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Driver or 3-wood off the tee?

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I’ve been in a driving slump lately. Balls that once reliably went straight and (by my standards) long now may go left, right, or may not be long enough even to reach the trouble they are mistakenly headed toward.

Maybe four or five times a round now, my once trusty big stick sends a golf ball off into the no man’s land where good scores go to die.

By the 16th hole a few days ago, a friend who’d just closed me out suggested I use 3-wood off the tee instead of my erratic driver.

[quote_box_center]“You can’t hit it any worse,” I think is what he said.[/quote_box_center]

I didn’t listen to him of course; I hit driver like I always do and I finished OK. But it made me wonder, maybe I should hit 3-wood sometimes. I went out to some local courses to ask other golfers how often they hit 3-wood instead of driver.

“You’re giving up, what? Twenty yards hitting 3-wood?” Craig asked when I prodded him on the subject over a beer after his round at Greystalks.

“I suppose, yes, maybe 25,” I said. “But you’re trading that distance for accuracy.”

“Son,” he answered with his southern drawl, “you haven’t seen me hit 3-wood then.”

For players who pound the ball with nearly pro-like distance, giving up 20 yards, even on a 430-yard par-4, doesn’t really make that much difference; they sometimes happily trade that distance for accuracy.

[quote_box_center]“When I need to be in the fairway,” long-hitting Paul told me before teeing off, “I’ll hit 3-wood. But on most holes I use driver. It’s part of why I love golf, hitting a big drive. And I can fly those fairway bunkers on the right…”[/quote_box_center]

Of course sometimes the set-up of the hole dictates 3-wood instead of driver.

“I hit my driver 260 or so with maybe 230 yards carry,” Anthony said at Greendale GC. “If there’s trouble around 250, then I hit 3-wood off the tee. If the trouble ends before, say, 215, then I go over it.”

“What about trouble left or right?” I asked.

“I keep my driver straight enough,” he answered confidently.

For most golfers, the 3-wood is a more accurate club than driver off the tee.

“On a tight hole,” Steven, a 6-handicap in his mid-30s told me, “if there’s trouble right, I’ll consider hitting 3-wood. My usual miss with the driver is right, not left.”

Short par-4s are also a time when some weekend golfers choose the 3-wood off the tee.

[quote_box_center]“No way, boss,” Darrin contradicted me. “A short par-4 is when I want to power my drive as far as I can.”[/quote_box_center]

His friend Larson was standing with us on the driving range.

“I’ll try and lay-up to 80 or 90 yards for a full sand wedge on a short-4,” he said, “but I’ll use my hybrid probably, or maybe the 4-iron, not the 3-wood.”

“That’s playing it smart,” I said.

“Usually, not always,” Darrin interrupted. “There’s nothing worse than him trying to lay-up and then hitting the ball into trouble. I have to tell him there’s no whining in golf.”

I read somewhere that a good way for players to decide when to hit 3-wood rather than driver is to play a practice round on their home course hitting both driver and 3-wood (or whatever your longest wood is) off each tee to compare the results.

I tried it. I went to Verde Greens Country Club on a warm-to-hot Sunday afternoon in the Coachella Valley. I played a match: a Titleist ball with the driver vs. a Bridgestone with the 3-wood.

I had the course virtually to myself. That is, no one was there to see me skim my first drive 110 yards off the tee. I immediately put the Bridgestone on a peg and hit the 3-wood really well. I thought maybe I was on to something, but eventually both balls made a bogey on the par-5 opener.

The driver clearly struggled at the start, leaving the 3-wood/Bridgestone team in better shape off the tee through the first five driving holes. Despite that, the match was tied in holes, though a greenside failure left Titleist a stroke down.

Then driver hit its stride, with the Titleist finding the fairway on six of the next seven holes. Those favorable drives led to a stretch of pars and a two-hole, one-stroke lead.

When it was all over, on the 14 test holes (non par-3s), the Titleist and driver won match play 2-up shooting 68 to 3-wood and Bridgestone’s 69.

The driver and 3-wood each hit tee shots that led to five GIR, and three of those were the same holes, handicaps 3, 12 and 14, two short par-4s and a par-5.

On three of the 10 par-4s, the approach shots for the driver/Titleist were wedge distance, three times they were 7-irons and the others were long irons or hybrids. The 3-wood’s approach shots four times were another 3-wood, three were middle irons, two were wedges, and one was a 9-iron.

The driver outdistanced the 3-wood on nine of the 14 test holes by an average around 18 yards. Four of the other five holes were short wins by the 3-wood and the other was the aforementioned 110-yard driver on the opening hole.

The 3-wood/Bridgestone combination hit the fairway 12 of 14 times with one major screw-up. The driver found only nine fairways, hit two bunkers and had two misses right and one short.

An important difference I noted came on the three longest par-4s. On those, the second shot after the 3-wood drive was another 3-wood. And on one of those holes the Bridgestone had no chance to reach the green in regulation, while the Titleist was left with a hybrid 3-iron approach.

What to make of this?

It was just one round and there’s not enough data to be conclusive; clearly though, I’m capable of hitting both good and bad shots with both the driver and the 3-wood. If I only knew which was going to be which in advance.

Still, the overall advantage was with the driver, though perhaps there’s something to be gained by not automatically grabbing it on every par-4 or par-5.

I can’t tell you now what club I’m going to use on No. 1 next Saturday, I don’t know. But I do know that at some point in the round, after a poorly struck driver or 3-wood, I’ll probably think to myself: “I should have hit the tee shot with the other club.”

Do you sometimes hit 3-wood off the tee? What’s your game plan for using driver and 3-wood? Let us know in the comments section below. And read the humorous story of Don “Tin Foil” Reynolds as he tries to shoot the round of his life: check out 7-ironpress.com. Get free shipping on Tom Hill’s paperback, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, with the code GOLFWRX, or $4 off on the e-book when you enter the code GOLFWRX1 at check-out. It’s a great Father’s Day gift.

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Tom Hill is a 9.7 handicap, author and former radio reporter. Hill is the author of the recently released fiction novel, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, a humorous golf saga of one player’s unexpected attempt to shoot a score he never before thought possible. Kirkus Reviews raved about A Perfect Lie, (It) “has the immediacy of a memoir…it’s no gimme but Hill nails it square.” (kirkusreviews.com). A Perfect Lie is available as an ebook or paperback through 7-ironpress.com and the first three chapters are available online to sample. Hill is a dedicated golfer who has played more than 2,000 rounds in the past 30 years and had a one-time personal best handicap of 5.5. As a freelance radio reporter, Hill covered more than 60 PGA and LPGA tournaments working for CBS Radio, ABC Radio, AP Audio, The Mutual Broadcasting System and individual radio stations around the country. “Few knew my name and no one saw my face,” he says, “but millions heard my voice.” Hill is the father of three sons and lives with his wife, Arava Talve, in southern California where he chases after a little white ball as often as he can.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Pingback: Driver Vs. 3-Wood: How To Pick One

  2. Trey Wingbat

    Aug 31, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    I don’t understand how it’s easier to hit a 3 or 5 wood off the tee rather than a driver? If I want to hit a shorter shot, say 240 yards or so off the tee, I simply choke down on my driver, and it does the trick every time. The bigger club head seems to me like you’d be much more consistent off a driver than a 3 or 5 wood.

    I do also choke down on my pitching wedge and gap wedge when within a certain distance, so maybe I have the entire concept of choking down to a tee (pardon the pun), and most people don’t even consider this.

  3. Chris

    May 30, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I often use 3 wood on uphill drives, and downwind drives. My overall total distance is often quite similar in those 2 situations and the 3 wood gives me an accuracy advantage. And on tight longer holes I’ll often reach for 3 wood or hybrid even if it’ll leave me an extra club or two in on the approach because after I analyzed stats it made an approximate .2+ strokes per hole difference in those situations to find the fairway.

  4. et

    May 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

    all goes out the window when you mess up the conservative 3wood off the tee to end up 200 plus out for the second shot.

  5. Jeff

    May 24, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Yall haven’t moved up to the white tees yet? Ha. Keep spending money. See ya next year.

  6. Lowell Madanes

    May 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    A lot of the decision is really based on how accurate you are with your driver. If you are talking hooks and slices then for sure we would be in for using 3 wood off the tee. If you are talking slight pulls and pushes, then I would stick with the distance over accuracy. I average 285 off the tee and my 4 wood gets me in the 245 range. Would I give up 40 yards in order to be a little straighter. Answer would be no in my case. I would much rather be further up an extra 40 yards and be off of the fairway in the rough rather than 40 yards back and be in the fairway. Mind you my example here is a staight forward par 4 that has typical bunkers. Each hole and each course will vary and taking one over the other is personal preference. Go with which club hits it the furthest and most accurate.

  7. Paddy

    May 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I struggle to answer this question too. I’m an aggressive player and always use the driver (except for par 3s of course) with a handicap of 13. My driver swing speed is between 95-98 mph and carry 230 yards with a maximum distance of 270-280 yards on a good day. Recently I’ve started to reduce my swing speed by 20% to allow for batter accuracy as I usually have a disgusting slice at 100%. Using my 3 wood at 100% swing, I can reach 250 yards on a good day with accuracy. I’d always ask my playing partner for advice on what to use on each tee and his response is “driver – always driver” so I tend to use my 3 wood on my 2nd shot for par 5s. I issue is that I lack the confidence on using the 3 wood off the tee even though I am more accurate with it than the driver, I guess the thought that goes through my head is how embarrassing it would be if I miss hit the 3 wood off the tee as the other plays may judge me and have a misconception that I think I’m better than them as I use a 3 wood instead of a driver off the tee. A couple of weeks ago, I was paired up with a golfer who could easily hit 300+ yards off the tee with his driver and only used it a handful of times on that round. So I asked him how he determines what club to use off the tee and his response was; any holes that plays 380 yards or below, he uses his 3 wood and this will increase your confidence with every 3 wood shots. So going forwards, I’m going to use this rule and see how I fair compared to using the driver for every tee.

  8. RobG

    May 21, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I have a young family and I work in the consulting industry, the only time I get to play golf is with clients, suppliers, industry sponsored tournaments, and company scrambles. When playing in those situations it’s almost always white tees in the 6000-6300 yard range. If I hit driver off the tee on most par 4’s I’m left with awkward 60-90 yard approach shots and since I don’t play that much those shots are very difficult. I would much rather hit 3W off the tee and give up 30 yards so I can hit full wedges and short irons into greens.

  9. Desmond

    May 20, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    On tighter holes, I typically forget to grip down 1.5 inches for more control because I’m working on swing thoughts …. lol

  10. Rich

    May 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I will hit either depending on the course set up at my home club. For example, the 10th is a 389 metre par 4 from the tips. I hit driver from that tee because I can’t reach the fairway bunker. If the tees are forward, I hit three wood because the fairway bunker is in play for driver. It would be the opposite on 16 though. 351 metre par 4 and if the tees are back I’ll hit short of the fairway bunker with 3 iron or something and if the tees are up, I’ll hit driver over the fairway bunker. If it’s driver or 3 wood or whatever else, the shot you play should have the highest percentage for you to have your best score, not just pound it down the fairway.

  11. Alex

    May 20, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I always go with my driver, save a very short par 4 that needs a hybrid. The thing is the driver is the club I feel most confident about in my bag. Now the other day I took 5 clubs for a quick nine. I grabbed my 3 wood instead of driver and I realized I can hit it really long and straight off the tee. So I’m considering now.

  12. Dave S

    May 20, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I go through highs and lows with my driver as well. Currently I can’t hit it in play to save my life, so I left it in the bag for two round in a row on two pretty tough courses. I played better than I would have hitting driver. For me, getting a ball in the fairway (or at least in the first cut with a look at the hole) means a world of difference in my scores. Like most amateurs, I suffer from the one or two blow-up holes a round that wreak your score. That Par 5 where you hit your drive into the trees that then requires you to hit 3/5 wood off the deck on your second shot to even have a shot at bogey, ends-up turning into a triple, murdering your score. If I hit a ball over 200 yds into the fairway, I’m pretty much guaranteed no less than bogey since I’m decently proficient with my irons, short game and putting. But I just cannot afford the errant tee shot… Until I can get to the range for a long practice session to hopefully work out the kinks in my driver swing, I’ll be hitting 3w for the foreseeable future.

  13. Pete

    May 20, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I hit 3-wood 12 of 14 times a round. I actually only grab the driver if I have lost some confidence after a bad tee shot with my 3-wood (because the face is so big). I hit the 3 just as far, if not further, and definitely straighter. I bought the Callaway X Hot 3 Deep to make this 3-wood a mini-driver. Works great, and I am contemplating dropping the driver all together and adding another hybrid. Definitely worth a try.

  14. Kurt

    May 20, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Good test; interesting and well written article.

    For me, I think the call is situational. Some days, if getting stuck with the Driver (my fault), then the 3W is a stop gap. I tend not to overs wing that club and it ends up in play.

    Further, on certain holes, I think the decision comes down to confidence. Everyone has holes that don’t “fit their eye.” Don’t overthink it. Hit the 3W on those holes, sacrifice the distance, but save the stroke or poor result because of a less than committed swing.

  15. Golfraven

    May 20, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Currently making friends with my 3 FW then my driver. Even with same shaft I am hitting it better with the wood and more consistent. For now the driver will only be used on the driving range.

  16. Mike

    May 20, 2015 at 3:30 am

    Well written article on your experience with the driver / 3 wood trade off.

    I’d advise you to purchase Richie Hunt’s work, namely Pro Golf Psynosis 2013. He studdied tour stats and numbers (so i agree the data suggests more elite level performance principles) but his research led to designers listening and the design of clubs such as the SLDR mini driver / phrankenwood.

    His research is sound and also takes into account the likely proximity to the hole from both driver follow up shots and 3 wood shots, both fairway and rough.

    He is a fellow writer for this site.

    Nice work Tom.

  17. Philip

    May 19, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I’ll continue to hit 2 wood until I can hit my driver further (no slice/duff/hook). Besides my max with both is the same, so until I can pipe my 2W straight down the middle with a draw/fade that was by choice – in the bag it’ll stay.

    • adam

      May 20, 2015 at 12:25 am

      farther

      • TheCityGame

        May 20, 2015 at 9:50 am

        Love it when people correct others and they’re incorrect, or only marginally correct in very specific circumstances.

        http://grammarist.com/usage/farther-further/

        “Many counterexamples could be found, however, and using further in place of farther is never an error”

      • Jeff

        May 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        Nothing wrong with the use of further in this instance. It would be better to completely learn the language you are attempting to correct than learn a few rules and and replacements. Yeah, I before e, most of the time, not always. Read books, not Internet forum replys. Stop being pedantic, it’s unoriginal. You’re just mad cause dude stripes his 2 wood and you think you should dribble your driver further/farther, see, doesn’t matter. It can’t always be your way.

  18. Jonny B

    May 19, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    For me it is dictated by the hole. I tend to hit a fade with my driver, and a draw with my 3 wood. I average about 265 with driver and 245 with the 3 wood. I like to hit driver but if the hole doglegs left or runs out of fairway I am going with 3 wood. I’m equally accurate with both and usually hit about 50% of fairways.

  19. I

    May 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I do not give up much yardage at all if any. For some reason both my 13.5* 3-wood and driver travel around 270ish (may be a swing flaw in my driver)……instead I use it for the shot shape needed, driver to fade and 3 wood to draw. Henrik Stenson inspired me to use 3-wood a ton off the tee, for me 3-wood and driver are equal as accurate, I just prefer the flight of the 3-wood more

  20. Andy muir

    May 19, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I played all last season with only 3 wood in bag, never lost much distance but kept ball in play on fairway all the time. Gave me the confidence to buy new driver this season after working on my swing with the 3 wood.

  21. Joel

    May 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I use 3-wood on many holes of my 7,400 yard home course. It’s for a few different reasons.
    1. The fattest part of the fairway is my three wood. Why should I hit driver if both clubs give me a wedge in and the driver would fly to a skinnier part of the fairway?
    2. I can control my distance and spin the ball better on a 3/4 or full wedge than a 60 yard pitch.
    3. On a very narrow hole where I have to hit the fairway because…
    4. I do hit my 3-wood straighter
    Having said that. Where trouble is, distance and direction is the primary reason to pick my tee shot club followed by the rules above.

  22. Mandark

    May 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Only 68? What a horrible dilemma.

    • Desmond

      May 20, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      It was for 14 holes according to the writer — no par 3’s.

  23. rer4136

    May 19, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Somewhat baffled. You shot 68 and 69 and say you struggle off the tee?

    • Bryan P

      May 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      that was probably the scores from the non-par 3 holes… so add about 12 if there was 2 a side and its 80-81. I think he said the comparison was on the non-par 3 homes so I would assume that is what the scores were from. I could be wrong though.

    • Tom HIll

      May 19, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      no, no, no I wish – for the 14 test holes – the par 4s and par 5s, I shot 68 and 69 – for the round it was an 82 and an 83

  24. F M shouse

    May 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Hit 1 iron off tee one of the new driving irons from calls way or taylormade or old one like vft. Practice long irons for into greens either run up or high shots. Focus on wedges and putting. Move up to white tees have s beer and enjoy. Use driver only to show playing partner that you can blast it into next county if you want too.

    • Philip

      May 19, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      If I cannot get my woods under control I will go all irons by the fall. My irons 4 – PW have been saving my bacon whenever my woods get me into trouble.

  25. Nate

    May 19, 2015 at 11:43 am

    My driver tee ball is usually a high baby fade that carries about 270 and rolls to about 295. Sometimes I can really get a hold of one and hit it about 320. When I miss, it is always way right. My 3 wood carries about 250 and usually has a low boring trajectory which leads to about 20-30 yds of roll. My miss is a pull left. I like to lay back off the tee and go with 3 wood when there is trouble right. I am not any more accurate with my 3 wood than my driver so if I need to hit a fairway, I will got with a 3 iron that I can hit about 230-235 when struck well. I am really lucky because I can hit my irons really high, so hitting a low to mid iron into the green isn’t usually an issue.

  26. Tony

    May 19, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I haven’t carried a driver for roughly 3 years. I’m not a stellar golfer, basically a straight bogey guy, but my #1 problem has always been getting off the box in one piece.

    My 3 wood (2008 Cleveland Launcher) is my spirit animal. When it’s on I hit it like a dream. Despite my handicap, I’m a long hitter (being 6’4 helps), so not having a driver doesn’t really hurt me terribly much. For some reason, the larger clubhead triggers something in my brain and makes me incapable of hitting it.

    I guess it really depends on the player at the end of the day. I have friends who score worse than me but their driver is the only club they hit consistently well. I’m the opposite.

  27. Leon

    May 19, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I got an easy solution: cut your driver shaft to 43″ instead of its current 45″-46″. Change to a lighter grip or add some weights on the head to bring the swing weight back to your preference. Now you have a big stick with the same length of a 3 wood but offers lower loft, tons of more forgiveness, higher COR (titanium face vs steel face) = longer distance, and what else? Confidence!

    Unless you can manage the 3 wood to reach the par 5 in 2, otherwise, replace it with an additional wedge or something that helps your short game.

  28. TR1PTIK

    May 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

    There are certain holes on my local muni where I need to bench the driver unless I want to flirt with OB and I typically hit my 3-wood between 240-250 off the tee so it’s a good option for me on a lot of the short par 4’s in my area. I’ve also knocked my 21* hybrid as much as 235 off the turf and hit a 270+ tee shot with it yesterday (thanks to a 10mph tailwind). Needless to say, I’m not lacking for distance if I use something other than driver – I just really like to hit it because of the potential for even more yardage.

  29. Carlos Danger

    May 19, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Stopped carrying a 3 wood about a month ago for a number of reasons:
    1. Picked up a 19 SLDR and it goes really far. I can get it out there to 260 off the tee. Which at my home course (and pretty much any course) is plenty far.
    2. I play a fade with my driver and if I miss I miss soft right. Rarely miss left. I play a draw with all my other clubs and if I miss with a Fwy/hybrid it goes left. If I miss with a 3W it goes WAY left.
    3. I rarely hit a 3W from the fairway…and if I do I can count on my hand the successful shots I have hit with it. Why risk a bad shot to hit it 265-70 (3W) when I know I can hit a safe 240 shot with a hybrid?

    So… I took the 3w out and added a driving iron that gives me a nice 230ish low ball flight. Loving the setup so far. However…I LOVE 3 Woods so its really hard not to put one in the bag. I have 3 or 4 sweet 3w setups sitting here but hopefully I can stay strong and stick to the setup that is working for me.

    In closing, I would say that if you hit hybrids well, I would test out a lower lofted hybrid (16-17) and see what kind of results you get. If your finding the fariway more often…maybe thats ht move for you.

  30. B

    May 19, 2015 at 10:15 am

    If driver is going to leave me with more that 70 yards but less than 115 then I will opt for 3 wood. Would rather have a full pitching wedge than a partial lob or sand wedge into the green.
    If I want to hit a draw that flies high and stops quickly I will opt for 3 wood. If I feel that hitting a great drive on a par 5 will still leave me with a risky long iron or hybrid, then I will take 3 wood or the hybrid on the par 5 tee and take my 3rd from 130-160 yards.

    There are a few other special situations that would make me go in that direction but I cant think of them right now.

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Sounding off on your favorite golf pet peeves!

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Steve and Knudson weigh in on your favorite golf pet peeves. From not fixing ball marks, to slow play, to guys telling you “good shot” when you make a quad! Knudson shot a 33 in his league and still thinks he isn’t a sandbagger.

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Justin Thomas talks TrackMan numbers, when he’ll switch to Titleist 620 MB irons, and more

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Fresh off his dominant BMW Championship win at Medinah, Justin Thomas joined Johnny Wunder for a Special Edition Gear Dive chat.

Here are a few highlights from JT and JW talking through some of Thomas’ Titleist equipment, his straightforward approach to fitting, changing clubs, his stock distances, and more.

On choosing his Titleist 718 MB irons

“My rookie year I picked up an iron they were testing…I was like, “is it possible to get irons like this?”…Ever since then, I’ve never wanted to use anything else…they look good, and they’re nice.”

On the reason why he put a Titleist T100 4-iron in the bag recently

“That’s exactly right. [that he put the iron in the bag for height]. I kind of was struggling getting the 4-iron up in the air, and I wasn’t really holding greens very well…this club is really unbelievable. You can really do a lot with it. I can hit it as far as I need to and hit it low if I want.”

On switching to the new 620 irons

“It’ll be very easy…I’ll throw ‘em in the bag [when I start practicing again after the season ends].”

On his elementary approach to choosing a fairway wood shaft 

“I went to the fitting. I hit it. It looked good, and the numbers were good. They said that was about as good as I could get, and I said, “sounds good.”

On not knowing that his wedge shafts were different from his iron shafts 

“I found out last year that I have different shafts in my irons and wedges. I had no idea.”

On Titleist as a whole 

“First and foremost I think it’s the best equipment across the board…I’ve used Titleist my whole life, and I’m just lucky now I get to get paid by them…I would use it if I wasn’t getting a dime from them…I like the people, I trust in them…they’ve just a great all-around company.”

On tinkering

“I think a lot of…people get in trouble trying to change too much…the game is hard enough, you don’t need to make it any harder.”

On switching putters

“For me when I putt well, it’s all about speed…I was struggling there for a bit, so I just kind of wanted to look at something different, but it was a bad decision…I should have stuck with what’s won me all of my tournaments [Scotty Cameron X5-style putter]”

Stock carry distances (4, 7, SW) and TrackMan numbers with driver 

Driving range 4-iron: 231 (“I can get it up to 240 in the air”)
7-iron: “185 is normal; I can get it to low 190s”
57.5 wedge: 112

Clubhead speed: 118-120
Ball speed: mid-to-high 170s

“When I hit up on it, I can carry it 320…but when I hit that low bullet, it’s probably only going to carry 270.”

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The Wedge Guy: Time for you to talk and me to listen

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I’ve really been enjoying sharing thoughts and insights with all you GolfWRX readers the past few months. And as I expected, I’ve “won a few and lost a few” with regard to offering what you consider useful information. It is always difficult writing for an audience so diverse in experience, attitudes and opinions, but your feedback keeps me on my toes…as it should be.

So, this week the GolfWRX leadership agreed to allow me to give you a chance to tell us more about your own game and how you play it. At the bottom of today’s post is a link to the first “Wedge Guy/GolfWRX Survey.” I hope you will find the questions interesting and that you will share your own insights into the intricate relationship with golf that you all certainly enjoy. Please make note of your answers so that you can compare them to your fellow GolfWRXers when we begin to share the results of the survey in a few weeks.

On a current event note, however, I found Monday morning’s stories about Justin Thomas’ convincing victory over the field and Medinah #3 this weekend quite interesting. In comparison to his 25-under destruction of venerable old Medinah, Lou Graham won the U.S. Open there in 1975 with a score of +3, with the course just under 7,000 yards. Since then, Medinah #3 has hosted several other major championships—getting ever longer but still seeing the scores go lower and lower. It would be hard to argue that Thomas (and the field) completely dismantled the old girl at 7,600 yards, with the course record tied, then broken by two shots, then broken by two shots again. All in one weekend.

Some leading pros made very telling comments about the fact that “long” is not an obstacle for these guys anymore; that the drivers and balls of today are so forgiving they just swing as hard as they can. Add in “soft”, and they have a green light to tear down flags and shoot these ultra-low scores. This is just the way the game has evolved at the highest level—hit driver as hard as you can, find it, hit a towering short iron or wedge into a soft green, like throwing darts.

It’s just not the same game as was played at the highest level when the major venues challenged the golfers’ entire games—driver to long irons to wedges to putting. When was the last time we saw tour professionals tested at the long end of their bags? In contrast, when Johnny Miller won the U.S. Open in 1973 at Oakmont, I think he could only reach one par 5 in two shots and hit something like 13 or 14 approach shots with a 5-iron or longer…and he shot 63! That’s pretty amazing, huh? And a far cry from the short iron and wedge dominance of approach shots today.

Anyway, I’m not saying it was better or worse back then…just that it was a different set of challenges for the professional golfer. But I believe the rest of us pretty much play the same game as back then—testing every club in our bags every round we play.

But back to the Survey. Please take a few minutes and give thought to the 27 questions about you, your long game and your short game, and how you play the game in general. I think it will be quite insightful for all of us at GolfWRX, and for you all too, as you compare your answers to your fellow GolfWRXers.

Here’s the link to the survey. Thanks!

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