“I hit 5-iron 183 yards”

When I hear someone say something like this I want to say…

“No you don’t, you hit 5-iron between 165 and 185 yards and where it is in that range is anyone’s guess.”

I know I sound like a complete jackass, but I will risk that moniker if it makes one player give up on this “perfect golf” and it makes their game better.

Anyone who doesn’t have their yardages in increments that end in five or zero are fooling themselves…even PGA Tour players. Every caddy on the PGA Tour makes fun of every player who doesn’t have five and zero increments.

Fluff is well known for calling players out on this.

So if it is a joke for a Tour player to have a yardage that ends in a 2 or an 8, what does that say about a 5, 12 and 20 handicap?…LOL.

I will prove it to you. If Tour players knew their yardages down to 182 or 183, how come even the best players playing the best on Sunday pose over a shot from the middle of the fairway, with no wind, no elevation change and the ball flies 40 feet short as they pose over it. That is a 13.3 yard mis-judgment.

A 5 iron that is 12 feet below the hole is a , world class shot, yet a 4 yard mis-judgment.

The old time players didn’t even use yardages or yardage books, they did it by feel and sight.

My point is not to make fun of everyone…well actually part of it is…my point is actually to get people out of this way too serious and precise way of playing the game…it doesn’t help, it makes things worse.

Stop taking yourself so seriously and get some nice round numbers for your yardages. It will help you have more fun and shoot lower.

It’s not about reality. It’s a symbolic gesture to use a round number because no one has exact yardages.

It’s a step in making an effort to not be so exact.

The analogy. When someone asks you what time it is, you don’t say about 4:57…you say it’s about 5 o’clock.

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19 Comments

  1. Calvin D

    Beautiful.

    There are holes on my course where I hit several clubs less than the precise yardage
    and other holes where I hit several clubs more than the precise yardage. If you live and die by precise yardage you are cheating yourself out of one of the real pleasures of playing golf. Yardage is only one factor among others for club selection. I would like to see Monte’s list of possible clubbing factors.

    Reply
  2. s.

    I think it makes more sense to know how far you CARRY the ball, rather than how far it goes.

    How far it goes would depend on launch angle, wet or dry conditions, length of the grass, slope, etc.

    If someone told me they hit it 183, the first thing I’d think of (besides this column) is, “Do you know how far you carry it”?

    Reply
  3. Michael

    I can’t talk, for the longest time I knew my 7 iron carried 157 yards from divot to ball mark. FWIW, I called it my 160 club unless there was something I had to carry that wasn’t worth trying to muscle up another 3 yards

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      An example of how people should look at it. Well done.

      Reply
      • meateater

        Monte, I think you may have inadvertently hit on something crucial to your getting back on Tour. Clearly you have a problem not being able to specify to the exact yard your distances. What do you think the top guys like Harrington are doing when they take 15 minutes to get off a stock 150 yard shot? They’re runnng the numbers, calculating the precise effects of wind, elevation, lie, trajectory and a hundred other things too complex for guys like me to even understand. I suggest you work with a teacher like a Peter Kostis who understands the nuances of the modern game. Hooking up with a psychologist to tune up your obviously deficient preshot routine would not be a bad idea either.

        Just trying to help man.

        Reply
  4. Vince

    I understand what you try to say, but there is nothing special in numbers ending in 0 or 5. If you hit 5 iron 100 times and the average distance is 183 yards, then you can say distance of your 5 iron is 183 yards. If you round it to 180 or 185 then you have 2 or 3 yards more error than you should have. Of course, it would be better to say your 5 iron is 183 yards plus/minus 15 yards, but still 183 yard is more accurate than 180 or 185 yard.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      It’s not about reality. It’s a symbolic gesture to use a round number because no one has exact yardages.

      It’s a step in making an effort to not be so exact.

      The analogy. When someone asks you what time it is, you don’t say about 4:57…you say it’s about 5 o’clock.

      I am going to post this.

      Reply
      • Vince

        I can understand what you mean. I still have a little different opinion even on time analogy, but I guess it’s because I’m an engineer. 🙂

        Reply
      • Monte Scheinblum

        Vince, you need this help more than anyone then…LOL.

        Take the engineer out of your golf game and you will play better.

        Reply
  5. Calvin D

    Greg Norman:

    “Most of all, however, try to get yourself away from that huge majority of golfers who consistently underclub and overswing, leaving their approach shots short of the green.

    I admit there’s a certain macho kick in putting a hard swing on a short club and muscling the ball to the green. That’s human nature, but it isn’t the nature of golf.

    My experience is that golfers who like to brag about their 15O-yard 9-irons rarely produce scores worthy of boast. Physical aggressiveness is of minimal use in golf.”

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      I have said this before. I am a long drive champion and I hit my 9 iron 150 yards.

      Reply
      • Calvin D

        That of course depends on elevation change, wind, lie and gut feeling. 🙂

        Reply
  6. Mike H

    My pro when I was growing up would say what club can you under the penalty of death be sure you could hit over the green. Now take one less. I have to say this worked pretty darn well. At our home course there were no yardage markers or sprinklers with yardages on them.

    We have become very lazy because we can just stand in the fairway and laser a flag and know exactly how far we have. That aspect of playing by feel is a bit lost now.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Scroll down the page and you will find an article where I said the exact same thing.

      Reply
  7. BernardP

    I agree complely Monte. So why is that that more and more amateurs are seemingly unable to hit a shot before looking at their GPS or optical rangefinder? At my club, it’s getting to the point where some players are using these gadgets on 35 yard pitches.

    It’s one more pre-shot ritual and one more way to slow the game.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      BP, you are so right. That crap kills me. Don’t forget stepping off putts.

      Reply
  8. Wally

    Funny thing, the more I OVERCLUB the more I land on the green

    Reply
  9. Andrew

    great post. I just got new clubs and have only played nine holes with them. I had no clue about distances so eyeballed it and just swung. My distance was just as good as normal, probably a bit better as I had never played the course either. Perhaps a good lesson.

    Andrew from Addis

    Reply
  10. Yannick

    I always round it up to 0 or 5, but I add a weak or strong at the end. I hit my 7 iron – 170 yards strong, a little more than 170 yards… or 170+. But my 5 iron is 205 weak, 205-. Might get to 205 if I flush it… happens not so often.

    That’s how I work.

    Reply

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