Effective Loft Part I of III

This is Part 1 of a three part series discussing the phenomenon called “effective loft.” which is a relationship between the club’s loft and its face angle. Effective loft pertains more to clubs with a wood-shape such as a driver, fairway or hybrid club, but could be included to relate to any clubhead. With the introduction of interchangeable adapters to not only change shafts, but the face angle and lie angle (like the Dynacraft Prophet ICT) is will be important for golfer to understand some basic principles. First, let’s review what each of these parameters is individually starting with loft.

Loft
There are number methods and devises used to measure the loft of a clubhead.  But the most trusted measurement is obtained in a specification gauge or spec gauge for short.

A spec gauge will have some sort of fixture to ensure that the shaft’s axis will be form a 90° angle to the base plate on the gauge once the lie angle on the gauge has been properly set.

Unlike an iron or wedge with a narrow sole where the club is set to a square position to reference the loft, a wider shaped clubhead like a driver will want to naturally rest on the Valentines Day Golf Special
ground into a certain position.  This is what we will call as its “normal soled position”.  As the modern club has a more radius sole, there is a little “wiggle room” as to what the normal soled position is compared to the days when the soles were nearly perfectly flat.  That is, have two people measure a club in the same apparatus and you might get two slightly different readings.

With the shaft perpendicular the spec gauge’s base and the club sitting in the normal soled positioned a protractor is used to measure the loft.  The angle created by the club face (the red line in the diagram) is the loft.  Because many wood-shaped clubs have a curvature on the face from top to bottom (called roll), it is imperative that the loft is measured at the center of the club face with the loft protractor. Any readings below the center of the face may result into a lower loft reading while above might produce a higher number.

The importance of having various loft angles is of major important for trajectory control.  Simply, the higher the loft (given all the same parameters elsewhere) the higher the ball will leave the clubface.  Golfers who need assistance hitting the ball higher will require a more lofted clubhead, while those hit a naturally high ball will need a model with reduced loft.

Contrary to some manufacturer’s claims, the actual loft cannot be changed on say a driver by reinstalling the position of an interchangeable adapter.  The club will still sit in its “normal soled position”.  The only specification than can change are the lie and/or face angle.  This leads us to our next parameter – face angle.

8 Comments on What Is The Relationship Between Loft And Face Angle?

  1. Jeff,
    No quarrel at all with what you say, just a few things I want to add — plus a question:

    (1) For folks who rest the club on its sole at address, your comments are spot-on. For the minority who hover the club, or who assume a grip that squares the clubface at address and use that to align the stance (even if it means the sole is not flat), the ICT does indeed change the effective loft — that is, the loft the ball sees at impact.

    (2) Rolling the clubface open or closed (to keep the sole flat as you change shaft position of the ICT) will have a minor effect on the loft the ball sees at impact. For every degree open, you get about 2/3 of a degree higher loft — and lower loft for a closed face.

    (3) A question: You say that the loft must be measured in the center, and I agree. I have heard that some OEMs spec the loft 1/2″ from the bottom of the face. That would result in a stated loft that is about 3* stronger than reality (assuming a 57mm clubface height and an 11″ face roll). Nice rationale for selling “vanity lofts”, but do you know if there is any truth to it?

    Thanks,
    DaveT

  2. Edward Brink says:

    Great article, keep them coming.

  3. Jeff Summitt says:

    Hi Dave:

    Thanks for participating, but don’t spoil all the fun just yet – I got two more parts yet (Ha Ha). You probably remember when I was with Dynacraft when we introduced the Launch Series driver with the “ego” or inflated lofts and how much we got beat up for that. I have more scars for that than all the major manufacturers combined all these years later.

    To be perfectly honest I am not privy to know the exact method some of the name brand manufacturers are concocting to come up with the lofts on their drivers. I have seen a specs gauge that instead of properly soling the club like most foundries have done in the past, rather suspending the club. So use your imagination…or for the others out there reading will have to wait until parts 2 and 3 are up to understand why.

  4. Whoops!
    There’s an error in my post. Specifically, point #2 is wrong. There’s a tiny bit of loft change, but nowhere near the 2-for-3 change that I said. I was confusing it with simply rolling the face open without the eccentric hosel that keeps the sole flat.

    Sorry.

    DaveT

  5. [...] called “effective loft.” which is a relationship between the club’s loft and its face angle. View the Part 1 Effective Loft Article Here. With the introduction of interchangeable adapters to not only change shafts, but the face angle [...]

  6. [...] between the club’s loft and its face angle. To read the previous discussions click on Part 1 (Loft) and Part 2 (Face Angle). With the introduction of interchangeable adapters to not only change [...]

  7. [...] between the club’s loft and its face angle. To read the previous discussions click on Part 1 (Loft) and Part 2 (Face Angle). With the introduction of interchangeable adapters to not only change [...]

  8. [...] called “effective loft.” which is a relationship between the club’s loft and its face angle. View the Part 1 Effective Loft Article Here. With the introduction of interchangeable adapters to not only change shafts, but the face angle [...]

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