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Carry Distance vs. Swing Speed Chart



Per a suggestion in the comment section of my last article called “How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?“, the purpose of this post is to summarize all of the carry distance versus swing speed data that was being discussed in to a summarized reference chart.

Several things to note about the data in the chart below are:

  • The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour numbers were pulled from the Trackman website in 2010.
  • The Senior Tour numbers were calculated by taking the 2012 mean driving distance of 273.4 yards per drive on the Senior Tour and back-calculating the other numbers based on the PGA Tour’s average driving efficiency of 2.58 yards per mph of club head speed.
  • The average estimated PGA Tour club lofts were taken from 30 players by gathering 2010 club data listed on player websites, what’s in the bag articles and videos, and specifications numbers listed on manufacturer websites. It’s not listed on the chart, but for your interest, the average GW/SW was 53.9 degrees and average LW or highest lofted club was 59.7 degrees.
  • The 19.2 degrees that is listed for the 5-wood, hybrid, and 3-iron is an average of the club(s) each player used that was between the 3-wood and 4-iron.  This was done because there is such a large variance of wood/hybrid/iron club choice to fill this distance slot from player to player.
  • All remaining carry distance data (60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130 and 140) was calculated based on the average PGA Tour carry distances.
  • The LPGA Tour Trackman data didn’t have numbers listed for a hybrid or 3-iron.  Rather they listed a 7-wood carry distance of 174 yards.
  • There are limitations to the data gathering, calculations, etc., listed here, so please just use it as a rough guide for yourself.

Here is the chart.

Carry Distance vs Swing Speed Chart

Carry Distance Swing Speed Chart

I hope you find it useful!

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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the co-creator of "Sterling Irons" single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27. He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also holds the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs. The Swing Man Golf website has more than 8,000 members and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s website members and amateur and tour player clients will pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training. You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons here: Websites – & &; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – & & <; Instagram - YouTube – – More than 2.8 million video views



  1. Matt

    Sep 28, 2015 at 1:33 am


    I’m a 24 year old, athletically built male who just took up the game 6 months ago. I took a few lessons and have gotten my average scores down to the high 80’s from the 100’s since I began. Based on your chart, my club head speed is somewhere between 100 and 110. My distances are as follows:

    Driver – 270
    3 wood – 255
    5 wood – 240
    4 hybrid – 210
    6 iron -180
    7 iron – 165
    8 iron – 155
    9 iron 145
    PW – 135

    My question is this, much like other posters, I my distances were much lower when I first started out, and as a result I purchased all regular shafted clubs. Should I now be considering stuff shafts for my driver and fairway woods? I’ve never been fitted and don’t know exactly what that entails…is there any cost/obligation to purchase that comes with getting fitted? I’m in the military and play on a pretty tight budget right now but want to be hitting the right clubs…and advice is much appreciated!

    • Gregory Sparks

      Oct 8, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      if you swing 105-110 your driver, woods, and hybrid should be a stiff flex. If your irons shafts are graphite, then you should have stiff flex also. If they are steel then you might get by with a reguar flex because they are heavier built than graphite. I swing 125-130 and have xx-flex (2x) shaft in my driver. On flat ground on a good hit i can poke it 340-355. I have Callaway x-20 irons that are uniflex steel. They are probably too flexy, but the hit pretty good.

    • Kevin

      Feb 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      any pro shop should offer free fitting when purchasing clubs. with today’s drivers a faster speed does not automatically mean a stiffer shaft it all depends on the construction of the club head and what you want to achieve from your driver ie forgiveness/workability/distance. it can also come down to your attack angle and how that might affect your spin rate and launch angle. all of this will get tested during the fitting, but be careful some places with puke bollocks about what you need and what you should have just to get you to buy what they want you to. do some basic research first and decide what you want out of your next driver.

    • b

      Nov 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      The upper speeds for irons are most definitely wrong. Dustin Johnson can carry a 5-iron over 220 yds & I know he isn’t swinging it at 120-130 mph. His driver is around the 120-125 mph. Many of those #’s can’t be trusted.

    • E C Mattson

      Nov 30, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Jaacob, Hi. I am a 2.5 capper and would like to give you a bit of a head’s up on the game. First of all, it really doesn’t matter what your swing speed is or what your ideal carry distances are. The truth is that it is the misses that dictate the game. The idea is to limit misses to places where you can recover on the norm. I have a swing speed of just under 109. But that can be seen from more than one perspective. That is when I absolutely nail the shot, which as a 2.5 isn’t every shot by a long way. Sure, if I catch it perfectly, with a good launch angle and low spin rate, I can get out to close to 300 if the fairways are fast. It is a bad bet 99% of the time. I can safely say I carry the ball about 265 or a bit more on average, and that is the real number I have to use on the golf course. The key to scoring isn’t the driver, or even greens in regulation… it is your recovery skills that lowers scores. I am 64 years old. I have to use my head on where my misses tend to go to score well. Sure every once and awhile I come out hot and bust off a sub par round, but the truth is that those days, my short game carries the day. I don’t know if you have tried competing. For me, at least, I tend to focus a lot more. I have shot a 29 for 9 holes, but not by firing darts at the pins. That day, it was my chips and my putter that rendered that result. What you hit as far as distances go is just about meaningless IF you don’t track the data. If you have to club up, then club up. Just understand what you can expect on average, not your personal best. If you have to approach with a 9 iron instead of a wedge, who cares as long as the results pay off the plan of attack. Next I want to say that controlling misses does a couple things for you. If you start seeing where not to miss, then you will tend to not short side your recovery shot, meaning you can get the ball moving across the greens and sometimes get lucky and hole shots. It happens more than most people think if you learn to chip properly. The second thing is as you get better, you can use things like the bunkers as an aiming point because you’ll build confidence out of your sand play and short recovery shots. I am a 2.5 and I can’t hit a wedge anywhere close to those numbers. It doesn’t matter though. I just need to know what I can do, and what will get me the best average results.It doesn’t matter what club does it, as long as I choose the right club at the right time. I can elevate the shot and still get the ball to land softly with a 9 iron. But then, I don’t try to hit hard, and if you do, you are adding spin rate to your shots. When you can chip inside of ten feet most of the time, you’ll get very good at 10 foot putts, and will sink many, and leave tap-ins 95% of the time if you miss those 10 footers. My recommendation to you as a beginner is to learn to dial back slightly. As my golf instructor in college explained to me, the hardest thing to learn in golf is swinging easy. We all want to rip the cover off the ball. But just like throwing a football, the harder you press, the harder it is to be accurate. Same with throwing a baseball, or bowling. If you go full bore, you will mishit more than pure your shots. It is best to center strike the ball at 95 MPH then to mishit at 120. 90% of your practice should be from 120 and in. And most practice areas don’t charge use on chipping greens, so that is where you should almost live at. It is cheap, and what it will do for your game is almost unbelievable. When you learn the feel around the greens, and learn to read differing lies so you know how the ball is going to come out, then you’ll be in the seventies on a fairly regular basis if you’re in the 80’s now. Then get as good as you can with that flat stick. When you dial them in, the days you hit fairways and greens, you will clean up. I have shot a 64 in competition. In fact, to maintain that 2.5, I have to shoot par or better about 2 out of every 5 or 6 rounds. Usually when I do go under par, it is only a stroke or two. But the bad days aren’t over 79 usually and they happen a lot less than years past. When you develop a good grip (I use a neutral grip) the ball direction gets pretty consistent. The game then is 90% mental. Then your lines of attack, and where you miss most likely will end up as what gives you a chance to recover. It is key to scoring. Even the best miss a lot of greens. They can get and down a lot, and that is what allows them to save their scores.

  2. Charles Christian

    Sep 15, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I find this all very interesting and it seems pretty accurate first of all most people are not going to swing 120 mph and hit the ball 310ish yards. The pro’s can do it because they have been practicing most of their lives and have equipment that is exactly fitted to them. Plus, the fairways are in better condition and give them lots of roll.
    I can relate to one of the golfers who stated he can relate more to the LPGA golfers. I personally think they have more skill because the just do not smash the ball all over the course and over all the obstacles they actually play the course – but of course a lot better than any average player.
    Personally, according to this I swing 75-85 mph. I have never actually had my swing speed taken which I should but it seems to be about right with this. Sometimes I hit a driver 180 or 210 yards with a good roll etc. I often find myself in the fairway while the other golfers drive it further but into the woods and they have to hack their way out.
    I also had a playing lesson with my female professional and she could hit her 7 iron about 140 which is about the same as the LPGA players, so I am guessing her swing speed is 90-93 ish. I would believe that teaching pro’s have about the speed as a lot of touring pro’s do. Even though I could not hit it as far as her I found the distance not to be intimidating.
    A 9 foot put is equal in score to a 300 yard drive. I would say improve your putting !!

  3. Straightdriver235

    Jan 20, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I’m wondering what the lofts were for the senior and lpga? Why only give the PGA tour lofts? From this data it seems like s.s. efficiency is around x2.40 for carry, and x2.58 for total rollout, but many of us play on conditions that are far different from tour courses… this starts to show up clearly that many on the lpga really require some roll out. In my case there is no roll out, the course is carved through a swamp, so what I am after is maximum carry. I’m wondering what set ups on courses like that are for the pros? Do the pros switch out drivers based on the conditions, and if so, what do they do for that? According to this data, if they don’t switch out drivers for situations maxing out carry, or situations maxing out the value of roll they are losing strokes. Of course, drainage at many of the tour courses minimizes this issue, but not always. If they do switch, what switches do they make, and are these switches fairly universal? To me all of this data must take into consideration turf conditions, and hardness of fairways contrasted to how punitive is the rough; i.e., an old fashioned U.S. Open course where roll out is not really desired much. It would seem the need to switch would be particularly acute on the LPGA tour… if the fairways are wet for these gals they are going to play a very different course than when it is dry… considering for them follout constitutes 1/7th of total distance they must have numbers that will allow more carry, or more roll on the conditions. Same for you on long drive competitions. Correct?

  4. derek

    Jan 1, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Hey Jaacob, r u still using the 1 iron golf system? all clubs? I have a set and have had great shots but haven’t fully commitred yet. Your thoughts? Do u have the new pro line clubs?

  5. Ben

    Nov 8, 2014 at 2:44 am

    According to this, my speed is above 120 with my normal 295 carry. According to science and launch monitors and swing analyzers, I’m 117. I don’t think this chart takes into effect being perfect fit for a club. If you optimize, you can beat the chart. I’m living proof of that. Also I don’t fly my 7 iron 184. More like 177 to 180 range to be exact.

    • TJ Horton

      Mar 22, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      That’s funny, i carry my 8 175 but i cant carry a driver over 285… i need a fitting.

  6. JEFF

    Nov 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Why look at this? How will this help? STUPID!

  7. jed

    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I see this discussed all the time, but I have been playing golf since I was 5 yrs old with a cut-down 5 iron my dad gave me and am now 34 and my swing speed has not changed since I was on the high school golf team, which was 86mph. Now, I’m not sure if the equipment I’ve used over the years could be wrong but i’m always right around 86mph and carry the ball 260-270 yds on average. How is this possible with such a slow swing speed?

    • 1badbadger

      Nov 11, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Jed, I think one of two things is happening…either your swing speed is higher than you think it is, or you’re not hitting it that far. Mathematically, the ball can only go so far with a given swing speed. If things like elevation changes, wind and other atmospheric conditions are eliminated, an 86 mph swing speed with a driver will be right about 215 yds. Real-world distance is going to be approx. 10-15 yds longer, so 225-230 yds is realistic for an 86 mph swing speed. It’s possible to hit a 260 or 270 yd drive, but if you’re averaging that distance your clubhead speed would be over 100 mph.

      • don butler

        Dec 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

        there are a lot of comments stating my driver swing speed is this or that. My swing speed based on one of those ssr radar things ranges from mid 80’s to mid 90’s depending on how warmed up i am and i play at sea level. One thing is that a lot of courses one only uses his driver say 10 times so the 18th hole you’ve finally warmed up enough to max out your speed but by then if you’ve been walking and its warm out you might also be a little fatigued.
        When I have brought my radar thing with me to the course and max out my speed say about 93-95 I still do not get 235 or whatever, more like 225 and that’s with about 10 yards of roll. I’ve tried teeing higher and smacking it on the upswing but this causes some swing problems and not as consistent of a square hit. Of course around here there is always about a 10-15 mph wind and seems always either cross or in your face. When there is finally a downwind hole tend to get all juiced up and wind up popping it 200 yards

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  13. gregory suto

    Jun 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    110 swing speed
    285 carry

    8 inches

  14. Beneoo

    May 21, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Jaacob,

    Can you re-post the chart? I am not able to find any chart in this page.

    Thank you.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:22 am

      Hi Beneoo, yes, I’m not sure where the chart went.

      I’ve sent the editor an email and asked him if he’ll get it re-posted.

  15. James

    Apr 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I went in for a club fitting last week and I was hitting a 7 iron 177, 186 with roll, and had a club head speed of between 88-90 MPH.

    • gfds

      May 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

      haha no way, unless your topping your balls or have the most super strong frip in the world making that 7 iron a 1 iron lol.

      • CD

        Jun 2, 2014 at 4:34 pm

        That’s easily possible – 7i, 86mph, 175.9 carry, 183 total, smash 1.41 was me Saturday. 6″ tall and 80kgs

        • Uphill both ways

          Nov 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

          How big are your hands if you are 6 inches tall? Are your clubs standard length, if so how flat are they?

      • louis

        Oct 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

        how do you figure it is impossible?

    • Uphill both ways

      Nov 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Bullshism. if you swing hard enough to hit it 177 in the air, its not gonna roll anywhere let alone 9 yards. Get off the stupid computers and go play on grass. then you can actually see how far it goes, see “repair hallmarks”.

      • MHendon

        Nov 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        Yeah that’s launch monitor numbers for you. But it’s calculating based on a hit into a firm fairway not to a receptive green.

  16. Louis DeSantis

    Mar 7, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Although it’s fun to watch the guys on the pro tour hit the ball as far as they do, I find myself watching more and more of the LPGA tournaments as I can relate to the clubs they are hitting. And your chart confirms this as well as I’m just about exactly in line with their numbers and recently was averaged at 93 mph driver swing speed. I guess that in my mid 50’s that’s not too bad after playing only 3 years and if the ladies can shoot the low scores they do hitting the clubs they do, I should just concern myself with getting better and more accurate than worry about gaining distance as it seems many are preoccupied with. I also find it interesting that when I’m paired with other fellows at the course, there are often claims of being able to drive the ball 270 yards, and I often find I’m out driving these fellows with what I know are my 235-245 yard drives. Any way, great article and thanks so much for compiling and sharing this information. Louis

  17. jt

    Mar 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    The yardages on the chart are dead on for my SS of 112. I am within a yard of every stated yardage on every single club.

  18. Joey cosper

    Feb 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    According to your chart my swing speed is 110. I was fitted a year ago with the 913d2 driver with a regular shaft. At the time i was a 26 handicap and much lower swing speed I am now down to a 10 handicap. My swing has changed a lot and my drives now ballon. I have a average swing tempo, what shaft would you recomend? A stiff flex or a x flex? I am currently looking at the fujikura fuel shaft beacuse it is a low launch and low spin shaft.

    • Cullan

      Mar 5, 2014 at 2:02 am

      110 is right on the line between stiff and extra stiff shafts. Some companies are set up stiffer than others, and it also depends on what type of feel you like in the shaft. I’m not as familiar with Fujukura shafts but I know that a swing speed of 110 would fall within the extra stiff category for Mitsubishi Rayon and would fall in the stiff category for Aldila shafts.

      If you enjoy your current shaft you could always have it tip trimmed for some extra stiffness.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Hi Joey,

      My friend and fellow GolfWRX writer Tom Wishon maintains a list of reputable and qualified custom club fitters.

      See if you can find one close to you. They’ll be able to get you a much better recommendation with an in-person evaluation.

  19. nick rumpza

    Feb 14, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Jaacob.. 2 questions..1. I live in south dakota where its arctic tundra 6 months a year.. What can i do to keep my swing on point during winter months? 2. I was recently at a pro shop simulator that told me my club head speed was anywhere from 118 to 128.. I didnt feel like i was swinging hard but those numbers seem high.Im 6’4 if height matters, just wondering your thoughts on it..

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:33 am

      Hi Nick,

      There are a number of things you can do…for example, working in front of a mirror indoors, stepping outside briefly with a video camera to check-in on your swing, visualizing for a few minutes each day, hitting balls in to a net in your garage, etc. Perhaps there is an indoor range near you. Hitting balls on the pro shop simulator you mentioned is also an option.

      If you want to work on your swing speed, the winter time (or any time really) is a great time to do that. It seems like you already swing fast (typical amateurs are around 93 mph, Tour players average about 113, and top long drivers can average in the mid-140s), but it’s always nice to have more. Check out Swing Man Golf for more info on swing speed training.

      By chance do you know what kind of radar it was?

      Trackman and Flightscope X2s are generally considered quite accurate. The Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar is also a good at-home option (although they read slightly higher because they measure the fastest moving part of the club head verses having an additional algorithm to figure out speed at the center of the club). Those are available at Swing Man Golf as well.

      Hope that helps a bit!

    • ron bleau

      Dec 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Any relation to Gene?

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    Oct 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

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  22. David Burge

    Oct 22, 2013 at 6:33 am

    G’day Jaacob, from Sydney, Australia.

    We don’t seem to have the same freely available technology that you guys have in the States. We also use metres, but I’ll convert to yards.

    I reckon my carry distances are:
    Driver: 215m = 234 yards

    6 iron: 148m = 161 yards
    7 iron: 140m = 153 yards
    8 iron: 130m = 142 yards
    9 iron: 119m = 129 yards
    Wedge: 110m = 120 yards

    So I reckon my swing speed is probably high 90s according to your chart.

    I’m a fairly good golfer and play off very low single figures but don’t hit it far enough to be any better.

    Any idea what I should be looking for in terms of spin rates and launch angle and perhaps even the best equipment for my swing speed? I’m using a PingG15 driver with a stiff TFC149D shaft and irons are oldish – Taylor Made Tour Preferred with Dynamic Gold SL s300 shafts. Any shaft tips particularly would be much appreciated.

    Great blog by the way. Came across it by accident but I’ll check out your other articles too. The best thing here down under is that we get to play 12 months of the year!

    • Bob

      Oct 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm


      I think our games are similar and the numbers you listed were very close to mine so I thought I’d share what I’ve recently learned from a professional who is fitting me.

      We tested several drivers and shafts. At our swing speed a stiff shaft produces less distance. My pro says a player should use a shaft with as much flex as they can control. For me the best results come from a regular flex shaft and 10.5 degree loft. I went from 235 yards of carry with a stiff 9.5 degree to 250 yards of carry with a regular flex 10.5 degree (a used Nike SQ DYMO STR8-FIT 10.5° Driver ProForce AxivCore Regular Flex).

      Of course the only way to be sure is demo some clubs. I was able to do it with an assistant pro and a Trackman.

      I have the same distances on my irons but they are big soled Calloways, which were nice when I was a 17 handicap but 5 years later I’m a 7. The bigger the sole the higher the launch angles and as I’m improving I am hitting my irons really high, so I’m upgrading irons but again will go with regular flex.

      BTW I tested last year’s Taylor Made RBZ 3 wood and it was 15 yards longer than anything new. That club is going in my bag!


    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Hi David,

      I’ve never been to Sydney but I have been to Canberra and Melbourne. Australia is a great place.

      For club head speeds in the high 90s…

      – For maximum carry distance, I would target you at a 15-16 degree launch angle and 2500-2600 rpm for spin rate.
      – For maximum total distance, I would target you at a 12-13 degree launch angle and 1900-2000 rpm for spin rate.

      So what I’d tell you depends on how you want to optimize. Higher spin rates are generally more accurate, so that would be good for tight courses. If you need to carry trouble or not run through dogleg fairways, I’d favor the carry numbers. If you have hard fairways and an open course, perhaps going for total distance is better.

      For equipment recommendations, my friend and fellow GolfWRX writer Tom Wishon maintains a list of reputable club fitters here -> See if you can find someone in your area. They’ll be able to work with you in-person to get you dialed in.

      Hope that helps!

  23. Aaron

    Sep 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Jacob, thank you for sharing this.
    I just came from Scheels where the simulator said I had a swing speed of 80mph. I don’t really know if I was doing a partial swing, but all my clubs play at a 110-113 mph swing speed distance (I hit my 9i 150yds all day, my 3W 250, and my driver over 270 if I don’t slice). I use 1995 knock-offs clubs, with oversize irons.
    Is this possible or did I happen to use a partial swing in the simulator?
    I am in the market for new irons and am debating shaft flex options.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Sep 25, 2013 at 6:07 am

      Yup, no problem.

      Do you know what kind of simulator it is?

      Have you ever tested yourself before and got speed numbers closer to what you’d expect given your distances?

  24. Scott

    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Jaacob, do you have the distances for the gap and sand wedge for these different speeds?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

      Hi Scott, no I don’t have numbers for a gap or sand wedge…partly because there’s so much variance in the lofts for those clubs. Plus, a lot of guys don’t take full swings with gap or sand wedges.

      But if you want to play around with a little algebra and plot your numbers in Microsoft Excel, you could probably get a pretty good estimate though.

    • Matt

      Oct 19, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      Hey Scott, just to give you an idea I have a SS average of 101 and I’ll hit a 50 degree GW 105-110y; a 54 degree SW 90-95y and a 58 degree LW around 75 but I very rarely hit a full LW in a round.

  25. Gary

    Jul 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    My irons fall into the 113 category, but my driver and fairway woods fit in the 100 category. Any idea what could be causing that? Whenever I play I find myself being outdriven by my playing partners, but hitting less club off the tee on par 3’s and such.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 11, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Hi Gary, without knowing any other information, my first guess would be that you de-loft your clubs more than most. Possibly your ball position is too far back, your hands too far forward, or something related.

      Excessive de-loft is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could cause your irons to go farther by bringing down your trajectory.

      Similarly, your driver and wood trajectories might also be below your optimal launch angle for maximum carry and roll given your particular swing speed.

  26. Brian Copp

    May 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks a lot for the Chart!

    My irons are almost dead on the 100mph for distance, but my Driver is around the 90-93mph speed, which could be for a lot of reasons I’m sure.

    But, I’ve always been interested in knowing what my swing speed is and your chart at least gives me a rough idea. I’ve always wondered if I should be using a Stiff or Regular Flex shaft and I don’t really have any way to check my swing speed living in the middle of nowhere.

    I once asked the closest Fitting Center if they would let me hit 2 or 3 balls on their machine so I could find out my swing speed incase I should be using a Stiff shaft and they said they could, but it would cost me $150. I said forget it! My clubs are Regular Flex and if I’m between 90-100 I think they are probably fine.

  27. Brian Copp

    May 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks a lot for the Chart!

    My irons are almost dead on the 100mph for distance, but my Driver is around the 90-93mph speed, which could be for a lot of reasons I’m sure.

    But, I’ve always been interested in knowing what my swing speed is and your chart at least gives me a rough idea. I’ve always wondered if I should be using a Stiff or Regular Flex shaft and I don’t really have any way to check my swing speed living in the middle of nowhere.

    I once asked the closest Fitting Center if they would let me hit 2 or 3 balls on their machine so I could find out my swing speed incase I should be using a Regular or Stiff shaft and they said they could, but it would cost me $150. I said forget it! My clubs are Regular Flex and if I’m between 90-100 I think they are probably fine.

  28. Michael

    May 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Hey. I have about a 115 mph driver swing speed and my clubs fit in between the 113 and 120 mph distances. My problem is I can carry my driver 280, but I get zero roll. There is always a ball mark and when soft my ball has spun backwards. I also hit the rest of my clubs much higher than normal. I swing up on the ball, rather than down which I guess doesn’t help. Any Ideas?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      May 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Hi Michael,

      If I have a driver with too much loft, I actually have that problem too.

      So my initial thought is that if you want to optimize your driver for distance, you’ll likely need a lower lofted driver.

      At 115 mph club head speed, to maximize carry and roll I would try to get you averaging around 12.1 launch angle and 2234 spin.

      Do you know your spin rate and the exact loft (not what’s stamped on it) of your driver?

      If you know those, you can do some algebra to estimate the theoretical loft you would need to get your spin to the 2234 mark. Then it would just be a matter of making some setup/swing tweaks to get your launch angle dialed in at that spin.

      • Michael

        May 18, 2013 at 9:23 am

        I have a Ping i15 8*, but it is actually 9* x-stiff proforce shaft. The driver is 45.5″ and my spin was 2574 and launch between 13-16*. I recently had cut ii down to 44″ and improved accuracy, but still hit it high.

        • Jaacob Bowden

          May 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

          Okay, yeah, that makes sense now. You’re launching it a little bit too high (which makes it land a little too steep) and you’ve also got a bit too much spin.

          I would recommend that you get exactly a 7.8* driver (some companies like Wishon Golf will hand select the lofts if you ask them). That should bring your spin down to 2234 which will help you get more roll.

          Also, with 1.2 degrees less in loft, your launch angle should come down to the 12-15* range, which is better for your swing speed than 13-16* but still a tiny bit high.

          From there, with the 7.8* head, you could move the ball back in your stance and tee it lower in very slight increments until you get to a point where you’re still swinging freely and hitting the ball solidly but launching it 11-14* or 10-13*…basically, whatever gets you averaging around 12.1*.

          Do that and you should get more roll and pick up some additional total distance. 🙂

  29. Gary Q

    May 13, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Hello. Has anyone ever heard of someone who can only carry their driver 215, can only carry their 3 iron 180-185, but carrys their 9 iron 155. I’m looking to buy al new gear soon, but don’t have a clue where to begin. I feel like I should be carrying a driver around 240-245, and a 3 iron around 195-200.

    Is their something fundamentally wrong with my swing, or do I have the wrong technology?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      May 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Gary, it sounds like you de-loft your clubs at impact more than most people.

      This could be from having your hands too far forward at impact, having the ball too far back in your stance, hitting the balls a little too much on the downswing, etc.

      It’s not necessarily wrong and it’s not a problem if you can hold greens with mid/long irons or you play courses where long carries with woods/driver aren’t necessary. But if that’s not your situation, it might be worth changing…be aware that you would probably give up distance with your short irons and hit them higher though (also not necessarily bad).

      How fast is your swing speed with your driver?

      Also, do you have a rough estimate on your launch angle and spin rate?

  30. Steve Smith

    May 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    The only other distance charts on the web (where you can put in your driver carry, or 5i distance, and they output the rest of the clubs) were just way too volatile, and seemed to have exponential differences in there, i.e. if I put in a 250 carry drive / 185 5i, which puts me right around the Sr. Tour distances, they would always have my PW around 100 yards instead of the ~130 I actually hit, which is just silly. It’s good to know that my distances are actually consistent with what they should be.

    Great chart and thank you.

  31. dennis

    Feb 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Do you have a reference table also for “ideal” launch angle & spin rates?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Mar 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

      I do! Perhaps I’ll do a future article about this.

      Shoot me an email through one of my websites and I can send them to you.

      • dennis

        Mar 9, 2013 at 5:40 am

        I will today. Thanks. I don’t think John Q Public knows as much about it as we shoule. One example is you explaining why we should move the driver ball forward & raise the tee height so we have a slight ascending swing. it sure pays off.

  32. Jim

    Feb 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Help. I have my first club fitting today with my Taylormade RBZ driver. I had always wondered why it hit differently than my last regular shaft TM driver. We put it on the flex machine . . .and I find out that my regular shaft is really an
    Xflex. Wow. I guess Joe Public hasn’t figured out that club manufacturers mismark clubs with regularity. And it doesn’t seem to be just a comparison from mfr vs mfr either. The same clubs don’t seem to be the uh, same clubs.

    I also figured out that I need two inches to be cut off the club but if I do that, the swing weight will change.

    What do I do? Give TM a bunch sh. . t about it?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Feb 14, 2013 at 5:11 am

      Hi Jim, you might look in to the clubs made by a friend of mine named Tom Wishon, who is also one of the other Featured Writers here on the GolfWRX site.

      His entire club lineup at Wishon Golf is geared towards custom fitting. If you work with one of his fitters, they can usually hand-select a particular loft to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. He also designs the heads with multiple weight ports in the head and hosel to accommodate building drivers of various lengths at whatever swing weight you like.

  33. Pingback: Golf Swing Speed and Distance

  34. Kris

    Jan 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the reply Jaacob. Good to know the spin/launch numbers I should be aiming for. Some day when I can afford lessons I’ll be sure to talk to them about my issue and the D Plane (interesting concepts). For the record, I tee it low (<1/3 of ball above driver face), about level with my front big toe, and hit it sweet or a bit high. I've tried teeing it further forward, to get the upswing, but inevitably slice when I do. My normal shot is low or a low draw. Miss is a weak slice when I don't release the club (usually hits on the toe too).
    P.S. Any sign of new Srixon balls being released? Have heard nothing about the new Zstars despite then being on tour for over 6 months :(. Love my Zs, though thinking of going XV once I run out of stock.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 29, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Sure thing, glad to help.

      Don’t know anything about the Srixon balls.

      When you say you slice…where is the ball starting off? Left of target, at target, or right of target?

      Most of where the ball starts off is where the club face was aimed at impact…then assuming a center face hit, the ball curves right due to the club face being open to the path.

      So for a pull slice, the face would be left of target and swing path even further left (path and club face issue). A slice that starts out at the target would have a face near the target but path too far left (path issue). A push slice would have the club face pointed right of the target and path at or near the target (club face issue).

      In any case, the face-to-path relationship would be what’s causing the curve. There are any number of ways to fix get the face-to-path more closed…one that you might try would be turning your left hand grip a little clockwise on the grip.

      • Kris

        Jan 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

        When it’s my normal weak slice miss, It’s a push slice (I should add for my ego that this miss occurs only about once a round with driver, and maybe twice with irons. Too much, but not constant, and usually when trouble is left). When I move the tee up with my driver trying for the higher launch angle, it’s a pull slice. My left hand is neutral, but my right hand is very strong (to the point I can see all my fingernails easily). My grip is the first thing I’ll be working on once the snow clears up, I’ll keep the left hand in mind too (tend to ignore it). I’m thinking of switching from interlocking to overlapping because I’ve tried fixing my grip repeatedly and it never sticks with me long. Thanks 🙂

        • Jaacob Bowden

          Jan 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm

          If that push slice is mostly when trouble is left, that sounds more like a mental thing. There’s multiple ways you can address that but just for starters I would make sure to consciously recognize when you think that situation might arise and just simply remind yourself right beforehand to make your normal swing. It may take a number of tries to have the courage to make the normal swing under the danger-left circumstances, but the fact that you are recognizing what is happening is a good start to changing how you respond.

          While you’re waiting for the snow to clear, look up the d-plane. Since golfers swing on a tilted arc it’s normal for some people to have a path that ends up too far left when trying to catch the ball on the upswing. You either have to adjust for that by setting up a little more aimed right, forcing your swing path more to the right, or something along those lines. Basically, something that works for you that gets your driver path more rightward (which can be somewhat counter intuitive). Again, look up the d-plane and that might make a little more sense.

          As for the face-to-path, making that left hand grip a little stronger might be enough to do the trick. Whether you interlock or overlap should be fine.

          • Kris

            Feb 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm

            Bought a covert today. Have been working on my grip, setup and swinging [very] lightly inside. Only change I’ve tried so far is lowering my back shoulder (so that I can almost touch my knee with my hand). However, when in store today (almost 2hrs!) I started hitting my old gamer, and while my ss was still ~103, and my spin ~2900, my angle was about 13°! Was amazing. And carrying almost 270. Hit literally every new driver, and the Cell, XHot and covert were all giving me ~108 ss, but all nearly 4000 spin 🙁 . About to give up and forget a new driver when the fitter brought me a Covert Performance head with 60g X silver shaft from the Tour head. Immediately noticed huge improvement. Launching 13-14, about 3000 spin, but every shot dead straight and carrying 280-285 (set 10.5° open). I’ll still be researching D-plane, but thought you’d be curious to hear my experience. Looking forward to spring! Cheers.

          • Steve Davis

            Mar 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm

            Jacob, I am asking cause I am always trying to learn this game. Do you think Kris should work on fixing his swing path? I am a scratch golfer and I get the best ideas by asking questions

        • Steve Davis

          Mar 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

          Kris, May be none of my business, but it sound like your swing path is off bad, Should be In to In, Sounds like yours is getting outside, which is a common problem, Not to argue with what Jacob says, cause grip is an issue too, Somewhere along the way you have compensated for this swing path with a strong right hand grip, I bet your stance is closed also. This set=up leads to a low draw, or high weak slice on a miss. My suggestion would be to work to correct the swing path some at least, If you do you will find you can hit the ball further and with less misses, Do you hit short irons lower than normal? Jacob is right about what causes the curve and proper grip help that, but until you correct that swing path, you will be compensating for it in your swing,

  35. Pingback: Carry Distance vs. Swing Speed Chart | MattiTours

  36. Justin Greene

    Jan 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Great article…..thank you

  37. Augustine

    Jan 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    AWESOME! My numbers have always been 1 more club than PGA average and now that there is a Champions Tour average as well they are exactly my numbers!

  38. Dusty

    Jan 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Its nice to see there is someone that knows about golf, keep up the good work.

  39. rich

    Jan 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I swing at about 108-110. All my iron swing speeds are about 5-10 yards longer then the average but my driver comes in at about 5-10 yards shorter. anyone else got that problem?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Rich, it sounds like you hit the ball lower than a typical Tour player would in proportion to your swing speed. This could cause the irons to carry farther from the lower trajectory…but also cause the driver to carry shorter from having too low of a trajectory.

      Perhaps you are catching the ball fairly steeply on the downswing and/or having your hands excessively forward at impact. Neither is necessarily a bad thing. However, it could cause the situation that you are describing.

      By chance do you know your launch angle and spin rate with your driver?

      • Tom

        Jan 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

        I actually have a somewhat similar problem, according the the golf galaxy simulators my driver swing speed is about 107-108 but on the course I launch it low get only about 240 carry. On the other hand, the rest of my yardage numbers are right in line with the PGA tour average of 113mph club head speed but I hit my irons between 30-35 yards high at the apex. I’m a high spin player, but no ballooning.

        • Tom

          Jan 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

          scratch that, last time I hit on a simulator the apex was hovering around 40 yards

          • Jaacob Bowden

            Jan 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

            Tom, do you know your launch angle and spin rate with your driver?

            At 107-108 mph, I would target you somewhere around 13 degrees on the launch angle and about 2400 rpm spin for optimizing overall distance.

      • Kris

        Jan 27, 2013 at 7:20 pm

        Wow Jaacob, I read your reply and said ‘that’s me’. I normally get about 270 drives on the course with my Superfast 1.0 Stiff 9.5, but it goes low, as do my irons. Using your chart I get above average short/mid iron distance, but lower driver. I hit a bunch of shots at my local GolfTown sim, and with my driver I was averaging 8-9 launch, and 2900-3000 spin, and 260-280 total. I came home and looked it up and I’m thinking I should be trying some higher lofts or high launching shaft (poor-ish supply teacher so using stock lol). Cheers.
        P.S. Hit every new driver but TM and Nike (super pumped to try Covert), and every driver from last year, all in stiff 9.5 and 10.5, and none came close to my 4+ yr old driver. All gave near or over 4000 spin, not as straight, and sub 10 launch.

        • Kris

          Jan 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

          Oh, and 102-104 ss

          • Jaacob Bowden

            Jan 28, 2013 at 4:39 am

            Kris, for you at 103’ish, to optimize your distance efficiency I would try to get you around 13.5-14.0 degrees launch and about 2500 spin.

            It would require changes to accomplish…which you’d have to decide whether or not it’s worth it.

            But assuming you already hit the center of the face (hitting low on the face can raise the spin), it would probably mean going to a lower lofted driver (to bring down the spin)…and moving the ball more forward in your stance and teeing the ball up a little higher (to catch it on the upswing and get the higher launch).

            If you don’t understand the D-plane (there’s quite a bit of info about it on YouTube, Google, etc), it may help to find an instructor that understands the concept to help you with the changes because when you catch the ball on the upswing with a driver it typically requires swinging a little bit more out.

            Hope that helps. Let me know if you need any further assistance or guidance.

    • Steve Davis

      Mar 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      All distances have to do with set-up, grip, attack angle, and many other factors, I am a scratch golfer, and swing at 115 mph. Several years ago I could hit a 7-iron 215 yards with good height, I was playing my irons way back in my stance and really pinching the ball, thus de-lofting the club to a 3-iron, The discrepancy in your distance are probably due to ball position. a little far back on irons, a little far forward on driver; Find the club that you hit the right distance for you, set up to as usual, place a club along your toe line then 1 next to the ball 90 degrees with the other. After finding that position, position all other clubs in relation to it, ball moves a little far forward as clubs get longer, This should help you get consistency all the way to your driver

  40. Barrie Taylor

    Jan 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    The great mystery of driving figures is what shafts were used when looking at swing spoeeds. I dont mean R S or other I would like to see golf Shaft manufacturers and people like yourself produce figures by brands giving us distances for swing speeds on the shafts produced for comparison.

    I have swing speed of 105 ,the only way to test shafts is to buy them. If manufactures list swing speed with Distance then this would help the Club golfer choose more acuratly the right shaft for his/her swing speed.

    What can you offer us !!!!!

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Barrie, you might check out some of my friend Tom Wishon’s GolfWRX articles. His profile link is

      He’s written several pieces about shafts and shaft fitting and is as knowledgeable about equipment as anyone I’ve ever met in the golf world.

      On his Wishon Golf website, there’s also a shaft selection tool that you might find useful…his S2S (Shaft to Swing) Shaft Fitting System.

  41. bo

    Jan 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    was there a tempture gague used to compile these stats?

  42. G

    Jan 20, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Thank you for this! You’re awesome.

  43. Tom Allinder

    Jan 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Jaacob, thank you for including Senior stats too. As I mention in a previous comment, this is an area of interest for me.

    One of the items you covered before and in this article is the PGA Tour Average Driving Efficiency (2.58 yards per mph of club head speed). It is clear, and you point it out that LPGA driving efficiency as well as long drivers is higher.

    It would strongly suggest that the men on the PGA Tour have yards to burn in the distance department for the sake of accuracy or what “fits their eye” with regard to trajectory. Items that increase driver distance (less spin, higher launch, hitting the ball on the upswing) are of less importance when your swing speed is 110+. Getting the ball into tight fairways and the ability to work the ball is more important.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Tom, I saw your other comment, thanks. Glad you are finding the numbers useful.

      I agree that this is certainly the case in some instances on the PGA Tour. A lot of these guys have been playing a certain way for a very long time.

      Even with all this new technology that is coming out these days to help assess how efficient guys are with their driving distances, it doesn’t mean it’s worth making swing changes and risking losing their tour card just for a few extra yards. Like you say, if a certain flight “fits their eye” or is comfortable and the idea is to score as low as possible, you don’t need to be the most efficient driver…provided you have “enough” speed and distance. Although it’s not an absolute, guys are showing that 104 or 105 is an adequate amount of swing speed to play on the big Tours.

      I would expect the driving efficiency for the men at the pro level will improve with the upcoming generation, though. With teachers and kids having access to this kind of information, they can get all those swing changes engrained early on.

      • Tom Allinder

        Jan 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm

        Jaacob, Absolutely agree that the younger generation is getting more out of the equipment. They learn all about equipment at an early age and they learn what numbers mean, what center of gravity means and all sorts of other terms that did not even “exist” (they did, I just wasn’t aware of them) 20 years ago.

        Match that up with fitness and you have really long and accurate players… hard to argue with that combo!

        I am really enjoying your articles. Thanks so much for your contribution to the golf community!

  44. d.chu27

    Jan 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I swing around 120 mph with my driver. The numbers seem accurate. But my irons are similar to the 113mph distances. Is that normal and does anyone else have this problem.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Hi d.chu27, I actually experience a similar thing. For me, it’s from having a little bit of a flip-type of release (even with the lead wrist being flat at impact) combined with a somewhat vertical shaft at impact.

      To use the kinesiologic terms, a flip-release would mean a dorsiflexion of the lead hand through impact and a palmar flexion of the rear hand.

      It’s not necessarily a bad thing or something that is critical to change.

      Flip-releases are generally pretty good for hitting the ball with some pop and yet with less deviance in ball flight curvature. For me, this release combined with the more vertical shaft causes some extra spin and a higher shot height (can be good or bad depending on the person) from the increased spin loft. The downside is the ball speed and smash factor can go down a bit. Depending on your trajectory, that could possibly mean some carry distance loss.

      Does this sound like what happens for you?

      Alternatively, what device are you using to get the 120 mph number?

      For example, in my testing Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radars (SSR) tend to run 5-12% higher (depending on how you move the club through the hitting area) because the Doppler radar measures the fastest moving part of the club versus a Trackman or X2 which has an additional algorithm to calculate the center face speed. If you were using something like an SSR, your actual Trackman speed would be a little bit slower…which could also explain part of the discrepancy.

      • Alex Hom

        Apr 6, 2013 at 12:49 am


        I also have a flip type of release/swing. That’s also probably why I use 2 gloves. It does give me a high ball flight, but also a great degree of accuracy. It’s hard, because the golf instructors always try to change my grip to get rid of the flip.

    • Mike

      Jun 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

      It’s not a problem – it’s normal – check out this link: – on average on the tour clubhead speed drops 2 mph with each club.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge



The West Coast Swing kicks off this week with the CareerBuilder Challenge in Southern California. Last year, Hudson Swafford survived the difficult weather conditions and prevailed to win the event by one shot at 20-under par, one stroke ahead of Canadian Adam Hadwin who shot a 59 in the third round.

For fantasy players and gamblers, the CareerBuilder Challenge is one of the most frustrating events of the year. The event is played over three courses… and only one provides Shotlink. That is the PGA West Stadium Course, which will host two of the four rounds. Along with the frustration of not knowing how your picks are faring on each hole, there is also the added frustration of only having stats available from one course, which makes things tricky in identifying the key categories for scoring on the other two.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Jon Rahm 10/1
  • Brian Harman 14/1
  • Patrick Reed 18/1
  • Webb Simpson 18/1
  • Kevin Kisner 20/1
  • Phil Mickelson 22/1
  • Zach Johnson 28/1

The best player in the field by some distance is Jon Rahm. The Spaniard has had a phenomenal rise since holing an improbable monster eagle putt to win The Farmers Insurance 12 months ago. He’s added two big wins on the European Tour since then, and he’s now No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Odds of 10/1 are certainly attractive, and if he plays his best or near to it then he’ll win the tournament. But the CareerBuilder Challenge is an event in which his immense driving ability will be nullified slightly; you can’t simply grip it and rip it. Instead, placement in the correct portion of the fairways offering the best angle of attack on the many short par 4’s is often the key here. Last year, Rahm managed a modest T34. At 10/1 he’s likely to be the most popular DraftKings pick, but I feel there may be better value down the line with Rahm — particularly on courses where he can showcase his dominant driving.

As I noted, hunting the value in this event is not an easy task. Fan favorite Phil Mickelson (22/1, DK Price $10,000) offers appeal at a time of year where he seems to always play well. Over the last three years, Mickelson has finished inside the top-25 each time. His best performance came in 2016 when he finished T3. Likely to have plenty of scoring clubs in hand from the fairway, Mickelson’s precise iron play should pay dividends this week. Last season, he finished 14th in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green. Through eight rounds in this new season he sits T2. In his last 10 rounds, he has averaged positive numbers on all the key statistics (Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Off the Tee, Approaching the Green, Around the Green and Putting), which suggests his game is in very solid shape. After the media attention surrounding his split from long-term caddy Jim Mackay, I expect a doubly determined Phil Mickelson this year.

Kevin Na (80/1, DK Price $7,400) has had a disappointing 10 months on the golf course. Despite his lack of scoring, his statistics are indicating that he still has the game. Kevin enjoyed a brilliant stretch before 2017,  where he seemed to always be there or thereabouts on the leaderboard. But his inconsistent results of late have driven his price back to where I consider it value for a quality player. Kevin Na’s iron play is lethal, and on a course that demands aggressive approaches to the green he should be able to give himself lots of looks for birdie. In his last 12 rounds, Na sits second in this field for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green. This should come as no surprise; in 2017, he finished 8th in the statistic for the season. His course form is solid if not spectacular, a T3 in 2016 being the highlight. He missed the cut at the Sony Open last week, but it’s not something I’d be overly concerned about. It came down to a brutal two days on the greens, where he dropped 7.6 strokes to the field.

At the same price and in the same mold in terms of a disappointing 2017, Scott Piercy (80/1, DK Price $7,400) looks like a value play. Piercy suffered injuries last season that caused a disruptive and frustrating season for him. But the three-time PGA Tour winner is showing signs of turning things around in this wraparound season. He recorded a top-20 at the Safeway Open back in October, and last week at the Sony Open he played well. He finished T25 despite dropping 4.4 strokes to the field on the greens for the four days. Piercy is seventh in this field for his last 12 rounds for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green; he sits 9th in ball striking over the same period. The main concern is his putting. He does struggle with the flatstick at times, but on these pure greens he may be able to give himself enough chances to improve on last year’s performance where he finished T41.

It is worth a reminder that this is an event where there are three days of action before there is a cut, and I certainly feel that it’s worth adding an extra long shot to your DraftKings teams as an extra round is opens a lot of possibilities. My long shot for the week is Hunter Mahan (300/1, DK Price $6,800). Mahan’s drop from the top echelons of the game is a reminder of how quickly it can all fall apart… but Mahan’s story might be turning around. He had his best stretch in some time at the back end of last year, where he managed to put a run of three-consecutive top-20 finishes together. He holds a positive Strokes Gained Total of 4.2 over his last 5 events, particularly showing promise off the tee and on the greens. At his price, there’s not much to lose in hoping Hunter can put together four rounds like he did at the back end of last year.

Recommended Plays

  • Phil Mickelson 22/1, DK Price $10,000
  • Kevin Na 80/1, DK Price $7,400
  • Scott Piercy 80/1, DK Price $7,400
  • Hunter Mahan 300/1, DK Price $6,800
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The Long and Winding Road to The Old Course



St. Andrews holds a special and historic place in every golfer’s imagination. Anyone who has the faintest chance to play St. Andrews should do whatever it takes to get there. My journey to The Home of Golf was a circuitous one, filled with random twists and colorful characters along the way. It all started with a wedding. This is my story.

Palm Desert, California 2006. I was living the charmed and unglamorous life of a club professional. My soul was slowly being crushed by too many Couples Twilights and Ladies’ Guest Days. The love I once had for the game was waning and I needed something authentic to rekindle the passion. One day my friend Aaron called from Minneapolis with some exciting news: “Dude, my cousin Paul is getting married in a castle in England next month and we…” I cut him off with a quickness. “Forget the castle. We have to go play St. Andrews.” My response didn’t surprise Aaron one bit. His mind was already heading in the same direction, and he knew what I was going to say before he picked up the phone. We started forging a plan for the trip.

Aaron and I were both fairly seasoned travelers, but we weren’t without our limitations. There were family and work obligations to consider, as well as Aaron’s recently rebuilt knee. He was going to be a game-time decision for every round. I’m not saying Aaron is Brett Favre, but he’s a pretty tough guy so I felt good about our chances.

Our limited itinerary called for a Friday arrival, a Saturday groom’s dinner and a Sunday night wedding — all in the company of the wildly entertaining Reid and McIllrick clans. After that, if we survived, there would be golf: Monday at 7 a.m. on the Old Course, Tuesday at Carnoustie and Wednesday’s game at Loch Lomond before heading home. The difficult feat was going to be leaving from the wedding on the outskirts of Leeds, England around midnight and getting to the first tee at St. Andrews by 7 a.m. the next morning. Make no mistake; this was going to be intricate work.

You should know a little bit about the cousin/groom Paul Reid. A successful aviation executive and a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, he is perhaps best known for being the older brother of former Hibernian Football Club Goalkeeper Chris Reid. As teenagers the Reid brothers would visit their Minnesota cousins, and we all became fast friends. Paul and his bride-to-be Kay didn’t actually invite me to their wedding, but they knew I was coming as a guest; albeit a guest with ulterior motives.

We landed in Glasgow and drove to York, England (mistake) to meet up with the rest of the wedding party. The first two days was a boisterous blur of pints and greasy fish ‘n’ chips. I don’t remember much, but I do recall a few things; most notably, the groom’s dinner that featured a James Bond soundtrack. Not James Brown: James Bond. I’m a pretty solid dancer, but there’s only so much you can do with “A View to a Kill.” But it’s the groom’s night; if it’s Duran Duran he wants, then it’s Duran Duran he’ll get.

When Paul and Kay’s wedding finally came, it was a beautiful and lavish affair. Truth be told, I couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. When the clock struck midnight, Aaron and I hit the road. We were stone-cold sober and in front of us lay a cold, wet, five-hour drive through the dark Northern night. There was no place else in the universe I would have rather been.

The road less traveled

It didn’t take long for doubt to start creeping in. Keep in mind, back in 2006 the car rental GPS systems were suspect. We were rolling through the rural countryside with MapQuest print-outs on the left side of the road in the driving rain. And don’t forget we were powering through a 3-day hangover fueled solely by adrenaline. This was nothing short of a herculean challenge.

Every good road trip has a soundtrack, right? Somehow, somehow, the only CD we had was by a band called Granddaddy. “Rear View Mirror” was their only jam. Late night/early morning Scottish radio offered little relief as “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was on every time we sought refuge on the FM dial. There was no Belle and Sebastian, no Big Country, no Simple Minds (thank God) and not even Teenage Fan Club. Just Gnarls Barkley every single time. I’m not making this up.

Three hours into our journey, we were starting to fade hard. Luckily, we came across a roundabout that had a 24-hour gas station/convenience store. Stepping out of the car I realized that what I thought was a light drizzle was actually rain. It wasn’t enough to keep you from playing golf, but it was a legitimate stop-a-Little-League-game type of rain. And it was cold. I bought a few extra-large coffees that tasted about as bad as you would expect rural Scottish gas station coffee to taste at 3 a.m. and headed back to the car.

Then it happened. As I hastily scrambled to get back into the car and away from the freezing rain, I fumbled the coffee. Not in the parking lot, not the side of the car, not even in the floor of the car. I ham-fisted all 32 ounces of java directly into Aaron’s lap. Talk about furious. Aaron was sleep deprived, had a right knee as swollen as Frank Gore’s and was freshly soaked with a gallon of lukewarm coffee. To rub salt on the wound, the only MapQuest sheet that we needed was also ruined. We would have to make the last two hours to the Old Course on feel, and I wasn’t sure our friendship would last that long.

We found our way to town around 5:30 a.m. We had rented a few rooms in a house about 10 minutes from the course and the plan was to change clothes and go play. The schedule was all working out, but the weather wasn’t. It was still raining, windy and maybe 40 degrees. But we changed and headed to the Old Course, hoping at least one of the elements would relent.

It’s not easy getting the 7 a.m. tee time at The Old Course. As the saying goes, “It’s who you know that counts,” and a friend of mine who was a member of an exclusive club that somewhat guarantees members tee times at courses all over the world had set it up for us. I had no confirmation or booking number — just an email from my friend telling me to be at the first tee by 6:45 a.m. If you knew this guy, you’d realize this wasn’t as risky as it sounds. So as we parked the car and started to walk to the historic first tee, only two things were going through my mind:

  1. It is still lightly raining, windy and cold
  2. Considering it’s 6:45 a.m., there are a lot of people here

As we approach the first tee and the Ellis Island-like crowd that surrounded it, the sense of place really started to sink in. Then suddenly, like Moses parting the Red Sea, two men split the crowd and walked toward us.

“The professionals from California, I assume?” said the shorter dark-haired fellow named Robert.

“Yes sir,” I replied.

We stumbled through introductions and Robert went on to say that everything had been handled. There would be no need to pay for anything. Then he asked if we’d take a few singles to play along in our tee time. We happily agreed.

As I went to put my peg in the ground, I could hear whispers from the de facto gallery: “Look! He’s the pro from California!” I wanted to turn and tell them, “No! Look away! I’m just a hack club professional and I haven’t slept in two days! Look away!

Instead, feeling every ounce of the onlooker’s expectations, I pulled driver because it had the greatest chance of getting airborne. I swung as hard as I could and snap-hooked a line drive about 230 yards (85 yards of carry) into the 18th fairway. I was strangely content with the result. Just as we were about to walk off the tee, Robert approached and we shook hands as if to say thanks and good bye. He suddenly pulled me in closely and whispered, “At the conclusion of your round, there will be a silver Range Rover parked behind the green. Get in that vehicle.” Then he just turned and left. It was weird. The whole thing felt very covert. There was something about Robert and his sidekick that had my radar up. I wondered if the James Bond soundtrack from the groom’s dinner was a premonition of things to come.

We were paired with an Englishman who was a very solid player and another man from Houston, Texas, who was far less capable. The Texan, as we came to know him, probably shot over 150. To call him eccentric would be a gross understatement; he made Bill Murray look like Tom Kite. He sported a big, bushy gray beard and a flannel button-down shirt. The only thing guarding him from the elements was a picnic blanket he wrapped around his husky frame. My guess is he slept on that same blanket the night before, probably on the first tee. Whether The Texan was entirely there mentally was a topic of hot debate. “Nice shot,” I untruthfully said to him once. He looked back at me (through me?) for about 10 seconds before uttering, “They all are.” Curious words for a man who just shot about 150.

People will often tell you how great the caddies are at The Old Course, but they didn’t have my man Stevie. Again and again, I asked Stevie not to read the greens for me because I wanted to figure them out myself. I also asked him not to club me, but rather to just give me yardages. As we approached the 10th green, I was pleading: “Stevie… please, for the last time, please don’t give me a read unless I ask for it, OK? I really want to read the greens myself.” His reply: “You got it, sir. Sorry, sir… You got it.. This one’s right to left, sir. About half a foot.” He hands me a putter, walks away and grabs the pin.

By the time we reached the historic Road Hole, my relationship with Stevie (not his real name) was beyond frayed. A good drive left me in the middle of the fairway. I asked Stevie for a distance and he clubbed me. “Just the raw distance, please, Stevie.” He clubed me again. And then again. I asked one more time and he finally relented. I took 8-iron — one more club than Stevie recommended — and hit it pure leaving a ball mark about five feet past a middle pin. The problem was the ball ended up well over the green on gravel. Triple-bogey seven. Stevie was right. The shot called for a 9-iron hit short and right of the sucker’s line I had played.

As we reached the 18th green, we all shook hands and gave our thanks, good lucks and goodbyes. I embraced Stevie as if asking for his forgiveness. I looked up and there it was, the silver Range Rover. Robert and his accomplice jogged out to meet us, grabbed our bags and loaded them in the back. “Off to the castle for lunch now,” Robert said. It was not a request, but a requirement. Our golf bags were like hostages so we followed orders.

The Mysterious Castle

Again, we didn’t know these guys from Adam and the whole scene was just a little north of uncomfortable. Defenses were slightly up. I knew Robert and his cohort wanted something from us, but I wasn’t sure what. Robert told us we were about five miles away from “the castle” where we could “have lunch and discuss a proposition.” When we got there, it was more clubhouse than castle. There was a garden, a pool and stables. It reminded me of an Oasis video. I was half-expecting Liam Gallagher to be passed out on a billiards table in the parlor.

As it turns out, Robert was just trying to sell us memberships into the club, which would be like joining all of the world’s finest clubs. It would guarantee us tee times “anywhere but Augusta National” as Robert reiterated half a dozen times. Instead of calling him to the carpet on the false promise of global tee times, I explained that I wasn’t in the market to join any club and thanked him for his hospitality. After a nice lunch and few beers, they drove us back to our car.

Aaron and I hadn’t slept in well over 24 hours and we were spent. We had plenty of daylight to play more golf, but we just didn’t have the energy. Kingsbarn, The Jubilee, maybe even a replay of The Old Course; it was all right there in front of us. But instead we went back to our rooms to warm up, dry up and rest; a decision I’ve regretted ever since.

After recharging, we dragged ourselves back into town and drank half a dozen pints as we recounted the day. There were so many surreal quirks that we had to take a mental inventory. Was that the hardest five-hour drive ever? Did we almost crash into a few roundabouts? How horrible does a lap full of coffee feel at 3:30 a.m.? Did that scene at the first tee really happen? Is The Texan is still alive? Was he even real? Was being shuttled away from The Old Course by strangers in a silver Range Rover to a castle for lunch with two kind of strange guys we didn’t know the most James Bond move ever… or the least James Bond move ever? Who knows.

But I know one thing: I’ll be back at St. Andrews someday, hopefully with my daughter if she chooses to play. I’ll show her where my smother-hook on the opening hole ended up. We’ll laugh at stories about The Texan. Maybe I’ll birdie the 18th again. As we’re standing on the green hugging, I’ll pull her close and whisper: “If you see a silver Range Rover behind the green, don’t get in. They’re just trying to sell you something.”

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Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Talk Fitting: Length, Lie and Loft



With club fitting and club building, there are a lot of factors that can be measured and taken into account. When it comes down to it, though, there are three critical factors that will create the biggest effect on your ball flight. They are known as the 3 L’s: length, lie and loft.

In this video, I explain why the three L’s are important and why you should always ask for your measured specs.


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19th Hole