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How To Know What Golf Clubs to Use for What Distance

Knowing Your Distances for Each Club

You’ve probably read a hundred articles about distance in golf – and rightfully so. Distance is one of the most important attributes in a golfer’s game.

This isn’t an article about the importance of increasing your distance, it’s an article about the importance of knowing your distance. After all, you have 14 clubs in your bag. Each one has a different purpose, and some are easier to hit than others. Experienced golfers use all 14 clubs at the driving range and know how they work together to form a complete golf game.

According to Mark Broadie, the average bogey golfer will hit a green about a third of the time from 150 yards out. Of the misses, they are eight times as likely to miss short than they are long.

Research shared by Today’s Golfer suggests that golfers almost never miss long.  Golfers only miss long 5% of the time, regardless of handicap.  A bogey golfer misses short 41% of the time and long only 5% of the time.  

While there are a number of reasons why a golfer misses short, overestimating the distance a shot should travel is a massive factor.

Some golfers come up short because of pride, but most do so because of ignorance. They simply do not know what their actual average distance is for each club. These golfers may be reaching for a pitching wedge or sand wedge when higher numbered irons would give them a better chance at hitting the green.

Establishing your averages throughout the bag at the driving range is a useful exercise for any golfer. Improving your club selection can increase your total distance and does not require an exercise program or swing change, it just requires data.

Do I Need Technology To Track My Distance For Each Club?

Tracking distances without technology is not impossible, it’s just impractical.

For the curious weekend golfer, you can create a spreadsheet in excel and pace off the distances of each shot you hit during a round. Note the proximity from the intended target line and record your distance data. You can do this until you have a large enough sample to establish a reliable average.

This method works, sure, but it is not sustainable. If an Excel spreadsheet is your only method of tracking distances, you’re never going to track distances.

What are some simpler, more effective ways to help you better understand the clubs in your bag? Here are a few considerations to help you determine when and where you should be swinging your fairway woods instead of your long irons.

Use Your Gamer

Beat up range balls are perfectly acceptable for a practice session, but they don’t offer reliable feedback for an exercise like this. The standards of quality and consistency in a range ball aren’t comparable to a premium golf ball. Jon Sherman at Practical Golf tested the performance of a range ball vs a premium golf ball. He found that his 7 iron traveled almost 10 yards further with his gamer.

It doesn’t make sense to establish averages for each club that are totally irrelevant when you’re playing.

Gather Distance Data Randomly, Not Consecutively

You’ll probably never hit the same club two times in a row on the course. Because of this. it’s best not to do it in this exercise.

Hitting ten drivers in a row is efficient for data collection, but it’s not as accurate. A tool like Rapsodo’s MLM Mobile Launch Monitor is the perfect device to facilitate this.

Not only is the MLM portable, but with Smart Club Recognition you can switch clubs by simply waving the club in front of your MLM.


Throw Out the Bad Shots

Hosel rockets happen, but they aren’t very useful in determining your average distance for each golf club. If you lay the sod over the ball or whiff one in the sand traps don’t include that shot in your average.

Gather Data on the Course, Not the Range

Hitting a bucket full of $5 balls on a range would get expensive quickly. If you’re going to establish distances with your gamer, it’s easiest to do it on the course. It’s also most realistic.

Use Technology To Understand Your Club Selection

The bottom line is that you need to use technology for this exercise. Estimating distance on a range is pointless and pacing off yardages on the course is cumbersome.

You can drop $20,000 on a Trackman or Foresight, or you can invest $499 on a piece of technology that has most of the same features.

With the MLM by Rapsodo, golfers can understand their swing speed, loft angle, launch angle, degrees of loft and club face impact zones.

Hitting it far is important, but it doesn’t matter how far YOU CAN hit it if you don’t know how far YOU ACTUALLY hit it. 

Try the MLM next time you’re at the course and start collecting data. Before long, you’ll be a master of your golf bag and your local course.


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By Rapsodo Golf

With an unwavering passion for the game and data-driven insights, we're here to inspire and elevate your Golf journey through articles that help you find improvement and excellence.