf club with a lower number of degrees (which will appear closer to vertical).

  • Usage examples: "How many degrees of loft do you have on your driver?" "My lob web is lofted at 64 degrees."

The Effect of Loft on Golf Shots

It makes sense that a golf club with a lower loft - say, 23 degrees - will make the ball go farther than one with a higher loft (say, 36 degrees). It also makes sense that the 36-degree club in our example will cause the golf ball to rise into the air on a steeper angle and descend on a steeper angle than the 23-degree club. Right?

Right. That's because of the obvious reason: More loft means the face of the club is angled back more - more horizontally oriented, you might say. Lower loft is closer to vertical, higher loft is closer to horizontal. Higher loft means the clubface is pointing more upward, so the ball goes up and down more sharply.

So loft gives you an idea of how far the ball will go and the type of trajectory the shot will have.

Loft Angle From Club to Club

The club in the loft angle illustration on this page is a wedge, which are the golf clubs with the highest degrees of loft (lob wedges get into the mid- to upper 60s in degrees of loft). Putters have the least loft, usually from 2 to 4 degrees. Among full-swing clubs, drivers have the lowest degrees of loft (some pros use drivers with as little as 7 degrees of loft; most recreational golfers use drivers lofted at 9 to 14 degrees).

In a typical golf set, loft increases as shaft length decreases. The driver has the longest shaft and least amount of loft; the lob wedge has the shortest shaft and most amount of loft. A 3-iron has less loft than a 4-iron, which as left loft than a 5-iron, and so on.

Making Loft Angle Stronger or Weaker

Sometimes you'll hear a golfer say something like, "I had my lofts strengthened by 2 degrees," or a TV announcer say, "He weakened the loft on his irons by 1 degree." What does that mean? What are "stronger" and "weaker" lofts?

A stronger loft - or strengthening your loft - means that a clubfitters had literally bent the golf club(s) in question to reduce the amount of loft. (Not all golf clubs can be bent in such a way; it's typically done only in irons and may depend on the type of hosel used.) Bending a club from 26 degrees of loft o 25 degrees is "strengthening the loft" by 1 degree.

Making the loft weaker is the opposite. A golf club bent to add more loft - changing a pitching wedge from 45 degrees to 47 degrees - is an example of "weakening the loft."

Clearly, beginning golfers and recreational golfers don't need to worry about stronger and weaker lofts. But very good golfers - pros, low-handicappers - plus golfers who just loft to tinker with the technical details of their clubs sometimes do adjust the loft angles on their clubs through a visit with a clubfitter.