Lofty Goals: A call to replace numbers with angles on all golf clubs

Frustration with inconsistent golf club loft angles means manufacturers should move beyond labelling golf clubs with just numbers.

A discussion has been slowly bubbling within the golfing community concerning the labelling of golf clubs and the need for increased precision in club identification. Traditionally marked by numbers, this method has sparked confusion in recent decades and needs to be addressed.

The inconsistency in loft values among different manufacturers is at the heart of the concern.

While loft angle labels are commonly found on gap wedges (and woods), the numerical system used for other clubs has led to ambiguity, impacting club selection and forcing additional purchases to bridge the gaps created by varying lofts.

It’s also worth noting that obtaining specific loft information for each club from different manufacturers is rarely simple. This information is often not readily available to customers when comparing clubs for purchase.

The time when you could reliably know that the loft on your 8-iron is the same as your playing partner’s is long gone. An older club may share the same loft as a contemporary one from a different brand, leading to incorrect club selection.

For example, consider this comparison between the loft of a 7-iron from the 1990s, 2000s and today.

The loft of a new 7-iron purchased in the 19080s was around 35-38 degrees. By the time the late 90s rolled around, this range had dropped 33-36 degrees. A new 7-iron purchased today can be 27.5-degrees. Put more simply, the loft of a 7-iron purchased today is equivalent to a 5 or 6-iron purchased 20 years ago.

The problem is perhaps best illustrated at the professional level where bespoke golf clubs are now the norm.

Prior to claiming the 2024 US Open trophy, Bryson DeChambeau was again lauding his unique ability to hit his irons much further than anyone else.

“For example, my 8-iron is going like 205 right now, 7-iron is close to 220,” DeChambeau said. “Even if I do lay back and I’ve got a 200-yard shot and I’m still hitting an 8-iron in, it’s still 200 yards and you’ve still got to hit a good shot from 200 yards. Definitely it is nice getting up there being like, okay, it’s just an 8-iron.”

It’s incredible stuff, and despite his prestigious talent and protein shakes, it makes you feel like DeChambeau is playing a different game from the rest of us. While most of us could probably blade an 8-iron 200-yards, very few people on the planet can strike it the same distance off the middle of the club face.

It’s more than likely he’s playing a completely different 8-iron to the rest of us. Loft and all.

Mike Clayton mentioned the confusion in his wrap of the final round of the US Open at Pinehurst;

“The American played the hole equally as well and safely two putted then hit a beautiful “8-iron” to the 200-yard, 17th. Who knows what lofts Bryson has on his irons but it’s past time the television commentators stopped telling is the number on the sole of the club and, instead, told us the loft.”

The shift towards lower lofted clubs and fewer clubs sold as a set of irons has meant golfers need to purchase more wedges to fill the void at the bottom end of the bag. More clubs sold, more money made.

In acknowledging the problem, the idea to replace numbers, or at least the addition of loft angle to each golf club, will face opposition from golf club manufacturers. Much like their staunch resistance to golf’s governing bodies’ proposal to roll back the golf ball, manufacturers will resist a change to anything that may impact profits.

One thought on “Lofty Goals: A call to replace numbers with angles on all golf clubs

  • Why does it matter what loft, or even what number, the pros hit. Amateurs shouldn’t be copying what Bryson does. That they need to know is how far they hit it. Call em a,b,c if you like but my lofts are mind business.


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