It’s a question that has plagued the minds of golfers of every skill level since the inception of the modern ‘Great Game’ back in the 15th century, up until present day - how far should I be hitting my golf clubs?
It’s thought that answering this complex and enduring question will unlock a treasure trove of pars, birdies and eagles that will propel your game to pro-level status overnight. Unfortunately, like most treasure hunts, the best guidance you can hope for is a vague map of where to look (usually in the form of a Club Distance Chart) that will likely lead you in many different directions, but never to your final destination.
If you’ve been following the above mythical treasure metaphor, you hopefully get where we’re going with this. If you’ve come here looking for an answer to the question ‘How far should I be hitting my clubs?’, the simple answer is - there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The question you should be asking is - how do I become more consistent with my swing? Once you master consistency, you can then start to build your game on the foundation of your own consistent club distance.
The reality is that your club distance depends on a multitude of different factors and varies from person to person. However, being aware of what these factors are and how they can impact your club distance, will help you determine your own unique club distances for each golf club.
Below are a few key components of your game that will influence your club distances. The better you understand each of these areas, the closer you’ll get to narrowing in on how far you hit each of your clubs:
Your Equipment: Clubs, Balls and Beyond
If you’ve ever been to a sporting good or golf store, you know that there are a million different options to choose from for your clubs, balls, tees, gloves and more. The most important factor in choosing the right equipment for you, is to understand your own unique swing.
Your swing is the result of a number of attributes unique to your body and skill level: height, weight, flexibility, strength, swing speed, form, etc etc. Each of these attributes has a corresponding impact on the equipment you should be using.
For example, if you have a fast swing speed, you should be using a stiff (v. regular) shaft so that there isn’t as much ‘whip’ in your shaft, which can change the angle your clubhead is connecting with the ball and affect your shot distance.
Another consideration that impacts your club distance is which ball you’re using. Different balls have different kinds of rubber cores that impact the velocity of the ball. So, if you really want to determine a consistent club distance, try being consistent with which type of ball you’re using.
Your ideal club shaft flex and ball type are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to establishing a consistent shot, which will ultimately help you determine your club distance. If you’re serious about honing in on your club distances, have your shot analyzed at a golf store to understand the unique attributes of your swing and start to develop a game plan on how to ensure a more consistent swing and shot distance, every time.
Playing Conditions: Weather and Environment
Another key aspect to how far your shots will travel, is the conditions they are travelling in. Depending on how hot or how cold it is out, your ball will carry through the air differently. When it’s colder out, there is more friction in the air, so the ball doesn’t travel as far as it would in warmer temperatures.
Also, remember the rubber core of the ball we’d mentioned earlier? It generates more energy and therefore more velocity, when it’s warmer as well. So be sure to keep that in mind when choosing what iron to use on that chilly-October-morning Par 3!
The rain is also a factor when thinking about what club to use. Much the same as cold temperatures, rain creates more friction when the ball is in the air, slowing it down and reducing the overall distance. Furthermore, once the ball hits the ground, the wet grass will slow the roll of the ball, reducing the distance again, putting a real damper (...get it) on your long distance drive.
There are things outside of your clubs and swing that can impact your shot distance. The hard part is trying to be aware of them and remember how they can impact your club distance in the moment - especially when it starts raining midway through an otherwise perfect round!
Your Body: Age and Gender
Now this next part may be tough for some of you to read… but we’re just giving you the cold hard facts (sorry!). Most golfers reach their peak club distance by the time they’re 30 and then start to lose about 10 yards every 10 years (obviously, this is different for everyone). So just because you could drive the green at your favourite course when you were 25, doesn’t mean you’ll still be doing it when you’re 50 - but the good news is you’ll likely be much more surgical with your wedge and putter!
On average, men are able to generate more clubhead speed in their swing which allows them to hit the ball further. This is largely due to men being - again, on average - taller than women, which allows them to generate increased velocity and clubhead speed. The only thing to take from this is, men and women should not use each other as reliable gauges for club distance, when trying to determine how far they should be able to hit the ball.
So, next time someone asks you “how far should I be hitting my [insert club here]?”, you can respond by telling them that everyone’s club distance is unique and that the more relevant question they should be asking is “how far am I consistently hitting my [insert club here]?”. Once you nail down club distance consistency, the grass will become much greener.
Looking for more ways to improve your game? Make sure you check out Back 2 Basics Golf for Rangefinders, Putting Mirrors, Apparel and more!