Want to know how far golfers should hit each of their clubs? Here's how to find out.Distance. It’s an obsession with golfers, and with good reason. Distance and accuracy off the tee gives you a big jump on getting onto the green in regulation. The closer you are to the green when you pull a club for the approach shot, the better chance you have of being able to hit a short- or medium-iron shot that will hold the green The ability to carry a higher-lofted club a greater distance increases your scoring efficiency by increasing the distance from which you can go for the green and expect to hold the putting surface.
Distance gains are a big part of the advertising gloss that club manufacturers bandy about with each new generation of golf clubs, from the short irons up through driver, and many golfers follow that lure like rats following the Pied Piper—often without understanding what they’re getting into. Before you go haring off in pursuit of a few more yards off the tee or from the fairway, give yourself a good starting point by establishing a baseline with your current clubs—and even if you aren’t in the market for new clubs, having this information in hand will help you play better with the clubs you have.
*Editors Note: Stay tuned for the second part of our distance series here on the 18Birdies blog where we discuss how far female golfers should hit their clubs.
The $64,000 question: What club do I use from here?The answer to that question is one of the most important factors in shooting a low score, and because of the nature of this game, it’s very difficult to nail down. Golf has more variation in playing conditions than any other sport that is played with a ball. Wind, air temperature, and humidity all affect the ball’s flight—as they do in baseball and to a lesser extent, tennis—but there is the added complication of the variation in the playing surface. Hitting the ball off of the fairway is much different than hitting out of the rough, or off of pine straw, or sand, and even the fairway surface can vary depending upon maintenance, turf type, moisture, etc.
Get out there and get some answersSo, given all these variables, how do you figure out your yardages? If you have the opportunity to get fitted, or get a swing evaluation, the Trackman or similar device that might be used will spit out calculated carry distances for each club, and much more,—valuable as a club-to-club comparison, and for evaluation tweaks to say, driver loft, etc., but of little practical use on the golf course.
Even going to the range is of little real use for collecting this data. Range balls are built for durability, not performance, so noting that you are knocking your 7-iron out to the 150-yard flag during your warm-up isn’t going to help you during your round. No, the best way to get a handle on how far you hit your clubs is to go out and play (not sorry to hear that answer, though, are you?), and get really useful real-world data.
Gather the information you need
To help you gather that data, all you need is a smartphone and the 18Birdiesapp. In addition to allowing you to track your distances with each club, the free version of the app allows you to track fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts and other stats. With a Premium membership comes additional features: Advanced GPS, club recommendations from the Caddy+ feature, advanced stats, and of relevance to this discussion, shot tracking and history—to allow you to get a handle not only on the distances you hit your clubs, but quality (direction), shot shape, and power.
Tracking this information over multiple rounds will build a database of expected yardages for each club, and Caddy+ stores it all to inform the recommendations it generates. Conscientious use of the feature empowers you to use it on the course to make informed, intelligent choices when you pull a club. Take a look at this chart for average distances for Men.
Average Distances for Men