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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

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!!!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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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‘Anyone else not carry any fairway woods?’ – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the strategy of leaving fairway woods out of the bag. WRXer ‘Nfogle’ says:

“I rarely need a fairway wood, and when I do, I usually end up with a penalty or just not hitting a good shot. My misses with the 2 iron keep me in play I just don’t get quite the distance out of the fairway I need. Anyone else have this problem and if so, what do you do?”

And our members have been discussing the issue, with plenty of other members taking the same route as ‘Nfogle’.

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.

  • schwollo: “Was in the same boat then got a G410 3 wood easiest 3 wood ever to hit and plenty long.”
  • jmtbkr: “At my age, 69, I don’t worry too much about hitting par5 greens in two. So my 3 iron bent to 20* is just fine for me. It also doubles as my driving iron on short par 4’s.”
  • capking: “I used to not carry any, my miss is a closed club face at impact, and most FW woods are closed at address. I fixed it by getting some jumbomax xl grips and by visualizing hitting it down the right side on follow through. Before this I went a year without any in the bag.”
  • Roejye: “I started out this year with no fairway wood, I went driver to a 17.5° Adams xtd super hybrid. Because I’m a club ho, and because my dad has one and likes it, I bought a Cleveland Hibore XL 3 wood off eBay. I love it off of the tee, but merely like it off the deck. As much as I love it off of the tee, it’s also possibly the most replaceable because my home course I have little to no need for it. Luckily I don’t carry a 3 iron or hybrid so I don’t need to get rid of it.”

Entire Thread: “Anyone else not carry any fairway woods?”

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2020 GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide: Golf gifts for the Purist

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It’s that time of year again, GolfWRX members, the moment we start filling our wish lists with the golf gear we want this holiday season.

The GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide was created to ensure that our readers give (and hopefully receive) the very best golf gifts on the planet. These gift ideas will suit any budget, and each item was hand-picked by our staff. 

In an effort to provide more value and tailored recommendations, we’re presenting our guide as a series this year, targeting “the purist,” “the gearhead,” “the value seeker,” “the golfer looking to get better,” “the clothes horse,” and “the big spender.”

You know the purist by his/her love forged irons, natural fibers, and Golden Age golf courses. 

Here are our best recommendations for “the purist” in your life.

Titleist Pro V1, Pro V1x: $47.95

 

 

The No. 1 ball in golf, yes, most widely played on the PGA Tour by a wide margin, yes…The performance of the Titleist Pro V1 is doubtless best-in-class. But for the purist, there’s nothing in the golf ball space quite so iconic as the “Titleist” script stamped on the Pro V1.

Buy here.

The Golfer’s Journal: $75/year

Do you subscribe to The Golfer’s Journal? If you consider yourself a purist, it’s surprising if you don’t. And if you’re buying a gift for the purist in your life, TGJ is the perfect pick for superb reading material, best-in-the-golf-media photography, and of course, as a coffee table adornment that signals your aesthetic sensibilities are as high as your appreciation for our maddening game.

Buy here.

Vintage Hogan blades

Classic blade models can be had from many manufacturers, but there’s something about the Ben Hogan Apex—one of the most iconic and influential iron models of all time—that warms the heart of every purist. The 1999 model was an excellent vintage. 

MacKenzie golf bag

The carry bag of choice for golf hipsters and purists alike. We’re big fans of the Waxed Canvas Original Walker (and the “Mac” custom builder).

Buy here.

Louisville Golf: Classic 50’s Series Persimmon Driver

Among companies still making persimmon, Louisville Golf is best in class. And as we all know, nothing resonates in the purist’s soul like a well-struck shot with a persimmon wood. (Our Peter Schmitt took a trip to Louisville Golf and filed this report). You can’t go wrong with the 50’s Series Persimmon.

Buy here

BB&F ferrules

It may seem counter-intuitive that the purist would want something more bold than the traditional black ferrule, that is until you remember that historically, ferrules were often times ringed with at least one color. BB&F is the best (only?) player in the bespoke ferrule game.

Buy here. 

Best Grips

The purist loves all things leather and antiquated. Grips were originally made of leather. Ergo, the purist will be entirely enamored of Best Grips offerings—we recommend the MicroPerf Leather Golf Grip.

Buy here.

Goodwood putter

No shortage of putter makers sit near to the purist’s heart. Tad Moore, T.P. Mills, and Scotty Cameron, among other, fill the wooden racks of both the purist’s home and the corridors of his equipment fantasies. Goodwood, however, which was “Founded on the idea that tradition still holds an important place among new technology in an ever evolving industry,” is plenty appealing to the purist.

Buy here. 

Western Birch Golf tees

Premium wooden tees in classic designs are plentiful, yes, but nobody does it better than Western Birch.

Buy here. 

Golf trip: Sweetens Cove, Bandon

While this is certainly for the budgetarily endowed, what could be better than sending the purist—with his golf architecture obsession—to one of his dream destinations for a round or two? The tracks at Mike Keiser’s Bandon and the Tennessee King-Collins gem are deeply etched on all purist bucket lists.

Buy here.

 

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2020 GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for the Big Spender

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It’s that time of year again, GolfWRX members, the moment we start filling our wish lists with the golf gear we want this holiday season.

The GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide was created to ensure that our readers give (and hopefully receive) the very best golf gifts on the planet. These gift ideas will suit any budget, and each item was hand-picked by our staff. The GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide was created to ensure that our readers give (and hopefully receive) the very best golf gifts on the planet. These gift ideas will suit any budget, and each item was hand-picked by our staff.

In an effort to provide more value and tailored recommendations, we’re presenting our guide as a series this year, targeting “the purist,” “the gearhead,” “the value seeker,” “the golfer looking to get better,” and “the big spender.” In an effort to provide more value and tailored recommendations, we’re presenting our guide as a series this year, targeting “the purist,” “the gearhead,” “the value seeker,” “the golfer looking to improve,” “the clothes horse,” and “the big spender.”

You know the big spender by his/her when the math “golf bag + 14 clubs = more than the value of your car…and maybe house.”

Here are our best recommendations for “the big spender” in your life (and yes, in this scenario, you are a big spender as well).

JuCad Phantom Titan eX 2.0 Electric Push Cart: $4,990

Built from titanium and carbon fiber, the Phantom Titan eX 2.0 is one of the wildest pushcarts in golf. Super minimal design that hides the electric motors and battery in the frame on the cart. Comes with a remote control and double-sided electronic parking brake. Folds up small enough to fit in a large briefcase-sized case.

Buy here.

TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition: $2,500

A smartwatch geared towards golf and crafted by one of the biggest names in luxury watches. TAG Heuer’s Connected Golf Edition gives you GPS data to any point on the golf course and its screen is bright and easy to read. It has the most comfortable band I have ever strapped on my wrist to keep it in place throughout the swing.

Buy here. 

Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitor: $20,500

This is one of the best launch monitors on the market and the best option for anyone stuck practicing indoors. The GCQuad accurately measures your clubbed through impact and has a Putting Analysis option to dial in your flagstick. The GCQuad will accurately measure your ball speed, clubhead speed, launch angle, spin, carry distance, and many more metrics.

Buy here.

Footjoy 1857 Shield Tip Golf Shoes: $495

Is there a more classic and well build golf shoe out there? Crafted from soft calfskin leather the 1857 Shield Tips are built with full leather linings and outsole. A Good Year rubber welt keeps the waterproof and a cork underlay cushions your feet hold after hole.

Buy here. 

Kjus Gemini Rain Suit: $1,048 ($549 jacket/$499 pants)

The Gemini series is lightweight, breathable, stretchy, and quiet. Creme de la creme of rain suits. It features a reversible design that allows you to also wear it inside out as a warm and ultra-breathable jacket. The Gemini features fully taped seams and an adjustable hem with a drawcord to get the perfect fit.

Buy here.

PXG 0311 Milled Wedges Black: $2,250 ($750/wedge)

Triple forged from 8620 carbon steel and then CNC milled to exact specifications. The iconic PXG weight screws help increase MOI and fine-tune CG location. Weight in the toe moves the CG higher for increased spin and better consistency on open-faced shots.

Buy here.

Titleist CNCPT Irons: $4,500 ($500/iron)

CNCPT irons are an exercise in engineering and pushing the limits of iron design. Titleist uses the CNCPT line to try new materials that have never been used in the golf space as well as packing more tech into smaller spaces. With three different models available, there is a set of irons for the low to high handicap player.

Buy here. 

Dormie Workshop “The Green Jacket” Headcover: $190

Who isn’t still thinking of the Masters and that green jacket? Dormie Workshop created this amazing headcover to pay homage to the most iconic piece of clothing in golf. Made from high-quality leather, this could be the crown jewel of your golf bag accessories.

Buy here. 

Full Swing VG2 Virtual Putting Green: $61,000+

This has to be one of the most advanced and customizable putting greens in the world. Dozens of individual actuator modules shape and mold the green into real-world topographies so you can practice any putt you can think of.

Buy here.

 

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS: $160,000+

If it is good enough for Rickie to promote all weekend during the Masters, it should be good enough for any unlimited budget golfer! With massaging seats and every luxury option you can think of, the Maybach GLSGLS could be what you need to relax after a rough round. Just remember, Joe Skovron (Rickie’s caddy) says the back seats should be set to 38 degrees of recline for optimal seating!

Buy here.

 

 

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