Higher Launch Angle: How Can It Help You?

By Bradley W. Smith
June 2, 2016


Tee it high and let it fly!

You’ve probably been told that more than once by your club pro and your buddies in your weekend foursome.  No, it’s not the punchline to a tasteless joke–it’s good advice for how it get more distance from your driver.

If you tee the ball higher you have a better chance of hitting the ball on the upswing and making contact with the top part of the clubface, that will produce a higher launch angle, which will get the ball in the air quicker and higher and help eliminate spin that can rob you of precious yards off the tee. 

Striking the ball just a half-inch higher on the club can increase the loft up to 5 degrees.  Those five degrees could translate to an extra 20 or more yards.

In this video below, Todd Kolb discusses launch angle and the importance of optimizing yours.


Let’s delve more into launch angle. 

In a nutshell, your distance off the tee is greatly affected by the angle your ball is launched off the tee and the maximum height it spends in the air.  Say the average club pro hit a ball with a launch degree angle of 13 to 14 degrees, meaning when the ball left the clubhead, it did so at a 14 degree angle from the ground.  The ball will then reach a maximum height of over 115 feet in the air.  That’s good. 

A high launch with maximum air time will produce a drive with little spin and could easily carry 250-260 yards.  If it’s a hot day with dry fairways he or she might be looking at 280 off the tee.  Not bad at all.  Now, as mentioned earlier, if that launch angle is low – well into the single digits – the club pro is going to be hitting first on their approach. 

Even with a higher clubhead speed, a ball launched at around 7-8 degrees will barely get 50 feet off the ground.  A drive like that would be fortunate to go past 230-235 yards.  Generating a lot of clubhead speed is good but only if you’re striking the ball in the proper spot.  Again, a high launch angle is the key to longer drives.

PGA Tour pros have been taking notice as well.  Big hitters like J.B. Holmes and Dustin Johnson are using drivers with 10-12 degrees of loft, whereas ten years ago the normal was 6-8 degrees of loft.

We all want to be longer and straighter off the tee.  The secret to doing so is simple. 

First, tee the ball high.  Doing so is going to increase the ball’s launch angle. 

Second, when lining up tilt your body a little bit away from the target.  This will also help you launch the ball higher.  More hang time for the ball, when properly optimized with smash factor and spin, equals more carry and distance for your drives. 

Your local PGA club pro can help determine your launch angle and what driver loft is best for you.

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