Drivers are typically used off the tee on long holes. They are also the longest golf club in your bag, which can make them tough to hit. If a golf hole is a par 4 or par 5, most people would use their driver off the tee. Although, I have played with older golfers who from time to time, will use their driver on par 3’s, just because they don’t hit the ball very far anymore or perhaps they are hitting the ball into a stiff wind.
The driver (it is also sometimes called the 1 wood) has the lowest loft of any golf club in your bag. The loft is the angle of the club face. It will control the trajectory of the golf ball and determine how far the ball travels in the air, if hit properly. A driver usually has a loft between 7 and 12 degrees. Most amateur golfers would typically have a driver with a loft of 10 degrees or more because the lower the loft of the driver, the harder it is to hit properly. Most PGA tour professionals today carry drivers with lofts of 8.5 to 10 degrees or more which is a huge change given that during the mid to late 1990’s, the average loft on the PGA Tour driver was around 7 degrees.
Most golfers also carry a 3 wood and sometimes a 5 wood in their bag. A 3 wood has a loft between 15 and 18 degrees, and a 5 wood has a loft between 20 and 22 degrees. The higher the golf club number, the higher the loft. Also, the higher the golf club number, the shorter the club shaft length. The 3 wood and 5 wood are commonly referred to as fairway woods, because they are most often used for your second shot off the fairway. The pros will sometimes use a driver off the fairway for a very long par 5 and they are trying to reach the green in 2 shots, but it is a very difficult shot to hit. All higher lofted woods (7, 9, 11, and so on) are commonly referred to as utility woods or rescue woods. A 3 wood is generally ½” shorter than a driver and so on with each successive club.
Why are drivers called woods when they aren’t made of wood? Drivers used to be made of wood, but since the 1980’s woods have been made of metal. It was determined that metal drivers had larger sweet spots which made it easier for a golfer to hit the ball even if they didn’t hit it properly, (known as a mishit).
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