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How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?

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How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs

One of the nice things about having all this new fancy technological equipment like Trackman, Flightscope, ShotLink, etc., at various PGA Tour events is that distance data can be gathered for each of the players.

In case you haven’t come across it already, here are the approximate Trackman carry distance averages for men at the professional level.

Average PGA Tour Carry Distances (yards)

Club Carry
Driver (Total) 289
Driver (Carry) 269
3-Wood 243
5-Wood 230
Hybrid 225
3-Iron 212
4-Iron 203
5-Iron 194
6-Iron 183
7-Iron 172
8-Iron 160
9-Iron 148
PW 136

 

Pretty cool info. Perhaps they hit it farther than you might have thought…or maybe they hit less than you may have been lead to believe based on what you’ve seen on TV, read on the internet, etc.

Since I deal a lot with swing speed training and helping people in general hit the ball farther, a relatively common question I get is, “How far should I hit my clubs for my swing speed?”

Well, since we also know that the average driver swing speed on Tour typically runs around 112 to 113 mph, using a bit of algebra and the above distances we can approximate a guide for how far you could expect to hit the ball (assuming fairly consistent and solid contact) given your personal driver swing speed.

Here are those carry distances.

Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed (mph)

 Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed (mph)

I took the ranges down to 60 and 70 mph because those are swing speeds I’ll encounter when working with some amateur women and seniors. I also went up to 140 mph because numerous long drivers I’ve trained can get their drivers up that high (RE/MAX World Long Drive champions like Joe Miller, Jamie Sadlowski and Ryan Winther can actually reach over 150 mph).

Aside from using the chart as a general reference point, here are a few other things that I think are worth pointing out:

First, these numbers are based off how the average Tour player strikes the ball. Although Tour players are overall good ball strikers with all their clubs, most of them are actually not as efficient (the Tour average is about 2.58 yards/mph of swing speed) as they can be when it comes to distance with their drivers because on average they hit drives that launch too low and with too much spin.

LGPA Tour players (2.65 yards/mph of swing speed) and Professional Long Drivers are actually more distance efficient with their drivers…but that’s a topic for another article. The good news for you is that greater carry and total-driving distances can be achieved at all the range of swing speeds shown above if you are a more efficient driver than the average male tour player at 2.58 yards/mph of swing speed.

With a 2-degree change in driver loft and some minor adjustments made to his swing path, angle of attack, etc, one of my amateur students went from being an already above-average efficient driver at 2.61 yards/mph to an extremely efficient one at 2.75 yards/mph. So with no change to his 102 mph swing speed, he increased his driving distance average from 266 to 280. Then after some swing speed training, he got up to 112 mph and can now hit drives around 307 yards with that same efficiency of 2.75 yards/mph. That’s 41 more yards!

Second, the club distances are based on the driver swing speeds that you would get from a system like FlightScope and Trackman. So if at all possible, get yourself checked on one of those. Otherwise, if you measure with something like a Speed Stik (which measure higher in my experience), you could get a false sense of how far you might expect to hit the ball.

As another example, Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radars (SSR) also read faster. It should be pointed out that SSRs are still a great personal training aid, and because of their accuracy and relative affordability and portability, they are actually the radar I recommend in my swing speed training programs.

However, the Doppler radar in an SSR measures the fastest moving part of the club head (typically the toe) versus a Trackman or FlightScope, which each have proprietary algorithms to calculate the speed at the center of the club face. For this reason, SSRs will read about 5 to 12 percent faster, depending on how you as an individual move the driver through impact. If you have an SSR, just hit 5 to 10 balls with it and a Trackman or FlightScope at the same time and you’ll find out your personal difference for sake of comparison.

Third, the above numbers can be useful for a good general reference, but like I mentioned in my article about understand distance variance, recognize that carry distances can vary a lot depending on conditions. Slopes, wind, temperature, altitude, etc., are all things that can affect how far the ball flies, so remember to factor that in.

Fourth, keep in mind potential loft differences between your clubs and the ones here. As a general rule of thumb, club manufacturers have made their club lofts (especially in the irons) continually stronger over the years as a way of marketing and selling consumers the new clubs.

Many top Tour players are being paid to play the latest clubs, which could mean they might also be playing irons with stronger lofts than the set you are playing. This isn’t always the case, however, but it’s another thing to be aware of.

Last, once you start approaching less than 80 mph with the driver, notice how the distances start bunching up between clubs.  At this point, you start getting to an area where you really don’t need a full set of 14 clubs. If this is you, perhaps you might also find that you hit a 3-wood or 5-wood further than a normal driver.

My wife is very strong and athletic, however, as a beginner who doesn’t play or practice very much, she hasn’t developed much swing speed. For that reason, we got her fitted for a 9-club set of Wishon 730CLs, a set that is designed specifically for men and women with less than 80 mph of club head speed.

The shafts are very light, the driver is 16 degrees and only 42 inches, the fairway woods are 20 and 26 degrees (versus the commonly used 15- and 19-degree fairway woods), and the remaining hybrids/irons are gapped out in 6-degree loft increments (compared to the normal 3- or 4-degree). Also, since many beginners, lesser skilled players and those with slower swing speeds can struggle with really high lofted wedges, the highest lofted wedge in the set is 54 degrees.

All of these things combine to provide a driver that can actually be hit in the air for distance, clubs that have substantial distance gapping, plus it’s just less clubs in general to lug around and choose from.

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Jaacob Bowden is a Holistic Lifestyle Entrepreneur and Professional Golfer, keen on exploring golf and life’s broader lessons while offering coaching and swing speed training through JaacobBowden.com and SwingManGolf.com. With a history of driving remarkable golfing achievements, Jaacob intertwines his sport passion with holistic living. His writings reflect this blend, offering readers insights into improving both their game and their lives. Explore JaacobBowden.com and SwingManGolf.com to unlock a new level of golfing prowess and holistic enrichment.

106 Comments

106 Comments

  1. Jung

    Nov 26, 2021 at 7:16 pm

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  2. Dennis

    Apr 26, 2021 at 8:47 am

    I got a swing speed of 78mph with my i7 (31°) and my average carry is 155yards

  3. Pingback: Golf Club Distances: How Far Should You Hit Each Golf Club? - Golfer Logic

  4. Tim Martin

    Nov 15, 2018 at 12:59 am

    Jacob Bowden’s company swingmangolf is a scam. I tried to sign up for a basic membership just so I could read over the material. I guess I was a member from 11 years ago (didnt remember it) so when I signed up again, instead of the 49.95 payment spread over 3 months like I signed up for… They signed me up for some premium membership and have been taking 49.95 per month out of my account. I finally got them to stop but im out $300.00 and cant afford it as my wife and I are disabled and living on her disability.

    I hope no one else gets scammed by this fraud

  5. Wileetoyote

    Mar 10, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Your chart numbers are pretty accurate for me… I’m a 51 yr old with a single digit handicap and an avg (semi-aggressive) swing speed of 105mph. I bounce between your 100-110 number up and down the scale depending on a pure hit vs a toe hit and if I’m looking for a smooth hit at 80% or going after it at 90%. Anything overly aggressive (beyond 90%) would result in a miss hit half the time so I try to avoid that.

  6. Dave

    Feb 14, 2018 at 6:58 am

    I just saw a video of you on you tube using both the swing speed radar and ,i think, a flight scope and the flight scope swing speeds were higher yet in the above blog you stated that the swing speed radar was most likely to read higher.
    Did that you tube video change your mind about that information as perhaps the swing speed radar readings are apt to be LOWER than one of those more expensive swing speed measuring devices

  7. SV

    Jan 5, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I just reread this article. The chart confirms something I noticed years ago, and that is my distances do not conform to the norm. On longer clubs, such as driver, fairways and hybrids I am less efficient. With an average driver swing speed of 95 my longer club averages are closer to a 90 SS or a little lower. My iron distances are closer to the 100 SS averages. I would think a lot of people are similar unless they are a plus handicap.
    Thanks for the information.

    • chris

      Apr 26, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Chart is not perfect and everything is subject to centeredness of contact.

  8. Travis

    Jan 2, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Interesting article but these numbers are way off. Understanding that the same swing speed can produce a variety of distances based on strike, AOA, etc these numbers still same significantly lower than the expected results. A 90 mph 7 iron is easily getting 170 carry on a quality strike. This chart has it at 138!!! That just does not add up. I think TM or GC2 have charts that provide more accurate information.

    • Golfarn84

      Jan 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Re-read the header of the table, “Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed”. You will likely have about a 110 mph driver SS to have a 90 mph 7iron SS. The 110 mph column shows a 169 yard carry for a 7 iron.

      • Brent37656

        Sep 23, 2018 at 3:44 am

        Do many golfers mix and match brands of clubs? As a newbie, I’m hoping that the G30 driver will suit me as I bought the G30 irons and would like a matching set purely for aesthetics.
        I appreciate your input!

    • andy

      May 15, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      90mph swing carrying 170yds, are you on crack????

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  10. terry Langaard

    Apr 19, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    I had to change my swing because i have 2 blown discs in my back. so this year i changed my swing with a draw on it.maybe. maybe 1oomph, how far should my clubs go. driver 3wood 7 wood 4 hybrid 5 6 7 8 9 p 52 56 60. just something to go on. thanks terry l

  11. Other Paul

    Feb 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Jaacob. I spent some time with your exercises. And it helped. I went from 97mph to 107. Then i read Kelvin miyahiras work and swing at 115-120. I found your exercies made me more explosive. I also deloft more now so ball speed is up. Swinging my 7 iron about 97MPH and hitting it 190-210 depending on shot shape. Golf is a different game knowing any hole under 340 is reachable with a good bounce or two.

    • Patrick

      May 15, 2020 at 9:45 am

      7 iron going carrying 190-210 with a 97 mph swing isn’t possible unless you have quite a bit of down wind. My ss is 122 mph with driver and my ss with 7 iron is 103 mph and I carry it 190 on average. Something about your post isn’t right. Also there is no way you go from 97 to 120 mph no matter how much time you spend in the gym lifting weights, stretching, balance exercises and doing explosive movements. I am a certified trainer and I’ve had countless clients I have trained for golf.

  12. Pingback: Very interesting article from the GOLFWRX blog… | Honourable Society of Golf Fanatics

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  14. Ron

    Apr 22, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Jaacob – Great article! Lots of information in both the article itself and the detailed responses to questions and comments. A lot to digest here. I’m a 75 year old 4-handicap with a measured driver clubhead speed of 92-94 mph – and your distance chart scales pretty well throughout the bag. Specific distances will vary with lofts, attack angles, conditions, type of shot (draw, cut, knock-down, etc.) and all the rest – but at first blush, when you go to pick a club for a particular shot, that’s a good place to start. (And most of the time, we would be pretty happy with a ±5-10 yard variation in distance to a tight pin!) Nice work.

  15. Felipe

    Nov 21, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Hey guys

    just curiosity.
    As soon as the SLDR came out i bought it and i was driving it 280-85 total.
    67 gram stiff shaft 9.5
    Today im playing with the Cobra bio cell + and im driving it 290-300 when very solid. Stiff 9.5 65 gram

    Is it suppose to change so much distance ?
    Sorry if any miss spelling haha im not american

    Thank you

  16. Ryan

    Nov 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    My swing speed is 95-98 mph and I drive the ball 225-250 yards. I hit my 7 iron 145 ish. My father has a swing speed of 70 mph but he hits a club further than me. Is this just all in my timing or is he an exeprion?

    • Mark

      May 25, 2018 at 1:20 pm

      Ha! My swing speed was just tested with my new ping G400’s and I hit 9 iron 150 and g25 driver avg 260-280 so what’s wrong with this picture?

  17. Pingback: Golf Swing How Far Is 100 Yards | Golf Swing Tips

  18. mistermann

    Aug 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Jaacob,

    I’m 47, and can hit 7 iron about 155-160 consistently. My driver is a Ping 8.5 loft. My distance with it is not good at all, in fact it’s about on par with my 3wood distance. Do you think a shorter driver shaft and higher loft would help? The trajectory looks decent, not excessively low or high, but the distance isn’t there. Also, any ball recommendation? harder or softer for best distance?

    • GolfWRX2

      Aug 20, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Yea . I suggest lofting up and trying a light weight shaft, with a high kick point for low spin, which wouldn’t the height because of the new loft you would be trying out. But it could mean you have a steep swing, rember to hit up on the ball
      And yes I’m not a pro but have lots of experience.

    • LeoLeo

      Nov 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      I’d recommend you check out a lower spin driver. Get your back spin down to 2200 rpm with the driver and see how that works for you. Don’t concern yourself with loft or shaft length. The Ping I series should have less spin than the G series but don’t be afraid to try other manufacturers. Personally, I tried a lot of drivers and shafts and lofts until I fooled around with some low spin drivers in a launch monitor. My driving distance has gone way up. A 10.5° loft low spin driver goes lower and further for me compared to a 9° higher spin driver which goes higher and shorter.

    • Bob Pegram

      Dec 23, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Get a driver with more loft. Woods uses a driver with 11.25 degrees of loft and he hits it a lot harder than you (or I) do. The newer balls (not wound) don’t spin as much and so need to be hit higher to start. They start losing trajectory right from the tee – an arcing trajectory, not like the older balls that would go in a straight line or even rise until the apex of the shot.

      • Derek

        Sep 8, 2016 at 6:12 am

        I also was using a driver with around 8 deg as i play links in Scotland and thought that was the ideal for low flying drives but after learning alot from trackman and local pro’s im now up at 11 deg and have learned to hit it low if required, i had huge spin numbers before this change, i suspect you have the same.

  19. tlmck

    Aug 1, 2014 at 3:35 am

    The driver/wood/hybrid numbers appear to be about right, but I must be insanely efficient with my irons. At 78 mph, my Titleist AP2 6 iron carries 150 according to GC2 hitting indoors off a mat(actually 155 on the course). The remaining irons are approx. 10 yards apart. All are stock loft/length/lie. I also strike the ball very well which may be the difference.

  20. FlagHi

    Jul 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Hi. There is a really useful piece of technology that exists that can help you understand how your stock carry numbers change with different playing conditions. It definitely compliments launch monitor technology and its outputs.

    FlagHi app calculates the effects of the playing conditions on the carry number for each of your clubs.

    You guys (and ladies) have known forever that the ball goes farther when it’s hotter. Or that when playing at higher elevation it goes farther. Or when it’s dry, less far. But did you know the effect? To the number?

    With FlagHi you dial in all your carry numbers then before you play you just enter the weather forecast for your round and the elevation above sea-level of the course. Take the app with you in a recreational round and swipe to see all your clubs’ updated numbers. Or just write down the adjusted numbers if it’s a tournament and you can’t bring your phone. That’s what our touring pros do.

    The FlagHi PRO app does the club-centric calculations but it also does something even cooler. If you enter the distances of a shot, it tells you the distance that the shot “actually plays”. Meaning if I’m from San Diego playing in Denver and I’ve got a 189 yard shot – FlagHi can tell me that the shot “actually plays” 170. Meaning I hit my 7 iron, which is my San Diego 170 club. Because of Denver’s thinner air the ball will sail an additional 19 yards and land – you guessed it – FlagHi.

    Without FlagHi telling me this I would be totally guessing when I play in Denver. Hence why college teams and pros are dialing in their numbers with the app.

    It’s on the apple app store and android is coming shortly. We normally price it for $4.99 but we like to play with the #’s and even right now FlagHi is only $0.99.

    Our users tell us they love the app. There are no ads and it’s super easy to use. Used by touring pros, college teams, amateurs.

    Hope this helps – thanks. And we’re golfers first (and last) and just a couple of guys who came up with this app idea so pardon the “commercial” tone here but honestly and humbly we think you all might find value in knowing how conditions affect how you flight the ball.

    Thanks,

    – The FlagHi Guys

  21. Ronney

    May 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    My driver SS dropped from 115 in my mid-to-late 30’s to 80 in at age 42. The weird thing is that I am in far better shape now than I was then. My core is stronger and I’m more flexible. I’ve gained a bit of it back, but my best swings are no more than 90-95 if I really go after it now. I’m still looking for the answer. I hit the ball straight and high and I have a good short game, so I still play well, but lack of distance sometimes gets me. I am a sweeper.

    • MHendon

      Jun 26, 2014 at 12:53 am

      That is strange why you would have lost 35 mph of club head speed makes no sense to me. I’m 44 and in about the worse shape of my life but still swing just as fast and hit the ball just as far as my early 30s. Did you quit playing for several years then recently pick the game back up? If not I might consult with a doctor.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Being stronger or fit doesn’t mean you will be fast.

      For example, when I competed in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships and was doing more explosive swing speed training exercises, I maxed my SSR out at 155 mph, which is probably around 139-143 mph on a Trackman.

      However, when I started doing little to no swing speed training and more endurance running, which was required to finish 5th at the Speedgolf World Championships, my SSR speeds dropped down to 118 on the SSR (110’ish on a Trackman). Arguably I was more “fit”, but I wasn’t near as fast.

      So it’s conceivable that something like this could have happened to you.

      Have a look at the swing speed training programs at Swing Man Golf. With a bit of swing speed training, there’s no reason you couldn’t get your speed back up again.

      • Matt

        Sep 28, 2015 at 1:37 am

        Jaacob,
        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!

        • Sam Carson

          Nov 21, 2015 at 4:39 pm

          I think you are kidding yourself on with those yardages unless you have the worst short game around you would be in the low seventies with those distances.

          • Bob Pegram

            Dec 23, 2015 at 8:24 pm

            Sam – He didn’t say he hit them all straight. He said he hit them that far. Hitting a crooked shot far acually would get him in more trouble, not less.

            • Jack

              Jan 17, 2016 at 4:13 am

              Also there is a difference between an average shot versus a perfect shot. Pointless to list perfect shot distances. That’s a recipe to missing the green every time. Unless as a mid handicapper he is a great ball striker.

    • Jeff

      Aug 12, 2014 at 12:20 am

      How tense is your grip, do you release the clubhead? You must be doing something really inefficient

    • GolfWRX2

      Aug 20, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Hey Ronney you could just be loading the club to fast causing over hip rotation just like in the commercial. Just take up smooth then create power with your legs coming done and crush it.

  22. joseph

    Apr 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    thanks. well written article, very helpful.

    my swing speed is just about a 100 and the numbers are perfectly accurate on your chart for me. i play on a course with practically no roll and a 250 drive for me is good.

    the one thing that puzzles me is that i hit my wedges really far. my 60 degree is my 100 yard club, my PW is about 135. these aren’t exaggerated. these are carries on the course. sometimes i think i just have so much more confidence with the wedges that it frees me up. i hit them really high too, which is weird given the distances.

    any thoughts as why that would be the case? who carries his driver 240 but hits hits his gap wedge 125?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

      Hi Joseph,

      It’s difficult to tell without seeing you in person, but a scenario like this where short irons go longer…and longer irons, hybrids, and drivers go shorter…is possible if your clubs are de-lofted quite a bit or you perhaps have an excessively downward angle of attack.

      With the driver in particular, catching it on the upswing could in all likelihood net you some more carry and total distance more along the lines of what you might expect.

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  24. JCorona

    Jan 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    would love to watch someone swing a PW 140 mph…. and crack a rib or 4 in the process 😉

    • momo

      Jul 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      The 140 swing speed number is driver only. He isn’t swing his PW 140.

      You know that right?

  25. jc

    Jan 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    question…if I use teh 80 mph swing speed as my driver guide..the numbers appear to be very close…but if I were to adjust my 10.5 driver to 10.0 or 11.0 or go to a 12.0 driver, same shaft, would I get less or more yardage?
    I have been playing with adjustments on my 10.5 and can’t quite figure which is the most beneficial, initial trajectory or roll, etc.

    • Joel

      Jan 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      If your swing speed is 80 MPH, you would most likely get more yardage with more loft.

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Jun 29, 2014 at 8:20 am

        Hi jc, Joel is right. You would more likely get more distance with more loft.

        At 80 mph, for maximum carry I would target you for about an 18 degree launch angle and 2600’ish on your spin.

        For maximum total distance, I would say around 15 and 2000 would be the goal.

        What I would recommend would depend on the type of course(s) you play. For tighter courses, soft fairways, when you have to carry trouble, or where there are doglegs you don’t want to run through…I would say to favor the carry side of things. For more open courses with harder fairways and the like, going for total distance might be better.

  26. Gary Jones

    Dec 21, 2013 at 12:14 am

    How does the Foresight GC2 compare against Trackman and the SSR?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:54 am

      I forget off the top of my head about the GC2, however, in my experience an SSR generally reads slightly faster than a Trackman. Both have Dopplar radar but the Trackman has an additional algorithm built in to it to calculate speed at the center of the face whereas an SSR will pick up the fastest moving part of the club head (usually the toe).

      It varies from person to person depending on how that person moves the club through impact. Last I checked, I was around 8% faster on an SSR. Most people I’ve measured are between 5-10% faster. Once you know your personal difference (from hitting with an SSR and a Trackman at the same time), you can get a really accurate idea of your Trackman speeds using an SSR.

      Making sure you have the SSR placed correctly also can make a difference.

  27. RoddyM

    Dec 18, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Great article Jaacob and thanks for sharing the stats against swing speed and carry distance. I have a swing speed close to 110mph and I can see some very close comparisons to my measured yardage with my MP59’s (which don’t have too strong a loft)and your figures. I believe the C-taper shafts give me a few extra yards due to lowering the ball spin. You mentioned today’s stronger lofts, but do you see much variance in the type of shafts used?
    I have seen some inconsistency in my carry yardage across my short irons.
    Sometimes when using short iron, I have gone up a club thinking I’ll swing it “softer” and it will go a bit shorter, but have over hit my target. I must be swinging at the same speed and still getting the same yardage.
    This also answers part of the question why I hit an occasional drive or 3 wood 20 or 30 yards longer than my standard yardage. I know I get a faster swing speed on my driver and 3 wood, but I always saw it as clean tempo or a centered impact, I wasn’t thinking about swing speed.

  28. Billy

    Dec 17, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Does the extra 20 yards carry due to the course conditions? More roll than a public course.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Driving distances vary quite a bit depending on the course conditions.

      For example, the Tour average for the last 10 years generally has ran between 285-290. However, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the average driving distance was 268 yards. At the Wachovia Championship, it was 297 yards.

  29. Ronnie

    Dec 16, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    I find my distances are pretty close to the 80mph swing. when i hit it good its usually 280 right down the middle

    • Jack

      Dec 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      So you normally hit driver 206 and when you hit it solidly you hit it 280? Or your irons are shorter but driver longer distance?

    • Dave

      Feb 13, 2018 at 7:08 am

      280 right down middle sounds like 100 mph not 80

  30. melrosegod

    Dec 14, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Great article! Interesting that my short irons play to the pga distances but I start to fall off around the 6i, probably has to do with contact.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jun 29, 2014 at 7:45 am

      It’s difficult to tell without seeing you in-person, but it’s possible you could have an excessive amount of shaft lean with your clubs. That scenario could make shorter irons go farther and longer irons, hybrids, and woods, fly less than expected.

      • GZ

        Jul 2, 2014 at 5:19 am

        Great article! So more shaft lean in woods creates less distance?
        Why is that?

        I have been tinkering with my swing and have created quite a bit more shaft lean then I had previously. I have noticed that all my irons have increased in distance by about ten to fifteen yards. but my driver & 3 wood have kind of stayed the same, or in a lot of cases I’ve actually lost distance.

        So should I go back to less shaft lean for driver & 3 wood?
        But keep it for the irons?

        I have noticed more consistency with my irons regarding target lines, but I am struggling more with the woods for that consistency now.

        Appreciate your feedback, and thanks again for the article, very informative.

  31. Geoff

    Apr 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I need to figure out why my irons are consistently matched to the 105mph swing speed i.e. 4i = 190y & 9i = 140y, but my driver carries 220ish. With especially good contact, I have carried to 240, but it’s rare. I think I just have a lot more misses with my driver, maybe ???

    • Geoff

      Apr 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      PS Great article.

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Apr 26, 2013 at 4:17 am

        Thanks, Geoff.

        Hmmm, what you mentioned about more misses could certainly be part of the shorter driver carry distances. Get some impact tape and/or foot powder for your driver face so you can make sure you’re hitting it consistently on a good spot on the face.

        Also, by chance do you know your average launch angle and spin rate with your driver?

        It’s possible you could be launching it too low and/or with too much spin to carry it that far.

        At 105 mph, my target for you would be about 13.4 degree launch and 2445 rpm spin.

  32. Paddy

    Mar 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hey Jaacob,

    Would you mind sharing your math? I want to customize based on my avg iron distances.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Mar 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Sure thing, Paddy.

      The chart is based off the PGA Tour average carry distances that were reported by Trackman (see the first chart in the top of the article), the average total driving distance from the PGATour.com website (about 289 yards), and the average PGA Tour swing speed (about 112 mph).

      Using all that data, I calculated the percent difference from the Tour average swing speed (about 112 mph) to whatever swing speed I wanted. For example, a 90 mph driver swing speed is 80.4% of a 112 mph (90 / 112 = 0.804) driver swing speed.

      Once I knew the percent difference, I went down for each club from the Tour distances and multiplied each one by 0.804 to get the 90 mph distances.

      For example, 80.4% of a 289-yard total drive at 112 mph is 232 yards (0.804 * 289 yards = 232 yards), 80.4% of a 269-yard carry at 112 mph is 216 yards (0.804 * 269 yards = 216 yards), etc.

      Then it was simply a matter of repeating all that for the different swing speeds.

      I made the original chart in Excel and just copied and pasted the formulas to each cell.

      Make sense?

      • Paddy

        Mar 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        Yep, using your logic, I could do the same math off of the average distance of my 7 iron vs. the PGA pro 7 iron distance. I’ll try this, thanks!

  33. jason

    Mar 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    For swing speed training, what do you suggest/recommend?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Mar 8, 2013 at 3:54 am

      Hi Jason, have a look at my Swing Man Golf website. If you have any further questions after that, just send me an email through the contact form and I’ll be glad to help however I can.

  34. Kyle

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Ryan Wither has been clocked at 167. which is the fastest ever. I know cuz I gave him lessons and watch alot of his swings.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Feb 17, 2013 at 5:59 am

      Hi Kyle, do you know what type of radar was being used?

      Speeds vary depending on the radar.

      For example, although they are accurate, Sports Sensors swing speed radars usually read 5-12% faster (depends on the person and how they move the club through impact) than a Trackman because they measure the fastest moving part of the club head…which is normally the toe. Conversely, a Trackman or Flightscope X2 have algorithms to calculate the speed at the center of the club face…and thus read slower than an SSR.

      If I remember correctly, the last time I heard from Ryan, the fastest he has posted on a Trackman was at the PGA Show…156 mph. The fastest that was recorded for him on Trackman at the 2012 World Championships was 149.4 mph.

  35. cody

    Feb 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    this is a weird article becasue i recently got fitted for irons and they said i swing 72 mph with my irons but i hit my 7 iron like 130 average

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Feb 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Cody, the speeds above are based on driver swing speeds…not iron swing speeds. Do you know what your driver swing speed is?

      • cody

        Feb 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        not really sure , i hit a taylormade r7 superquad with a stiff shaft, i dont swing fast at all i think i get like 230 consitent off my drives

  36. Pingback: Golf Swing Speed and Distance

  37. Augustine

    Jan 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Great article and very imformative! I’ve had those PGA and LPGA charts for a while and most recreational golfers (single handicap and above) should be looking at LPGA numbers for each given iron rather than PGA, even if they swing faster than the LPGA averages beacuse most amatures have low smash factors so even if they are able to swing close in swing speed to the PGA averages, the lower smash will result in lower ball speeds and carry distances of the LPGA.

    Basically my numbers are exactly one club more than the PGA pros, given my swing speed and smash factors are not as optimal as theirs.

    I think your chart (estimated potential swing speed and carry distance projected from the PGA average) is also a good indication of what our potentials are. That is, if you swing 100mph driver with 255 carry but the rest of your clubs fall more into the range projected down from the 90mph driver swing speed then you know you work on those clubs and tighten the yardage gaps….

  38. Nick

    Jan 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Jaacob, thanks for posting this; I’ve been looking for a comparison chart with different speeds like the one you posted. My distances appear to match up quite closely with the 100 mph, just slightly less, with my 7 iron going 150, 8 140, 9 130, etc, but I think my irons are a bit strong. However, I hit my 4 iron 180 (as I should if the chart is right), but sometimes use it to hit 190-200 (probably because I never actually swing 100% when hitting my irons because I’m afraid of blading etc) since I do not have a 3 iron. My main concern is that for some reason I only hit my driver about 200. I’m not sure why, I must never be hitting the center of my driver, because I should be 240 carry. Every shot feels good, and when I hit a really good one, it still maybe will reach 220. I’m not sure what to do, any tips?
    Thanks,
    -Nick

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Sure thing, Nick.

      To answer your question, can you get on a Trackman or Flightscope X2 and hit a few drives?

      I’m curious to verify your swing speed…and also know your launch angle, spin rate, and smash factor.

  39. Tom Allinder

    Jan 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Jaacob, I enjoyed your article and received some significant insight regarding measurement of swing speed given the number of sensors on the market.

    One area I am particularly concerned with is those of us over 50 years of age. Many of my golfing buddies feel that loss of distance is a natural result of aging. I disagree to an extent with that attitude. We seniors can hit the ball plenty long if we work out, stretch, do some yoga etc. I think a good diet is part of it too.

    While it is inevitable that we lose speed with aging, we don’t have to give in completely. A little work, proper fitting and improved technique can get a lot of yards back and get longer than we ever were in our youth!

    Another thing we seniors benefit from in competition is we are now playing competitive rounds on courses at 6400-6600 yards. Wow, golf is fun again because I don’t need to hit driver on many of the par 4s and still have only a wedge left to the pin! The par 5’s are reachable again too!

    Again, great article and I will be a regular reader from now on…

  40. G

    Jan 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Awesome Data stuff, Mr Bowden!

    Would it be possible to expand this article to full size analysis of everything mentioned so far, in much much more detail with proper tables and graphs and charts, just as everybody wants, with all the big tours’ averages and modern club loft standards, etc? Then it would be the perfect bible.

    Awesome, nonetheless, and helps me illustrate my points to students and friends alike who just cannot believe the scientific numbers of averages out there, who all still believe that more than most Tour guys bomb it past 300 with their drivers and hit their 6 irons to 240 yards LOL

  41. Chris Wehring

    Jan 16, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This article is pretty interesting! I found some things that don’t match up with my swing. It could just be my weird swing. As of last year, my swing speed was around 95 but I carry my 8 iron almost 150 on a good strike. Maybe my course’s markers are just off. I don’t know. Haha maybe my swing is similar to the LPGA swings in being more efficient with my swing speed. I really liked the article though.

  42. Frank

    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Great article, thanks! Would also be great to know LPGA and Champions averages, just for comparison…

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Frank.

      Here are the LPGA Trackman numbers (in yards). Unfortunately, I don’t have the club lofts…which would be useful. Although, like I mentioned in my comment reply to Andy and David, a rough estimate of those could be calculated similar to how I did it above.

      Driver (total) – 246
      Driver (carry) – 220
      3W – 195
      5W – 185
      7W – 174
      4-Iron – 170
      5-Iron – 161
      6-Iron – 152
      7-Iron – 141
      8-Iron – 130
      9-Iron – 119
      PW – 107

      Let me check on the Champions Tour numbers…

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Jan 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm

        I didn’t find anything for the Champions Tour, but let’s see what we can come up with.

        The mean driving distance on the Champions Tour for the 2012 season was 273.4 yards. Assuming that Champions Tour players have the same driving efficiency as regular PGA Tour players at 2.58 yards per mph of swing speed, that would mean the average swing speed for a Champions Tour player is about 106 mph.

        Using the same algebra that I did in the article, here would be the carry estimates in yards:

        Driver (Total) – 274
        Driver (Carry) – 255
        3-Wood – 230
        5-Wood – 218
        Hybrid – 213
        3-Iron – 201
        4-Iron – 192
        5-Iron – 184
        6-Iron – 173
        7-Iron – 163
        8-Iron – 151
        9-Iron – 140
        PW – 129

        • Paddy

          Mar 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm

          Hey Jacob,

          My numbers are a BIT different. Any chance you’re willing to share your math so I can apply this to my average distances for certain clubs? Thanks!

          Paddy

      • dave

        Mar 4, 2013 at 8:01 am

        Jacob,

        Great article…good to see some hard #s to compare. I personally am coming off double hip replacement surgeries in 2012 and watched a lot of LPGA golf last year during recovery/rehab…I personally found that I now relate more to the yardages the top women players have than the elite men college or pro level. Also, the women have impeccable tempo and always seem to swing “within” themselves.

  43. Brian Cass

    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Important for folks to also realize the PGA Tour and Nationwide follow the sun AKA usually playing in optimal conditions with super tight fairways affording 20 plus yards of roll. Buddy of mine who is a caddy who knows web.com guys said their distances went up immediately upon playing more manicure courses in 70-80 degree weather. Yeah they still hit it great/far/better than us!

  44. Martin Signer

    Jan 16, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Jacoob

    interesting good article.

    Have a nice day,

    Martin

  45. Andy Cook

    Jan 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Instead of listing the club name how about listing the name and the loft? My 9i is 41*. Does that map to the 9i on the chart or one of the other clubs? Thanks. -Andy

    • David McElroy

      Jan 16, 2013 at 9:13 am

      I agree, it would be nice to see loft along with those figures.

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Jan 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        You guys are both right. This data is much more useful with the lofts.

        I was actually curious about this as well so I looked up what 30 PGA Tour players “say” they are playing on their websites, from “What’s in the Bag” videos and articles, etc…and then looked up the specs from the company’s websites for each of those club models.

        It’s only a small data sample and perhaps there is a difference from each player’s actual club specs versus what is listed in the places I looked, but here are the averages I came up with:

        Driver – 9.0
        3-Wood – 14.4
        5-Wood/Hybrid/Long Iron – 19.2
        4-Iron – 23.9
        5-Iron – 27.0
        6-Iron – 30.5
        7-Iron – 34.3
        8-Iron – 38.3
        9-Iron – 42.4
        PW – 47.1
        GW/SW – 53.9
        LW – 59.7

        • Jaacob Bowden

          Jan 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

          Oh, regarding the chart with the PGA Tour Trackman averages…it says 15-18* for hybrid.

        • nik d

          Dec 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm

          its funny how strong lofts are on modern irons. I have a set of circa 1980 titleist tour models, and the stamped loft on the pw is 49 degrees and 9 iron at 45 degrees. I bent them strong to the modern lofts much similar to the loft chart you posted. the only problem? the stronger they are bent, the more offset they are and the higher they seem to fly and the more they hook.

          • jc

            Jan 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm

            in the dave pelz short game bible, what was a pitching wedge of 50 is now a gap wedge on almost all sets..

  46. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    They are interesting numbers Jacob. I’ve no doubt the touring professionals have these tested to the very inch. At their level getting the right distances are absolutely vital and often the difference between winning and losing.

    I only wish we had this sort of technology available in Australia. Hitting at the golf driving range is fine but it doesn’t really give you exact carry distances as the target is too far away and no way of seeing where the golf ball actually lands.

    Would you know of how the average golfer can work out these numbers?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Troy, I’m not sure what part of Australia you live…but the locator tool on the Trackman website shows there are some Trackmans in basically all the major cities like Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane.

      As for the SSRs, unfortunately Sports Sensors doesn’t presently have a frequency license for the radar in Australia and thus they won’t ship there. However, sometimes you can find someone on eBay that is willing to sell and ship to Oz.

      You might also check your local golf shop or golf course. Often times, they will have a launch monitor of some sorts. If you can find out the name of the launch monitor brand, there are usually articles out and around on Google comparing and contrasting different brands and how they measure swing speed versus.

      As for working out the numbers without a radar or someone to help you see where the ball lands…hmmm, there’s a number of ways to do it. Here’s a couple.

      If you have a range finder, laser the distance to a flag within short iron distance from the fairway. Choose a club that you think will get you close to the flag with a full swing, hit a shot (or a few if you aren’t holding anyone up), and then add or subtract how many paces the pitch marks are relative to the flag from the distance you lasered in the fairway.

      Without a range finder…find an open hole, drop a few balls, and step them off by foot to get a rough average distance. From there you can estimate the other clubs.

      • Jason

        Jan 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm

        Just a quick question, probably not an easy or quick answer… If my yardages are way off of that, say out to 165 for a pitching wedge… Say out to 190 some days with a 7… Only swing speed I know is my driver @ 114-115 consistently… Am I swinging too hard or
        possibly delofting my irons at impact?

        • Jaacob Bowden

          Jan 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

          Hmmm, well distances can vary based on the conditions. That’s one possibility. Check out my other article for more on that aspect -> http://www.golfwrx.com/54875/understanding-distance-variance/

          Delofting, like you mentioned, could be another possibility. More specifically, you may be decreasing your spin loft…which is the difference between your angle of attack and the dynamic loft of the club.

          So say your friend hits down 2 degrees on the ball and the dynamic loft is 30 degrees…then you take the club, swing at the same speed, and hit down 2 degrees but have a dynamic loft that is 26 degrees from having your hands further forward at impact…your ball would probably have less spin, a greater smash factor, and go farther. Depending on the person and other specifics of their game, this scenario could be good or bad.

          As for swinging too hard, that would depend on if you feel like you can control your shots. If you feel under control hitting those distances, I’d say it’s no problem.

          • momo

            Jul 9, 2014 at 9:37 pm

            Love this kind of information. Great article.

            how can i get faster swing speed. I am in the 100 category give.

            Would you advise switching to REGULAR flex?

  47. Kris

    Jan 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Good article. Curiously, where my SS of 98-100 (as measured at GolfTown-who knows if accurate, though their flight numbers are close to what I see on course-don’t trust their roll #s as they have my wedges rolling 10+ lol) seems to fit your long club carry numbers pretty well, it’s not close with my scoring clubs. My irons from 8i down to my 64° get very little roll. My 58° goes at least 100, my PW 140, and 8i 160. even my 8i rarely rolls more than 10 ft from it’s landing spot. And I only hit my mid-irons/wedges with an abbreviated swing, I’m not trying to kill them. As you can see, if a green involves a hazard carry of >170, I lay up.

    My distances are (including roll I play on average, amount of roll given)~:
    D-270(30), 3w-240(25), 5w-215(20), 4i-200(20), 5i-190(15), 6i-180(10), 7i-170(10), 8i-160(<5), 9i-150(<5), PW-140, 52°-120, 58°-100, 64°-80

    • Kccheadpro

      Jan 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      I’m a big hitter with a fast swing speed and I also carry a 64* wedge. I used to hit about 85-90 yards max, which gave me something to brag about, but I believe hitting a 64* wedge 80 yards is not ideal. I changed my approach of wedges about two years ago and I lost 25 yards off my 64* wedge, but my accuracy and pinpoint placement has improved. Also I feel that instead of just launching the ball high and having it land with 4′ of check! I can play my 64* with a much better angle of approach.
      Glad to hear you’re swingin’ a 64* though, not too many people carrying them around.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Why golf is 20 times harder than brain surgery

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cactus, Arizona, desert, golf, golf course

For most of us golfers, improving is the great challenge of this game we love. But understand that statistically speaking, golf at the highest level is at least twenty times more difficult than brain surgery.  How do I figure that?

Check this out.

There are over 5,000 brain surgeons in the U.S. earning an average income of $368,000. But only 190 PGA Tour professionals had winnings of that much in 2023. Add to that the 68 LPGA players and five Korn Ferry players who surpassed that figure. So, there are less than 270 professional golfers making more than the average brain surgeon. So, attaining the functioning highest level of golf skill must be almost twenty times more difficult than brain surgery…right?

With that bit of levity behind us (though these are real numbers), let’s talk about getting better at this game that has us captivated. I have never met a golfer who admitted he or she had absolutely no interest in getting better. Quite to the contrary, golfers who are even the least bit serious keep score, because they are at least somewhat interested in seeing those numbers get smaller. So, what better time of the year to make that promise to yourself than right now, as a new year begins?

The pathways to improvement can be widely different, depending on how badly you want to improve your golf game and your scoring. So, just for fun (that levity thing again), I thought I would share my observations about some of those pathways you might consider as your own for the coming year:

The “Wish” Path. This path is the easiest to execute because you don’t have to really do anything different from what you’ve always done. Just spend your time sitting around hoping your golf gets better.  I actually know a lot of golfers like that. They barely know where the practice range is, would never consider a real lesson and step up to the first tee shot with not much more than a half-hearted practice swing. And they wonder why they don’t get better.

I lost my father very early in life, but he left me with many “pearls of wisdom”, as he called them. One of my favorites of his more colorful ones was this:

“Son, just go wish in one hand and s**t in the other one and see which one fills up the fastest.”

The “Hope” Path. I’ll be the first to admit that this game is very difficult to attain any level of mastery.  The golf swing and all its many idiosyncrasies are not easy to ingrain to a level that offers any reliable measure of repeatability. And the golfer who can “self-teach” their way to even a consistent high single digit handicap is a rare bird indeed.

I can’t tell you how many golfers I frequently see on our practice range, banging away ball after ball after ball…quite apparently not working on learning a new position or movement, but just hoping that enough repetitions will allow them to create a measure of repeatability to improve their shot-to-shot consistency and therefore lower their scores.

Newsflash…the old saying that “practice makes perfect” does not apply to golf. Practice makes “permanent” and the more you practice that fundamentally unsound sequence of movements, the harder it will be to “unlearn” them and replace them with swing movements that really work.

With those two “fun” paths out of the way, let’s take a turn more serious and lay out three proven pathways to better golf.

  • Improve your physical plant.  This is particularly important for those of us who are aging a bit faster than we’d like but applies to all of us who don’t routinely hit hundreds of golf balls a week.  The golf swing takes flexibility to execute and our daily routines are the enemy of flexibility.  Most of us spend too much time sitting and not enough time improving our range of motion that a good golf swing requires.  My key to having maintained my skills into my 70s is that I stretch every day . . . maybe not as much as I really should, but enough to still be able to make a full turn away from the ball and back through to a full follow-through.  Even if you do the minimum, it is remarkable what 10-12 minutes of stretching can do for your golf.  I won’t go into detail here because there are tons of good videos, programs and products out there.  Just do it!
  • Learn, learn, learn.  You cannot execute a golf swing until you really understand it.  My father was a Ben Hogan disciple, so I was raised on Power Golf and Five Lessons.  And I was tutored as a youth by my father and our local golf pro.  I just wrote about Learning and Practice a few weeks ago.  Check it out and commit to learning about the golf swing in all its iterations – full swings, pitching, chipping and putting.  With understanding comes enlightenment.
  • Carnegie Hall.  The old adage goes . . . “How do I get to Carnegie Hall??  The answer: “Practice. Practice. Practice.”  But practice with a definite purpose . . . ALWAYS.  As I mentioned earlier, just banging balls is fun, but it’s not practice.  And it won’t make you a better golfer.  When the PGA and LPGA tour players go to the range, they have a very specific thing they are practicing.  It might be a minute little adjustment but watch them if/when you get the chance.  They are not just banging balls one after the other.  Each swing is taken with a purpose and intent, followed by an evaluation of how they did.

So, there you have some levity and guidance to start your year.  Let me know your questions and I’ll do my best to give you sound answers you can bank on.  Always feel free to drop me a line.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s Farmers Insurance Open betting preview: Major champs to show their class at Torrey Pines

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The PGA Tour season ramps up this week as we head to historic Torrey Pines Golf Course for the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open.

To many, this event marks the true start of the PGA Tour season as it draws big names and a difficult test, which is something golf fans have been craving after three weeks of low scoring events.

The event will be played from Wednesday through Saturday this week for the second consecutive year to avoid going against the NFL conference championship games so golf fans can enjoy both sports.

Torrey Pines Golf Club (South) is a par-72 measuring 7,765 yards. Golfers will play three rounds on the South Course and one round on the North Course.

The South Course is the far more difficult of the two and features Poa Annua greens. The North Course is 7,258 yards and features Bentgrass greens.

The 2023 Farmers Insurance Open field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. The field is very strong and will include Ludvig Aberg, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Min Woo Lee, Justin Thomas and Sahith Theegala. 

We’ve back tested past tournaments at Torrey Pines to see which metrics matter this week.

Past Winners at The Farmers Insurance Open

  • 2023: Max Homa (-13)
  • 2022: Luke List (-15)
  • 2021: Patrick Reed (-14)
  • 2020: Marc Leishman (-15)
  • 2019: Justin Rose (-21)
  • 2018: Jason Day (-10)
  • 2017: Jon Rahm (-13)
  • 2016: Brandt Snedeker (-6)
  • 2015: Jason Day (-9)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for Torrey Pines to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

Hitting greens will be important due to the difficult around the green areas at Torrey Pines. Strokes Gained: Approach has been the most indicative statistic of top-10 finishers at the course historically.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Sam Ryder (+22.4)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+21.5)
  3. Eric Cole (+20.8)
  4. Chez Reavie (+19.1)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+19.0)

Driving Distance

Torrey Pines is a long course, and distance will absolutely be a major factor. Average driving distance is a far greater factor here than your average TOUR event, while driving accuracy is a lesser factor. We are most definitely looking at a bomber’s track this week.

Driving Distance per round in past 24 rounds:

  1. Min Woo Lee (+22.4)
  2. Cameron Champ (+21.0)
  3. Chris Gotterup (+18.6)
  4. Kevin Yu (+15.4)
  5. Callum Tarren (+14.6) 

Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa)

We typically see a lot of golfers play well in this area year after year. One determining factor in the consistent results is whether or not golfers prefer the Poa out West to other surfaces.

Great Poa putters typically play very well in California.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa) in past 24 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+22.5)
  2. Max Homa (+21.2)
  3. Justin Suh (+20.5)
  4. Peter Malnati (+16.0)
  5. Mackenzie Hughes (+15.5)

Par 4: 450-500 Yards

Torrey Pines has a total of six par 4s between 450 and 500 yards on the South Course. To play well this week, golfers will need to outplay the field on these particular holes.

Total Par 4: 450-500 in past 24 rounds

  1. Xander Schauffele (+15.6)
  2. Beau Hossler (+15.0)
  3. Eric Cole (+14.5)
  4. Patrick Cantlay (+12.8)
  5. Sahith Theegala (+12.5)

Par 5: 550-600 Yards

With all four par 5s at the Torrey Pines South Course measuring between 550 and 600 yards, the long hitters will have a major advantage. The course can play difficult, so it’s an absolute must to take care of the par 5s and make birdies.

Keegan Bradley ranked 5th in this range last year and finished runner-up at 60-1.

Par 5: 550-600 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Garrick Higgo (+11.1)
  2. Lee Hodges (+9.9)
  3. Doug Ghim (+8.6)
  4. Alexander Bjork (+8.1)
  5. S.H. Kim (+8.0)

Course History

Here are the 10 best players in terms of Strokes Gained: Total at Torrey Pines South in the past 24 rounds. 

  1. Tony Finau
  2. Jason Day
  3. Brandt Snedeker
  4. Sungjae Im
  5. Justin Rose
  6. Will Zalatoris
  7. Keegan Bradley
  8. Xander Schauffele
  9. Collin Morikawa
  10. Hidedki Matsuyama

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (28%), Driving Distance (22%), Par 4: 450-500 (16%), Par 5: 550-600 (16%) and SG: Putting POA (18%).

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+1000)
  2. Taylor Pendrith (+8000)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+900)
  4. Max Homa (+1000)
  5. Will Zalatoris (+4500)
  6. Sahith Theegala (+4500)
  7. Eric Cole (+3500)
  8. Ludvig Aberg (+1800)
  9. Chesson Hadley (+13000)
  10. Shane Lowry (+5500)

2024 Farmers Insurance Open Picks

(Listed odds are at the time of writing)

Jason Day +3000 (FanDuel)

There aren’t many courses in the world that Jason Day has played better at than Torrey Pines. He won at the course in both 2015 and 2018 and also has four top-10 finishes at the course. In his past 24 rounds, Day ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Total at the course.

Day has had a solid start to his season finishing 10th at The Sentry and then 34th in a birdie fest at the American Express. The Australian has come to Torrey Pines and contended in far worse form than he is at the moment and got into contention despite of that fact. 

Putting on the bumpy and fast West Coast POA will be a key this week. Day has putt the ball extremely well at Torrey, including last year where he finished 7th and gained 5.8 strokes putting. In 2022, he finished 3rd and gained 3.9 strokes putting.

Day is currently enjoying one of the longest stretches of good health and consistent play in the past five years or so and is one of the players to beat this week in a historic event. 

Sahith Theegala +4500 (DraftKings)

Sahith Theegala will undoubtedly be a popular bet this week and for good reason. The former Pepperdine star grew up playing on west coast POA and has been fantastic on the west coast in general throughout his career. 

Theegala won the Fortinet Championship in California in the fall similar to how Max Homa won it prior to conquering Torrey Pines. Last year, Theegala finished 4th at the Farmers Insurance Open and was in contention for most of the round on Sunday. He also has plenty of other strong finishes out west including a 3rd at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and a 6th at the Genesis Invitational.

The 26-year-old opened his season with a 2nd place finish at the Sentry prior to missing the cut at the Sony. Theegala has shown consistently that he will show up and play his best at the Tour stops that he is best suited for.

Hideki Matsuyama +6500 (FanDuel)

In an event where a lot of the value on the betting board has seemingly dissipated, the odds for Hideki Matsuyama have drifted to a place where I feel it’s worth taking the chance on the Japanese star. It’s been a rough year for Matsuyama, who’s struggled to consistently play well and has dealt with a nagging neck injury.

The 30-year-old has had some success at Torrey Pines throughout his career and finished third at the course in 2019 and 12th in 2018. He was also able to finish 9th last season despite being in mediocre form, similar to the way he’s playing now. 

The 30th place in his most recent start at the Sony wasn’t extremely impressive, but Matsuyama did gain strokes across the board. He gained 1.7 strokes on approach and 1.2 off the tee, which is encouraging sign.

I’m not sure if we get peak ‘Deki this week, but if we do, he can beat anyone in the field.

Patrick Rodgers +8000 (BetMGM)

Thus far, 2024 has been the year of the Cinderella story. The winners have been Chris Kirk (150-1), Grayson Murray (400-1) and Nick Dunlap (300-1). In addition to the long odds, each of the three players have amazing stories such as Kirk and Murray’s recoveries from personal demons or Dunlap’s amazing feat of becoming the first amateur to win since Phil Mickelson in 1991. 

Patrick Rodgers winning at Torrey Pines would be another remarkable story. The Stanford graduate was once regarded as a can’t miss prospect and even broke Tiger Woods’ win record as a Cardinal. He won the Hogan award and was the top ranked amateur player in the world for 16 weeks.

Things haven’t gone according to plan for the former prodigy, who’s now 31 years old. Rodgers is yet to win on the PGA Tour and has been largely disappointing since turning professional. However, some of Rodgers’ best golf has been played at Torrey Pines. He has finished 4th here in 2017 and 9th in 2020. He’s also showed some encouraging signs of late. He narrowly lost to Akshay Bhatia at the Barracuda Championship late last summer and began his 2024 campaign with back-to-back strong performances, finishing 14th and 24th at the Sentry and Sony Open.

We’ve seen some amazing stories this season, but Patrick Rodgers returning to glory in the state where he was once considered golf’s next big thing may surpass them all.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s American Express betting preview: Jason Day to continue to thrive on West Coast

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The PGA Tour heads to California this weekend to play the 2024 American Express.

The tournament is played at three different courses: PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club.

Therefore, each golfer will play two rounds at PGA West Stadium Course, one round at PGA West Nicklaus Course, and one round at La Quinta Country Club. The Stadium Course is a 7,113-yard par 72 that was designed by Pete Dye in 1986. The Nicklaus Course is a Par 72 measuring 7,159 yards. La Quinta Country Club is a par 72 measuring 7,060 yards. All of the courses are short for a Par 72 and typically play easy, resulting in some very low winning scores.

The 2024 American Express field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. The field is the strongest it’s been in recent memory, with some notable entrants to the event including Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Jason Day, Sam Burns, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Shane Lowry. Daniel Berger will also be making his return to the PGA Tour after being on medical leave since 2022. 

Past Winners at The American Express

  • 2023: Jon Rahm (-27)
  • 2022: Hudson Swafford (-23)
  • 2021: Si Woo Kim (-23)
  • 2020: Andrew Landry (-26)
  • 2019: Adam Long (-26)
  • 2018: Jon Rahm (-22)
  • 2017: Hudson Swafford (-20)
  • 2016: Jason Dufner (-25)
  • 2015: Bill Haas (-22)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for PGA West to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

The American Express is another tournament where distance off the tee is not going to be a major factor. With none of the three courses being long this week, strong iron players tend to do very well at PGA West.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+24.8)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+23.7)
  3. Sam Ryder (+22.4)
  4. Erik Van Rooyen (+20.5)
  5. Eric Cole (+19.4)

Opportunities Gained

All three courses this week are among the easiest on Tour. In order to win, golfers are going to have to go very low. Creating as many chances as possible to make birdies from 15 feet and in this week will be crucial.

Total Opportunities Gained in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+40.5)
  2. Chris Kirk (+22.7)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+22.5)
  4. Justin Thomas (+22.2)
  5. J.T. Poston (+22.0)

Proximity 150-175

Approach shots from 150-175 are the most common yardages year after year at The American Express. 24% of approach shots come from this range as opposed to the Tour average of 20.3%.

Proximity 150-175 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Akshay Bhatia (+14.9)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+11.7) 
  3. Sam Ryder (+11.5)
  4. Taylor Pendrith (+11.3)
  5. Mark Hubbard (+11.2)

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

With small greens, there are very few three-putts in this event. Golfers will need to ball strike their way to low scores with smaller greens than Tour average.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+41.4)
  2. Erik Van Rooyen (+31.1)
  3. Jhonnatan Vegas (+29.9)
  4. Patrick Cantlay (+29.5)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+28.0)

SG: Pete Dye 

With two of four rounds on the Pete Dye-designed PGA West, it will be important to target players who excel on Pete Dye tracks. Golfers with good history at these styles of course tend to pop up on leaderboards of Dye designs on a regular basis.

Total Strokes Gained: Pete Dye in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+52.5) 
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+47.0)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+41.4)
  4. Sungjae Im (+39.1)
  5. Justin Thomas (+38.4)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (27%); Opportunities Gained (22%); SG: Ball Striking (22%); Proximity 150-175 (12%); and SG: Pete Dye (17%)

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+650)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+1000)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+1000)
  4. Sam Ryder (+12000)
  5. Eric Cole (+3500)
  6. Chris Kirk (+3500)
  7. Shane Lowry (+6000)
  8. Doug Ghim (+12000)
  9. Erik Van Rooyen (+10000)
  10. Alex Smalley (+6500)

2024 American Express Picks

Jason Day +3500 (FanDuel)

Jason Day kicked off his 2024 season with a solid performance at The Sentry, finishing in a tie for 10th. The veteran will now get ready for the west coast swing, which has historically been the stretch of the season where Day has played his best golf, and last season was no exception. The Australian finished 18th, 7th, 5th and 9th at the American Express, Farmers Insurance, Waste Management Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational. Day showed his preference for putting on west coast greens during that stretch gaining 4.9, 5.8, 3.7 and 4.3 strokes putting respectively.

Day doesn’t typically play at PGA West, but he did last year, finishing 18th in his second ever start at the event. He also showed he can win a low scoring event at last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson, shooting -23 for the event. Another reason to believe Day will have success this week is his history on Pete Dye designed courses. In his past 50 rounds, he ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Dye tracks.

I believe Day will build on his resurgent 2023 and contend in one or more of these west coast tournaments.

Sam Burns+3500 (DraftKings)

Sam Burns has some encouraging history at the American Express. In his four starts at the course, he has finishes of 18th, 6th and 11th to go along with a missed cut. He also has loved the west coast swing, with a 3rd place finish at Riviera (2021), a 6th place finish at the WMPO (2023), and a 7th at the Fortinet (2020).

Sam Burns has been consistent on Pete Dye designs, ranking 8th in his past 24 rounds on Dye designed courses. The fact that he will play two of the four rounds at the stadium course, including the final round, gives me confidence in his chances to win if he gets in contention.

The American Express can turn into a putting contest, and if it does, Burns has the ability to beat anyone in the field.

Tony Finau +4000 (FanDuel)

Tony Finau is another player who’s done some of his best work on the west coast. In 2021, he finished 2nd at both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Invitational. In total, Finau has seven top-5 finishes on the west coast including the American Express in 2021, where he was narrowly defeated by Si Woo Kim down the stretch.

Finau didn’t start his season well at the Sentry but managed to gain strokes on approach and with the putter. I believe a trip to a course that he’s contended on in the past will serve him well and is one of the most talented players in the field. Finau has also showed that he loves Pete Dye designs in the past, ranking 9th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds.

Although he’s been inconsistent, the win equity Finau offers is too tempting to ignore at this price.

Adam Hadwin +6500 (FanDuel)

Adam Hadwin is the type of player who consistently performs well on his favorite courses on the PGA Tour. The rotation of courses at the American Express certainly fit that description. In his past seven starts at the event, Hadwin has finished in the top 20 five times, including four of those in the top 6.

Hadwin missed the cut at last week’s Sony Open, but he was top-20 in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach in the first round. He’s also shown in the past his Sony Open results don’t translate to the American Express. In 2019, the Canadian was 59th at Sony, losing strokes on approach for the week, and finished runner-up at the American Express the following week.

Hadwin hasn’t won since 2017 and it feels as if he’s long overdue for a win. Three of his seven top-3 finishes on Tour have come at this event. If there’s anywhere that I feel confident that he can get it done, it’s PGA West.

Alex Noren +8000 (DraftKings)

Alex Noren has sneakily played some fantastic golf since the end of the 2023 PGA Tour season. In November, he finished 2nd at the Butterfield Bermuda and 23rd at the RSM Classic. He also finished 3rd at the Shriners in October, which is a course and region that has plenty of similarities to what we will see this week at the American Express.

In addition to the 3rd at TPC Summerlin (2023), Noren also has a 2nd at the Farmers (2018) which ended in a six-hole playoff loss to Jason Day, a sixth at the WMPO (2022) and a 12th at the Genesis Invitational.

The Swede has yet to win on the PGA Tour but has won ten times on the DP World Tour. Noren certainly has the talent to win and is showing signs of returning to the form that made him a Ryder Cup participant in 2018.

Erik Van Rooyen +11000 (FanDuel)

Erik Van Rooyen won in Mexico at the end of 2023 and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down since. He finished 22nd at the Sentry, gaining 3.3 strokes on approach. He followed it up with an even better iron performance last week at the Sony Open, gaining 4.8 strokes on approach.

EVR finished 6th at the American Express last year despite being in poor form at the time, missing cuts in six of his past seven cuts entering the event. The South African has proven he can win birdie-fests in the past and this is an event where players have consistently won at triple digit odds.

In his past 24 rounds, Van Rooyen ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Patton Kizzire +27000 (FanDuel)

Patton Kizzire finished 11th at the American Express last year after a 76th place finish at the Sony Open. He finished 22nd in 2022 and has seemingly begun to figure the courses out if his gradual improvement is any indication.

Kizzire has two top-5’s at the Shriners and a 7th place finish at Torrey Pines in his career, so he’s no stranger to playing well on the west coast. Kizzire has also played well at similar events as Hudson Swafford, who’s won the American Express twice.

A two-time PGA Tour winner, Kizzire is the type of long shot who I believe can pull off an upset if he gets involved over the weekend at PGA West.

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