The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

High-altitude adjustments

By E. Michael Johnson

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Flying high: Fowler added a full degree of loft to his driver. Photo by: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Adjustable drivers aren't just for correcting swing flaws. The WGC-Accenture Match Play was a reminder that they might help you take advantage of high altitudes.

At Dove Mountain, 2,600 feet above sea level, several players added loft for extra distance. Rory McIlroy upped the loft on his Nike VR_S Covert Tour driver to 10.5 degrees. Rickie Fowler went from 7.5 degrees to 8.5 degrees on his Cobra AMP Cell Pro, and Lee Westwood went up half a degree on his Ping G25.

Yet the benefit might not be as great as players believe. Those who get the most distance are golfers with high swing speeds and spin rates from 2,200 to 2,400 revolutions per minute, says Brad Schweigert, Ping's director of engineering. Even that comes with a caveat: On mis-hits where spin is reduced, distance can be lost. At higher elevations, shots with spin rates of less than 2,000 rpm have difficulty staying in the air.