Proper Gapping of Your Entire Set
Here we are about to start another golf season ... or maybe you're lucky enough to live in the warmer climates where your season is already underway. Today's topic is about possibly the one thing you can do to absolutely lower your scores this year. It takes no practice, no adjustments to technique or anything but an hour or so of your time.

I've often written that most golfers have three distances with each club in their bag:
  • How far they actually hit that club, carry distance

  • How far they think they hit that club ... and

  • How far they wish they hit that club
The fact is, that most of us are not as long with any of our clubs as we'd like to think. Or more accurately, what we'd like our buddies and anyone who'll listen, to think. But you play the golf course with realities, not wishes. With honesty, not intention.

If you want to score better from the very start of the season, take an hour and go out to a lonely hole on the golf course and chart your actual carry distances for each club in your bag – from your highest lofted wedge to your longest approach club.

The best way to do that is to take about a half dozen balls of the brand you play, and borrow a laser rangefinder if you don't have one. First, go to the range to get fully warmed up and in a groove of some kind. Then go out and find a flat hole somewhere out on the course — you're going to camp out there for an hour or so. Stand your bag or park your cart at your hitting position, and hit a half-dozen 9-iron shots down the fairway. Then walk down to the pattern, carrying your P-club, laser and notepad with you. Discount the long and short shots, and find the center of the others, then turn around and shoot the actual yardage back to your bag or cart. Write it down.

Then hit those six balls back toward your bag or cart and step off the difference between the center of the pattern to your starting position. Now you know the accurate distance for your P-club. Repeat this process with every club in your bag until you have an accurate and realistic distance chart for your entire set of approach clubs.

Now ... you are equipped to go dissect the golf course. I promise you that all your yardages will be less than you have been thinking they were, and that's OK. What's important is that you know exactly what club to pull from any given yardage, not what you'd like to hit from there.

This is a great exercise to start the season, and I'd like to have a bunch of you readers go do this and come back to share your findings. That should prove great fun for all of us.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
sv677 says:
Good suggestion for actually knowing how far you hit a club. BUT, I see a bunch of greenskeepers up in arms when people plant themselves in the middle of a fairway and start using it as a practice ground.
jpjeffery says:
"...go out and find a flat hole somewhere out on the course..."

Never going to happen. There's so many logistical reasons why this won't work and, as hinted upon by sv677, why you'd not be allowed to.

Apart from that, it's a really sound idea (except that in my case the disparity between the longest and shortest, and the spread of all the rest, makes the idea somewhat futile).

Your pessimistically.

GBogey says:
Agree that finding a facility to do this isn't realistic for some of us, although I have used my father-in-laws pasture for something similar (only good for up to a 9 iron). Instead, I sometimes look at my approach shots after a round, looking only at the reasonably solid hits, in order to evaluate how often I was long or short of the hole. You have to mentally adjust for the shots you slice, pull, etc., but through this process I have a pretty good idea about my distances. Even still I will admit I probably don't do a good enough job distinguishing total distance versus carry distance.
bkuehn1952 says:
Go to local range. Warm up. Hit 6 of your brand of balls with your nine iron on to the range. Don steel jockstrap and helmet. Walk out to the balls and measure the average distance back to the hitting station with your armor-plated range finder. Repeat as necessary.
bkuehn1952 says:
Actually, in my area there are days and times when some courses are relatively empty. I have gone out by myself and performed a modified version of Terry's routine. Find a spot on the tee of a par 3 that is the desired distance to the flagstick. Hit 6 balls. Throw out the long and short and average the other 4. Fix all the ball marks and move on (or repeat with another yardage if no one is approaching your hole). I would also suggest not using a tee to better mimic a fairway shot (again, repair the divot holes). Hitting & repair should take less than 10 minutes.

After you move on, find another par 3 or spot on the fairway to test additional distances.

Of course, there are some parts of the country that rarely see a course empty but a lot of us live in areas where it can be done with a bit of timing.
onedollarwed says:
Tough to plan for this... as noted above. A few local courses have areas that you can warm up once you pay for a round, and could pace off some measurements. Also, there are some grass ranges with space along the side. Don't know anyone with a rangefinder. However, a local range said they have a device for measuring which uses sound or vibration.
Seeing as it's spring, there may be a way to find my self alone in the middle f a round with open holes on either side. Some of those courses are horribly mis-measured. Wind will be hard to factor - or finding a calm day.
But hey, we could complain all we want, but I think we need to persevere and get these numbers as close as we can. Let's hear some positive inertia!!!!
GolfSmith7 says:
Another way to do this is by doing "dawn patrol" as the first one out solo, in front of groups I've been on hole 12 while they are just approaching hole 7. I stay there and hit balls until they are on the 11th tee box and then I am gone. Since I am by myself it gives me plenty of time. So go out first and if you play fast you have some interrupted time.
DougE says:
I do this often, late in the day whenever no one is on the range at my course. Usually only with my shorter irons and wedges (7, 8, 9, P, 52, 56, 60). Frankly, those are really the only ones I can count on for consistent distances anyway. I think anyone who plays enough would know by now how far they actually hit their irons. I measure most of my shots on the course with a gps and keep track of those distances. It may not tell me carry distance, but total distance is good enough for me. If conditions are soft, I will expect less. On very hard conditions, I might expect more than average. I chart everything. Been doing it for a long time. I kinda thought most serious practitioners of the game do this as a general rule, particularly when we have so many tech tools available to us today to do so.
GolfSmith7 says:
This going to be the best way of doing this while playing
jpjeffery says:
Actually, I'm finding that my Swing By Swing app is doing this for me, as it can track the distance of every shot, and since you tell it which club you used and if it was good contact (it then discounts thin and fat shots) it builds up a pattern of distances.

Club: 1W.
Short: 124.8 yards.
Long: 185.4 yards.
You can expect to hit this club: 151.6 - 172.2 yards

7I 43.2 yards 112.8 yards 96.7 - 96.7 yards
8I 30.5 yards 110.3 yards 93.8 - 96.3 yards

I wish the Oobapp would do this too, but it doesn't seem to be under active development...!
TR1PTIK says:
I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on the Swing-by-Swing app for that very reason, but I'm waiting until the weather is actually decent enough to get out and play...
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
    Golf Talk
Most Popular: