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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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Equipment

2020 GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide: Golf gifts for the Gearhead

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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,” and “the big spender.”

You know the gearhead by his/her tired eyes from scouring the GolfWRX forums late into the night and his penchant for bringing two bags to the course—the gamer set and a bag full of demo clubs and shafts.

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

GolfWRX Holiday Essential: Perfect Practice Perfect Putting Mat: $169

In COVID-19 times, more new golfers are taking up the game, more casual players are spending more time on the fairways, and avid golfers, of course, are playing as avidly as ever.

As we all know, practicing putting at home is an important step in honing one’s stroke and distance control. The Perfect Practice Mat’s alignment lines and slope leading to the cup cater to both these needs. And from a feel standpoint, the surface itself feels as good as anything you could roll the rock next to your sofa on. We’re not sure exactly what Crystal Velvet TrueRoll Technology is, but it’s darn nice to putt on.

The other two essential elements of this GolfWRX Essential are the ball return track and the Perfect Putting Mat’s ability to be rolled up for easy storage.

Really, these things check all the boxes, so trade in the carpet and a high-ball glass for something that looks and feels better, and is much more likely to actually improve your putting.

The standard edition, which will run you $169.99, is our recommendation for most spaces, and it will fit comfortably in your living room, office, or man cave.

Buy here. 

GolfWRX Holiday Essential: Pinned Golf BlackJack: $199

In the now-competitive market of range finders, a new young company has come onto the scene driven by something we all love: VALUE. Quincy, Massachusetts-based Pinned Golf took the often complicated (and expensive) decision to buy a rangefinder and made it quite easy. The Pinned BlackJack RangeFinder simply does its job. Quick read yardages, slope, yardage lock vibration, and a long charge—the best part is its price point: under $200. In this category, it’s as close to a no-brainer as you’ll find.

This direct-to-consumer idea was cooked up by three young golfers who simply wanted to offer something to the golfing masses that made sense.

Now it must be said that the big companies in this space do it VERY well. Its not a knock on them at all. However, for the player who wants something reliable that won’t break the bank, something that doesn’t require a, “Do I get this now or wait?” decision. John Rowell and his partners at Pinned delivered.

Buy here.

Titleist TSi3 driver: $549

It’s the best driver Titleist has made in 20-plus years. Period. Not only is it long, but it’s also stable and optically pleasing. TSi3 is an impressive driver that’s been met with rave reviews, and one that will hold up for a lot longer than one season. (See our launch piece for more info)

Buy here. 

TaylorMade P770 irons: $1,225

The combination of distance, forgiveness, and spin make this iron a must-have for tour players all the way up to your 15 handicap. And if you really wanna go nuts, integrate the P7MC and P7MB into a combo set.

Buy here. 

Vokey SM8 WedgeWorks edition

If you want to get the full tour treatment, building an SM8 wedge on WedgeWorks puts Bob Vokey and Aaron Dill at your fingertips. Doesn’t get much better than that for a gearhead.

Buy here

Fujikura Ventus hybrid shaft: $200

It’s easy to say at this point that the Fujikura Ventus shaft was the go-to shaft on tour and in the hitting bay in 2020. Putting Velocore technology into a hybrid shaft gets that speed and stability even further into your bag.

Buy here.

MEVO+ launch monitor: $499

If you want tour data at the tip of your fingers, and you don’t want to mortgage your house to get it, the MEVO+ is a no brainer. Just ask Bubba and Bryson, who utilize the technology every day.

Buy here.

Mitsubishi Chemical MMT iron shafts: $65

OEMs have been trying to get graphite iron shafts right for a long time, but the MMT is the first offering that will truly insert graphite into the conversation for all players. It’s smooth, stable, and with offerings for better players at 105 TX and 125 TX, there are plenty of options to combo them up and build a perfect flighted set.

Buy here.

Wedge fitting with Artisan Golf

Wanna know where Tiger gets his wedges? You can schedule a visit to work with the man himself, Mike Taylor, who not only did all the grinding but has worked with Tiger for the past two decades. Bucket list stuff, don’t you think?

Buy here.

Custom FootJoy Icon shoes

If you really want to walk on the course like a player, then there is no better way than to go to FootJoy.com and build your own custom one-of-a-kind FootJoy Icon. It’s a rabbit hole of leather soles, alligator skin, and a rainbow of colors to really dial you in. There should be a strokes gained stat for just showing up with these.

Buy here.

Logan Olson custom putter

He’s the next Scotty Cameron—Not only is his work impeccable, but in 10 years a Logan Original will carry with it a huge price tag.

Buy here. 

TXG fitting with Ian Fraser

Arguably the hottest and fastest-growing fitter in North America, a fitting with Ian Fraser—one of the best fitters in the world and a man who as fit the best pros in the game— at TXG HQ in Toronto will turn your whole bag from good into something singular and irreplaceable.

Buy here.

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2020 GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for the Clothes Horse

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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 clothes horse by his closet full of the latest and greatest in golfwear—from a rainbow of polos to enough baseball caps to outfit an entire MLB roster. And more than likely, he/she has more than three pairs of golf shoes in the trunk of the car.

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

FEATURED LOOK: Puma Golf Excellent Golf Wear Collection

golf-clothes-2020-puma-excellent-golf-golfwrx-holiday-gift-guide-2020

What’s not to love about a line that represents the golfer, the athlete, and the weekend lounger all in one?

Puma Golf, who have always been forward thinking in its pursuit to give golfers something fresh, have delivered something that we at WRX think will be the new golf look of the future. Yes, there is a golf hoodie, but it’s also a look that can truly be worn at the country club, the gym or on the couch. It’s a tricky endeavor to toe the line between formal golf attire and the athletic, but Puma has cracked the code.

On-course attire, little by little, is transitioning into more tennis-inspired looks, and it’s a good thing. All players are looking for comfort, performance, and versatility—even the RS-G shoes can be worn to play 36 and go straight to the gym.

Head to toe this whole get-up works on every level.

Hat: Puma’s Golf Wear Circle Patch

Jacket/Hoodie: Runway Golf Hoodie: The classic hoodie now designed for the golf course! The Runway Hoodie is perfect for a casual, chilly day as you head to the range or to run errands.

Shirt: CloudSpun Henley Golf Shirt: The CloudSpun Henley – the perfect piece to wear anywhere life takes you. Part of the Excellent Golfwear Collection, the perfect blend of performance and lifestyle.

Pants: Tarmac Golf Joggers: Designed for comfort, travel and cool days at the range. Featuring an elastic waistband with a drawstring and a faux fly to give them a more elevated feel.

Shoes: RS-G: The new bold & bulky silhouette inspired by Puma’s RS-X is designed to celebrate re-invention and innovation and conquer the golf course in style. The hype is real.

Browse the whole look here. 

True Linkswear: TruLux knit: $185

True’s first-ever fully waterproof knit shoe, this sneaker-inspired look is garnering rave reviews.

Buy here. 

G/Fore: Tour 5-Pocket Pants: $185

G/FORE paired their top-selling 5 Pocket pant silhouette with performance components that their sponsored tour players found the most important & efficient for their game: mobility, moisture-control properties, breathability, and comfort.

Buy here.

Criquet: Sweater Fleece Jacket: $165

Criquet’s best-selling fleece jacket has really become a true winter workhorse for me.  It’s the perfect weight for most chilly weather and has a really cool, throw-back vibe to it.  I really love this color, River Phoenix, as it pairs well with almost every color of pants. It’s just a badass versatile piece. – Johnny Wunder

Buy here. 

Sugarloaf Social Club: Classic SSC Arrow Cap: $40

With everything but the navy colorway sold out, the Classic SSC Arrow Cap is a subtle, perfectly executed “dad hat” that lets everyone know you run with the low-key golf hipster crowd.

Buy here. 

Linksoul: Dry-Tek Quarter Zip: $101

“The Dry-Tek Quarter Zip is brand new this season from Linksoul. This cotton/poly midlayer is perfect for those transitional autumn days. It’s lightweight and features moisture wicking properties as well as plenty of natural stretch. Features a Linksoul detailed zipper as well as patch detailing on the left hip.”

 

Buy here. 

FootJoy: 1857 Sueded Cotton 5 Pocket Trousers: $125

“The Sueded Cotton 5-Pocket Pant is brand new this season from FootJoy and is part of their 1857 collection. This incredibly soft, sueded fabric is built in a 5-pocket style with straight legs and subtle, 1857 detailing.”

Buy here. 

Muni Kids: “Old E” Bogeys Suck Tee (Black): $27.95

According to the folks at Muni Kids, “Old E”…”is our Muni twist on the infamous Compton hats that were a staple in hip hop culture in the 80s and 90s.” We just say this is a simple, stylish presentation of an essential golf truth.

Buy here. 

Jordan 5 Low: $220

Buy here.

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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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