How far do you have to hit the golf ball to lower your handicap? We took a look at the Shot Scope data to find out
How far does the average golfer hit each club in their golf bag? It seems like a simple question, but the reality is that it varies enormously depending on various factors.
It can be easy to think you’re not hitting the golf ball far enough when you compare yourself to PGA Tour players such as Rory McIlroy, who we see on our TV weekly. But the reality is the average woman and male golfers hit it much shorter than their professional counterparts.
Average golf club distances
Shot Scope data shows the distances you hit each golf club vary enormously depending on your skill level. In fact, for amateur golfers, the most significant statistic that correlates with a lower handicap is hitting the golf ball further.
Each golf club in the bag has a different use and is designed to hit the golf ball a different distance. For example, a pitching wedge has much more loft than a 5-iron, meaning the wedge will travel higher and shorter.
Looking at the 7-iron data below, a scratch golfer typically hits this club 159 yards. That’s 55 yards longer than a 25-handicap golfer, but 13 yards shorter than the average PGA Tour professional.
The biggest difference in hitting distance comes in the 3 hybrid category, where scratch golfers gain 84 yards over 25-handicap golfers. That’s a ridiculous distance to give up!
|3 wood||234||203||192||176||169||150||3 wood|
|3 Hybrid||210||182||183||165||145||126||5 wood|
|4 iron||193||166||173||147||130||116||3 Hybrid|
|5 iron||180||157||157||139||142||111||4 Hybrid|
|6 iron||166||150||144||134||131||110||5 iron|
|7 iron||159||138||135||124||114||104||6 iron|
|8 iron||147||129||130||119||110||101||7 iron|
|9 iron||139||120||121||113||106||94||8 iron|
Average distances for scratch golfers
Through the bag, scratch golfers gain as much as 69 yards on average over a 25 handicap. This means on a 400-yard par-4, the average scratch golfer only needs to hit driver, 9-iron compared to a driver, 3-wood and a lob wedge for a 25 handicap. It’s a serious shot saver.
Average distances for 5-handicap golfers
On average, 5-handicappers hit it about 30 yards shorter through the bag than a scratch golfer.
Average distances for 10-handicap golfers
The smallest gap in yardage distances came between 5 and 10 handicaps. In fact, with some clubs, 10-handicap golfers hit it further than 5-handicappers. You can see this especially in the 4-iron data.
Average distances for 15-handicap golfers
When you get to the 15 handicap, we see big drop-offs in distance at the top of the bag. 16 yards less distance with a 3-wood will make it very difficult to reach long par 4s in regulation.
Average distances for 20-handicap golfers
Interestingly, we are seeing the golf club setup change for 20 handicaps and over. Typically, they have less distance between their clubs, so they tend not to carry as many wedges.
Average distances for 25-handicap golfers
This is the first handicap category where the average driving distance falls below 200 yards. You can see that many of the total distances are very similar with each club. This suggests that players would benefit from clubs with a lower CG to gain more height and hang time on their shots, such as the TaylorMade Stealth HD Irons.
So what can we learn from these numbers?
Well, you can significantly improve your handicap by increasing your swing speed and therefore your total distances.
Increasing your driver distance will get you closer to the green for your approach, but having a faster clubhead speed will mean you can also hit less club into each green.
I will also say that it is important to keep checking your club distances over time and evaluate which clubs you carry in your bag. If you have two clubs that carry very similar distances (such as a 6- and 5-iron), you may be better off adding a 5-hybrid to get better more consistent gapping, or use a combo set and add faster longer iron.
What Factors Affect Your Golf Club Distance?
Club head speed
The most important factor that affects how far you hit the golf ball is your average swing speed with each club. Increasing your club head speed is the best way to increase your carry distances as it gives you more potential to hit the golf ball further.
If you want to know how to increase your driver’s swing speed and driver’s carry distance, get some tips from world champion driver Kyle Berkshire in the video below.
Ball speed is a measure of how quickly your ball leaves the clubhead after impact. Ball speed is created by club speed and impact power. A mishit from the heel or toe will cause a drop in ball speed compared to a center hit, even with the same clubhead speed.
Hitting the sweet spot of the club consistently will really help your average carry distances. Smash factor is your ball speed divided by club speed. It shows you how much energy has been transferred from the clubhead to the golf ball. The higher the number, the more effective your strike. A higher smash factor will help you hit the ball farther without increasing your clubhead speed.
Taking some lessons to clean up your technique will make you hit the ball more consistently off center, which will also help you see your carry distance increase.
The type of golf club you use will have a massive effect on how far the golf ball travels. A person using traditional blade irons needs to swing the club faster and hit it better to get the same distances as someone using game improvement irons.
The weight and bend of the shafts in your golf clubs can also affect your carry distances. If your shaft is too heavy or stiff, it will be really difficult for you to generate maximum speed and also hit the golf ball effectively. Both of these things will cost you valuable meters.
Generally, as golfers get older, they begin to hit the golf ball shorter. But fear not, this can be mitigated with regular exercise. Stretching and lifting weights are great ways to stay healthy and continue to hit the golf ball further.
Learn your goals: How to calculate your average distances
The best way to calculate your initial carry distances is to book some time on a launch monitor, hit each club in the bag and average the carry distances. It’s important to keep a representative mix of shots here and not just include the shots you hit best. You want the average to be playable out on the golf course, so it’s important to keep small mistakes in.
It’s also a good idea to make a golf club distance chart so you have a physical record of how far each golf club goes so you can refer to this on the golf course.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to be able to collect more accurate data out on the golf course. Using a Shot Scope tracking device is the perfect way to do this.
I use my Shot Scope V3 watch to track my stats. The watch has a performance tracking system that collects data on every shot I hit on the golf course and can generate over 100 statistics to help me improve my game. For distances, it gives an average of how far I hit each club. The main average includes all shots hit with each club, the p-average removes good and bad outliers to give a more accurate average. It’s important to remember that this is a total distance number, so it includes your carry distance and any rollout you get after the ball lands.
As this data builds up over time, it can become incredibly accurate and give you great insight into how far you are actually hitting the golf ball out on the course.
Knowing your distances to each club is one of the best ways to lower your scores as you can more accurately choose which clubs to hit to the greens and prevent yourself from making the fatal mistake of always coming for short.
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