Heading into the weekend at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, you’ve can be absolutely sure every player out there has their club distances dialed – it can be the difference between going home on Friday, or raking in a huge paycheck on Sunday. Our resident +4, Bob Conrad, gives us all a little reality check that will have you improving 1-2 shots on your next round, guaranteed*. It takes a little time, but it’s absolutely worth doing  … 

Most golfers don’t realize that 60% of golf is scored with your wedges and putter. Whether you’re playing in a major championship or out for a quick 9 hole booze fest with your co-workers on Friday, that scoring ratio will always remain the same.  Bunkers, long grass, awkward pitches, undulations and side slopes are everywhere on a golf course, so there’s a premium for getting it close whenever you have the chance. And if you get into trouble, which is inevitable, knowing exactly how far to pitch out or lay up, gives you a tremendous advantage. 

So, I spend a lot of my range time dialing in my yardages, making sure I know exactly how far I’m hitting my wedges (48, 52, 56, 60 degree clubs). Most amateurs have tendency to think about distance as the number of their furthest shot (Eg. Johnny says he hits his wedge 120 yds, when in fact that’s his BEST wedge shot, on a perfect day, under ideal conditions.) Reality tells a much different story, and anyone who’s played competitive golf at a high level will know exactly how important acknowledging that really is.  Johnny’s REALITY is that wedge is typically goes 112 yds, with 108 of that being carry.  

Why is this so important, well, it’s the difference between clearing a greenside bunker and having a pin-high birdie putt, or a decent chance at making par after pitching out from behind a tree.  So here’s how you figure it out:

1) Take a range finder out to the range, or better yet, your favorite flat fairway.

2) Drop 5 balls from the same distance, hit them, and see how far they go.  

3) Eliminate the longest and shortest balls from your count, and average the distance of the 3 remaining balls. 

4) Write down the results.

5) Do this first from the fairway, and then from the rough.  You should have 6 numbers. 

6) These 6 numbers are your new reality for that club.

With numbers in hand, you should note the differences between fairway and rough averages. This is critical in understand your new 'distance reality', and it will make a huge difference in your scoring.  As an example, if your three wedge fairway balls are averaging 108 yds, and your three wedge rough balls are averaging 101, you now know that when using your wedge, you play it as a 108 yd club, unless you’re in the rough in which case you know it will go about 7 yards shorter.  If you’re in the rough of course, trying to hit it 108 yds, you’d need to club up a half club (ie. Hit your 9 iron) to reach the 108 yd. pin.

Sounds simple, right?  Well it is. You have to remember that none of us hit it exactly the distance we want all the time because there’s too many variables to manage (wind, weather, uphill, downhill, etc.) BUT knowing your ‘distance reality’ will give you an upper hand and put a lot more of your shots on the green than in the bunker.

* As with all our game improvement tips, we stand behind our guarantees so if you’re not happy with the results of our Dial-in Your Distance reality check, email us at info@radmorgolf.com and we’ll give you 15% off your next shirt purchase!

June 03, 2021 — Scott Morrison