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.
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
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.