Iron Distance

Distance is critical to the tour player and lower handicap golfer. How far each iron is struck is information that can make a world of difference. You hear every week how "So and So" hit a 5 iron 205 yards. What ??? Are you nuts ??? On my best days I am happy to hit a 5 iron 180 yards and I am a 5 handicap. Where the heck am I going to get another 25 yards from my clubs?

Let's rethink this whole thing. Let's say that this is my chart ( in yards) for the irons I play.

1 190 215 225
2 185 200 215
3 180 190 200
4 170 180 195
5 160 170 185
6 155 160 170
7 145 150 160
8 135 140 150
9 120 130 140
PW 105 120 130
AW 85 100 110
SW 70 85 95
LW 50 70 80

This seems like a reasonable chart. But, here is the question. How often do you hit the ball a 'normal' distance? Normal golf is described as hitting your tee shot to the fairway, somewhere around the 150 marker. Playing an approach shot from there, to the green. I know that this is only a dream but for argument sakes, let's say you do this. How many times in a 18 hole round of golf do you actually hit the ball the yardage you thought you should? Yeah, me either.

I would be willing to bet, you have no idea how far each club actually does go. I am speaking of impact to impact carry only. You can bet, anyone that plays for a living knows exactly how far each club carries a shot. I know that when faced with a 150 yard shot, most male golfers will pull out a 7 iron. I know we hear that the pro's pull out an 8 or 9 nine but let's try to be realistic for a couple of minutes. What if you need a 5 iron to go 150 yards? Will you use it or does your ego get in the way? Face it, we are "men" and we want to show that the "pros" are just normal "men".

How sure are you that the club you choose will actually go the 150 yards? If you hit the ball 3 times, will it go 150 every time? If it does, then you have the potential to be a single digit handicap or already are one.. If it does not, we need to talk.

Typically, give a golfer 3 tries from a fairway under playing conditions, and the second ball struck will be the "normal" ball. There are many reasons for this but let's not discuss that here. Let's assume that your 'normal' shot with a 7 iron travels 140 yards (impact to impact). This means that you will be 10 yards short on your shot. If you figure your distance to the middle of the green, you will be on the front with a long putt. That is not all, most of us cannot hit the ball straight, so we will be left or right and most likely not on the green. Sound familiar?

What can you do to improve this? Swing harder? Change balls? Have your loft and lies checked? Naw, it is simple really. Take a paper and pencil to the range the next time you go practice. Find a place to hit that will give you the best look at the yardage markers they have set up at your range. Find the 150 and the 100 yard markers and get a good idea of where 110, 120, 130 and 140 yards are between these markers.

After warming up to on course playing temperature, prepare to record some hits. Starting with a pitching wedge (45 to 48 degrees of loft), hit 3 balls with the best possible swing you can make. Try to stay relaxed and swing with a comfortable tempo and speed. Record the distances. Be as accurate as you can with the spot it hits the earth. Note whether the ball went straight when you hit it. Hit only 3 balls with each club. Use the 9 next. Then hit 8, 7 6 and finish with the 5 iron. Record all distances as accurately as you can.

Below is Jim Furyk's chart.

3 203
5 185
6 175
7 160
8 147
9 135
PW 125
GW 115
SW 105
LW 85

As you can see, he is very specific about his normal distances. These are distances he can totally rely on when the pressure is on. He knows that from 135 he has a comfortable normal 9 iron. He can concentrate on his alignment and zero in on how far left or right to aim to get within 3 yards of where he is aiming.

You can get this principle to work for your game too. Next trip to the range, take some paper and pencil.


This tip is a suggestion from The Club Shack