Category: Golf Tips
Know Your Distance
On the Practice Tee
with Joe Giles
PGA Professional and
Southern Ohio PGA Teacher of the Year
Nothing can be more frustrating than hitting a great shot, with the wrong club. In most cases, your mismanagement can only be blamed on yourself, due to poor planning. In order to improve your scores, you might need only to improve some incidental aspects of the game, such as obtaining the correct yardage, and learning how far you hit each club.
Most golf courses make it simple for you to figure out yardage. Make it a habit, when you get to the course, to ask how they mark the distances on the course. Do they have bushes, trees, posts, concrete slabs, birdhouses, or the like, to represent 200 yards, 150 yards, and 100 yards? Are they measured to the middle of the green, or to the front? Or better yet, purchase a “range finder” so that you can accurately determine the distance of your next shot.
Since nearly every golf course in the area has watered fairways, find out if the yardage is indicated on the sprinkler head. Again, it makes a difference if the yardage is to the front, or to the middle of the green.
It is also a good idea to actually measure how far one of your paces is, so that when you’re walking off distance from let’s say 150 yards, and you take 9 paces forward to your ball, you will know for sure, if you have a shot of 141 yards or more.
Many courses will either give you a yardage book, or have them available for sale. If you do have to buy it, they are worth the money. The book will make it even easier for you to plot the distance, especially when you hit it in the rough, or behind some trees. Hole descriptions may also offer some helpful insight into planning your strategy.
The best way to learn about the distance you hit each club is to hit about 12 – 20 balls with each one. Disregard any “missed” shots, and try to get an average distance that you hit the rest. Take into consideration how far they are bouncing when you come up with your average, because you’ll need to know how far they fly, not how far they go, after the roll. Record your data and either memorize it, or you can make a label, and stick it on each club.
Now that you know how to find the yardage, and have the knowledge to hit the proper club, you still must consider some other factors. Are you hitting into the wind? Is the shot uphill? Have the greens been holding, or are they firm? Find the hazards. If they are in front of the green, hit a bit more club. If you are in the light rough, you may have what’s called a flyer, and you’ll need to hit less club, cause it’s going to shoot off the club a little farther than normal.
If you aren’t hitting the ball solid, don’t fall into a mode where you tell yourself to hit more club than normal. If it is a 130 yard shot, on level ground, with no wind, no hazards, on soft greens, hit your 130 yard club whether you think you’ll hit it good or not. If you think that you’re going to hit it poorly, 9 times out of 10, you will.
You know you’re going to hit some bad shots during a round. Don’t make matters worse by guessing how far away you are, and what club to hit. If you want to get serious about improving your scores, start by paying more attention to the yardages, and the distance you hit your clubs. Take the guess work out of your next round by getting more prepared.
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