One of the most recognisable pieces of equipment terminology in recent years is the simple two-word phrase ‘Loft Up’.

TaylorMade’s SLDR (especially) and JetSpeed drivers are imparting less backspin on the ball than ever before. That is creating the need to launch the ball higher to derive maximum benefit from what can be a more powerful flight. In short, you need backspin to keep the ball in the air. But get too much and the flight will stall, costing you yards.

Being custom-fitted is a must and where better than the TaylorMade suite at The Belfry, and who better than Liam McDougall to fine-tune our figures and max out our yards?

Reader 1: Luca Durrant

Handicap: 6
Current driver spec: 10.5˚
How’s your driving? It is quite straight with a little cut. I generally hit a medium-to-low flight and a good hit would be 200 yards. I am only 14 but am looking for more distance and I really struggle with uphill tee shots.
The fitter says: Luca was launching it very low at 7.7˚ and with lots of spin – over 3,000 rpm.So we dialled in the launch and spin and got him into a 14˚ SLDR with a White Tie Matrix shaft. This upped his carry from 176 to 197 yards. The launch angle is now 13˚ with 2,000 spin – which are much more efficient numbers for him.
The reader says: This was such a big eye-opener to how far I can now hit it. I had never considered hitting a 14˚ driver – I just thought a 12˚ with a bit stiffer shaft might help. As it turned out, the lighter shaft had a much nicer feel to my regular shaft. I might consider the irons now!


Loft Up: 3.5˚.
Model: SLDR 14˚

Reader 2: Kevin Asquith

Handicap: 6
Current driver spec: 10.5˚
How’s your driving? I was recently fitted elsewhere and went up 1.5˚ so I would be surprised if I went up any further. My length is OK but the dispersion is my problem. Over the years I have hit a low ball.
The fitter says: We managed to increase both length and dispersion. Kevin was easy to fit as he hits it very consistently and we made him more efficient, taking his Smash Factor from 1.35 to 1.48. We went up in loft and moved the weight to a touch of fade to counter the face going left. The spin was 2,300rpm, now it is under 1,900rpm.
The reader says: I was delighted to get so much out of it. I am a bit of a geek so wasn’t expecting to be able to to get an extra 22 yards on my drives! Better still it felt really sweet off the clubhead, I heeled one and it felt like it came out the middle. My weak shot was left going left – now it is a tiny bit of a block.


Loft Up:
Model: SLDR 11.5˚

Reader 3: Paul Butterfield

Handicap: 16
Current driver spec: 12.5˚
How’s your driving? I hit a low ball but am quite straight so I struggle with uphill shots and any decent carries. Even with a 12.5˚ driver I still hit it quite low. My swing could do with a few tweaks but I also need help from the club.
The fitter says: This was really interesting as Paul is already up to 12.5˚ due to a low ball flight. The Speed Pocket technology in the JetSpeed really helped as when you hit it low on the face, where most mis-hits occur, the club promotes less spin. The club speed is good but the bad shot is too much right to left so we have improved dispersion. And the spin has dropped from 4,500 to 2,300 rpm.
The reader says: I was very impressed by how many options there were. I have gone to a slightly shorter shaft, 46 to 45 inches, and a thicker grip which all helped with my dispersion. I added 10 yards through the air, which was great.


Loft Up: 0.5˚
Model: JetSpeed 13˚

Liam’s findings
What the expert fitter says about this year’s drivers:

Our current drivers are much easier to fit than any previous driver that TaylorMade have ever produced. We generally see a loft increase of 1.5˚ and above. The figures speak for themselves but my job is to educate the player in terms of high launch (and distance), low spin and improved accuracy.
I find that the figures and performance usually speak for themselves.
It isn’t often too difficult to convince a golfer that he should use a driver that will give him additional distance!