How far do you really hit the ball-revisited.

I’d say about 90% of all amateur golfers would improve their game if they had a better understanding of how far they hit the ball.

I literally hear several times a week people saying they are 300 hitters.

Unless you are one of the top 10 drivers on the PGA Tour or a professional long driver, you are not a 300 hitter. When you are down hill, down wind, at 5000 feet elevation, hit a cart path and a dog picks up your ball and runs 40 yards toward the green and your drive ends up 301 yards…you are not a 300 hitter.

Just like in baseball if you go 1-3 in a game, you are not a .333 hitter when your average for the season is .232.

I am saying this to make fun of all of you a little, but more to help you shoot lower. Most people make club selections to the green as if they are going to hit their best shot. That is why every sand trap short of all the greens are torn up at the end of the day and the sand over the green is almost perfect. It also doesn’t help that everyone is either afraid to hit it just over the green…or doesn’t want their best shot to end up over the green. If you can get over these two things, you will shoot lower.

Let’s take a typical 5-iron for a 15 handicap. Most will tell you they hit that club about 175 and end up in the front fringe or sand all day long because they actually hit “most” of their 5-irons about 165.

The key word is “most.”

The distance you hit your irons is neither how far the best one goes, nor the average. It is how far most of them go. How far most of them go and the average sounds the same but it can be quite different.

So go to the driving range, pick an iron in the middle like a 5 or a 6 and hit 40 or 50 of them and track how far “most” of them go. The far ones and the short ones are like the East German Judge, they get thrown out for bias.

Then adjust the rest of the bag using that measurement as a base point…unless you want to take the time to do it for the whole bag. That is better, but most people don’t have enough practice time to do the whole bag.

Gaps between clubs are usually greater the shorter the clubs get. In other words, the gap between your pitching wedge and 9-iron might be 10 yards and the gap between your 4 and 5-irons might only be 7 or 8.

It is OK to over club when there is trouble short and it is OK to under club when the trouble is long. If there is trouble short and long…we fall back on the “most.”

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14 Comments

  1. Hackinator

    On the subject of practice time , could you do a piece on that ? If you have 15 min , 30 min , an hour , etc ?
    Thank you

    Reply
  2. Bob

    I really notice this in the short game too. Most amateurs rarely get the ball pin high or past chipping, pitching, or on longer lag putts. Happy Holidays all and thanks again for this blog and the cargo short video classic series.

    Reply
  3. bobinpa

    Nice post, monte. I have an issue with determining how far most of my shots go at the practice facilities around here. The balls that are supplied (poor quality and low compression). Also, can’t walk off yardages for fear of getting beaned. 😉

    Reply
  4. Keith

    I play quite a bit of golf with my dad. He is consistently short of the pin – he ALWAYS takes too little club, because one time in 1994, he hit a PW 130 yards. Sorry, dad, hit that PW from 130 and you’re nearly always going to be AT LEAST 10 yards short.

    Reply
  5. S. Wood

    “How far most of them go and the average sounds the same but it can be quite different.” In mathematical terms, the average is the MEDIAN. Where most end up is the MODE.

    By the way, I AM a 300 hitter.

    I was once playing in winter, and it was cold enough so that I could only get a tee about 1/4 inch into the ground. Hard to hold greens, but the drives were great. On this particular hole, it was 280+ across a valley with a stream. I hit it low trajectory, landed near the top of the hill on the other side of the stream, skidded along a frozen ditch, then downhill on the other side of the green, for about 340.

    Reply
  6. Peter Balogh

    How did you train that dog?

    Reply
  7. A Tyler

    I have problems with long irons, trying to KILL them I think rather than just letting the club do it’s job.

    Reply
  8. ric

    I was at Doral watching Greg Norman and someone asked hm how to back up the ball and he asked the guy how often he hit it past the pin, when the guy said not often he said “then why would you want to back it up”
    it was funny.
    Ric

    Reply
  9. A Tyler

    I know I should go to hybrids, just stubborn I guess. A well Struck 3 feels good, so I keep trying. lol

    Reply
  10. Mark

    Monte, I have noticed that in the “In The Bag” articles in Golf Magazine that the pro’s club distances are listed as 15 yards between each club. I have heard that your gaps should be approximately 10 yards between clubs because there is a 1/2 inch difference in the length of each each iron and that rufley equates to 10 yards of distance gained as your clubs get longer in length. What do you think? Is the yardage difference (15 to 10) also caused because the pro’s bend their clubs to stronger lofts and trap the ball?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Generally, pros hit the ball farther. You can see the longer clubs have a few 10 yards gaps. Those yardages are very fluid depending on the shot to be hit. I can hit a 5-225,

      Here is mine, from down up.

      LW-105
      SW-120
      PW-135
      9-150
      8-165
      7-180
      6-195
      5-205
      4-220
      3-230
      2-245

      Reply
      • Shakey Focus Lou

        Problem with high handicappers, into the ranks of which I qualify, is that there is a huge range between a mediocre shot, a good shot, and the rare pure shot. For example, the last time I played a hole where my approach shot was 148 to the hole. Since I hit my 9 iron between 115 – 135, (depending upon a good swing or drop-kicking a fat shot, with average being 130), and my 8 iron which travels between 125-145, I tried to hit an easy 8 and promptly hit a pure shot that skied the green, the rough, the cart path and on to the fairway fifteen yards beyond. It seems like I was playing with your strategy, but with such a wide range for my good shots and crappy shots, wouldn’t I have been better off hitting the 9, and being short most of the time, chipping from the fairway, instead of from behind trees in the rough? Your advice on shoulder turns, balance, etc have dramatically increased the distance on my “good” feeling shots, but I haven’t been able to retain focus to do it consistently. Before the round I warmed up by hitting about 20 seven irons to practice your swing advice, and I noticed my balls hit the grass from 130 to 155 without any comprehensible reason to me. I guess I need practice to narrow that gap, but who has time for that?!?

        Reply
        • Monte Scheinblum

          That is why “the most” is so effective. Take your lumps when you hit a really bad or really good shot. Throw those out like the home country and soviet block judge.

          …or more recently, the French Judge.

          Reply

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