Do I Want A 9.5 Or 10.5 Driver? [Research For Beginner and Intermediate Golfers]

If you’re a beginning driver with slow swing speeds, the 10.5 driver is the best option for you. It’s what many amateur drivers choose. However, if you have faster swing speeds and can launch the ball high into the air, a 9.5 driver will suit you better.

As you will see with major driver manufacturers, there is also a 8.5 option for driver loft.  This very thin loft is designed mostly for scratch golfers and professionals, so we will not be considering this loft in this article.

Choosing the right driver and loft is more than just swing speeds though. While it looks simple on the surface, choosing between a 9.5 or 10.5 driver can be a bit complicated. Aside from your swing speed, you also need to consider the shaft, club head speed, loft angle, angle of attack, and a whole bunch of stuff. If you’re not a pro, navigating all these things without a proper guide will not be easy. 

Fortunately, Tell Me More Golf’s resident expert has all the work done for you. In this article, you’ll learn the difference between a 9.5 degree driver and a 10.5 degree driver, which one might be best for beginners, and how high handicappers can choose the best driver loft for their game.

If you’re out for a new driver, this advanced guide will teach you all you need to know so you can choose the right club.

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Table of Contents

9.5 Or 10.5 Driver: Which Is Better?

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For the majority of golfers, the 10.5 driver will be better since most tend to launch the ball too low. Launch angle is different among golfers, so what may be ideal for you may be different for another. If you have a slower swing speed, you need a high launch angle in order to gain a good trajectory. On the other hand, you’ll need a much lower launch angle if you’re a faster swinger, in which case a lower launch angle will be ideal for you. A higher lofted driver is likely to launch the ball straighter and higher with a better backspin. As a result, the 10.5 driver should be better for most golfers than the 9.5 degree driver. 

Finally, 10.5 drivers will generally have more forgiveness and will likely hit more fairways than their 9.5 counterparts. Most golfers who have used both 9.5 and 10.5 degree loft drivers will tell you that it also depends on your game and goal off the tee. With a 10.5 driver, you’ll be getting the ball into the air better with more carry. But a 9.5 degree driver will help you launch the ball lower and maybe score more fairway. Ultimately, you’ll need to start with a higher loft angle if you’re looking for more distance and higher ball flight.

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9.5 Or 10.5 Driver For Beginner: How to Choose

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Beginner golfers often have average swing speeds that often call for the use of a higher lofted driver. If your driver swing speed is above 100mph, the most suitable driver will be the 10.5 degree driver. You’ll gain extra accuracy from a 10.5 degree driver with less sidespin and more backspin than a 9.5 degree driver. The extra backspin should help reduce slice spin or hook, which is common with beginners. The reason why 10.5 is perfect is that the loft fits what most golfers need. A 12-degree driver and up may come with too much backspin/loft, which may cause the ball to balloon and go out of proportion when hit.

You’ll also benefit from a higher ball flight trajectory, more distance, and forgiveness that may be absent in a 9.5 degree driver. A 10.5 degree lofted driver will equally be easier to hit consistently, which can be helpful if you struggle to get the ball up.

Another important factor lies in the face angle. Driver designers often consider the combination of the shaft, lofts, club head, etc., when designing their drivers. Sometimes, it’s assumed that only advanced players will buy a 9.5 driver who would have a square face angle or 0.5* open. A 10.5 degree will have a closed face angle at 0.5, which is why they are easier for amateur golfers.

Your swing speed and type can also affect the kind of driver you choose. Generally, you’ll need to match the correct shaft to the ideal loft for your swing speed. To do that, a launch monitor would be required. This will read your carry distance, club head speed, and thus make it easy to match your game with the correct loft. In the absence of such tests, you should go with 10.5 as it’s better for most beginners.

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9.5 Degree Driver: What You Need to Know

A 9.5 Degree Driver is simply a driver with a loft of 9.5 degree. The loft is the angle of the face of the club when you hit the ball at address. The lower the loft on a club, the lower the face will slant away from the ball and the lower the trajectory. A 9.5 degree driver will have a lower trajectory than a 10.5 degree driver. So, if you tend to launch the ball too high, the most suitable loft will be 9.5 or lower. 

A 10.5 degree of loft will be suitable only if you were launching the ball too low. However, if you’re a fast swinger, a 9.5 driver will be the best driver for your game. This means if you have a swing speed above 100mph, a loft of 9.5 degree is ideal since you’ll not have problems with playing a driver with lesser loft. The shaft on the driver is equally important. It should have the right length, weight, and flex. A professional club fitter can help you determine the right club with the right loft for you. 

The Best Driver Loft For Beginners

As a beginner, a lot of things can go wrong with your game. You may experience mishits, hooks, slides, and regularly strike the ball into the rough. But with the right technique and proper golf equipment, improving your game should be easy. One of the very important things you should pay attention to when selecting a new driver is the loft. The right loft can make a difference between shots landing in the middle of the golf course and shots that are far too off the fairway. 

As a beginner or high handicapper, you should only consider drivers with higher lofts such as from 10.5 degrees above. With a higher loft, you’ll be able to achieve more backspin and less sidespin, which will translate into higher ball flight and make it easier to find the fairway. 

Some manufacturers, like Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Cobra, etc., have drivers with adjustable lofts. The loft on these drivers is adjustable 2 degrees up or down. You can go from 10.5 degree to 12.5 or 8.5 degree. The downside to these drivers is the extra weight added. A 12.5 degree driver is going to be a lot heavier than a 10.5 degree driver, so you need to weigh your options. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Degrees

Is a 9.5 or 10.5 driver better?

A 10.5 driver is generally believed to be better than a 9.5 driver. This is true because the 10.5 driver has more forgiveness and can help you hit the ball higher into the air. Drivers have the least amount of loft (exception being a putter) but the longest shaft. As a result, they’re difficult to hit for many golfers.

Adjusting the loft on the driver up and shortening the shaft would benefit many players. That’s why a majority will do better with a 10.5 driver or higher.

Should I play 9.5 or 10.5 degree driver?

Choosing between a 9.5 degree loft and 10.5 degree depends on certain factors. The most important of them is your swing speed. If your swing speed is already high, then you’ll be better off with a 9.5 degree driver.

However, if you struggle with your clubhead speed, a 10.5 degree will suit your game better since it’ll help you to hit the ball further. On the other hand, if you have a faster swing speed and an upward angle of attack, you might be better suited to a golf driver with less loft, which in this case will be a 9.5 degree or lower.

Also, how high you can hit the ball also matters. Generally, a higher lofted club will help you hit the ball higher. For example, a 10.5 degree driver is best for you if your tee shot trajectory isn’t high. The more loft on a club, the more the face slants away from the ball, thus adding more trajectory.

What's the difference between 9.5 and 10.5 degree driver?

The basic rule of thumb is that adjusting the loft up will close the face. But when reducing loft in the driver head, the face becomes open. When struck square, a driver of 9.5 degree of loft will travel lower but at a greater speed and less backspin compared to a 10.5 degree driver.

In theory, lower loft should translate to more distance, which is the goal of all golfers. But that can only happen with a high clubhead speed. Meaning, you’ll only benefit from a lower lofted driver if your clubhead speed is high such as in the 100s of mph. if your swing speed is lower, you’ll have to go for a driver with a higher loft.

Aside from distance, accuracy is another area of importance. Higher loft promotes higher backspin. The more backspin a driver can impact on a golf ball, the straighter the ball flight is.

A 9.5 degree driver will typically have lower backspin than one with 10.5 degree, so you may end up with more hooks and slices on 9.5 degree, which will affect your accuracy. In order words, the more loft you have on the driver, the more the forgiveness, and vice versa. 

Do any pros use a 10.5 degree driver?

It would seem like no pro would use a loft of 10.5 degrees, since it’s squared and not open faced like 8.5 or 9.5. But there are obviously a lot of pros who would play this. In fact, many pros do play 10.5 drivers, even on the PGA Tour. Nick Watney, Camillo, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, are some examples of pros who have used 10.5 drivers. Others like Tiger Woods, use less loft on their drivers. 

Camillo, for example, is said to have played the 10.5 in his Cobra driver. And Dustin Johnson used 10.5 in his SLDR TaylorMade driver to win the WGC-HSBC Champions. The reason they used 10.5 is that the face angle opens at impact, which effectively reduces their loft. So, a 10.5 degree loft will be effectively 9.5 degrees for these pros.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

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The 10.5 degree driver will be a better choice than a 9.5 degree driver for most golfers. The reason is that most golfers tend to launch the ball too low, so they need a higher launch angle to obtain an efficient trajectory, which the 10.5 degree driver provides. With higher loft, your chances of consistently hitting the sweet spot on the clubface are also higher. Yes, the ideal driver loft often varies from golfer to golfer. But more people would benefit from using a 10.5 degree driver than a 9.5 degree driver.

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