Learn Your Club Yardages to Improve Consistency 1

Do you know how far you usually hit your 8-iron, 5-iron or sand wedge? If not, you're just guessing when choosing a club for an approach shot.

One way to determine your distances is to visit a driving range – preferably with real grass rather than synthetic mats – that has large yardage signs placed at several spots between 50 and 250 yards. Since the teeing area for grass ranges is moved regularly, make sure the signs are accurate. (A laser rangefinder is a great tool for this task.)

Learn Your Club Yardages to Improve Consistency 2

Start by hitting your shortest iron, like a lob wedge, directly at the nearest marker, paying close attention to how far short or long the ball lands from the target. Follow this procedure through the set, taking aim at more distant targets as the clubs get longer.

There's a little guesswork involved, since you won't hit every shot in a direct line with the target and can't measure exact yards, so make plenty of repetitions with each club. Try to note the difference in distance between solid shots and those hit off-center.

Handheld golf GPS devices,, which allow you to measure the distance from where you hit the ball to where it lands, are handy for this as well. An uncrowded day on the course is a good time to check your yardages with GPS.

How and Why Learn Your Club Yardages to Improve Consistency

How and Why Learn Your Club Yardages to Improve Consistency

How far do you hit a golf ball? That might seem like a simple question to someone who doesn't play this sport, but an actual golfer knows that it is extremely complicated. In fact, it doesn't really make sense as a question, because there are so many variables which would need to be considered in the answer. Which club is being used? What are the conditions on the course? Are we talking about carry distance, or carry and roll combined? The list could go on and on.

For a serious golfer, the question of distance is one of great importance. If you are going to play well on a regular basis, you have to know how far you can hit each one of your clubs – it's just that simple. If you don't know how far the ball is going to go – within a reasonable tolerance – you aren't going to be able to plan your shots properly. At that point, it would be up to nothing more than luck in terms of where your ball comes down. Only when you can accurately predict your distances can you build a golf game that relies on skill and good decision making.

In this article, we are going to talk about the importance of knowing your club yardages. As a golfer, you probably already have some idea of how far you can hit the ball. Even if you've only played one or two rounds in your life, you may have noticed some pattern in those rounds with regard to your distances. Despite what many golfers believe, it isn't necessary to hit extremely long shots in order to play good golf. There are plenty of short hitters who find great success on the links. The important element to distance is that you can repeat your distances over and over again. Whether you hit a pitching wedge 100 yards or 150 yards doesn't really matter – as long as you can do it again the next time. The reliability of your distances is critical to your success, and it is this topic that we will address in the content below.

The project of learning your yardages is unlikely to be the most exciting thing you do in golf. This task can feel a bit like homework at times, as it will demand you to pay attention to detail and make notes on your performance. The effort will be worth it in the long run, however, as you will gain a much greater understanding for how your game works and how you can make decisions that will benefit your play. You can be sure that the professional golfers you see playing on TV take this topic very seriously, as even a slight miscalculation can mean the difference between winning and losing a tournament. The stakes might be slightly lower for you during a weekend round with your friends, but you still want to play to the best of your ability.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Benefits of Knowing Your Yardages

Benefits of Knowing Your Yardages

There are a number of ways in which you can stands to improve thanks to knowing your yardages accurately. Golfers tend to obsess over the technical side of the game, but the mental side of the game is just as important. Sure, it looks great to make a beautiful swing, but what good will that swing do if you don't have the right club in your hands? Only when you can bring together excellent technique with good decision making can you expect to achieve high levels of performance.

To make sure you have plenty of motivation to work on this part of your game, we are going to take this section to highlight some of the main benefits of knowing your yardages with each club in the bag. The following list will make it clear that this should not be considered an optional skill.

  • Avoid major hazards. For starters, knowing how far you can hit your clubs should allow you to plan around the major hazards that you encounter on the course. A classic example of this is trying to determine whether or not you can hit the ball far enough to get over a water hazard. If you are hitting a tee shot which has to deal with a creek that runs across the fairway, you'll need to decide whether or not you have enough power to get over safely. You can only make this decision if you know how far you can count on hitting your driver in the air. Of course, you always want to build in some margin for error, just in case you don't hit the shot perfectly. For example, if the creek crosses the fairway at 225 yards, and you usually hit your driver 230 yards, that probably isn't enough space to make you feel comfortable. However, if you normally hit the driver 250, you can feel good about your chances of making it to the other side. Know your yardages accurately throughout your bag and you can make confident decisions when intimidating hazards come into play.
  • Dial in your approach shots. Turning pars into birdies is one of the fastest ways to become a better player. How do you accomplish that goal? Simple – hit more accurate approach shots. You always want to do your best to get your approach shots on line, of course, but dialing up the right distance is even more important. You can actually afford to be slightly off line as long as you're able to hit the ball the proper yardage. It is particularly important to be able to nail your yardages when you have a short distance to the hole and a wedge in your hands. These are the scoring opportunities that you must take advantage of if you are going to play well consistently. Nobody hits the ball the right distance each and every time they swing the club, but improving your mastery over this aspect of the game will give you more and more close looks for birdie.
  • Confidence in your swings. You need to feel confident standing over the ball if you are going to hit good shots, but it's hard to feel confident if you aren't sure that you're holding the right club. By developing an accurate knowledge of all your yardages, you can be sure that you've picked the right club each time to step up to hit a shot. This might not seem like a big deal at first, but it can change the way you feel while on the course. Where you were once unsure and doubting your play, you will now feel comfortable and ready for the challenge. As always, confidence does not guarantee good performance, but it does take you a big step closer to successful outcomes.
  • Setup good yardages. Most golfers think about controlling their distance as a skill which will help on approach shots, but it is actually quite useful off the tee as well. Since each shot you play in this game sets up the next, you want to be able to control your distances from the tee nicely in order to plan out your next shot. For instance, if you know that you are good at hitting approach shots from 125 yards, you can do some math and figure out exactly how far you want to hit your tee shot. While you aren't always going to be able to place the ball on a good number for your next shot, being able to control your distances will go a long way toward that goal.

You are simply going to be a better golfer when you know how far you hit each and every one of your clubs. Remember, perfection is not the goal – nothing about golf is perfect. Instead, you are just trying to get better and better as time moves along. You are trying to gain a better understanding of your distances throughout the bag, and you are trying to get better at executing those distances on the course. As your ability to manage distance improves, it is a safe bet that your scores will fall.

Ignore the Driving Range Completely

Ignore the Driving Range Completely

One of the best pieces of advice you can receive with regard to learning your club distances is that you need to ignore the driving range completely. That is no to say you should never visit the driving range to practice – you should, of course. However, when working on your game on the range, make sure to ignore the yardages that you are seeing play out in front of you. For a variety of reasons, those yardages have little to do with how far you will be able to hit the ball on the course.

So what is the problem with using driving range yardages to influence club selection during rounds of golf? Let's take a look at some of the issues.

  • The golf balls. This is the biggest problem when it comes to counting on range yardages to reflect reality on the course. The golf balls you hit when on a driving range are rather inexpensive and they are constructed nothing like the golf balls you will use on the course. Range balls are built for durability, first and foremost. They aren't made to perform like a regular golf ball, because they aren't meant for use on the course. If driving ranges had to purchase 'real' golf balls that were designed for actual play, most of them would be out of business in short order. Not only are range balls constructed differently from regular golf balls, but they have also been hit many, many times as well. Unless you happen to visit the range on the day they replaced the golf balls, you will be using golf balls that have been hit many more times than any regular golf ball would ever be struck. That means the performance of the ball is going to change, as the dimples wear off and the core takes a beating.
  • Your swing. Plain and simple, you aren't going to make the exact same swing on the golf course as you make on the practice range. On the range, you should feel free and relaxed, as there is nothing on the line. The feelings you have on the course are different. When playing an actual round of golf, you might be a little tight and you might struggle to achieve the same kind of free-flowing swing you enjoyed during practice. Therefore, the distance you are able to cover with your shots will change. Every golfer aspires to use the same swing on the range as on the course, but that feat is a difficult one to master. Even if you are comfortable when on the course, it is still likely that you swing will be different to some degree.
  • Measurement issues. If you take the yardages at your local driving range for fact without checking them yourself, you might be in for a surprise. Sure, the flag in the middle of the range is listed at 150 yards, but is that actually true from where you are standing. The distances across the tee line can vary wildly from one end to the other. Some ranges will account for this in their measurements, but many will not. If you would like to know exactly how far the targets on the range are from where you are standing, the best bet is to use a rangefinder and see for yourself.

Due to the differences in both the golf balls and your own swing, you can't learn much from what happens on the range – at least in terms of distance. The driving range is a great place to practice your technique and develop your ability, but learning how far you hit each club is not something that this venue has to offer. For that, you are going to have to be out on the course.