A Guide to Golf Club Distances
Struggling to figure out how far your hits should be going with each one of your clubs? Golf expert Michael C. breaks it down.
How far is each golf club supposed to go?
This question is asked by golfers of all experience levels. The answer is that it depends on you and your swing. The swing speed you use when you hit the ball is one factor, but the more important factor is where on the face you hit the ball. The closer to the center of the face, the more energy is transferred to the ball, resulting in a faster ball speed and more distance. The simple version of that is that it does not matter how hard you swing; it does matter if you hit the ball in the center of the club face. Coordination > strength.
With all of the variables that exist, it is generally impossible to pinpoint an exact distance each club is supposed to hit the ball. However, there are some general expectations for each club.
The big key with distance for each club is the type of club you're hitting. Beyond the driver, woods, hybrids, irons, and wedges, there are different styles that can impact your distance with each of these clubs. The majority of these differences are apparent in irons, but the other clubs have some level of variance well.
Player’s Style Clubs
These clubs are designed for better players with a high level of skill and consistent ball striking. In drivers, you will see less focus on forgiveness and distance and more focus on precision and distance control. The playability will allow for more shot shaping and very consistent distance, but any miss hits will result in offline shots.
Game Improvement Clubs
These clubs have the largest amount of technology to help improve forgiveness and distance. They tend to have a larger head and profile to help improve the forgiveness and promote more distance. Along with the larger head, the lofts on these clubs tend to be the strongest to promote more distance. The target market for these clubs is the average golfer as they will benefit the most.
Player’s Distance Clubs
These clubs bridge the gap between the player’s style of clubs and the game improvement clubs. They have the forgiveness and distance technology that the game improvement clubs have, but also allow for more that more traditional look and feel.
While there is not a specific distance for each club, there are averages depending on your handicap and swing speed. The average distance can be a starting point for you, but the thing most golfers want to know is whether they are a long hitter or short hitter. While that does not necessarily help a golfer improve, learning your personal average golf club distance can help your scores drop. Golfers have more ways than ever to learn their distances, but the most effective ones are those that can be used on the golf course.
It is important to know how you hit each club on the golf course rather than a hitting bay at a store or driving range. The disadvantage of a store's hitting bay with a launch monitor is that the roll out and other specs can be adjusted to show better numbers than you'll see in play. But in my experience, local shops tend to keep it shorter, so you're surprised on the course. The real issue is that you're hitting off a mat that does not reflect a real lie in grass, so instead of hitting too far behind the golf ball, you end up bouncing through the shot and making decent contact. The same can be applied to a driving range if you're hitting off mat there. The driving range and hitting bay give you a false sense of how well you strike the ball.
I strongly recommend tracking your shots on the course for every club. You can do this with a golf GPS, Golf Watch, or even sensors on your clubs. All of these will allow you to measure the distance you hit each club from drivers and Fairway woods to hybrids, irons, and even wedges. I really like the Arccos Caddie system that Cobra has on their grips. You can also purchase the sensors separately. The system uses your phone's GPS to identify where on the course you are and the sensor logs which club you hit. It will generate your average distance, average range, and number of shots with each club, and can tell you if you miss left, right, long, or short with that club. The key factor in the system is that it uses analytics to determine a smart distance and range which means that it shows you the distance you will more likely hit the ball. This type of information can change how you select a club and improve any recreational golfer's game.
With modern clubs, I always recommend finding clubs that can meet the general distances outlined below:
- Driver - 220-250 yards
- 3 Wood - 200-230 yards
- 4-iron - 190-210 yards
- 5-iron - 175-195 yards
- 6-iron - 165-175 yards
- 7-iron - 150-165 yards
- 8-iron - 140-155 yards
- 9-iron - 130-145 yards
- Pitching Wedge - 120-140 yards
- Gap Wedge - 100-120 yards
- Sand Wedge - 70-100 yards
- Lob Wedge - <60 yards
If you hit the clubs longer than this, great! If you are shorter than this, don't panic. There are a lot of factors that lead to distance but key will be knowing your distances so you don't choose the wrong golf club. The more you choose the right club, the lower score you get. If you have any questions on finding the right gear for you and your game, please reach out to me or a fellow Golf expert here at Curated. We're happy to be a source of free advice and recommendations.