Knowing Your Distances for Each Club

You’ve probably read a hundred articles about distance in golf – and rightfully so.  Distance is one of the most important attributes in a golfer’s game. 

This isn’t an article about the importance of increasing your distance, it’s an article about the importance of knowing your distance. 

According to Mark Broadie, the average bogey golfer will hit a green about a third of the time from 150 yards out.  Of the misses, they are eight times as likely to miss short than they are long.  

Research shared by Today’s Golfer suggests that golfers almost never miss long.  Golfers only miss long 5% of the time, regardless of handicap.  A bogey golfer misses short 41% of the time and long only 5% of the time.  

While there are a number of reasons why a golfer misses short, overestimating the distance a shot should travel is a massive factor.  Some golfers come up short because of pride, but most do so because of ignorance. They simply do not know what their actual average distance is for each club.

Establishing your averages throughout the bag is a useful exercise for any golfer.  Improving proper club selection does not require an exercise program or swing change, it just requires data.

Tracking distances without technology is not impossible, it’s just impractical.  You can create a spreadsheet in excel, pace off the distances of each shot you hit during a round, note the proximity from the intended target line and record the data until you have a large enough sample to establish a reliable average. 

But if that is your only method of tracking distances, you’re never going to track distances.  

Here are a few considerations for how to establish reliable averages through your bag.

Use Your Gamer

Beat up range balls are perfectly acceptable for a practice session, but they don’t offer reliable feedback for an exercise like this.  The standards of quality and consistency in a range ball aren’t comparable to a premium ball. Jon Sherman at Practical Golf tested the performance of a range ball vs a premium ball and found that his 7 iron traveled almost 10 yards further with his gamer.  It doesn’t make sense to establish averages for each club that are totally irrelevant when you’re playing.

Gather Data Randomly, Not Consecutively 

You’ll probably never hit the same club two times in a row on the course so it’s best not to do it in this exercise.  Hitting ten drivers in a row is efficient for data collection, but it’s not as accurate. A tool like MLM is the perfect device to facilitate this. Not only is it portable, but with Smart Club Recognition you can switch clubs by simply waving the club in front of your MLM.

Throw Out the Bad Shots

Hosel rockets happen, but they aren’t very useful in determining your average distance.  If you lay the sod over the ball, don’t include that shot in your average.

Gather Data on the Course, Not the Range

Hitting a bucket full of $5 balls on a range would get expensive real quick.  If you’re going to establish distances with your gamer, it’s easiest to do it on the course.  It’s also most realistic.  

Use Technology

The bottom line is that you need to use technology for this exercise.  Estimating distance on a range is pointless and pacing off yardages on the course is cumbersome.  You can drop $20,000 on a Trackman or Foresight, or you can invest $499 on a piece of technology that has most of the same features.

Hitting it far is important, but it doesn’t matter how far YOU CAN hit it if you don’t know how far YOU ACTUALLY hit it.