Selecting the Right Club Every Time

Proper club selection is required to increase the number of greens you hit in regulation. Hitting more greens is the fast track to improving your scores. It reduces the reliance on pitching and chipping which are arguably the most difficult areas of the game to master. There are several factors that go into selecting the right club for each shot.

The most important thing is to know how far you hit each club when making a good shot. This might sound obvious but it is something you need to accurately know. It is also something that can change from time to time. New clubs, swing changes or getting stronger can all change the distance you are hitting each club. The best place to find the distance you are hitting each club is at the practice range. Many ranges laser sight distances so you know they are accurate. If you are unsure of the distances and there is no one else on the range, you can use a GPS to measure the distances to the flags or walk them off manually. Pick a day with little or no wind. Hit ten or so balls with each club throwing out any bad shots and take the average as the distance for that club. I suggest doing this every year or after any of the factors mentioned previously.

Knowing the distance of each of your clubs is crucial for selecting the right one for each shot but there is another piece that is just as important. You also need to accurately know how far you have left to the green. The best way to know this is to use a GPS system or app. It is not enough to judge the distance using yardage markers and sprinkler heads. You could be several yards away from any of those. Besides accuracy, there is another huge benefit gained from using a GPS. Almost all GPS systems will not only tell you the distance to the center of the green, but they will also tell you the distance to the front and back of the green. Start thinking of the distance left to the green as a range and not a single distance left to the center. There will be times when it will be to your advantage playing to the front or back of the green.

Here are a few more reasons to use a GPS system or app if you are not already sold on one. GPS systems are not only used to find the distance left to the green. Many of them will give you an overhead view of the hole from which you can drag the target and determine the distance to any point on the hole! This is great for knowing how many yards you have to carry water and sand hazards. Par 5’s present another area where a GPS is highly beneficial. Many of us do not have the length to reach many par 5’s in two shots. We are laying up with our second shot instead of going for the green. I would rather have 100 yards left for my third shot than 50 yards. 100 yards is a full swing gap wedge for me. A 50 yard shot would be around a three quarter sand wedge. With a GPS system, we can know exactly how far to hit our second shot to leave 100 yards for our third shot. Using a GPS system or app will improve your game.

Knowing the distance you hit each club and the distance you need to hit your next shot are big factors in determining which club to use. Wind, the slope of your lie, and change in elevation will also all affect the distance your shot will travel. Just how much your shot will be affected by each of these factors is difficult to calculate. It is a case of the more you play, the more experience you will have to better judge the affects.

The wind can affect both the length; shots will be shorter into the wind and longer with the wind, and the direction of your shot. How much your shot will be affected depends on the wind speed and the trajectory of your shot. Lower trajectory shots will be less affected by the wind than higher trajectory shots. In other words, your driver will be less affected than 9-iron. The wind could affect your distance by up to three clubs in extreme cases.

The slope of your lie also affects how far your shot travels. Generally your shot will travel less far when you have an uphill lie. This is because an uphill lie adds more trajectory to your shot. Conversely, your shot will generally travel farther when you have a downhill lie due to it giving your shot less trajectory.

Finally, a change in elevation from where you are hitting your shot to the landing area will also affect the distance. A drop in elevation will add distance to your shot. Similarly, a rise in elevation will decrease the distance of your shot. The trajectory of your shot also determines how much of a factor this is. Low trajectory shots, your driver for example, will be affected more than higher trajectory shots such as your 9-iron.

Work on taking into consideration every factor when choosing the club for each of your shots. Diligence in this area will be rewarded with hitting more greens in regulation.

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