Do you really need an adjustable driver? Can it really help you hit better drives?
It’s a good question because your driver plays a big part in your total score and overall golf game. When I bought my first adjustable driver I knew that I’d never go back to a fixed setting. Since then, I’ve always used a club head that is adjustable and think it can definitely help your long game.
They can help correct a swing flaw, produce more draw spin, create a more consistent miss, and hit it longer than to a better center of gravity. But there are some downsides and they can’t fix all swing flaws either.
Let’s get into it…
Adjustable Golf Drivers Explained (Driver Adjustment)
I often wonder how the best ball strikers from the past would do in today’s world.
Think about it, ball striking legends like Ben Hogan who were able to play golf at elite levels using very different clubs from today. These guys played heavy steel shafts (some of them even played with wooden shafts), small club heads, and they were extremely unforgiving.
But today, golf equipment makes this complicated game a lot easier (not that it’s an easy sport by any means). Arguably the modern golf driver has been adapted and upgraded more than any other club. It’s double the size of the old days, extremely forgiving, and driver adjustability makes it easier to customize it to your swing.
Not to mention more shaft options to help you find the perfect golf ball flight. Yet, even with all the upgrades mentioned above, some golfers still fear their driver more than any other club.
- Adjustable drivers started in 2005 with TaylorMade R7 Quad.
- Adjustable drivers can change the loft, flight, and face angle.
- Drivers can get adjusted with a sliding weight and/or adjustable hosel for maximum customization.
- Having an adjustable driver can help you finely tune your driver to your unique golf swing.
Keep reading to learn more about adjustable drivers and learn if they’re right for your golf game.
History of Adjustable Drivers
Before getting into if you should or shouldn’t use an adjustable driver, let’s check out the history of these clubs. The R7 Quad from TaylorMade was the first adjustable driver and was released in 2005! The driver helped players move weight to control ball flight and shape shots better.
Despite winning the Golf Digest award for best new driver, it wasn’t a common feature with clubs until 2011. Cobra Golf then released a tracking sensor in 2017 to help you measure drives and better understand your game. Now, almost every driver is adjustable to help you fully customize the club to your swing.
Despite all the advantages of adjustable golf drivers, a lot of golfers choose not to use these features.
According to Golf Digest, “The research firm Golf Datatech conducted a survey of “serious” golfers and found that more than 75 percent are interested in purchasing an adjustable driver. But of those who own one, roughly two thirds never or rarely use the adjustability features. This means many golfers are missing out on significant improvement.”
Drivers either have the option to adjust the loft (and lie angle in the process) plus some have sliding weights as well. Let’s discuss each one in detail below.
Adjustable Hosel Loft
When most golfers think of adjustable drivers they usually think of changing the loft. How much you can add or remove depends on the brand.
For example, a Callaway Epic Flash golf club might differ in loft/lie angle settings vs. a Cobra Speedzone driver. Most companies with adjustable clubs allow at least one degree, usually 1.5 degrees. But other brands allow up to two degrees.
In general, launch is your friend (sort of like bounce is your friend in the bunker). Most golfers don’t use enough loft and it kills distance!
To maximize distance you need to optimize launch which happens by matching your swing speed with loft. Here are some basic guidelines to help you pick the right driver loft based on how fast you swing the golf club.
- 110mph = 9-degree driver
- 100mph = 10.5 degree driver
- 90 mph = 12 degree driver
Please note, these are the driver lofts you should buy based on swing speed. But since you can adjust 1-2 degrees in either direction, you can also test out different settings with your driver set on the practice tee.
Adjustable Driver Weights
While you can adjust the loft, some golf clubs also allow you to change your weight position as well. Sliding weights aren’t as common for all brands in the golf business but still quite popular, especially with drivers. Almost no fairway woods or hybrids have sliding weights (only adjustable weights).
Weights can help straighten the ball flight and won’t have as much impact on launch angle. Instead, it can help straighten the face at impact for more consistent driving performance.
If you slide weights to the toe of the club this is known as a draw bias. Since more weight is on the toe it makes it easier to square or slightly close the face at impact.
While more weight on the heel makes it a fade bias as more of the weight is positioned on the heel of the club. Most golfers need extra weight in the heel as a majority suffer from a slice.
Paired with the right loft, this can have a big impact on your average driver shot. When testing, it’s always best to minimize variables and only switch one thing at a time.
For example, start by adjusting the loft, hit 5-10 shots, measure the results, then change the weight settings as well. This way you can figure out which setting is most impacting your shot shape.
Example of an Adjustable Driver
There are tons of golf companies that make adjustable drivers including TaylorMade, Titleist, Callaway, Cobra, and more. Cobra Golf does a great job demonstrating on their website how adjustable drivers work and the impact it can have on your game.
Here is an example of how a few tweaks with your club wrench can have a huge difference in your overall distance and shot shape.
- Position A: This position puts a 10 gram weight in the back of the driver to help deliver a modest 5-yard draw. If you currently play a fade this setting will basically straighten your ball flight thanks to the adjustable weights.
- Position B: This position can add up to 11 yards of a draw. So if you play a fade that sometimes turns into a slice, this position can help a ton if you need to hit more fairways… which, who doesn’t?
- Position C: Finally, if you’re the type of golfer who has an extreme slice, this setting can help avoid the right side of the course dramatically. In this position the weight stays in the heel and with a draw setting can lead to nearly 18 yards of total draw!
This goes to show that adjustable drivers can have a big impact on changing your game without making any swing changes.
How to Change Driver Settings
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and probably why so many golfers never use these features in the first place. Using a launch monitor, try to get your launch angle to about 12 degrees so you’re hitting up on the ball and maximizing your distance potential.
Here is your guide to altering your driver so you can improve your driver shots immediately.
If your driver is going too low, it’s because your launch angle is too low and is likely hitting down on the shot. But remember, you want to hit up on the ball with the driver to increase carry distance!
Add 1–2 degrees of loft and you can gain up to 10+ yards with every swing. Remember, loft is your friend with the big stick!
Most golfers will benefit more from adding loft, not removing it. However, there are certain types of players who will need to remove loft to optimize spin and launch angle. Removing 1-2 degrees of loft can help with carry and total distance thanks to more roll out.
Driver Going Left (Hook)
While most golfers suffer a slice, some more advanced golfers might suffer a hook that goes left. To adjust your driver to fix a hook you want to decrease the loft which opens the face of the club. If your driver also has an adjustable weight, make sure to slide it to the toe side of the club to straighten the face.
Adjusting one or two of these features should help you hit it straighter and find more fairways during the round.
Driver Going Right (Slice)
Finally, if you suffer from a nasty slice (due to an open clubface) it’s a good idea to tweak your driver. Start by removing the loft (as this closes the face slightly) and see how it impacts your ball flight and carry distance. If you’re still missing a lot of shots to the right, slide a weight to the heel of the golf club.
This can have a huge impact on your total distance and accuracy with the driver. But just remember, this is a short term solution and should constantly improve your grip, takeaway, and setup to straighten your ball flight.
Why Aren’t All Clubs Adjustable? Do You Really Need an Adjustable Driver?
As you can tell, there are a lot of benefits to adjustable drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. So why aren’t all these long clubs adjustable anyway? Why do they make non-adjustable drivers?
Because adjustable hosels that require a torque wrench weigh more than a fixed hosel. For players with slower swing speeds this might hurt distance and not get more efficient carry distance. Plus, they tend to cost more to produce as well.
FAQs About Driver Adjustability in Golf
Do you have more questions about driving the golf ball, hitting more fairways, and increasing distance? If so, keep reading now to learn more about the most frequently asked questions and answers below.
Is it legal to adjust the driver during the round?
No, you cannot tweak your driver settings during the round.
For example, if your driver is at the 10 degree loft setting with a draw bias it must remain there the entire round. You can’t change it to create a lower ball flight or fade setting mid-round.
According to the USGA, “A player must not make a stroke with a club whose performance characteristics he or she deliberately changed during the round (including while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a):
- By using an adjustable feature or physically changing the club (except when allowed to repair damage under Rule 4.1a(2)), or
- By applying any substance to the clubhead (other than in cleaning it) to affect how it performs in making a stroke.”
However, there is an exception that you can tighten the driver screw(s) if it gets loosened during the round. So you can’t change the driver setting (loft/lie angle) but you can tighten it to restore to its original position without penalty or disqualification.
Do adjustable drivers really change loft?
Yes, adjustable drivers allow you to increase or decrease the loft of your driver from 1-2 degrees in most cases. So if you buy a 10-degree driver, you can typically adjust the loft from 8-12 degrees. But just remember, when you adjust your driver you also impact the lie angle and trajectory as well.
A lower lofted driver will have a flatter trajectory and require more swing speed for optimal launch angle. While a higher lofted driver will benefit higher handicaps who don’t have as much speed to get the ball in the air.
Will an adjustable driver help my slice?
An adjustable driver can help your slice and is one of the biggest benefits to these golf clubs. However, it’s more of a band-aid fix than a long-term solution to your nasty banana slice. It can help, but it’s definitely not the way to become a scratch golfer.
If you really struggle with a driver slice, read all about the best drivers for a slice.
Does increasing driver loft close the face?
No, when you add loft you actually open the face and when you remove loft you close the face.
Is it better to loft up or down?
In general, it’s better to loft up with your driver. Otherwise, you might be losing tons of precious distance on the table (and making golf even more difficult on yourself).
Trackman Golf found that the average male golfer has an average clubhead speed of 93.4mph with a total distance of 214 yards. But they found that the average male golfer is also giving up close to 30 yards off the tee, making approach shots much more difficult.
This is why it’s so important to tweak your driver and play the right shaft for your swing speed. The lighter the shaft, the easier it is to swing faster and hit it longer. Paired with a driver that has more loft (typically 10 degrees or more) you can improve launch angles and hit it longer.
If you have an adjustable driver, make sure to test it on the driving range with different settings to see how it impacts flight, accuracy, and distance.
What’s better, 9.5 or 10.5 loft?
In general, more loft is better for the everyday golfer.
One of the biggest mistakes that most golfers make is playing a driver without enough loft. This makes it hard to get the proper launch and miss out on tons of distance and accuracy in the process.
This is why adjustable drivers are so great – they allow you to tinker with your equipment on the range. If you have a personal launch monitor you can also measure the launch, carry distance, and more with different settings. It’s worth your time and money to test out different driver settings to see which is right for your swing.
Final Thoughts on Adjustable Golf Drivers
When it’s time to get a new driver see if you can find one with movable weights and/or an adjustable hosel. This will help create a consistent miss, optimize launch, and create an efficient carry on every drive you hit.
Adjustable drivers are a great way to improve your driving performance without lessons, training aids, or swing changes. But you want to think of it more of a band-aid fix than a long-term solution to becoming a consistent driver. It’s always a good idea to keep improving your swing and fundamentals on the range so you can get the most out of your game.
If you do have an adjustable driver, you should test out different settings on the range to see how it impacts ball flight, distance, and accuracy. Because as mentioned before, nearly two-thirds of players with these clubs never actually use these features. In a lot of instances this will impact your approach shots and ability to score greatly.
On the driving range or simulator test out different lofts, ball flight settings, and more with 10-15 drives. Calculate your averages for each shot in terms of distance, launch angle, and ball speed. Then, use it on the golf course to start saving shots and hopefully having easier second shots into the green.