Do pro golfers hit up — that is, add loft at impact — with their driver? Rory McIlroy and Brandel Chamblee got into a bit of a Twitter war over the question, with McIlroy saying with certainty that the modern player hits up with driver to take full advantage of ball technology. However, is Chamblee right?
TrackMan launch monitor data indicates that PGA Tour pros typically have a negative angle of attack (AoA) on the ball of about -1.3 degrees. With so many PGA Tour pros in that measurement, it’s basically that some pros hit up and some hit down, within a range. McIlroy hits up with driver anywhere from 1-3 degrees. Not every player does, for a variety of reasons, but it mostly has to do with whether a player seeks more distance or more control off the tee.
Sergio Garcia, who tends to trap the ball with all clubs, hits slightly down. Jason Day tends to hit up from 1-2.5 degrees.
For the average amateur golfer, however, they don’t have the swing speed or resulting ball speed to be able to hit down on the driver. They need to be able to launch the ball around 14-15 degrees and generate fairly low spin (2400 rpm would be good) to get the most out of their driver and ball combo in terms of distance and accuracy.
So, the pros can hit up with driver, but they don’t have to because they hit the ball consistently with higher swing speeds. For the amateur golfer with a swing speed under 100 mph, they should typically hit up — that is, have a positive angle of attack — with the big stick.