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Golf 101: How far should my clubs go? (AKA gapping)

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“I’m a new golfer, and I’m confused.” My buddy said this to me via text one day.

How do I know what club to choose? How far should my clubs go? It’s like learning how to drive on the freeway and knowing when to change lanes. Seems a bit overwhelming as a kid (new golfer) watching your parent do it with such ease.

It’s an honest question, concern. I have 13 clubs and a putter in this satchel, and all I really know is the driver is supposed to go far—but what else? How do I organize this mess?

The answer is actually pretty simple, however, if it’s your first time playing I’d like to give you a simple remedy to getting through. We will get to that in a second…

If you are a few rounds in and are becoming comfortable having all these options, you now realize that all the clubs go a different distance and have a different job.

How far should my clubs go?

To learn how to start dialing in your clubs/yardages try this at the range.

  1. Go through the whole bag; 10 shots with each club. Starting with the highest-lofted club, start to pay attention to where the ball is landing (most of the time). After 10 shots, compare the result to the yardage marker closest. For example, if you hit 10 8-irons and of the 10, eight of them land at or around the 125 marker, your 120-125 club is your 8-iron.
  2. After you have gone through the bag to start, jot down the result on a piece of paper and refer to it when you play.
  3. Now, next time you are at the course, pay attention to how your on-course yardages compare to what you found on the range. There will be some differences because the environment has changed. Jot those numbers down.

The point is until it becomes consistent you have to journal what is happening. Over a short period, you will begin to see patterns.

  1. Basic stock yardage for all your clubs
  2. How the environment affects your golf ball
  3. An understanding of what clubs you hit well vs the others

Now for the brand new player…

You were given a rental set with 14 clubs?

Grab the driver, hybrid, 7-iron, PW, SW, and putter. Those six clubs will allow you to get around and have some fun. Why make it complicated your first time?

 

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Lefthack

    Dec 12, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    The first learned and competed with a starter set. Driver, 3 wood, 3, 5, 7, and 9 irons and a putter. I bought a nicer putter and a sand wedge.

    Once I got a real set, it actually took a few years before I could hit even clubs, thought.

  2. Peter Albertsson

    Dec 1, 2020 at 10:23 am

    First you need to groove your swing so that you have a consistent swing speed.

    Then try to hit every club as far as you can, and write that down. Then on the course make sure you max distance of the club you pick does not go over the green. Then start to take notes on when you were pin high and make adjustments. So you eventually know what the range is

  3. Paul

    Nov 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    I highly recommend playing on a launch monitor, get all your distances that way. You will always know how far your clubs go in perfect conditions. Then when you are on the ground you subtract a couple yards, in the rough 5-10 less, up hill shot add a half club or so. This is the easy part for anyone who plays at all. You just have to work it out once.

  4. Rich

    Nov 2, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    I can’t see that far. Seriously.

    I know my carry distances from having played the same irons over the past 4 years. But I’m upgrading in a couple of weeks and I’ll have to go to a simulator to get the lofts right, and then experience them on the course for awhile to know the carry distances.

    But I can’t see far enough to see if my 6-iron flies 180 or 185 (it does).

    Then there’s the issue with range balls. There’s no way you’ll get a reliable, nor valid, result with them.

    (Note: “valid” means the results are accurate. “Reliable” means the same strike will create the same result each time. The range isn’t valid because range balls don’t produce the same result as your brand does. They probably fly less. And they’re not reliable because range balls vary so much in terms of quality from ball-to-ball. Two identical strikes will likely produce different results.)

    You have to get out on the course, hit shots with your balls, and see where they land. Toss out outliers, especially those from poor strikes. Then yes, write them down and use them.

    Then forget about pin placement and aim for the center of each green. You’ll be happy you did.

    • Paul

      Nov 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      I got my distances from a launch monitor, works great.

  5. BiGBilly

    Nov 2, 2020 at 11:43 am

    69, playing since age 10, HCP 7
    I play and get distances from a GPS, currently an Approach G80 Garmin whish also has a decent make-do Launch Monitor.

    I measure on the ground every single shot I play so I have confidence in now only how far my ball goes on every shot, I also know where a miss might be and where to look.

    I, too say use at most every other club and have fun when starting, but measure everything not to see how macho far everything goes, but to know with confidence where you CAN hit it. No wishing, woulda, coulda shoulda.

  6. Bob Jones

    Nov 2, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Easy way to figure out your iron distances. Sign up for a session with a launch monitor and find the distances you hit a 9, 7, and 5-iron. Interpolate for the rest of your irons. Take these distances to the course and start adjusting for hitting actual golf balls instead of the range balls you hit with the monitor. After a few rounds you will know.

    • Tim

      Nov 4, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      I’d say have all your irons checked. The loft and lie will change over time. I have had fittings in the past and was amazed at how just a degree or 2 can alter distance. I have a 20 yard distance gap between my 8 iron and 9 iron that needs to be addressed.

  7. DougE

    Nov 2, 2020 at 8:52 am

    A beginner first needs to get comfortable hitting the ball somewhat consistently. Club distances are irrelevant at this level. If the new golfer can make decent contact with a 5i or hybrid, a 7 or 8 iron and a PW, that’s really all they need, plus a driver and putter. 5 clubs total. Period. Once they get more consistent and you can actually see a very distinct distance on nearly every swing off a turf lie (not off a tee) between those three clubs, then you can add another couple irons to the mix.

    Having taught many pure beginners (mostly children and older, unathletic women), when they ask what club should they hit in a certain situation, I think of how well they have been able to hit each of the few clubs they have. I will then usually suggest the longest club if the distance they’d best benefit from is over 120 yrds, knowing the odds of them making clean contact from a turf lie is slim. (Yes, they could get lucky and hit it further, but if so, it would probably be a good thing. With a shorter distance of maybe 90-100 yards, the odds are better for cleaner contact with a 7 iron, and even better still with a pitching wedge when the best distance is 50-80 yards. We aren’t worried about GIRs at this stage. Just moving the ball forward. Until we get close enough to the green, there is rarely ever a reason to use anything other than a hybrid (or 5i) for most of these beginner-level players.

  8. George Fletcher

    Nov 2, 2020 at 8:44 am

    There are plenty of factors affecting how far the ball flies. Clearly the most important is how good the strike is. Nobody hits it as far when not making clean contact with the middle of the club. And obviously the ball goes further downwind than it does into the wind.

    Air temperature also affects the distance a ball flies, and many people do not realize how much of a factor this is. As a rough guide, the ball flies 1 yard further for every 2 degrees Fahrenheit the air temperature rises. So a shot that flies 200 yards at 32F would fly 220 yards at 72F.

  9. Peter

    Nov 1, 2020 at 11:51 pm

    Start with 6 clubs
    Driver
    3 wood
    5
    7
    9
    S
    I’m not counting you putter, although, you should look at that part of your game too

    • Joe

      Nov 2, 2020 at 10:32 am

      I would swap the 3W out for a 4 or 5 Wood for most beginners… Better gapping… I would also consider a 5 or 6 Hybrid after that especially for lower swing speed players.

  10. Been there

    Nov 1, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    This isn’t “gapping”. It’s yardage. Gapping is knowing the differences between clubs. It’s should you have 8 yards or 15 yards between irons.

    This is handy for a dead beginner who bought a box set, but “which one to hit” isn’t a good thing here. Granted ranges are often limited flight, the better advice is this:

    Hit a ball 10 yards. What’s easiest to do that. Then 20, 30, and all the way to 200. Experiment. Jot those down.

    These articles are all about “how far do you hit it” – that’s not the goal, EVER. The goal to golf is to hit a certain distance. Figure that out.

  11. Johnny P

    Nov 1, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Never judge your distances at a range, the balls are old, some newish, been sitting in water and rain for God knows how long and probably some have fluid in them and are water-logged, some are hard as rocks and most of them I wouldn’t use if u paid me.

  12. Juan R.

    Nov 1, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Yup. This makes a big difference knowing your clubs. This has been very helpful in breaking 90’s, next will be staying in low 80’s and better. As a weekend golfer has been awesome to know my gaps. Now I’m looking at the wedges bounce!!!

  13. Curt

    Nov 1, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    It’s the most important thing when buying clubs. As I get older found that gapping of ten yards requires more loft gaps. From 4 to 5 to make it work in my 7 thru GW.

  14. Max Houck

    Nov 1, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    It is a tricky thing. Range balls are not great for judging distance but it’s a starting point; they will always be SHORT. On-course conditions vary, so it’s always an estimate plus variance. I made a card for my wedges with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1/1 swings so I have an idea when I get to the approach shot and can reduce my swing thoughts–just concentrate on the green, etc. It will take time and several sessions.

  15. Acemandrake

    Nov 1, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Great overall advice. Every golfer should take the time to know their club’s distances.

    Your 6 club setup (D, H, 7, PW, SW, P) for beginners is perfect. I use this setup & I’ve been playing for over 50 years. Seems like I’ve gone full circle.

  16. Dennis

    Nov 1, 2020 at 8:54 am

    DO NOT put 14 Clubs in your bag if you are a beginner! A putter, one wedge, a 7 iron and a 5 or 7 wood is enough. When you get better you could add clubs for certain distances. Leave the driver out of the bag until your handicap drops below 20!

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Equipment

TaylorMade launches next-generation 2021 P790, P790 UDI irons

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The final piece in the TaylorMade P700 Series has fallen into place. Last August, the Carlsbad company announced P7MB, P7MC, and P770 irons, with the ends of the Series spectrum — P7TW and 2019 P790 irons — staying the same.

We know there are no plans to update the P7TW irons (unless Tiger Woods wants to alter his preferred surgical instruments), but plenty of equipment soothsayers expected a new P790 this summer — and TaylorMade has delivered.

Third-generation 2021 TaylorMade P790 irons continue to occupy the “players distance” seat at the P7TW, P7MB, P7MC, and P770 family table.

2021 TaylorMade P790 irons

We knew the profile would remain larger than the P770, and at first glance, the 2021 P790 shares much more in common cosmetically with P770 irons than the 2019 P790 design (comparison of P770, 2019 P790 below).

(P770 and 2019 P790)

Of course, we also know the real story of the P700 line in general, P790 in particular, is under the hood, so let’s take a look.

SpeedFoam, which was the showpiece of the original (2017) P790 line gets an upgrade in the 2021 edition. Dubbed SpeedFoam Air, the ultralight urethane foam is 69 percent less dense than the 2019 iteration.

2021 TaylorMade P790 7-iron

2021 TaylorMade P790 7-iron

As is the formula in golf club design, saving weight in one area allows engineers to relocate it to another to accomplish specific aims. In this case, it’s to aid launch. And that’s just what the folks at TM have done, moving the CG lower in the heads of P790 irons to the tune of an average of .5 millimeters.

“SpeedFoam Air is the heartbeat of the new P·790 irons. The development of this lightweight urethane material allowed us to strategically reconstruct the iron head to promote optimal launch conditions and a sweet spot that covers the most common strike points on the face.” — Matt Bovee, Product Creation, Irons

With respect to that sweet spot, TaylorMade’s Intelligent Sweet Spot is the product of data from thousands of golf shot to determine the most common impact points on the face. Bovee and company then strategically shaped and positioned the sweet spot (i.e. moved it) so it captures more of these shots.

As you would expect, more shots struck on the sweet spot yields greater ball speed and distance compared to the previous generation P790 — it’s a “performance where you need it” narrative.

2021 TaylorMade P790: Additional details

  • Made from 8620 carbon steel
  • Combination of Rengineered Forged Hollow Body Construction and 1.5mm forged 4140 steel L-Face yields flexibility, fast ball speeds, and distance while maintaining a forged feel.
  • Up to 31 grams of tungsten weighting in an individual iron head is strategically positioned for stability and forgiveness.
  • Thru-Slot Speed Pocket increases face flexibility and preserves ball speed and distance on low-face strikes.

2021 TaylorMade P790 UDI

Featuring the same Thru-Slot Speed Pocket, SpeedFoam Air, and other technology mentioned above, the 2021 P790 UDI is a driving iron built from tour feedback. Shaped and weighted to cater to low-launch, low-spin players, TaylorMade’s latest iteration of the Ultimate Driving Iron is its most technologically advanced yet.

TaylorMade P790: Specifications, pricing, availability

  • Available for pre-order now
  • At retail 9/3

P790

Steel (True Temper Dynamic Gold)

Single iron: $185.71
7-piece set: $1,299.99

Graphite (Mitsubishi Chemical MMT)

Single iron: $214.28
7-piece set: $1,499.99

Golf Pride Z-Grip

2021 TaylorMade P790 irons specs

2021 TaylorMade P790 irons specs

P790 UDI

Single iron: $249.99

2-iron (17 degrees)
Project X HZRDS Black Smoke
Golf Pride Z-Grip

2021 TaylorMade P790 UDI irons specs

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TaylorMade launches all-new MG3 wedges

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TaylorMade has today unveiled its all-new MG3 wedges, which are engineered with Raw Face Technology.

The successor to TM’s MG2 line, 2021 MG3 wedges contain an unplated surface material that will rust over time to preserve consistent spin, and also deliver better performance in wet conditions, according to the company. 

The all-new Raised Micro-Ribs aim to enhance those benefits further and provide added precision around the greens — especially on partial shots.

Speaking on the new additions, Bill Price, Product Creation. Putter & Wedges stated

“Wedges have to be versatile and exacting, whether it’s a full swing from 100 yards, a touchy15-yard pitch that needs to stop quickly, or any distance in between. With Milled Grind 3, we’ve designed a wedge that’s capable of delivering optimal spin on every shot from every distance.”

The Raised Micro-Ribs (0.02mm tall and .25mm wide) span the entire face of the MG3 wedges and sit between the traditional grooves. The Ribs are designed to create an abrasive and textured surface area that improves the interaction between clubface and ball on finesse shots.

Each leading edge and sole grind are individually CNC milled for accuracy and consistency from club to club, while the alterations to the sole and bounce offerings for the new MG3 wedges include the following:

Low Bounce (LB)

With a leading-edge that sits closer to the ground and has less tendency to catch upon entry, the LB offers a slight increase in camber designed to help the club glide through the turf with less resistance. 

The LB option aims to provide a smoother entry and exit of the club through the turf and features added trail edge relief designed to deliver versatility when opening the face up to hit finesse shots around the green.

Standard Bounce (SB)

Featuring a slightly wider sole than on the MG2 wedges, the SB sole geometry is geared towards increased playability and forgiveness on various shots. Added trail edge relief aims to provide versatility when opening the face up to hit finesse shots around the green.

High Bounce (HB)

Designed to help players with a steep attack angle or those who play in softer conditions, the HB sole is slightly wider than the MG2 and has increased camber for smoother turf interaction while also featuring added trail edge relief.

TW Grind

Offered in custom offerings only, with 56 and 60 degree lofts available, each sole on the MG3 TW was inspired by Tiger’s grind. The 56 degree wedge is a dual sole with heavy heel relief, while the 60 degree has an extremely high bounce on the leading edge with a shaved heel allowing for maximum versatility.

Engineers used precision mass placement for the MG3 wedges in design to optimize CG location to encourage lower launch with increased spin (i.e., the higher the loft, the higher the CG) while simultaneously bidding to deliver better sound and feel responses.

Progressive hosel lengths also allow players to pair different hosel lengths with different lofts allowing for optimal CG location. In addition, unlike its predecessor, the new MG3 wedges include a scratch finish on the toe area to reduce glare at address.

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Lofts: Standard Bounce include 46, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees. Low Bounce loft options: 56, 58 and 60 degrees. High Bounce options: 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees. The TW Grind is only available in custom offerings with lofts of 56 or 60 degrees
  • Shaft and Grip: True Temper Tour Issue S200 shafts and Lamkin Crossline 360 grip
  • Finish: Satin Raw Chrome and Satin Raw Black
  • Price: $179.99 each; TW Grind: $199.99
  • Availability: September 3
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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best used irons in the $350-$450 range

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In our forums, our members have been discussing used irons. WRXer ‘siGno’ is a former scratch golfer looking to get back into playing and is on the hunt for a complete set of irons with a budget of $450.

He kicks off the thread, saying:

“Just curious subjectively, of course, what iron set you would go with if you only had $385-450 to spend total for a 3-P or 4-P set of irons? I’m getting back into the game I used to be scratch or +1 and haven’t played in years due to building a business. Just want to take it slow and not jump in too deep money wise right now.

Been eye balling the MP-54s and AP2 714’s. There is a nice listing for the 54s on eBay right now at +1/2,” which I need that I might snag. Just figured I’d get some opinions before dropping the money.”

And our members have been sharing how they would spend the money in our forums.

  • Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.
  • Markrip: “Check out Sub 70. They’re clubs stand up to the big OEMs, and their customer service is excellent. They’ll be close to your price point, and they are great at getting you the right set up for you. Check out the Sub 70 70 thread you’ll find a lot of satisfied customers.”
  • cwilk: “New Level 902 Forged. They would still have to be used at your price, but you should be able to find newer sets than you would big name OEM options. And they are great irons.”
  • cjlayer30: “Any used Mizunos that still have clean faces will be a great purchase. Got some MP-69s for $250 a year ago, and they are butter. If you want a little forgiveness but still a player’s set, I’d look around for a used set of Titleist CBs (any year).”
  • drumdude96: “The Wilson Staff FG Tour F5 are also a GREAT forged iron. They are well suited to low handicap players but also offer a good bit of forgiveness. I sold a set earlier this year and kinda wish I had held onto them.”

Entire Thread: “Best used irons in the $350-$450 range”

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