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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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Bridgestone launches special First Tee edition e6 ball

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Bridgestone Golf has launched a special First Tee edition e6 golf ball, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to First Tee, a youth development organization that helps kids and teens build their strength of character through golf.

The special First Tee edition ball is available now exclusively through PGA Tour Superstore and comes in both white and optic yellow color codes.

“We’re very pleased to offer this special First Tee edition e6, exclusively at PGA Tour Superstore. For decades, First Tee has done very fine work, helping young people learn and grow through the game of golf, building strong individuals and communities. It is an honor to create a dedicated product where the proceeds from the sales will bolster their charitable endeavors.” – Dan Murphy, President and CEO, Bridgestone Golf

As a reminder, the e6 is the longest-running model in Bridgestone’s current lineup. The latest model, new for 2021, features a larger, softer core in design for a more responsive feel added distance for moderate swing speed players.

The new design, which is specifically tailored to modern players who value a ball that provides a very soft feel at impact, retails for $21.99 per dozen.

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Adidas unveils new Stan Smith golf shoe in classic colorway

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Adidas Golf is bringing the classic Stan Smith colorway to the course, with the new unmistakable white and green golf shoe.

Building upon the new PimeGreen upper made with high-performance recycled materials1 as part of Adidas’ mission to End Plastic Waste, this version is also waterproof (one-year warranty) to help keep golfers dry both on and off the course.

The new Stan Smith golf shoe features a PU cushioning in targeted areas in the midsole to go alongside a PU die-cut sockliner in a bid to provide maximum comfort.

The shoe also contains an adiwear spikeless outsole that features lugs inspired by the shoe’s original sole design, offering some added traction for all course conditions to go along with their style.

“When we were talking about bringing this shoe into golf, the original white and green colorway was a must-have as part of our planning. The Stan Smith silhouette is known throughout the world for being so versatile from a fashion standpoint, so we’re excited to give golfers that same style and versatility for when they head out to the course, now in a more sustainable way.” – Masun Denison, global footwear director, Adidas Golf.

As an ode to the traditions of the past, Adidas has also included a removable white kiltie to provide players another way to wear their shoes and give off some added flair for their round.

This classic white and green colorway of the Stan Smith Golf will be available on adidas.com, through the Adidas app, and at select retail partners worldwide beginning Saturday, May 1.

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Lob wedge or no lob wedge? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the necessity of a lob wedge. WRXer ‘rickybooby25’ kicks off the thread, saying

“Do you use a Lob wedge in your current set-up or not? Players nowadays immediately default to using a LW when playing a chip shot around the greens. I currently have a LW in the bag but have been debating on taking it out completely because it creates bad habits when facing a chip shot. What are your thoughts?”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts on the subject in the forum, with some very interesting responses.

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.

  • Chadwickog: “I am in the NO lob wedge camp, it simplifies the decision making when it comes to wedge play, and all shots are still possible if you know how to hit them.”
  • jholz: “I’ve always looked at the lob wedge as a specialty club for special situations. Lower lofted wedges (54* or 56*) are the ones I use for the vast majority of generic chip shots.”
  • timmekang: “I’ve mentioned this in prior posts, but I carry 2 lob wedges. Not all lob wedges are created equal to don’t be afraid to bring more than 1 out on the course with different bounce/grind/etc. and see what works best depending on your lie and circumstances.”
  • lefthack: “I bought one, learned to hit it, but didn’t find a need for it in my bag when there are other clubs I would use more.”

Entire Thread: “Lob wedge or no lob wedge?”

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