How to Know Which Golf Club to Use?

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Two months ago, American golfer Bryson DeChambeau, shocked golf fans everywhere stating he was going to outdrive the course at the 2020 U.S. Open.  

With the Open taking place at the Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, one of the hardest golf courses in the world, many pundits initially sniggered and wrote DeChambeau off for the major. 

But his tactic worked, as DeChambeau emphatically smashed his way around the course, strolling in 6 shots ahead of the rest of the pack to win his first-ever major.

For most of us Amateurs, hitting the ball long and far like DeChambeau is something we can only dream of. 

I mean most of the time I’m just happy if I just get the ball off the ground!

But an important part of any golfer’s game is actually knowing how far they can send the ball with each of the 14 clubs in their bag. 

It’s a tough thing to actually put a finger on and requires a lot of time and practice to hone in on your numbers.

Although after you’ve worked out your golf club distances, you’ll infinitely see yourself playing better golf. 

You’ll be able to pinpoint more accurately which golf club to use in certain situations, which will ultimately save you heaps of shots around the course.

Plus don’t be alarmed if your distances start to change and vary. 

My distances change constantly, depending on how I’m feeling on the day, the conditions, and the way I’m swinging the club.

But our top tip is to not compare yourself to the tour pros. DeChambeau, of course, can whack a ball a mile, but remember there really is no shame in being a short hitter, as my dad always used to tell me, “drive for show, putt for dough.

So how do you work out your distances?

The Starting Point

The first thing to note is that your club distance will depend on a whole host of factors. 

Anything from your age, the ball your using, your physical strength, the conditions, your technique, and your swing speed can all impact the distance you’ll hit each golf club. 

Perhaps the one you should be paying most attention to though is your technique. 

In order to hit the ball the furthest, you need to be hitting the best and most fluid golf shots you can. 

I’ve had a tough time this year trying to hit the ball straight after developing a nasty hook in my longer irons, which has meant I’ve dropped a lot of yardage on the course. 

Ideally, you want to be hitting the ball straight, and my top tip is to not try to hit the skin off the ball when you’re starting out. 

Let the golf club do the work and take your time over your shots and hit it straight.

Take A Look At the General Averages For Golf Club Distances

One of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy, recently released figures on how far he can smash the ball, with the 4-time major champion admitting he can send his 8-iron 200 yards. 

Pretty scary stuff right, imagine hitting an 8 iron 200 yards!

And while McIlroy’s numbers are pretty astounding, they are not relative to your average golfer, so don’t compare yourself to McIlroy. 

Instead, start by taking a look at the chart below. 

Depending on your sex, your age, and your handicap, you can find averages on the internet for how far golfers similar to you are hitting it. The below chart shows the average distance for short, medium, and long hitters for both male and female golfers.

Club Men Women
Driver 200-230-260 150-175-200
3-wood 180-215-235 125-150-180
5-wood 170-195-210 105-135-170
2-iron 170-195-210 105-135-170
3-iron 160-180-200 100-125-160
4-iron 150-170-185 90-120-150
5-iron 140-160-170 80-110-140
6-iron 130-150-160 70-100-130
7-iron 120-140-150 65-90-120
8-iron 110-130-140 60-80-110
9-iron 95-115-130 55-70-95
PW 80-105-120 50-60-80
SW 60-80-100 40-50-60

One thing to note is that this is absolutely not a definitive source of how far you should be hitting each shot, it’s purely a guide you can use to give yourself an idea of what yardages you should be looking at. 

You should also see these figures increase as you start to play more.

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Hit The Range, Hit The Course

Now if you’re looking to quickly get an idea of how far you can hit each golf club, head down to the range and fill up a basket of balls. 

Our top tip is to hit around 30-50 shots with each golf club.

Next take away the 5 worst and the 5 best shots, and everything in between will be your average golf club distance.

Obviously, the range is a great place to figure out a base distance for each of your clubs, while also working on your technique, but without a doubt, the best place to determine your yardages is on the course. 

You can spend as much time as you want at the range, but it will never give you the most accurate figures for how far you hit each club. 

Sure, it’s most likely you’ll have a top tracer behind you telling you how far each ball has carried, something you won’t have on the course, but ultimately range balls will travel on average 10% less than a real golf ball.  

Plus, the range doesn’t simulate normal golf conditions. 

On the course, you have to factor in the lie, the weather, and the shape of the fairway, while at the range it’s most likely you’ll be hitting your shot off worn down artificial grass into an open field.

To develop the most accurate picture of how far you hit each golf club, get out playing. 

And the more you play, the better you’ll become at determining the golf club distances to your target.

Obviously, you might want to invest in a rangefinder to help you gauge the distance to the flag, but over time you’ll come to find yourself looking at an approach shot and knowing pretty much without having to use a yardage meter that this is, for example, my 8-iron distance.

Callaway Golf 300 Pro Slope Laser Rangefinder

Our final tip is to consider the clubs your using relative to your game. 

If you’re at the stage in your game where you can hit the ball consistently and want to improve on the distance you’re hitting, perhaps try investing in a set of forged iron clubs. 

Less forgiving and providing less loft on the shot, these clubs when struck right will add more distance to your game, as opposed to a cavity-backed golf iron. 

If you’re a beginner, I recommend picking up a set of cavity-backed irons, although they won’t let you hit the ball as far as a forged iron will, you’ll be able to develop your technique better and can then eventually move onto the forged clubs once you have solidified your technique.

The Rub Of The Green

With pro golfers like DeChambeau, now hitting the ball 400 yards off the tee, questions are currently being raised around how the game is changing. 

Players are utilising the technology available to them to strike the ball longer and further, allowing them to place much lower scores. 

And with the state of the art equipment available to the modern golfer, it’s now a lot easier to hit sweet long shots on the course.

But remember it’s not always about hitting it long and strong, it’s about playing and managing the course. 

Traditionally greats of the game like Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Seve Ballesteros haven’t been the longest hitters on the tour, but still are major champions in their own right, simply because they know and trust in their game. 

Knowing where and how far you are able to hit the ball is, and always will be, the key to submitting lower scores in golf. 

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Ed Carruthers
Ed Carruthers
Ed Carruthers is a London-based semi-professional golfer. He loves traveling and is a bit of a sports fanatic. When he’s not at his desk, he’s either hacking around the golf course, kicking a footy around with his mates, or watching his beloved football team Everton.