So you saw the commercial where Dustin Johnson gains 40+ yards after tuning his R11 driver and decide to pick one up. So you get home and start playing around with the torque wrench. You read the instructions and study fancy diagram.
But after 30 minutes you are totally confused. Higher, lower, left, right, what does all this mean? If it's stamped 10.5 degrees can I just rotate the sleeve to -1 degree and it'll be 9.5 degrees? Why is the red arc in the diagram going right? If I slice should I increase the loft +1 degree to make the ball go left?
TaylorMade, Titleist, Nike and other manufacturers of adjustable drivers, fairway woods and hybrids do an extremely poor job of explaining what you are actually adjusting. Hopefully I can clear things up with this blog post.
First thing we need to realize is loft is fixed and cannot be changed. Here's my 45 degree pitching wedge.
It'll always be 45 degrees. You can turn it upside down, sideways, even paint it white, it'll always be 45 degrees.
In the photo above I've opened the club face. Still 45 degrees. Hold on, I though opening the clubface up increases loft? Like when I open the clubface up to do a flop shot or out of the bunker. This is only true if you square the club face back at address, like I have done in the photo below.
The effective loft with a square face at address has increased to maybe 55 degrees (?). But remember, the measured loft is still 45 degrees.
Fine, we've established that actual loft cannot be changed, how then can TaylorMade with their Flight Control Technology (FCT) or Titleist with their Surefit system claim I can adjust the loft on my driver, woods and hybrids? I just paid $300! Simple, they measure effective loft at impact with a square face, kind of like how I turned my 45 degree pitching wedge into a 55 degree pitching wedge.
The shaft enters the sleeve at different angles, causing the club face to be slightly closed or opened at address. When it's returned to square at impact the effective loft increases or decreases. Here's the Titleist fitting chart:
You can see that in the standard loft configuration the face angle is .5 degree open. As the club face angle closes to 1.5 degree you have increased loft by 1.5 degrees. Conversely, if you open the club face angle up 1.5 degrees you have reduced loft by .75 degrees. Remember, loft here is effective loft with a square face at impact.
Wait a second, this is way confusing! In the pitching wedge example you increase loft when you opened the club face, now you are saying opening the club face decreases loft? Yes, that is what I am saying, because here the loft is measured at impact not address. The face is opened at address then squares at impact. Effectively, you are closing the club face with an open face.
This sequence of photo might clear things up. Here's my pitching wedge square at address and impact.
The face is now very open at address.
To hit the ball straight I must square the face at impact. To square the face at impact I have to close the club face (I've actually closed it too much).
Now the Titleist fitting chart makes sense. If the face angle at address is 1.5 degrees closed and I want to hit a straight shot I have to open the face at impact, effectively adding 1.5 degrees more loft. Vice versa, at address if my club face is 1.5 degrees open then I have to close the club face to square it at impact, decreasing my effective loft by .75 degree.
Now the TaylorMade diagram makes sense. +1 degree, red arc goes left because face is closed at address. -1 degree, red arc goes right because face is opened at address.
As for me, all this is useless because I have a tendency to close the club face too much at impact but I want more loft.
Anyways, hope that was helpful. Corrections appreciated.