How far do you really hit the ball?

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.

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 is the key 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 whil bag.  That is better, but most people don’t have enough practice time to do the whole bag.

One last thing.  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.




  1. Banner 12

    Good points. I think the most important thing in this is to find where the trouble is on any shot and miss away from it. So if you have a cliff over the green miss short, i.e. figure your best shot and if you hit it it, it will not go bye-bye. If you’re hitting over a lake, canyon, etc. take 1 extra club no matter where the pin is.

    You also gotta figure out how your ball will react when it hits the green. Everybody takes into account the wind and elevation, but there’s other stuff. Is your ball going to release or stop? Is the green hard or soft? Is it sloped front to back or vice versa. Are you hitting a 5 iron or a wedge? This might be a difference of 1 or 2 clubs(maybe more) from the same yardage. I see this all the time. People will take a yardage, hit a good shot then wonder why they were so far off when they get to the ball.

    Little stuff, but it all counts.

  2. SB Bruin

    One thing that’s really helped me drop my handicap, I’m now a 6, is to focus on regulation. I never, ever try to hit the pin. I focus on just trying to hit the green. I figure the chances I hit exactly where I want to is less than 50%, so if I aim for the middle, the odds are the same that I’ll hit it close at the same rate as aiming for the pin. This comes with the added bonus of a mishit still being on the green for a 2 put par.


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