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Golf By The Numbers
I’ve written several times about how the numbers on irons don’t mean much, because there are no standards for what loft and length a 9-iron should be, or what the specs on a 5-iron should be, etc. And it seems that the entire industry is advertising their new irons this year as longer than the other guys’. Then yesterday we were working with a customer on their irons’ specs and distances, followed by an afternoon session with one of our younger players at the club who was insistent on hitting the shortest iron possible into every green.

All of that boiled around in my head, and I came up with an idea for all of you to think about. I’ll call it “Golf By The Numbers”. So here’s the premise.

No matter how long or short you are, the game can be dissected down to a series of shots of a given distance in order to hit fairways and greens. Regardless of what club you might have in your hand from 135, let’s say, you need to know how to hit the ball precisely that distance, right? And there are no “bonus points” for doing it with a club that has a “P” on the bottom, rather than one with an “9”. And no penalty if it had an “8” or even “7”. If you can hit it the prescribed distance, you can play pretty good golf.

As I was explaining to the customer, you can build your optimum set of clubs by first creating your own “Personal Distance Chart”. In any round of golf, you will find yourself with no less than 18 approach shots, and all will be a different distance to the desired landing area, whether that is the flag or a spot on the green where you have more room for error.

And to play your best golf, you need to know how which club to pull to hit the ball any of those given distances. My premise is that you need a club in your bag to produce . . . with a normal full swing . . . the following carry distance:
75-80 yards
85-90 yards
95-100 yards
105-110 yards
120-125 yards
135-140 yards
150-155 yards
165-170 yards
180-185 yards
200-205 yards
220-225 yards
225+ yards (DRIVER)
That would give you 13 clubs, plus your putter, and fill out your bag.

You’ll notice that I have suggested 10 yard gaps in the shorter ranges, 15 yards in the middle, and 20 yard gaps at the longer end of the set. The reason for that is simple. When you are 85 yards from the hole, your target is smaller. You want the ball close to the hole to save par or make birdie. The ten-yard gap only leaves you 15 feet long or short, which is a makeable putt. At the long end of the set, however, when you find yourself over 180 yards to the target, you generally have a bigger target area and relaxed expectation for distance precision. Being 30-35 feet long or short of the target is generally quite good. And in the middle, 15-20 feet long or short is totally workable. Besides, by simply gripping down on the club by ½ to ¾ inch, you’ll cut those distance gaps in half, giving you all the precision you need.

I’ll grant you that you can tweak these numbers a bit, maybe 5 yards this way or that, to suit your own game, but if you have big gaps at the short end, and small gaps at the long end, maybe you should look into tweaking your iron specs, removing/adding a club or two, to get the precision better golf requires.

This will give you all something to think about . . . and sound off about. I’m looking forward to that, as I always do.
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 ]
lesdsmith944 says:
I could,nt agree more. I did this with my wedges and it has been amazing how much more times I get up and down. it also reduced my putts per round to betweewn 29 to 31 coz I hit it closer. fix the gaps, fix the yardages.
4/8/11
 
el_pato_real says:
On of my favorite golf stories concerns distance control...I can't remember the pro who is the subject, but it goes like this...

A famous golfer was asked what club he would use from 100 yards. He replied "all of them."

The point is that if you practice enough, you can hit a 7 iron 100 yards if the conditions call for it. I hit my LW (58*) about 95 on a full swing, but I'm not going to waste the space in my bag on a 64* wedge to hit a 70 yard shot.

I'm all for knowing your distances on full swings and doing what you can to avoid huge gaps...but the creativity and imagination of golfers is more powerful and useful to the science of golf clubs.
4/12/11
 
el_pato_real says:
Sorry...two obvious errors.

1. One of my favorite golf...
2. more powerful and useful than the science...
4/12/11
 
w8000sh says:
There are only 12 range bands in the table. Can I suggest you add one more? say 65-70yds....that would make 13 clubs. That makes 4 wedges..60, 56, 52, 48 for example. This is where the score-saving comes in.
Useful thinking though, thanks.
4/13/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
 
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