CLUBFACE GOLF: Determining Yardage and Proper Golf Club Selection
Knowing how far each of your clubs will travel is an essential part of mastering your golf game. An average golfer may hit their 7 iron 150 yards, their 5 iron may travel 175 yards. While this may be an average, it certainly doesn't mean that all golfers will hit their clubs that distance. There are many factors that determine how far you hit each of your clubs. Age and strength are just two of the explanations for why you hit a certain club a certain distance.
To become a skilled golfer, it is crucial for you to understand your yardages, individual clubs and limitations. Knowing how far each clubs travel is the first step in being able to effectively choose the proper golf club for any shot.
During Dave Wesley's research and time teaching and playing with amateur golfers, he discovered that very few golfers actually know how far a particular golf shot will actually play. Dave shares a story that illustrates how knowing your clubs' yardage is key to becoming a successful golfer:
"In all my years of teaching and playing with amateurs, I’ve found that very few of them actually know how far a shot is going to play. Let’s take an example of something I witnessed while playing with an amateur golfer. On three consecutive holes, the amateur found himself 150 yards from the green. On the first hole, he hit a nice 7 iron that landed in the center of the green, nice play! On the next hole, he hit a nice 7 iron five yards short of the green and on the third hole, he hit a beautiful 7 iron that airmailed the green. The resulting scores: par, bogie, double bogie."
While watching this all transpire, Dave believed the golfer was actually very lucky to have ended up only three over par! On the first hole of this three hole scenario, the golfer was at a par three of 150 yards. The ball was lying on a perfectly level tee, the pin was in the middle, the green was level with us and the wind was as still as could be. This was the ideal 7 iron situation for the average golfer. As stated in Dave's story, this golfer hit a solid shot and landed it in the center of the green. This particular hole was an example of good club selection and solid execution.
The golfer started the next hole with a strong drive that landed him at the same yardage as his previous approach shot, 150 yards from the hole. He again chose the 7 iron. This shot barely cleared the lake that was guarding the front of the green and landed five yards short of the green. While the golfer thought he had been robbed by the golf gods, Dave thought he was incredibly lucky!
What was Dave seeing that the golfer wasn’t? He was able to recognize some drastic changes in the 150 yards between this lie and the pin from the last hole. On the second hole of this story, the pin was located to the back of the green, which was elevated. The wind had started to pick up and was directly in the golfers face by the time he had to hit this second shot, and his ball was on an uphill lie. All of these factors resulted in additional yardage that the amateur golfer simply didn't take into account. While the yardage marker told the golfer he was 150 yards from the hole, there were many other factors at play, adding an additional 25 - 35 yards to the hole. While the golfer thought he was playing 150 yards, the hole was actually playing 185 yards. He was off by at least three clubs, and was incredibly lucky that his ball didn’t end up in the water in front of the green.
The third hole was similar to the second, but with contrary issues. Landing once again at the 150 yard marker, the golfer again chose his 7 iron. After hitting a solid shot, the ball sailed over the green entirely and ended up out of bounds. The golfer, was extremely disappointed in this shot, and ended up with a double bogie on the hole. Dave again saw what the golfer had missed. On this hole, while he was again 150 yards from the center of the green. This time his lie was at the top of a hill with the green sitting well below him and the pin was on the front edge of the green. Also, this hole ran in the complete opposite direction as the previous hole, so we were down wind and the golf ball was situated on a downhill lie. All of these factors worked together so that while the golfer thought he was hitting a 150 yard shot, he was actually playing about 110 yards from the hole. Understanding all of this, Dave would have recommended using the pitching wedge instead of the 7 iron.
Understanding how far you hit each of your clubs is important. It is the first step in being able to understand your golf game. However, it is actually very rare to play a club exactly the same distance on a golf course as you do on the driving range. Skilled golfers learn to look past the yardage markers and take into account other factors before selecting a club. Pin placement, wind direction, elevation of the green, the lie of the fairway… All of these conditions can alter the way you should play a hole. The amount of yardage you add or subtract from your physical distance to the hole depends on the severity of these conditions. Golfers who successfully understand the relationship between yardage, conditions and golf club selection are able to take their game to the next level.