A Look At The Long Clubs
Though I write as "the Wedge Guy", you can't put a wedge in your hands until you've hit the long clubs, right? And I've written about the driver as the first scoring club, because it is. Jason Dufner just blitzed the PGA by hitting fairways and greens, many of his approaches tearing flags down. He even admitted to the shaky putter, which we saw a number of times, but when you are that deadly with your approaches ... because you hit so many of them from the fairway ... you can get away with the shaky putter more easily.
What I'd like to dive into today is the subject of taking a closer look at the long end of your set, starting with your driver. In your quest for hitting it longer, are you sacrificing accuracy? How often do you hit the ball in the fairway, as opposed to the rough ... or worse? One interesting stat to keep is how many strokes you lose to par when you miss a fairway, as opposed to when you don't. I think most golfers will find that those missed fairways are a lot more costly than you realize.
And I will tell you again and again -- that 45-46 inch driver is a huge problem for all recreational golfers. Your distance gains from gripping down (or better yet, cutting down) your driver to 43 or 43-1/2 inches will be measurable. And you'll hit a ton more fairways doing that. And your scores will go down.
But let's look at the other long clubs in your bag. Because I'm in the business, I take a close look at most bags I encounter. I see what kind of wedges and irons the golfer has, what his or her longest iron is, and how many clubs they have "under cover". I'd say the average is about 4, but it is higher as the golfer's handicap is higher. What I don't understand are these golfers who carry two fairway woods, and 2-3 hybrids. I have to believe that their distance differentials between those clubs is not all that great, and that it causes them more confusion than not.
For most golfers of average clubhead speed, the 3-wood is not that effective from the fairway – it just doesn't have enough loft at 13-15 degrees. It takes a lot of clubhead speed to optimize carry distance with that club. A four- or five wood from 16-19 degrees of loft will typically give you more carry distance and more accuracy than that lower-lofted 3-wood.
From there, I can't see how a golfer would need more than two hybrids, regardless of their strength profile and skill level. They should deliver high ball flight that can hold a green and distances of 15-20 yards less than the fairway wood and 15-20 yards from the lower loft hybrid. Those three clubs can get you down to your first iron approach distance.
And from there, you should pick, alter or drop any clubs that don't result in a full-swing distance difference of 12-15 yards from the one above it.
For very low-speed golfers, in fact, I'd say that you could drop your odd- or even-number irons – at least at the long end of the set – and make the game simpler and more easy to manage. The USGA says we can't carry more than 14 clubs, but it doesn't say we can't carry less than that. And if you hit a 5-iron less than 155 or so, you probably don't need all of them.
Just something to think about.
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A four- or five wood from 16-19 degrees of loft will typically give you more carry distance and more accuracy than that lower-lofted 3-wood.
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