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.”