Looking At Your 'Team' Part 2
Friday’s post started this dialog about carefully examining your set make-up to see if you are really carrying the right mix of clubs to give you the best chances of optimizing your scoring. Now let’s take that analysis to the next level to see if it won’t help you assess the team you’ve put together.

At each end of the set, we have the driver and putter, so we’ll leave those out of the mix for team building. Everyone’s gotta have them so that leaves 12 players to fill in the roster. I like to divide those 12 players into 3 distinct groups:
  1. Distance clubs. These are the fairways and hybrids, and maybe the longest iron or two. Their purpose is to move the ball down the fairway, or position it off the tee when a driver isn’t the best choice. Distance control isn’t that important with these clubs – 50-60 feet long or short is usually fine. With these, we want the ball to remain in play to keep us “in the hole.” Even if used for a long approach shot, as long as they keep us around the green somewhere safe, we’re looking pretty good. The distance clubs typically are those with less than 22-24 degrees of loft. If you are playing the correct tees for your distance, you’ll use these clubs 5-8 times per round at most. Few golfers really need more than 2-3 of these at the most.

  2. Positioning clubs. These are the clubs with which most of our approach shots will be played. I include the irons and hybrids, with lofts of 22-24 degrees up to 40*; that covers the 5-6 iron up to the 8. When we play a shot with these clubs, we have a little tighter expectation of how close we will end up to the hole, but generally, here too, a shot that ends up within 35-50 feet of the hole is a good one, even at the short end of this range – it certainly is at the long end. If you are playing the right tees for your distance and skill level, you shouldn’t be using these clubs for more than 10-12 of your approach shots.

  3. Scoring clubs. These are the tools with which you will likely determine your score for the day, the ones with over 40 degrees of loft. When you put one of these in your hands, it’s because you are in prime scoring range, whether a short approach or a recovery shot. These are the clubs that should allow you to “take it to the course”, giving you putts for birdies and saving pars. They require . . . and you should expect . . . pinpoint distance accuracy, as these shots are more often missed long and short than right/left. You should have one of these clubs in your hands on the par fives, at least 3-4 short par fours, and all your shots after missing greens. They are your ‘money clubs’, allowing you to score well when the distance and positioning clubs are ‘behaving’, and save scores when they are not.
Because of the different demands and expectations we have for these three groups of clubs, it makes sense that we would have progressively tighter distance differentials – or gaps – between clubs in each group.

Distance clubs that deliver club-to-club differentials of 20-25 yards are fine – you can cut each distance down by about half by simply gripping down on the longer club by one half to three quarters of an inch. Positioning clubs that deliver distance differentials of 15-20 yards are also fine. For more precision when needed, you can cut each gap in half by simply gripping down, which should give you distance accuracy of 25-30 feet.

But between your scoring clubs is where you want the gaps to be the tightest, because a shot that is 20-25 feet long or short from only 80-125 yards is not fine. In this range, you need to be able to “dial in” your shots to 5-7 yard increments with consistency, regardless of your handicap. And the only way to do that consistently is to have your club arsenal arranged to give you tighter gaps “mechanically”, rather than to rely on your feel and ability to throttle down to dissect a 15-20 yard gap with precision.

The point is actually pretty simple. The closer you get to the green, the tighter your expectations should be, and the better your performance should be. I’m going to wrap this up on Friday with some tips on how to tweak your set to give you a stronger team to take to the course with you.
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[ comments ]
jrbizzle says:
Only use distance clubs for 5-8 shots per round? Does that mean 5-8 times each or total?
6/12/12
 
SteveMM says:
jrbizzle - That actually sounds about right to me, although I never really thought about it. How often do you really use your 3W, 5W, 3i, etc ... unless you're the type to hit them from the tee frequently? I don't carry a 3i and 4i, so the only distance clubs I really carry are 3W, 5W, and 21-degree hybrid. I don't do a full swing on my hybrid (bad things happen ... bad things) so that club is really more for punching out of tight spots for me. As for the 3W and 5W, I use them (combined) less than five times in an average round ... usually more like three.
6/12/12
 
Scott Shields says:
Dr, 21* hybrid, 5i - PW, 50,54,58,60, putter

The 21* hybrid is a club that I try to use as a 210-250 club, depending on how far I grip down and how I swing it. I rarely have to do that though in a round, I get much more benefit out of having the extra wedges and better gapping from 135 and in.
6/12/12
 
DoubleDingo says:
When I got my team fitted in April we found that each iron was not what the manufacturer said it should be. The lofts were off, and so were the lie. Now my players gaps are consistent throughout, except for my persimmon 3w/16* and my laminated ginty 5w/24*. 5w to 3i is 4* gap, with 3* between 3i to 5i, 4* between 5i to PW, and then 5* between PW/46* AW/51* SW/56*. Eidolons, when I switch them in, are 50* 54* 58* and then I take out the 3i or 4i or even the driver.
6/12/12
 
jrbizzle says:
21 degree up to 250 yards? Dang Scott, that's some serious hang time. Good work.

Oh, and my Q in regards to 5-8 per round or each, I now see driver was not included in the "distance club" list. I was confused, which is why I asked for clarification. Taking away the driver, that's pretty spot on for the woods and hybrids most folks carry.
6/12/12
 
Scott Shields says:
jrbizzle, I know. It sounds ridiculus, but the Adams Super XTD is a rocket launcher. That hybrid is amazing. I use it all the time if I lose my driver during a round, or if I'm jammed up in the rough. Great club.
6/12/12
 
Scott Shields says:
Edit - 19* not 22*. ><
6/12/12
 
GBogey says:
@Scott Shields - just curious but what are your distances for the PW and 60?
6/12/12
 
jrbizzle says:
Gotcha Scott, that's still a healthy 19 degree, but not as crazy as the 21. I've heard these new power slot clubs launch pretty good.
6/12/12
 
GBogey says:
I'm still believing that the team make-up is determined by your distances. If you hit your PW 130-140 yards, then you probably need at least 3 and maybe 4 wedges and should eliminate a distance club to do so (you would probably also hit driver 250 and have no problem getting to 200 yards without the max clubs). I hit my PW 110 and prefer to hit it with 3/4 swing that goes 100, so I'm struggling to see how an additional wedge helps that much.
6/12/12
 
DougE says:
I have my 1/2 swing, 3/4 swing and full swing distances down pat with my 52/56/60 Titleist Vokey SM wedges, from short grass and normal rough. I rarely hit my PW (Titleist AP2 712) less than 3/4 swing unless it's a long low chip/pitch from out in front of the green from fairway grass. Between 35 and 120 yards, the above clubs work pretty well and I see no reason to change anything at this point. If I could count on my longer clubs from distances of 175 to 210+ I might be able to actually play this game. That is my weakness (and probably a lot of yours too). Though more often than not, I hit my longer clubs acceptably well, it sure would be nice to stand over the ball with the same expectation and confidence I have when using my wedges, which is "This is going to be good." Instead, it is more like, "I hope this works!" w/fingers crossed. All that said, I agree with Terry this time, other than the brand of wedges he would like us all to play. ;-)
6/13/12
 
Tim Horan says:
Like DougE I have 1/2, 3/4 and full swing distances pretty much on call and have stretched that to include mid irons as well. It is all about devoting time to experiment with what you can do with the ball. You discover shots in practice and then see whether they are repeatable. If they are, put them in the locker you never know when you going to need them. Unlike DougE I have embraced Eidolon and will move to Scor when the time comes to replace my wedges.
6/15/12
 
Tim Horan says:
I will have a dilemma when I do change to Scor...with a range spanning 41 - 61 degrees typically I may only have two irons (7 and 6)at most from a different set. I can see me having to build those two irons to closely match the Scor spec that I eventually order.
6/15/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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