join

MyGolfSpy Labs – Your Distance Reality Check!

Post image for MyGolfSpy Labs – Your Distance Reality Check!

Question: How far do you hit the ball (on average) with your driver?  Think about that for a second and then say that number out loud or write it down.

Question #2: Ok…now…how far do you really hit your driver?  Now write that number down.  Do they look the same?

If so…you’re most likely lying to yourself.  Yes you. I’m sure we all know some other guy (or quite a few) that lies through his teeth about how far he hits the big stick.  But question is…are you lying too?

Well…from what we found in our latest “MyGolfSpy Labs” research…you might be surprised how many people are lying about how far they hit the ball and by how much.  These aren’t your average “little white lie” we’re talking about.  These numbers for many were shocking!

Are Your Pants On Fire?

Golfers are liars.  Yup, I said it.  This game, which is supposed to be all about honor and integrity, is filled with liars.

Let’s back up a bit.  When we here at MyGolfSpy were kicking around ideas for our next MGS Labs article, we came upon the question, “How far does the average guy think he hits it (vs) how far does he really hit it?”  Through my experience as a club fitter and golf instructor, I felt that I had a pretty darned good idea what the answer was, but, being the data-driven types, we went out to get the numbers.

Testing Procedure

Our study looked like this: We asked 10 golfers of varying ability levels how far they hit their driver (total distance), 5 iron, 7 iron, and pitching wedge (carry only).  Then we had each golfer hit 5 shots with each of those clubs on a launch monitor.  Testers included: (Pat 15 Handicap) (Dave 23 Handicap) (Michael 13 Handicap) (Tom 5 Handicap) (Rich 18 Handicap) (Mike 30 Handicap) (Joel 13 Handicap) (Dan 17 Handicap) (Danny 8 Handicap) (Meredith 7 Handicap)

The data appears below.

Interesting Observations:

  • 100%…yes ALL testers lied about how far they hit the ball (vs) how far they really hit the driver.
  • The longer the club the bigger the lie was.
  • 90% of the testers lied about how far they hit the 5-iron.
  • Out of 200 shots, 116 (58%) were hit outside of 5 yards within their estimate .
  • There is a definite correlation between handicap and knowing/hitting your distances.  Our lowest handicap test subject hit 18/20 shots within 5 yards of his estimate.  Our highest handicapper missed his driver estimate by an astounding 86 yards!
  • There were 11 sets out of 40 where a test subject hit zero shots within 5 yards of their estimate.  Surprisingly, the driver had as many as the PW and 7I: two each.  The 5I saw five subjects achieve this “feat.”
  • Our test subjects averaged almost as many shots within 5 yards of their estimate with the 5 iron as with the driver (1.4 vs. 1.3)

So…What Does All This Data Tell Us?

Your Average – Is Not Your Longest Drive

First of all, the average golfer has no concept of what “average” means.  Ask a golfer how far they hit their driver “on average,” and you’re going to be told how far their best drives go.  Golfers seem to have no recollection of all the drives that sail high and right, only the ones that go long and straight.  While Bob Rotella may approve of this from a golf psychology perspective, I think that this self-delusion ultimately does the golfer a disservice.

If you don’t have an honest assessment of how far (and what direction) your ball goes, how can you expect to improve?

For 7-Iron & PW, Golfers Are Pretty Accurate

Second, most golfers were quite successful with their 7 iron and PW.  If we look at the pitching wedge data, we see that 8 of our 10 testers hit at least 3 shots within 5 yards of their estimate.  In fact, if we remove Dan and Danny, our testers, as a group, underestimated their pitching wedge yardage.  If we turn to the 7 iron and remove Dan and Danny again (sorry, guys), the difference between the estimates and actual distances shrinks to a mere four yards.  That’s good golf.

Shocking 5-Iron Numbers

Third, the average golfer needs to get rid of his long irons, which seems to include the 5 iron.  (Mini rant: Big thanks to the OEMs for the jacked up lofts.  You’re really helping the average guy enjoy the game more.  (And yes, that’s sarcasm, folks.)  Only our 4 lowest handicap players had an average within 10 yards of their estimate, the other 6 hit a COMBINED TOTAL of 1 shot within 5 yards of their estimate.   Even if we exclude the two…characters…who missed their estimates by an average of 46 and 47 yards, we’re looking at an average miss of 16.5 yards.  That can be the difference between being on the green and giving your ball a bath.  You can attribute it to bad technique, lack of club head speed, too-strong lofts, or all of the above, but your average golfer does not hit their 5 iron with enough consistency to take it to the course.  What’s worse, the super strong lofts let these guys hit the ball a mile, once in a blue moon, and create the expectation that a 5 iron should always go that far.

Course Management

Fourth, given all that we’ve said above, the average golfer needs to think long and hard about their tee box selection.  If we accept the that the average drive is roughly 216 yards and the average 5 iron is 160 (both numbers that are driven up by our low handicappers, but we’ll leave that be), then the average golfer probably should not be choosing tee boxes that put them more than 370 yards away for the average par 4.  Similarly, you should be looking at the par 3 lengths.  If they’re much longer than 160, what are you going to hit?  200+ yard par 3’s are increasingly common, but that doesn’t mean that they make sense.  Is hitting 3W into a par 3 fun?

This information also has a lot of implications for course management.  If I know that I’m going to hit my 7 iron the right distance over half the time, and my pitching wedge the right distance almost 75% of the time, I want to play to my short irons.  Now, I know it’s not manly to lay up.  Top Flite even had an ad campaign ridiculing it.  But if the object of the game is to get the ball in the hole with fewer strokes, we have to consider that hitting a long iron into a well-protected green is not a great play for most golfers.

Moral: Be Honest With Yourself

Ultimately, what we’d like you to take away from this “Lab” report is the following: be honest with yourself.  Go to the range, or, even better, get on a launch monitor, and find out how far your clubs actually go.  Not “how far they went that one time when it was downhill, downwind during the drought of ’89,” but how far you hit an AVERAGE shot.  And build your game around that.  Or get some professional instruction so that you can hit it better.  Or get your clubs fit.  Just don’t be a liar.

Want To Read More “MGS Labs” Articles? - CLICK HERE

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Kurt May 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Not surprising at all.

Reply

Chris Harman May 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Most amateurs tend to use the flawed method of measuring their tee shots based on the yardage on the scorecard and the number of yards they have left when their tee shot ends up next to a sprinkler head. I see it all the time. 430 yard dogleg right and you cut the corner. Ball travels 238 yards, but you have 135 left… 95% of golfers will automatically think they hit it 295.

Some people lie for their egos, but I think MOST golfers really have NO IDEA how far they hit their drivers!

Reply

cdvillasenor May 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I feel like I’m very consistent with my distances using my gear (clubs and balls) out on the course in neutral conditions. I’m not sure how lying would help. However, I know that if I hit my clubs with range balls on a monitor, I’m a full club shorter on the monitor. I’m not sure if you’ve built that into your model but I know that I can carry my 9-i to nearly 150 on the spot. I trust that on the course and it works for me.

Reply

Jacques LeStrap May 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm

In the past couple of years, since i’ve aquired new clubs, i’ve had to re-learn all my distances, mainly because i started hitting more down on the ball. In your average golf simulator, i am consistant at hitting my 5 iron 195, yet when i feel i’ve made the same strike on the actual course, i am in fact 15 to 25 yards off . Conversely, i can’t hit my 4 iron at any simulator more than 180…yet on the course i continue to carry 200 to 215 on a regular basis.
So based on my trial and error findings, i believe i need a full time caddie, with a few high tech gadgets…and plenty of time off from my regular day job..(sigh).

Reply

Frank May 23, 2012 at 6:40 am

Hey Jacques,

just a thought but your degrees in five and four iron can be off if not premeasured by your fitter (if you have one). I know for a fact just with the driver the manufacturer degree of expectancy on accurate lofts is now up from the 1 degree to around 2.5 or 3 if your two clubs mentions are off this much it could meana full club or you could have two 6 irons in your bag. I purchased callaways a while back directly fromthe manny and the lies fluctuated from 1 Up to 3 degrees flat no consistency.

let us know.

Reply

Jacques LeStrap May 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

The iron set i am using was gifted to me from a sales rep. at ADAMS GOLF,,(sight unseen). it’s the older RPM3′s…so how he picked them i’ll never know. What i do know, is that instead of my old-er swing, in which i was hitting through and up, compared to hitting more down and through, i now get more distance than with a set of Ping’s that i got from an old NHL’er i was using,(although, that was with my old swing, and mainly what they did for me was save some of my bad shots from being worse than they could have been). Have you ever heard of any golf outlet,(or the like) “renting” a range finder ? I think that is the only way i will truly compile a better game overall. (nuttin’ a little…or a lot of money wouldn’t solve ‘;’)

…and thanks for your input

Reply

Frank May 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

don’t know of any rentals out ther but I woul ddefinitely ge tyour lofts checked first and maybe download a free app those things are normally within a few yards of accuracy. the technology while expensive is vast thorugh PDA devices as well which comes at a lower cost but is still pretty accurate. this wil lput you in the ballpark but i would definitely get those clubs checked and or the simulator………

Reply

Chris May 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I like the confirmation study, but you can not honestly tell me you were surprised. I have only been playing golf for a year and I am just now getting consistent enough with my irons that I can pick a club based on yardage and be fairly close. My driver is so all over the place I do not even have an established average. I know guys that have been palying a long time that continue to lie about their yardages, mainly driver, but they also forget how to count on the golf course so in their reality 250 = 310.

Reply

GolfSpy Tim May 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I was pretty frustrated at my Cobra fitting when I was asked how far I hit my 7 iron, the scenario was setup as carry a pin on the front edge of a green that was edged by water – what club would I hit for what I thought I hit my 7 iron to be safe…. I insisted if it was 145 yards I’d hit 7 iron, but EVERY time I hit, I came up short… I SWEAR in a real setting on a course, carrying 7 iron 145 yards I can do it…. but sure enough, I NEVER made 145 yards.

I was pretty accurate with my driver on yardage, possibly over estimated by 5-10 yards (I say cause it was off fake turf and indoors) but…. 7 iron I was definitely off by way too much.

5 iron is VERY difficult for me to hit consistently

I think it’s time for me to head to the driving range and figure out real/consistent yardages

Reply

Jacques LeStrap May 22, 2012 at 11:34 pm

@GolfSpy Tim…hitting the range for me is one thing, but unless i have someone else there with me…with a distance gadget, i can only work on solid contact, aim, ball flight, and drawing or fading on command,(on an outdoor range…and that’s if you get to play from grass).

Reply

Garnet May 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I realized that I was lying to my self when I started using GolfShot on my iPhone to measure my ‘actual’ distances. Now that I really know what the distance is and how far I actually hit the ball my GIR have improved and even when I am not on, I am much closer. And I wont win any long drive competitions but have a much better chance at a bridie if i am on the green :-)

Reply

Tyler May 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

My Golfshot app on my iPhone has changed the way I view my distances too. I love the app and make better choices because of it. Now if I could get more consistant, I could shave even more strokes.

Reply

Harry May 23, 2012 at 5:07 am

I used to think that I was a 280 driver. Then I got a gps and used it to record all my decent drives for about a month. I averaged out to just over 240. In that period I never had a drive over 275 and I think if I had recorded all my poor contacts my average would have been around 230. It was a big eye opener. That said I have actually found all my irons go further than I used to think.

Reply

David May 23, 2012 at 5:58 am

One of the big things that a former all american that I play with has taught me is that as an amateur who doesn’t hit my clubs consistently I have to assess how I’m hitting it each round and adjust. There are rounds where I hit my 7 iron 165 and there are rounds where I hit it 150. I have to realize that I’m not consistent enough to say every 160 yard shot every round requires a 7 iron.

Reply

David May 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

One more thing about demos. A guy that used to do them for a major club maker told me that at demos the actual demo clubs are jacked up to help you hit the ball farther than you would with your own clubs…hoping to sell you new clubs. Same for golf shops with monitors. Most are set to give you false yardage since very few people bring their own clubs into the shop to compare.

Reply

Clint June 10, 2012 at 7:49 am

Agreed! At my local retailers using their drivers carry averaged over 300 yards with a best of 330 carry. On the course or range my good drives average carry around 280. When the 52degree gap wedge carried 160yards I asked the salesman, “Would I need a 70degree wedge?

Reply

Frank May 23, 2012 at 6:05 am

Two funny stories….played a month ago in team matches here and played with a young high school kid on a 50 degree windy damp day. the kid can hit the ball but constantly thinks he hits it carry 285. as his elder I try and make him reallize aiming point on a tough local course and when i step to the tee with the range finder he asks how far to carry that bunker. ummm 265 your not carrying it…driver out ball hit over the shorter left side of the bunker (maybe 240 max) into HAY!!! really HAY five feet deep lost the hole….the kid is a 7 handicap at best plays with locals who pat him on the back thinking he is the next coming of tiger love’em but what a dope he took a beating in the match..

This monday on the 18th hole of a better ball match where me and my partner need birdie we both hit great drives on a 578 par five leaving us 285 into the green before he gets to his ball he says i can hit my three wood 285 I looked at him and said if you feel confident go for it. noticing a head wind he reconsidered. this guy went for a green on the 12th with his driver and it was 270 to the front edge and he was 10 yards short (DOWN WIND) how the heck are you hitting the 3 wood longer into a stiff wind ..in the words of ESPN monday night countdown COME ON MAN!!!!!!!!!!! know your distance ,know the courses you play, play the correct tees and we will all get home in 4:15…….

Reply

jmiller065 May 23, 2012 at 7:25 am

Great data, I enjoyed the read. I see this all way too much, I know that people on the forum have to question some of my distance claims I have made and my true distance / swing speed.

I have been on enough LMs and know how golf course score cards are measured to know that the total length of the hole is measured straight up the fairway to the center of the green. So cutting the corner of a dogleg doesn’t give a true number. The ball would have to curve around the dogleg up the center of the fairway to get a true number. Thankfully I like my golf course for this actually, there is not really a dog-leg you can cut a corner on from the tips, you must work the ball and thus getting a good estimate of distance from score card minus the approach.

I think that course management is the hardest thing to learn for a lot of golfers with the ‘manly’ ego mentality. Until you leave the ego at the door and are honest with yourself on your true distance then you can’t have a good course management plan.

Reply

wdgolf May 23, 2012 at 7:39 am

I’ve had to bite this bullet a few times. As someone else says, there are golf courses that flat out lie to you about the length from the tee box on Par 4s and 5s, making you think you drilled one farther than you actually did.

There’s also the effect of the weather and the course. On the courses the pros play, the fairway is cut so short that anyone would gain significant yards. Play the local muni after a rainy day and your numbers will drop.

That said, when you know your real numbers, then you can start to improve and those numbers you used to think were in your reach become your goals.

Reply

KFlare May 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

“I average 340…when I catch it clean”

See what I did there? It’s not a lie if you never ask about about my 0.00% rate of clean contact.

I would be interested to see a golfer’s stated handicap compared with most recent scorecards (for those who don’t keep a real USGA handicap). Tougher to get the data, but I’m sure the Golfspies will think of something :)

Reply

Dhuck Whooker May 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

I go to the driving range and the half the balls have no dimples, there are no yardages posted, except those big woods signs 100, 150, 200 etc. (but from where?) the grass tees are mowed tall so every shot is a flier.

The local course says the hole is 425 from back tees, but from the back tee to the 150 is only 230 yards. Then the 150 is really 135 to the middle of the green.

How is a poor slug like me supposed to get accurate yardages, other than actual pacing the shot off?

By the way I couldn’t tell you if the putt is 8 ft or 15 ft. There are those guys who say “I just missed a 17 footer for eagle..” How can they tell it was 17 feet?

Reply

Phana24JG May 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

If you cannot accurately assess your game, your probability of improvement is slim to none.

Reply

revkev May 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Meaning no disrespect it is amazing to me how many folks, in spite evidence to the contrary, are blaming the monitor rather than their calculations. I’m in the lower handicap category which means that my “lies” are whiter than others.

Sometimes I think I’m in the lower handicap category not because I have a realistic expectation for my game and I work around that constantly trying to improve on my strengths rather than chasing distance that is unobtainable given my age and other physical limitations.

Just be honest with yourself and you’ll be amazed at what happens – it’s no sin to hit a 5 iron from 165 or even 155 into the wind – heck it’s no sin to replace your 5 iron with a 5 hybrid and do the same thing – It’s really nice to collect the cash for the skin you made with that 5 because everyone else in the field hit their 7 into the bunker short. :)

Reply

Three Guys Golf Blog May 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Just a great, great post. I am always hammering my buddies that they always play the distance for when they hit it “pure” without admitting that they hit it pure only half of the time. A little humility will go a long way toward lowering your score!

Reply

Simon Marshall May 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm

This is no different to the guy who comes into my shop and is adamant he needs ‘stiff’ because his mates tell him he swings too quick for regular… A few shots on the launch monitor later, swinging an average of 78 mph, i get told that the machine isn’t working properly etc. Fast tempo does not equal fast swing speed, but golfers will not be told… Its an ego thing to say you hit a 5 iron 200 yards etc, but living in the Highlands of Scotland where its wet and windy all year round, I know this simply isn’t true!!! I always ask what their carry distance is, usually to be confronted with a blank look, as mentioned in the article, its not the best shot you’ve ever hit, one day when everything was set up perfect… But then education is the job of a club fitter, if everyone did it properly, the tour would be the norm and we’d be out of a job!!!

Reply

revkev May 24, 2012 at 7:08 am

So guys are guys in Scotland too? At least they get to have a good nip of my favorite beverage after the round I suppose.

I’m not ashamed to say that my average driver swing speed is 94 and my average 6 iron swing speed is high 70′s and I have a 2.3 handicap index – that’s USGA and league where I play everything down, count every stroke, putt everything out – there’s very little difference between that league handicap and my USGA handicap – I carry driver right around 220 and 6 iron 157 – driver rolls out to between 240 and 250, 6 iron to 164, I carry it around 157 – I live at sea level so those distances may increase a shade when I’m visiting friends in the Midwest and a bit more when I’m visiting my mom in Scottsdale AZ.

I can score with those distances and so can you if you’ll just live with what you’ve got – consider the gals on the LPGA – they do okay for themselves, don’t they?

Whoever said golf course management is a huge factor said a mouth full from what I see – I see tons of shots wasted to management issues, under clubbing being high and unreal expectations being high on that list. The worst of it is you’d think the higher handicap guys who play with me would copy what I do – they don’t so I don’t bother them. They think I score better because I’m a more talented golfer – again from what I see it’s not true – I’m a more realistic golfer who works on the things I can control and tries to play within himself. Every time I give this schpiel someone chimes in and says – you’re a 2 or 3 handicapper you have talent – none of you here know me that well yet so I’m hopefully you won’t think that and that you’ll simply take me at my word – I don’t – if you play with me you’ll say whay most people say – I’m a very boring golfer – fairways, greens, my misses are normally in spots from which I can recover – you’ll outdrive me some of the time if not all of the time – you’ll probably hit less club into greens than I do but I hit my approaches hole high or to the proper spot on the greens more than most and I get the stupid ball into the hole pretty well for an old country preacher.

I really appreciate this thread because it’s data that supports what I see every time I go out to play a round of golf.

Reply

R.P. Jacobs II May 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Great article!!…If an accurate accounting of the average score/hdcp could be found, it would be even more mind blowing….And all the these guys who talkin about “workin” the ball, & they’re an 18+ & they play shovels?…That would be an interesting Golf Labs..Kudos for an excellent read…Fairways & Greens 4ever……

Reply

stevenhw8 May 24, 2012 at 4:13 am

I let Trackman read my drives, since it’s really hard to gauge beyond the 200 sign.

But I’m pretty confident about my iron distances. Measured with a GPS device but mostly from hitting approach shots from 100, 150 markers onto the green. And if those distances on the markers are off too, well… then I sure don’t know what else to believe!

Reply

John Barry May 24, 2012 at 5:44 am

I lie and I am sure I don’t really even know it!

Reply

JBones May 24, 2012 at 7:39 am

I only have one problem….launch monitor numbers can be very misleading. My last session on the launch monitor gave me bogus numbers on every club in my bag. My driver for the most part was exactly what I would say my average is (280ish), but I also flushed one and it gave me a 228 carry and 236 overall distance. On the other side of that, it had my 5i average at 225, with a long of 242; I couldn’t hit my 5i 225, unless it bounced off a cart path multiple times. The only true judge of distance is walking off the distance on a range, which I have done before in ball testing.

I get where this article is going though and I completely agree with it.

Reply

wdgolf May 24, 2012 at 8:15 am

My son got a kick out of one of his drives going 280 yards on a LM. Being 8 and usually driving the ball 130-150, even he knew it was BS, but he still enjoyed it.

Reply

Gary May 24, 2012 at 8:06 am

The other problem that has existed since I started playing back in the early 1960′s is that 9 out of 10 courses are not measured properly. The course owners want players to think they hit the ball further than they really are so that the player will continue to come back and play that course.

Reply

revkev May 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

Here’s where I start to become obnoxious because of course there can always be an exception and everyone thinks this a great blog but that it only applies to other golfers and not themselves.

I do know that If a player average in the 285 with the driver he will hit a 5 iron 225 on occasion – down hill, down wind, carry plus roll on firm greens, etc.

But the average 5 iron carry distance for a touring pro is 185 and the average driving distance is right around 290. We see the guys in the final few groups hitting their 5 iron 210 and forget that it landed on the front of a very firm green and rolled out there along with the adrenaline that was rushing and the fact that these are the guys playing the best in the field that week. They are also light years ahead of any amateur in skill level and ability – that’s a good thing – I wouldn’t want to watch myself or others like me on television playing golf.

Why in the world would a group of people who don’t do this for a living think that we can hit our clubs that far? Do we throw 92 mph fastballs and hit 400 foot homeruns? I’ve seen lots and lots of minor league baseball and can’t ever recall seeing a 400 foot home run there – that happens in the majors where the best, most mature players are playing.

So it is in golf – the gulf is as large between a low handicapper and a touring pro as it is between a college baseball player trying to face a healthy Mariano Rivera’s cutter.

If you’re thinking this article isnt’ for you and that trackman is wrong – good luck because you’re in the ondeck circle. And they’re playing enter the sandman.

Reply

Golfspy Matt May 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

“If you’re thinking this article isnt’ for you and that trackman is wrong – good luck because you’re in the ondeck circle. And they’re playing enter the sandman.”

This may be my favorite blog comment ever.

Reply

GolfSpy T May 24, 2012 at 10:42 am

In defense of the hacker who thinks he hits it farther than he does…to an extent Tour Pro averages are inflated by a number of factors.

First, (unless things have changed recently) Tour driving averages are calculated tee to green, not “as the crow flies”. Essentially what that means is that if a pro cuts a corner, radar may say the ball carried 270, but when distance is calculated for statistical purposes, he’s going to get the equivalent of fairway bonus yards for cutting the corner. 270 of actual carry can quickly become 290 of statistical “tee-to-green” distance.

Another consideration is that many of the holes used for determining averages (tour statistics are based on a few specific holes on every round, NOT every drive hit during a tournament) play downhill. Everybody gets more yards when hitting downhill. Obviously if you’re hitting downhill more often, your numbers will be inflated.

Finally, tournament fairways are often mowed much shorter than what we play at our local clubs. The end result is that unless you launch the ball on the low end of things, the touring pro will get more roll than the average golfer.

Don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions (Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson – these guys are playing in another league), but the distance gap between the average Tour Pro and the average golfer with a +/-105 MPH Swing Speed isn’t as wide as the numbers sometimes suggest.

As the saying goes, it’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive, and in many respects, what happens after the tee shot lands (for the tour guys that’s often in the fairway) is what really separates pros from the rest of us.

Reply

stephenf May 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Mostly right, but a little glurgy. You’re right to say that many amateurs overestimate their ability relative to pros (especially amateurs in the single-digit range). However, speaking as a plus-2 who has won money off pros before, I can tell you–and if you think about this, I’ll bet you know this too–that much of your argument is based on the notion that the difference between a good amateur and a good pro is expressible in distance. This simply is not so. Many good amateurs, college players, etc., are stupendously long, longer even than the average tour pro, most of whom have learned that all-out blasting isn’t all that good for your scores. It is simply not true that a tour pro is more likely to average 305 with the driver than a top-quality Division I player, but you put those two against each other in 10 money matches and the pro will win seven or eight times, maybe more. The real difference is in scoring ability, particularly (in my observation, anyway) the ability to avoid bogeys. I can show you tour stats to back up that observation if you want, but it’s the truth. Nobody averages more than four or five birdies a round, and the best pros don’t back up as much as the others (making bogeys that offset birdies, I mean). In addition, GDigest did a stat analysis years ago that showed the best predictor of score for pros was the ability to hit greens with iron shots (not precisely the same thing as GIR, but close). Then there’s the fact that given the forces generated on a ball, there is virtually no evidence that hitting 7-iron into a green instead of 6-iron is going to result in much improvement to your score. (Cf. John Daly, who was notorious for hitting 165-yard 9-irons 50 feet from the hole.)

However, to the extent that your point involves amateurs insisting that they blast every 5-iron 210 yards or every drive 320, when even the pros don’t do that, you’re absolutely right, and you’re right in your account of how those misimpressions tend to happen, too. Another way they happen is the way announcers and technical staff on broadcasts handle these matters. Don’t forget the PGA Tour’s “these guys are good” marketing campaign, and the constant push to make them appear superhuman, which includes distances. You’ll hear when Sergio hits a downhill, downwind 5-iron 220, but not when he has to hit 5-iron from 165 uphill and into the wind. Or, announcers will say “he’s got 160 to the hole,” and the guy “gets there” with a 9-iron–a NINE, Johnny!–but actually “there” is 45 feet short of the hole, which makes it a 145-yard actual shot distance.

A friend of mine (a minitour pro, actually) who was at the Phoenix one year was standing at the tee (in the gallery) of a 192-yard hole, marked from the post. The tees were at least 25 yards up, almost no wind. He sees Davis Love pull 6-iron, put the good swing on it, nice controlled shot about 20 feet away. Caddie even flashes the single finger to the TV guy, indicating the six. Watching the taped broadcast later, he saw the shot dutifully reported as a 190-yard 8-iron, not a 167-yard 6-iron. This kind of thing is great for Tour marketing, great for creating a big market in “distance improvement” clubs, but it’s not the truth, and it leads people away from what really makes a good player good. As a teacher, I used to see people absolutely ruin their games so they could say they hit 7-iron instead of 6-iron. Just for the number on the club. Unbelievable. If you’re playing for money or playing for a living, you get over that kind of attitude really fast, and you don’t kid yourself about distances, nor do you center your game around always hitting it longer-longer-longer, once you reach a certain threshold level (which I would maintain is the real point of “distance” clubs for lesser players–there _is_ a thing as being simply too short to have a chance to enjoy the game the way you could).

Anyway…”these guys are good,” yes, but not better than in previous generations, and not for the reasons most people think. It’s not because they hit it 340 every time, but because they have almost no penalty strokes, their misses are stil playable shots for the most part, they make most short putts, and they get it up and down. None of that is very exciting or marketable, none of it sells a lot of clubs, but it’s the plain truth.

As for “light years ahead of ANY amateur” (emphasis mine), that’s just too extreme a statement. They’re light years ahead of _some_ amateurs. They’re a little ahead of scratch-and-plus-handicap competitive amateurs in several small ways that add up to several strokes over a tournament. But this is not necessarily, or sometimes at all, measurable in distances.

Reply

revkev May 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I certainly agree that your points sharpen my points rather than detract from them – I almost wrote – “the exception of top collegiate players and mini tour or young club pro types” who live around me in Florida in abundance – I see them on the range all the time in the winter months – there are certainly a very small number of people out there who are capable of hitting the ball as far as a touring pro but the exception doesn’t prove the rule – the fact is that most of the players I or 99 percent of us would meet on a golf course are significantly shorter than a touring pro aside from being deficient in other phases of the game in comparison to them – just as there are pitchers in the upper level of college baseball who throw 95 but will never make it to the big leagues – but again they are few and far between. That’s my primary point here – we don’t see these guys too much and frankly they are not the guys who are bragging about how far they hit it because they know lots of other guys who hit it as far as they do – it’s no big deal to them.

I truly appreciate the affirmation about the distances of irons hit by the guys on tour – when I was younger I did play in a few Hooters events as an local qualifier and also played lots with my club pro so I have some sense of what is and what is not true.

I also appreciate the affirmation that people who play golf for a living know how far they hit the ball and don’t really care what iron they are using – I may not doing it for a living but I hate losing money in a friendly game – I’ll hit the 6 rather than the 7 if the shot calls for the 6 and brag about my score as I buy the drinks with my winnings thank you very much!

Reply

stephenf May 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

…and it’s guys like you who are usually winning, then.

I just cannot for the life of me understand why the number on the bottom of the club matters. I guess it’s true that 1) there is such a thing as being too short to be competitive, as I said before; and 2) if you’re really short, especially inconsistently so, it can indicate a problem with your contact or your swing, because good contact and good technique do lead to a good transfer of power to the ball, and you’re going to hit it long enough, reasonably long, if you do that. But among really good players, I just don’t think the difference in a club or two ever matters. It’s pretty much a bush-league-idiot-identifier if you see Guy 1 getting beaten by Guy 2 who’s hitting longer irons into the greens, but Guy 1 is braying about how much less club he had to take. You could make a living just hanging around a pro shop or a grill and starting up money matches with the guys who are constantly talking about how short a club they had into this green and that one.

Truth is, if paying for gas, hotels, and food depends on your ability to score on a golf course, you get realistic very quickly, and you also stop thinking that blasting every shot to absolute max-out is the way to earn a living anyway.

Reply

revkev May 25, 2012 at 5:45 am

Amen and in terms of having reasonable distance what’s the average drive on the LPGA? 240ish? 240 is also the average drive of a lower handicapper – not the guys Stephen is writing about who are working towards doing this for a live but the guys that we see at the course who have handicaps like 3,5,6 – this study just verifies what I’ve read on Frank Thomas and Dave Pelz’s web site in the past.

Paula Creamer is playing courses that are around 6,500 yards long (more than adequate for anybody but very top amatures) hitting it 240 on average and shooting in the 60′s. I get to see Brittany Linsicome practice every once in a while because when she’s home she plays one of my home courses. Her driving average last year was a shade under 270, she plays the course from 7,200 yards long and breaks 70 regularly. I only know 2 guys who I’ve played with regularly who hit the ball as far or farther than her. One played DI golf (USF) and is still young – in his late 20′s and the other isn’t much of a player but is a good athlete with a solid swing – he just doesn’t play golf much.

Most people that I play with hit the ball plenty far enough to score very well – they need to work on consistency, management and hitting fewer shots on and around the green.

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 11:37 am

Revkev–

Funny you should mention that…I’ve always thought that if the good-but-not-plus-handicap amateur male could get over his ego, he’d learn a _lot_ from watching LPGA pros and the way they play. I used to do some basketball coaching, too, and I thought the same thing about coaching a good high school team where you didn’t have three guys thinking they were going to be NBA stars. If you can get them to watch a really good college women’s team, the kind that becomes more than the sum of its parts and cannot win games doing that “take turns going one-on-one” thing you see from so many men’s teams, you could build a really good high-school boy’s program with that kind of technique and mentality.

Anyway, I guess that’s slightly off-point to what you’re saying, which is more specifically aimed at the distance discussion. I agree totally that if you’re hitting it in the mid-200s and are playing the right tees, distance almost certainly isn’t what’s keeping you from shooting near par. I can’t even tell you all the times I’ve taught people who want to hit it farther but who can’t hit a green with a short iron as it is, and who can’t save par more than half the time from around the green.

revkev May 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I learned a lot from watching an LPGA player on the practice tee yesterday Stephen Ms Brittany Lincicome lives in my town and often will practice where I practice. I spent 45 minutes with she and I being the only ones on the range late yesterday afternoon –

One problem – she hits the ball way more like a guy on the PGA tour than her compatriots on the LPGA – her average drive is about the same as Jim Furyks –

One benefit – she’s a heck of lot more attractive and she’s always so polite and nice to talk with – she complimented my swing – actually I wish I weren’t swinging so well so that she could have been more helpful with that – I told her that my draw sometimes turns into a hook and she told me to just watch my grip pressure and tempo.

According to my fitter I have numbers that are very much in line with the LPGA players that he works with in terms of swing speed, launch angle, etc. I can live with that.

Totally agreed on the boys hoops things – took a bunch of 8th grader boys who thought they were all that to watch the UConn team that had Diana Taurasi on it – they learned a thing or two in a hurry there.

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Brittany Lincicome, huh…well, aren’t _you_ the lucky one.

If you have numbers comparable to LPGA players, and you’re a male amateur, that’s pretty stout. I know a lot of guys would hate that, but all the LPGA players do is shoot close to or under par all the freakin’ time, so let your friends argue with _that_ if they want. To me, it just means you have the potential to beat almost anybody you run across. They should all have it so bad.

Funny that you brought up UConn and Taurasi–that was precisely the example I was thinking of, particularly in their better years when they don’t lean too heavily on one or two spectacular, unstoppable players. I am _such_ a huge fan of Geno and his teams.

revkev May 29, 2012 at 5:35 am

Stephen,

What can I tell you – I live in Florida – that’s why I quickly agreed with your mention of there being a group of young amateurs and mini tour players who were close but not quite in regards to the guys on the PGA tour. There’s always some aspect of the game or two that has kept them from the big boy tour – its rarely distance – I suspect its most frequently the flat stick or mental makeup but don’t know for certain because I rarely play with them. But I see them all the time in the winter months on the range. I also live right down the street from Brittany. I see her on the course that I practice at three of four times a year. I’ve been alone of the putting green with her before and also been in the group behind her on the course – this was the first time that I’ve ever been with her on the range – it was great, she hits the ball so well and she is always very nice.

We also have a kid in our league who played DI golf at USF – for what ever reason he loves to play with me and frankly I really enjoy playing with him – we’re like the Mutt and Jeff of golf – we have the same handicap but there is absolutely nothing else that we have in common on the golf course – I’ve measured his drives with my GPS and they are always in the 300 to 320 range – I’ll be hitting 5 woods into greens that he’s hitting 7 irons into and when we look at the cards at the end of the round we’re always within a stroke of each other.

I can hold my own – I have enough distance – like anyone else I’d love so more but you can score in this game without the ridiculousness.

Did I pick up that you’re in AZ? My mome lives in Scottsdale and I get out that way now and again.

stephenf May 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

Not AZ–I grew up in L.A., but am in West Texas for now. Lived in SW Missouri for several years, also Austin, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque. Talk about some varying conditions.

No wonder you have your smarts all in line. Playing with an ex-D1 player on an even basis while being outdriven by 60 yards a hole is, to me, one of the greatest things about the game. That is brilliant. You probably know more about what’s really important to scoring than any three guys on this forum put together, because it’s not hypothetical talk with you.

As for what keeps some of these awesome ballstrikers off the tour, or at least out of the upper ranks, my own observation is that you tend to see two things, often both of them in the same player:

1. They tend to lack the ability to save par consistently or to scratch out pars during stretches when they’re not hitting it so great. They absolutely live for playing when they’re hitting it on the sweet spot and killing it. It feels great to them. But they don’t know how to stabilize their scores during periods when it’s not like that for them, so it’s hard to get through 54 or 72 holes without a stretch when they’re backing up and canceling out all the good play. Sometimes they just lose interest when they’re not crushing it. This, to me, is the sign of somebody who thinks the game of golf “is” hitting great-feeling shots, rather than putting up the lowest score every day no matter how you’re hitting it or how you feel about it.

2. This is a big one: They tend to be maddeningly clueless on evaluating risk-reward situations. This, to me, was the genius of people like Nicklaus and Hogan, and what is lacking in every young player now at least some of the time, and in some young players all the time. So here’s the guy, tied for the lead, or a stroke ahead of the cut, or whatever, and he comes to a par-5 with a green that wraps around behind some water, 230 out. Realistically, if he’s not coming out of his shoes, it’s a 2- or 3-iron, or a hybrid for some. (Big hitters can get a 4 there, maybe, but at the forces they generate, the shot has more or less the same error potential as the shorter player’s hybrid, which is a point seemingly lost on many players who seek distance above all, as if it will automatically help their scores.) If he hits it 40 feet right of the hole, it’s wide open, no water in front or behind. You could thin it over there and be OK, or chunk it and you’d be 10 yards off the front with an easy pitch. Just about anything will work. Odds of making four from over there, with a good short game or decent lag putt, are at least 80% or better. But you see one guy after another try the lower-percentage hero shot for no particular reason other than just impulse, when it’s not going to be the decisive shot in the tournament, it’s not going to end the matter right there in a positive way, but it can certainly all but end it in a negative way.

And for what? If he hits a _great_ shot around 10-12 feet away from that distance, his odds to make the putt, statistically, stand at something like 28% (the approximate tour median). Maybe a little better if he’s putting particularly well that week.

So for the difference between an 80% chance of a four and, say, a 60-72% chance of a four, he’s willing to bring the hazard and penalty strokes and all kinds of death and destruction into play.

I mean, odds are, no matter how you “feel,” you’re probably going to make four from that position in the fairway if you hit an average to very good shot (anything but a dead-perfect unbelievable shot). You are probably _not_ going to make a three. If you try the hero shot 10 times, you might make three once or twice, four another five or six times, and five or worse two or three times, or maybe more.

Sure, stats and averages aren’t everything. Sometimes you do have to look at the situation and figure it’s your time to go against the odds and try to win the tournament right there, sometimes because it’s your only chance. But I’m talking about guys who do this routinely and on impulse, who really don’t have a risk-reward calculator going on, who don’t do things that make sense. It’s just blast and blast, Xtreme golf, balls-out, whatever you want to call it. Stupid. Nicklaus always said you didn’t want to be known as “an aggressive player” or “a cautious player,” but as “a smart player,” because if you were _always_ aggressive or _always_ cautious there was no way you were making your best scores day in and day out. You want to be like an Indy driver, knowing when to floor it and when to hang back, picking your spots in the right way with the right risk-reward calculation (or “instinct,” if you prefer–some people seem to have it).

Just saying. I’ve seen and played with a million stupendously long hitters, and only a few could make a score. IMHO, this sort of thing is why. They keep canceling their great holes with bad holes because they can’t save par and don’t know how to minimize damage, and they keep trying to do things that statistically don’t make sense in situations where they don’t even need to try them, as if you could play golf on impulse and without a brain..

I’m not trying to be all Spockish, by the way, but I do believe in stats read rightly–not in being a slave to them, but in using them to see what “normal” is, so you know when and why you’re departing from that when it makes sense to do it. It really can change your perspective. For instance, a quick look at U.S. tour stats will show you that none of these guys make “eight or nine birdies every round,” as I’ve had it breathlessly described to me by worshipful fans (nor can Player X “shoot 62 anytime he wants to”–I mean, shouldn’t he want to today? and tomorrow? and every day?). The best average between four and five birdies. Tour median is about three and a half. So we’ll say, if you want to be a top-third player on the tour, you’ll make about four a round. That’s just two birdies every nine holes. If you hit one par-5 in two and two-putt, that means you just have to find one other birdie out there in the other eight holes, on average. You’ll have days when you make eight or nine, sure. But on the average it’s pretty mundane.

Then you go look at what the best players are scoring on average–just under 70–and you realize something is going on here: These guys must be averaging only about one bogey per nine holes. And sure enough, you go to the stats again, and you find exactly what you deduced: The top half of the tour is averaging only between two and three bogeys a round. In fact, if you glance down through the top 20 in fewest bogeys made, you have a startlingly high correspondence with the big names on the money list and in the winner’s circle.

I’m telling you. Try doing whatever you have to do to average only one bogey every nine holes, and watch yourself start winning tournaments.

Sorry to go on, but it does fascinate me, and I do think it can help people understand what’s _actually_ important in trying to score. I hear TV announcers talking all the time about how some player “will be disappointed with that effort” or “should expect to get this within five or six feet,” when the average shot from that distance is double or triple that. Next time one of these talking heads starts yakking about how Woods can put it two to four feet from the hole anytime he wants, and how he’s bound to be “disappointed” with the wedge he just hit to ten feet, just remember this: His _average_ distance from the hole on shots of 100-124 yards is over 23 feet. Really. The top 10 in that category hit it something like 14 to 16 feet away on average.

OK, I’ll stop. I’m kinda wound on this stuff.

revkev May 29, 2012 at 11:42 am

You’re too kind – I doubt that I know more than any three guys here – I love to learn though so I read and study and try to sort things out.

In regard to Joey (my former DI buddy) I think he’s at a stage where he’s transitioning from doing nothing but playing golf to having to learn to manage life – that can be difficult – to want to play great golf but also to have a productive life with solid relationships, a job, etc. At 55 I think I’ve learned how to manage life particularly given what I do and the number of mishandled life situations that I find myself in the middle of.

I’m so down with those numbers – like you I’m a huge Nicklaus guy – he was my golfing idol growing up – I devoured Golf My Way – started with an interlocking grip, wanted to play a fade (that changed pretty quickly), etc, etc. You have to play the precentages and then execute the shot that the percentages dictate – I love the league that I play in – we’re in a rain delay right now or I’d be on the course – because its individual ball, full handicap, modified stableford – Highest average point total per round at the end of the season wins the flight. For a player like me that means I’m getting a point for a bogey – I’ve learned to scratch for everything and not take anything for granted – a ball in the woods means – how do I put myself in position to get a point – it’s really sharpened my thinking. It’s made me a much stronger player mentally (whatever that means.)

Managing expectations on the course is huge and fits this thread so well – if you have a misconception of how far you hit the ball you’ll expect more of yourself than you should, you’ll get down on yourself when you don’t execute and bad things tend to follow.

I have the same reaction to announcers – don’t they read the stats from shot link? A guy has a 15 footer and they’re telling us he should have made it? Really? The numbers don’t bear that out. I see my friends get down on themselves all the time over this sort of stuff probably because of what they hear on TV. They have no clue that there’s a better chance they’ll three putt from 25 feet than 1 putt – they’re upset that they missed the 25 footer and guess what comes next.

Alright the rain has let up – time to go warm up – I think I tee off at 3:30 now.

Too bad I have to go back to work tomorrow – I can only imagine the pile of emails in that inbox.

Shaun Cumming May 24, 2012 at 10:47 am

My 6 iron swing speed average according to the Mizuno DNA club is 85 MPH. My driver swing speed on a launch monitor averaged out at 101 MPH. I’m fairly confident that I carry around 240 with my driver and around 160 with my 6 iron but I may be wrong.

Reply

stephenf May 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

Ridiculous. Launch monitors are notoriously inaccurate when compared with real-world yardages. I used to play to a plus-2 level and played with quite a few pros, top-shelf amateurs, etc., and it was absolutely routine to see paced-off distances, marked distances, etc., in a huge mismatch with whatever showed up on the launch monitor. I played with one pro, for instance, who was a shortish but very straight hitter–”shortish” in the sense of usually hitting it around 260-270, paced off, under various conditions, over and over, for a period of several years. He could pop one out there 310-320 at times, but his standard shot was the 270 or so. Hit his 5-iron 180-185. Saw it for years. He gets on a monitor, hits a few absolutely in the screws, ball marks right on the sweet spot, and the monitor show him hitting driver about 220 total, and the 5-iron something like 148. I played tournaments with the guy for years and literally not once did I ever see him hit either club those distances. As a moderately long hitter, I had much the same experience, with monitor distances being off by at least 20%, often more. I don’t even bother anymore.

Reply

Golfspy Matt May 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm

There’s no question that there were, and still are, some launch monitors that are not accurate or, worse, are intentionally set up to misrepresent things. That does not mean that launch monitors as a whole are “notoriously inaccurate.” Flightscope, Trackman, and Foresight are used every day by the OEMs, top tier club fitters, and tour pros because they are very accurate.

Reply

stephenf May 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I’ll plead guilty on being too categorical, I guess, but I think it should be understood that when a person generalizes about such a thing, it is not particularly reasonable to think that he’s talking about literally every single example in the world. You’ve named three manufacturers of accurate monitors, and I’ll take your word for it. I do know that the readings I’m talking about happened over a period of years, some indoors and some not, some that were brought by manufacturers like Mizuno and Titleist and Taylor Made, et al., so I’m assuming they had at least some chance not to be bottom-of-the-barrel monitors.

Anyhow…I think we can agree that an accurate monitor that seems to replicate your _real_ average out in the real world (not your career shot, not your downwind-downhill-hard-fairway longest drive, etc.) would be, or is, a tremendously useful thing. It’s just that I haven’t personally run across one yet. I also really object to the whole notion (which I have no reason to believe that you’re advocating) of how so many shops will fit you completely indoors, in a net, on a monitor, and so you’re supposed to shell out the five hundred bucks for the club and be happy. I suppose this is market-driven, as in, people _do_ buy clubs this way, so shops keep selling them this way. I cannot imagine buying a set of clubs, or any club, without seeing actual real-world ball flight–it absolutely amazes me that people will spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on clubs without seeing a single shot in real flight–but maybe I’m in a dwindling minority these days.

Reply

revkev May 25, 2012 at 5:52 am

Don’t you need both? You need the data of a quality launch monitor such as the ones mentioned by Matt plus the real world vision of the ball flying, hitting the ground and rolling out – I know that’s how the big boys get fit. The beauty of a trackman like launch monitor is that it can be used to fine tune equipment so that you are getting the absolute max out of your equipment or if something is going wrong to make the little swing tweaks necessary to produce the best results.

I’m hoping that all of us are on this sight because we’re tired of being spoon fed our equipment and so are looking to break out and step our games up – I think we don’t want to be in the group that Stephen is talking about in his post. I hope. Hey I even pray it if that’s not offensive to anyone here.

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

I agree, both would help, with the real-world conditions a check on the monitor–or, if you’re confident in the accuracy of the monitor, I’d still make decisions based on both. I don’t object for a minute to the use of an _accurate_ monitor; in fact, you can get specific measurements of spin rate and launch angle (for instance) that I think are invaluable and that will be hard to intuit from hitting a ball out on the range or the course until you’ve hit a _lot_ of balls under varying conditions. What I object to is 1) obviously and grossly inaccurate monitors (I’ve seen more than a few), and 2) this process in which golfers are expected to go in and dutifully plunk down hundreds of dollars for clubs based on the numbers on a monitor, without ever having seen the real flight of a real shot even once, because “we don’t have demo clubs, sorry.” Rrrrrr.

Jim May 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Great article. I just have to go out and get that Launch monitor to make sure that I hit it right.
Love the thought and reviews.

Reply

revkev May 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thanks Matt – I was writing a sermon this morning and experiencing a burst of creativity!

I’m curious as to where Golf spy T is getting his information – as I understand it shot link does its measurements from point A to point B simply put – I could be wrong but that’s my understanding.

in terms of the official driving stat holes are intentionally selected to be straight, not doglegs, in opposing directions – thus not every drive is measured – only the drives on that hole – what isn’t considered is whether or not the players are actually using driver on the hole so if anything those stats are deflated rather than inflated.

What is correct is that the fairways that the pros play on are shaved very tightly and thus they may get more run out – but they’re also cut too tightly for must of us to handle – we’d hit lots of blades and chunks – however the averages include rainy days where there is no run and carry only as well.

I’ve seen a number of comments about the veracity of launch monitors – this is way out of my area of expertise other than to say I do know that there is a great deal of disparity between types of monitors and the people who are operating them (big shock there.) Trackman is a trade mark and is very accurate assuming that the person who is operating it knows what he or she is doing. Other launch monitors may not be so accurate based on the technology included in them – I recall an indoor simulator that could be fooled into giving you credit for a 300 yard drive off of a bladed sand wedge when I used to play in an indoor league – that was fun until a rule was put in to prevent us from doing it. :) Some monitors may be set to give the appearance of additional yardage by building in a firm fairway, downwind or downhill variable – not that a store would ever consider such a thing. :)

Reply

GolfSpy T May 25, 2012 at 6:10 am

@revkev – I think I had some very old info there that predates Shotlink by more than a little. So yeah…the real story is that averages are calculated based on 2 holes. The holes selected run in opposite directions so that wind becomes less of a factor in the calculations.

As for launch monitors…they all make mistakes from time to time. And yeah…the aboutGolf simulators seem to have a blind spot of sorts for particular shots (like the bladed wedges you mentioned). Trackman and FlightScope both make mistakes as well. As long as the operator knows the system, and knows what shots to toss (in the case of the bladed wedge, if it’s not obvious enough, the launch monitors confidence level (available from the 3Trak button) is a dead giveaway. When Callaway posted its ad last year advertising the RAZR Hawk was longer than the R11, the fine print referenced the confidence level of the launch monitor (I believe it was 85%). Point is misreads happen…and they happen with every unit. Simply because somebody figured out how to fool one, doesn’t mean the system itself isn’t reliable. They all need software, and software often has bugs.

We’ve talked to several OEMs about the various launch monitor options, and what we’ve heard from several now is that the camera-based systems (Foresight GC2 and aboutGolf) are “as accurate as anything” (and yes, that includes FlightScope and Trackman). As I’ve said countless times each brings different things to the table, but to any assertion that any one is significantly more accurate or more reliable than another is false. Every OEM that I’m aware of has a mix of camera (GC2/aG) and radar based units, and they’re wholly confident in both.

Unfortunately some retailers have given these systems a bad name because they’ve tweaked the settings (on an aG system this would include things like jacking up the profile, or boosting the wind speed) to promote obscene distance when unsuspecting golfers are demoing clubs. The consequence is that golfers assume the camera/indoor systems don’t work well, instead of putting the blame on the guys who tuned it to suite a particular purpose.

The real differences are in things like presentation (graphics), and ease of data access (abouGolf is NOT good in this respect). Club tracking is probably better with radar units, and the available data is in some cases more comprensive (angle of decent is a number I’d love to have for our driver tests), but the key measurements…ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, and spin axis (regardless of how each system labels it), are comparable across the board.

Reply

Frank May 25, 2012 at 9:13 am

Exhibit A…..

Todays leader in DRIVING DISTANCE at the Crown Plaza
Kyle Stanley

348.5
yards

Reply

Dace May 25, 2012 at 8:53 am

Worked on the European Tour for one season and the driving distances were based on Two holes going in opposite directions. Distances driven were added and divided (x2) and that was the driving distance for players. These were on straight long Par4′s or Par 5′s .

Reply

Steve Sales May 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Interesting info that confirms what I see all the time in my senior mens group. I’ve had no illusions for some time about my own distances and it has helped tremendously in my efforts to keep these guys’ wallets cleaned on a fairly regular basis.

Reply

Snowman May 25, 2012 at 8:03 am

Accepting how far you actually hit each club is very sobering…almost depressing for me (even with strong lofts), BUT you can still be a single digit handicapper even if you are ‘average length’; and dont have an Awesome short game. It takes need consistency — solid(not awesome) striking, and a reasonable (again not awesome) short game. One key to consistency is knowing how far you really hit each of your clubs. Swallowing your pride can definitely help your scores….. I’ve hit lots of 160 yard four and five irons and play to a 6.5 index (average course 6300-6500 yds). P.S. off the tee, I think the only way most of us over 40 will increase our distance is to learn to hit a reliable Draw…. this will also fix the common over the top swing most of us have which will also benefit our iron game.

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

Re the draw, that’s what the research shows, all right–and if you hit it solidly enough, a slight draw with the irons isn’t going to hurt you much with stopping power, either.

I’m guessing you collect more often than you pay out, from the way you talk.

Reply

mikerio May 25, 2012 at 8:10 am

I have only ever seen my game improve when I’m honest with firstly myself and playing partners…..you then work on that weakness and work with it using your strengths….dude I’m a shit driver of the ball but I have so much confidence in my g15 irons and hybrid. It was also hard to realise if I wanted to see my game improve honesty was best so get g15s not i15s and work with my short arse drives and just get in with it….also I have focused on my short fame . Wedges and putter, cos its on and around the greens where I catch up with the big jitters!

Reply

revkev May 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

As an adendum I got out and played today – wooo hooo!!!!! Kept my driving average on the phone GPS – we had 1.5″ of rain last night, it was 92 and very humid so the ball was not travelling well – I played a course with a course rating of 72, slope of 135 6,500 yards. I live in Florida so this was at sea level – another words it was the ideal day to get a true idea of how short I really am. I did – I averaged 236 yards on 12 drivers with a long of 256 (found a firm spot on the fairway downwind) and a short of 220. I hit all of them fairly solidly (I would have expected 245 or so but again there was very little roll because of the rain and puddling.)

More importantly I made 3 birdies and shot 38-35 73 – really played well on the back which is normally the tougher nine. Putted great and drove the ball in the fairway all day.

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Do you have anybody left to play with, or do they all know you play this way?

You could just roll around to different courses, pop your 236-yarder out there a few times on the range, let the big hitters salivate and give you strokes for a few bucks, and then go clean them out. Or maybe you already do that. ;-)

Reply

revkev May 29, 2012 at 5:40 am

I’m a preacher – I’d never do such a thing. :)

Actually there are enough good players around here that you aren’t likely to pull anything over on anyone – I do respectfully well in the money games that I play in – I don’t play for huge stakes but love the ones that include skins and perhaps a dollar a dot you know dots for winning a hole, a birdie, a sandie that kind of thing. There’s a really nice regular game on fridays at the local muni that I love to play in and friday is typcially my day off so it fits.

I finished 5th in the St. Pete Senior Amateur last October so it’s pretty hard to be too under the radar. My goal is to win that sucker this season – having a total set eval, getting several clubs reshafted and taking a lesson on distance control from inside of 100 are a part of that goal – so far it seems to be paying off.

Reply

stephenf May 29, 2012 at 10:25 am

Oh, yeah…Florida…I should’ve been paying attention. Pretty tough competition down there no matter what level we’re talking about. Really well-known tour pros fail to make the U.S. Open every year when they try to get through qualifying in FL (as I’m sure you know).

See, when I hear a guy talk about getting lessons on distance control over 100 yards, I know I’m talking to somebody who is serious and smart about bringing scores down.

Reply

TwoSolitudes May 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Great great story. I am one of the unusual ones who is actually honest about how far I hit things on average and constantly put up with the comments. But on the course my ‘little’ 200-210 off the tee average holds up pretty well.

The 5 iron number does not surprise me at all. I carry a 5H and even a 6H these days because I know about how far they will actually go, while with the 5I its a bit of a crap shoot.

I love playing 320-370 yard par 4s. They are fun. I don’t much like 400+ par 4s and being forced to shoot for a hope and a prayer with the 3-5 wood or just play it like a par 5 and lay up. And 200 yard+ par 3s? Those are just stupid. But its harder and harder to find courses with yardages that are fun. And most new courses seem to highlight how long they are as one of the best features.

Wonder if the day will come when ‘amateur’ length courses are built and promoted?

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

I absolutely love this comment and the others you’ve left. I wish to God course designers would read what you’re saying a hundred times and take it to heart. Any designer who doesn’t include a set of tees for amateurs who don’t hit it stupid-long is leaving a serious gap in the course’s quality, as far as I’m concerned. And I couldn’t agree more that for most players–even some very fine players, some skilled-but-shorter players–somewhere around 6,200 yards is about right. A 330-yard par-4 is a driver-wedge or driver-9-iron for that kind of player, and if that player is skilled, he’ll have a putt at birdie, and he’ll make some of those, same as the blaster who hits it on the green 50 feet from the hole and two-putts. The game is really missing something when it doesn’t allow for the skilled shorter hitter. So often, the “short” comes in advancing age. You’ve seen it too, these guys who are 60 or 70 but can absolutely play the pants off people on a shorter course.

To me, it’s unconscionable to design courses on which scores close to or even below par can be shot only by scratch-or-better-handicappers from their late teens to around 40, or maybe the rare Snead-like 50-year-old who can still kill it–courses that just plain lock out anybody who can’t manage at least a 250-260 carry or more, who have to hit a hybrid from 180 or 190, etc. I don’t know what some of these idiots are trying to prove, by making courses unenjoyable to the general public, impossible to play anywhere near par even for a skilled player unless he’s exceptionally long.

When I was playing a lot in competition, I played more than a few courses, in fact, that included a stupendous number of bunkers and water hazards that would _never_ come into play for the longer and younger hitters, but which would make the course almost unplayable for a good 60-year-old–courses where that player would have to three-shot almost every par-4, where on some holes there was literally no bailout area where a shorter hitter could go, etc. We used to call it “booga-booga” stuff–the kind of bunkering and water placement that was just decorative for a longer hitter, but which would absolutely blow up the score of anybody else, the kind of course where the guy who shoots 75 with appropriate tees at home would go and shoot 100, then come home and talk about how “scary” the course was and how “you don’t want to play it, believe me.” That strikes me as a kind of really stupid bullying approach to course design for which I have no respect whatsoever. You want to bully somebody, bully the long hitters and plus-handicappers. Taper in the fairways. Include a couple of 340-yard par-fours that are easy to play as two-shot holes, but include big rewards and heavy penalties for people trying to drive the green. That kind of thing.

Bottom line, this is a _game_, and I think a lot of people have forgotten that. I see it in the way people have responded for years to stuff like Tiger’s cursing on camera in front of millions of kids, etc.; the usual defense is that “that’s just how it is these days; people in other sports do it; you have to get used to it; that’s where the culture is.” I mean, if a person came to golf as just another pro sport, or became a fan through Woods’ celebrity, that’s how he’s going to think. And he’s probably going to think courses should be big and intimidating and punish the guy who doesn’t have tour-pro length, so we can all recite how “these guys are good” and do our due worship and all that. But the rest of us–and from your posts I can guarantee you’re in the “us”–know that this is not what golf really is, or ever was. It’s not just another pro sport. It does have different standards. It does matter who you are and how you act. And it ought to be pleasant and positive and character-building, even for competitors. It ought to include players rather than cutting them out and beating them down strictly on the basis of distance limitations. And it ought to reward skill within any particular distance category.

Sorry, but you really did get on one of my favorite subjects here…

Reply

revkev May 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

It’s why Pete Dye is my favorite architect – he builds courses with shots from every tee in mind – it’s ingenius – one set of hazzards are for the golfer from the middle tees and the pro on the back tee never sees them – but there is another set out of sight and mind for the guy on those middle tees that just stare the pro right in the face.

Dye also builds courses that are extremely long from the back but he does so to provide options for course set up that take into account wind direction and variety – that’s another bugaboo of mine – so often we are subject to the mowing guy, who pulls out the tee markers, mows the tee and puts them back in a new spot with little regard for the course conditions that day. It could be so much fun if the course were set up creatively – a 250 yard par 4 with great risk reward so we get to see what it’s like to face that sort of challenge.

Sadly my least favorite course architects are two of my favorite golfers Palmer and Nicklaus. Palmer always has some ridiculous trick up his sleeve that has nothing to do with the game being enjoyable for the average hitter and Nicklaus – well there’s nothing to any of his courses so long as you have that 280 yard high fade down the middle every time and then the high approach to the elevated greens that he always builds in. The one exception there is the New Course at Grand Cypress but that’s a replica course and not an original design.

Florida golf association sets up courses at 6,500 yards for its senior amateur championships – between 6,200 and 6,500 is perfect for me – I’ll use all of my clubs, be challenged, have a chance to shoot a low score and to finish my round in under 4 hours, in fact closer to three and a half –

How we can get those in charge of course set up and those who play the game to realize that it can and should be fun is beyond me but it’s got to happen sometime, some day.

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Yeah, Dye uses alternative tees really well, I agree.

As for Palmer and Nicklaus…I don’t know much about Palmer designs, but I do know in addition to the stuff you’re talking about with Nicklaus (who happens to be pretty much personal idol in just about every way), he also tends to move a lot of earth and do a lot of artificial sculpting, which just drives me crazy–not because it’s difficult, but because I hate it. I really like the traditional kind of courses you used to see (and still do, mostly) in places like the Northeast and Midwest, where you scope out a piece of land with good possibilities and then mostly use existing natural features where you can. IMHO, the experience of the greatest courses involves as little artificiality as possible, but I admit that’s a personal preference.

Reply

revkev May 26, 2012 at 5:53 am

@ Two Solitudes – I’m so there with you – I come from a day where there were two sets of tees at most courses – red/white –

Everyone walked – the white tees were rarely or perhaps even never placed on the tips. Those tips were reserved for things like club championships. While I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to walking year round in Florida (I’d never play 18 in the summer if I had to walk here) I’d love to see 2 sets of tees on all the courses that we play – the pro/super could set it up like they do it for the US Open – sometimes you move the tees up on holes to make them more interesting or allow for differing pin placements. Everyone plays either the white of red tees. If you think it’s necessary you could have a championship set of tees with a strong warning – no one allowed here without permission from the pro.

For Florida or other sea level places the distance of the white tees should be about 6,200. Rounds would go faster, people would be happier, they’d find that they got to hit all of their clubs (properly).

Oh no someone just woke me up!

Reply

Jimgolf May 26, 2012 at 8:07 am

You guys are all so far behind the times! For exact distance measurement with all clubs just play tiger woods golf on wii!!!!!

Reply

Jacques LeStrap May 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

That works, and the putting is easier than the Tiger woods Masters edition ‘;’

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

Now that’s funny.

Reply

revkev May 28, 2012 at 5:19 am

:)

My sons kick my butt on that stupid game – on the course they’re both longer than I and neither has ever beaten me but there was a time I had to shoot under par to keep that record alive.

The days are coming! I’m doing everything I can to hold them off.

Reply

stephenf May 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

Reply

Joe Perez July 3, 2012 at 9:55 am

Most golfers think about the best shots they’ve ever hit when claiming their distances.

I was guilty of this until I started using a SkyCaddie GPS, tracking the distance of my drives, as well as noticing if the iron I was hitting was the “right club” according to the yardage given by the GPS.

For all the benefits golf GPS devices provide, the most important thing you’ll learn is how full of crap you are about how far you think you hit your driver, or *carry* your irons.

Reply

dick July 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

I love the guys who blindly claim “I hit it an average of 250″. I don’t, my carry is on average around 200, total distance 220. Yes I hit some big ones every now and then that might make it 250.

My yardages
Driver 220 – 235
3 wood 200 – 220
18* hybrid 190 – 210
3 iron 190 – 200 maybe
4 iron 180 – 190
5 iron 170 – 180
6 iron 160 – 170
7 iron 150 – 160
8 iron 140 – 150
9 iron 130 – 140
PW 120 – 130
54* SW 100 – 110
60* 70 – 80

All are plus and minus depending on wind, elevation changes and arthritis. But that’s the numbers I carrying on the back of my GPS.

Reply

billb April 23, 2013 at 7:33 pm

you hit a 3 iron as far as a 3 wood? why carry the 3 wood?

Reply

Randy Boyd July 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Absolutely agree. Once I was honest with myself, I found I was playing better golf. On par 3′s when my son and his friends are hitting 9′s or wedges, I finally got real and use my hybrid and usually have a shorter putt.

Reply

Rev Kev July 4, 2012 at 4:52 am

I have so much time on my hands that I reread the posts on this thread – I hate pneumonia!!!!!!! At any rate the original blogger – my apology to the guys who run this sight that I haven’t totally figured out who’s who yet – must be laughing his behind off.

Here’s a blog with some very nice data that verifies other data that all of us should have seen, data touted by Thomas, Wishon, Pelz among others that states that players over estimate how far that hit the ball. So often when touring pros are asked what their amateur partners can do to improve their game the answer comes back, “Hit more club.”

And yet people consistently and persistently think they hit it as far as they say they do. The last group of responders are certainly excluded but take your time and review this thread and look at some of the distance claims here. It’s always the other guy, not I who over estimates.

Use your GPS and actually measure the distance of the shots you hit – don’t use the score card, don’t guesstimate, don’t think you’re hitting your 9 iron 150 because you’re reaching the 150 sign at the range when all the while you’re up 25 yards.

Use me as your scapegoat – hate me for saying this – brag all you want at the 19th hole – heck have a scotch on me while you do it – but on the course to thine own self be true and use the right club. Way better to brag about the birdie on 10 where you hit 5 iron from 165 then lament the 8 iron that drowned in the water there because you caught it a couple of grooves too low on the club face. :)

Reply

DogPro July 4, 2012 at 7:36 am

I have been guilty of this for a wile . That’s what I love about playing with Rev Kev , I always know what club to hit……….LOL.
Seriously my game is improving and I’m scoring better because I’m more realistic about the distances I can hit the ball. How many times have you said ” I had to much club for that shot”. By far
most people miss there target on the short side.

( get better soon Rev , World Woods is calling)

Reply

Rev Kev July 4, 2012 at 7:43 am

:) @ dogpro – Just got back from hitting a small bucket – started slow but by the end I’m sure that I was hitting it well enough to break 80. I’m going to really lobby that doctor for clearance to play when I see him tomorrow.

Reply

Augustine Fan August 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

excellent article!

When i was first measured on a launch monitor for a fitting at PING 3 years ago, I learned bout carry vs total distance. I’ve always hit 7-iron from the 150-yard marker for approach shots and the launch monitor revealed that my actual carry was 139 with 10 yard of roll given the relatively lower trajectory of my iron swing.

I learned so much from this because i used to hit a lot of golf balls into the water or bunker when the GPS tells me i need only to hit 140 to clear the hazard not realizing my actual 7-iron carry is just short! I’ve always thought that I just didn’t hit that particular shot well when in reality I needed to hit 140 CARRY.

As i worked on my swing flaws (early release, hitting behind the ball), my 7-iron carry average this year improved to 170, and at times 175ish. This was done on another launch monitor. However, I was swinging particularly confident that day and I know the numbers were higher.

Since then, my 7-iron carry is more like 160-165 on course when I need to HIT A REAL TARGET and not just slinging it out there as far as i can. This is also me swinging at about 75 -80% to ensure I made good contact with the ball to avoid shanks and pulls.

I’ve lowered my handicap from 14 to 8 this year just be reducing the number of missed GIR due to misclubbing on approach shots!

Reply

Tnam August 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

This is a great article, since I have owned a GPS (watch) I have had to eat some reality over how far I hit the ball but knowing the reality has helped my game a lot.

I know from what my watch is telling me I am a very short hitter compared to the internet, fortunately I actually play golf too and I’m happy that I’m hitting the ball further than the vast majority of the people I play with :)

Reply

Jerry Foley October 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

Everything in golf is “relative”. Simple test, go to a Golf Galaxy or other shop where they have some form of measurement. Try some “older” drivers like a 2-year old model still being sold (Callaway Razr) and see what you get distance wise. Then try the new Razr Fit. It’s longer and you will see similar results with TM older models as compared with their new RocketBalz. Then test the range balls they have in the store at the simulator against some tour ball you regularly use. Your tour ball will be longer. Then have the store set up some swing speed monitor (radar is best) and see what your swing speed is. The phrase “silk purse from a sow’s ear comes to mind”. With all the technology you can buy in shafts and clubs and balls you simply cannot overcome the physics of your swing speed. We can all learn to swing a tad harder (faster) but we cross a threshold where speed becomes less efficient due to a poor swing where the resultant swing path/face angle produce unwanted direction and spin as well as off-center hits because simply “we lose control”. Thus we need to determine an optimum swing speed we can control. So if your swing speed is say “90 MPH” the rules of physics just won’t allow a well struck (sweet spot) hit to travel beyond a carry distance of “X”. The variables will only be if you reduce your carry with “spin”, “launch angle”, “weather conditions” (wind, temp), and fairway conditions (downhill/uphill, dry/hard/wet/long grass, etc). The last mitigating help you can provide yourself is a properly fitted club/ball as I stated above. I swing at around 100MPH and found the “Fit Tour and RocketBalz Tour” provided an extra 15-20 yards over their older models and that “did” shock me. As for lying, that won’t work out on the course since your playing partners can easily see what club you play and can estimate the carry to the hole less the hole length. The math gets pretty automatic after a while. I am easily 2-3 clubs shorter than my son but ultimately what matters most is who has the shorter putt.

Reply

joro3743 October 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

All you have to do is check your distances with a GPS and you will really be disappointed. I have been doing this for a long time. I remember one time with a guy who said he averaged 290 to 300. He bombed one and said thats over 300. We got to the ball and he said it was one of his longest. I checked it with the GPS,,, 243 yds. We ended up in a discussion cause he got mad and said the GPS was faulty, okay. I have done this many times and very few hit it distance they claimed and when they did everyone knew it, they were long.

In my teaching I always ask how far they hit the Driver, and the 7 iron, and more than not it is 255 and 155, which when checked is usually 230 and 135. The problem I think is that there is so much advertising for length that they make a player feel impotent if they get longer and longer. Too bad, but thats how clubs are sold,,,,, by how long the ad says they are.

Reply

Mike Hammel October 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Like I say to my buddys……….

It’s not how far you hit a any one club,……………. but knowing how far you hit each club in your bag.

Reply

Jim November 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I work in a golf shop and sold a customer a GPS. He returned about 2 weeks later and asked me to send the unit back to the company to be recalibrated because he was certain that he hits the driver consistently around 285 yards and his unit was indicating that he was only hitting it 220. After all of you stop laughing please respond if you will. Thanks. Jim

Reply

Dick November 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

Jim, that’s hillarious. I get a lot of sideways looks from guys (and a few giggles from gals) when I tell them I average about 210 off the tee. Began to realize 5 years ago that my distance off the tee was slipping, but hey I’m getting older.
This spring I was on the range at my course hitting balls, young guy in station next to mine was hitting the past the 250 yard sign. He was complaining that he couldn’t hit it 250 out on the course, I seen the light come on when I pointed out to him that the hitting area was moved up 25 yards, so he was only hitting it about 225.
My ego goes in my pocket right next to my wallet.

Reply

PJCedog December 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

This puts the pros 300 yard plus driving averages into perspective and seem even more amazing. These yardage exaggerations also remind me of the agony of being stuck behind a group of 20 to 30+ handicappers playing the back tees ahead of me on a busy weekend afternoon.

Reply

JDM February 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I have a USGA index of 1.1 based upon a the golf course I play regularly. The total distance on the scorecard for the tees we use is 6400 yards. Depending upon conditions the course can play either shorter or longer. I know from using the Trackman launch monitor that my maximum club head speed with a driver is 95 mph and that my maximum carry is 239 yards. Using a dozen tee shots, my average club head speed is 92 mph with a corresponding carry of about 225 yards. Yet when I hit a reasonably good tee shot, most people will tell me that I hit the ball 280 or more yards. When I respond that my tee shot carried “only” about 225 yards, they tell me that I’m crazy!!!! I do not hit my irons far at all, usually because I seldom make a full swing with an approach shot. Normally from 150 yards to the pin (not to the front edge of th green) I will swing about 75%-80% with a six iron. The objective of an approach shot is to get the ball hole high to set up a potential birdie. If I had a dollar for every time I have seen players using eight and nine irons from the position from which I am hitting a six iron, I would be independently wealthy. Additionally, I can honestly say that 99.99% of the time those players swing too hard with the result that they hit poor shots which finish far short of the putting surface. Later they will boast that they used a nine iron from the same distance where I used a six iron!

Reply

Doc March 10, 2013 at 9:57 pm

I agree with the writer of this article and experience it every time I go out to play a round. If I believed everything someone told me, I’d be playing with a touring pro! But they never live up to what they say they ‘usually do’. I’m old, and broken, will never hit the ball long, so I have learned to hit it straight and my short game can be awesome for an old man IMHO. My 5 iron (or actually my 5hybrid which has the same loft as my 5 iron used to) is my standard. 150 yards is where I can always reach without fail, and it sticks like a lawn dart on the green. From there I work my clubs longer or shorter depending on the shot. I don’t use a driver, I use a 3 hybrid off the grass on the tee box and use it and my 4 hybrid in the fairways. I don’t need anything else since 2 shots will get me from 440 to 475 and I can stay in the fairway. From here there is not green out of reach with a short to medium approach shot. I accept my limitations and play within them so I don’t get into trouble. Sure, sometimes I’ll knock the snot out of one and surprise myself, but I never figure that into my known shot distances for my clubs because I know my limitations. And sand traps, I heard a guy named Pennick tell a guy that asked him how to get out of a sand trap. Pennick simply said ‘I can’t teach you to get out of them, but I can teach you how to not get in them in the first place.” Great advice and I’ve always played safe shots and stayed within what I know I can do and not what I believe I must do. Works for me.
Doc

Reply

billb April 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Interesting data,and I think very accurate. Thanks to most club companies for jacked lofts,and lengths, it skews how far we think we hit the ball. I agree with tee choices as well. We play for fun,what fun is it to hit 3 wood on a par 4 or par 3? I also agree that as handicaps go down,those golfers are more realistic with their yardages. How do you think they got better. I play with 18 cappers and they spend so much time with range finders,askign for yardages,and they have no idea how far they hit that club,much less whether they will hit it 30 yards right or left..I am 62,play THE SENIOR TEES. My course has 5 par 3′s and I play about 5600 yards from the senior tees.

Reply

TP May 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Golf is a funny and ego game, believe it or not. A golfer tries to think that he is much better than he actually is and never admits the fact that he can not hit 5-iron 180-200 yards on a normal basis. The guy I normally play with at my club, (on par-3 200 yards), he always uses “iron” and he never reaches the green and it generally leaves him 40 yards to chip it up….poor soul.

Reply

Bryan June 11, 2013 at 10:39 am

My game has fluctuated A LOT in the last few years. Starting while I was in El Paso, TX I could hit 300 easy with my drives, and well being that was the first place I played consistently, I just assumed that was my measurement, not considering the altitude (approx 3500 ft ASL) and the weather (dry and arid) contributed to those distances. Now I am in North Carolina, more on sea level and it’s very humid, my distances dropped, significantly but I could still reach 280 with my driver and around 170 with my 5i. Then I broke my right arm (I’m RH golfer) and seperated my right shoulder in an accident and had to give up golf for nearly 2 yrs. Now I am getting back into shape for it after the injury, and I’m finding I can barely reach 250 on my drives and consistently around 150 on my 5i. It hurts the ego a bit I admit, but I am also learning in such a condition that course management is way more important to a golfer of my current ability level (15 handicap) than being able to wallop a golf ball 300 yards down the course. I do trust that after a bit of relearning the game from injury, I will recover some of what has been lost.

Reply

Jack September 18, 2013 at 4:02 am

Well, now that I’m pretty consistent on my distances (judged by combination of Par 3′s, approach shots, being able to adjust for wind and elevation chagnes), distance isn’t really to me the key to shooting lower scores (let’s take out the short game and putting for this instance). Irons wise, it’s all about the consistency in distance and direction. I haven’t figured it out yet, but looking at pros, it’s clearly the most amazing part of their game, and that’s the high probability they can go GIR, or get out of a penalty shot with a par or bogey due to their solid accuracy with the iron approach game. That also explains why I usually get my butt handed to me by the guys who can’t hit it far, but my theoretical 2 on is trumped by their 3 on every time. Why? If I don’t get 2 on it’s usually 3 on and 2-3 putts. They get 3 on but only 1 put. Will they score alot of birdies? Not on par 4s, but they get a lot less bogeys that’s for sure. I think with enough practice my swing can stabilize more and I can learn to control the club face at impact better, but that’s another level of commitment.

Reply

Sheffield December 8, 2013 at 2:17 am

So while on the topic of launch monitors and the variation scene from different devices… I tend to use the Flightscope trajectory optimizer to gauge what a certain set of launch conditions will produce. So I decided to plug into the optimizer the same launch paramters reported by an actual Flightscope results from a Rick Shiels head to head comparison.
Flightscope (Rick Shiels): ball speed: 151.8 Spin: 3150 Launch Angle: 12.5 Carry Dist: 227
Flightscope Trajectory optimizer: ball speed: 151.8 Spin: 3150 Launch Angle: 12.5 Carry Dist: 251.7
Difference= 24 yards or so.

LM#1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPfTjjik5gY
LM#2: Used Flight Scope Trajectory Optimizer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPfTjjik5gY

Any thoughts on why this may happen?

Reply

Tony Covey December 8, 2013 at 10:29 am

Hard to be absolutely certain, but factors that could contribute to different results:

Temperature
Humidity
Altitude
Golf Ball (even when initial launch parameters are the same, dimple patterns and other design detail of the ball can impact performance, especially when wind is part of the equation.

Reply

joseph April 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

i love reading these posts. the point of the article was about how golfers lie about how far they hit the ball. i like the guy who says he carries the ball 280, which is further than most pga pros. are you kidding me! i’ve played with plus handicaps, caddied for a guy who played on the web.com tour, and used to regularly play with a guy who was 6’6″ 280#s and was by far the longest driver i’ve ever played with, and he might catch one that carried 280 once every few rounds. i carry the ball about 240 and i’m tall and strong and practice all the time. my swing speed is always between 100-103. i have an fairly efficient swing.

i practice at one of the busiest ranges in the country. it has about 100 stalls. you can go out there for a full day and watch hundreds of golfers practice and you might see one guy, one time carry the ball and hit the 250 fence. (granted it’s slightly uphill and beat up range balls). i’ve only seen it a couple times. one was when the los angeles open was going on and we had future pros from all over the country practicing. another was KJ Choi, and another was one of the teachers who has been a touring pro. i never hit the fence. my max carry is about 248. (and believe me, i’ve pulled out a callaway Hot ball to see if I could, i still can’t hit!)

btw – who cares about average distance. we should be talking about MEDIAN distance. if your dispersion is go great that your average is meaningless, than you shouldn’t bring that club to the course. as much as it pains me, anything higher than a 6i for me doesn’t have a meaningful average because i just don’t hit it consistently enough. sure, i can deloft a 5i and hit it 195 one out of three times, but will i pull out my 5i on a par 3 over water? hell no! i’m pulling my 3 hybrid. if i crush it, it’ll carry 215. if it hit it normal, it’ll go 195-200.

get real!!!!

p.s. look at the lpga. a lot of these ladies are like us. they play courses under 7000 yards, with reasonable green speeds and reasonable rough, and they carry the ball around 215-240. where we differ is that they are smart enough to use hybrids and check their egos. and they score under par consistently! i’ve never shot under par, and i can hit a pitching wedge 140. so what!!!!! i can also duck hook at driver off the tee because i’m so pissed that tiger is out driving me by 50 yards.

Reply

Mike July 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I hit the ball fairly week across the board and if lucky get one to around 270-280 and once in a blue moon 300. But I’m about 220-240 average. What really opened my eyes to distances was a laser rangefinder. I think guys who go off the scorecard or driving range listed distance to the pins over estimate by 10-30 yard easily. For example, I was at my home range today and until recently purchasing a laser range finder I would have thought I was hitting my old Mazuno mp37 blades about 180 for a 7 iron. When I dialed in with the range finder I was only about 135-145 on average with a few 150 sprayed in here and there. But with my normal 85% swing I was between 130-140 depending on angle iof attack. My 6 iron speed is about 80 mph which according to charts puts me more inline with the 130-140 I was hitting than the 170-180 the range listed. Now I must say that before I switched back to blades amd smaller club head sized irons that I was playing super game improvement irons that I no donut was hitting a 7 iron 160-170. But the lofts on those were a full 1 club stronger than my blades and were nearly impossible not to hit far. Problem with those clubs is I got lazy and my orn game went to crap. I see people say all the time it’s not right to play blades if you are a high handicap. To them I say bologna. Just because someone is a high handicapper doesn’t mean they can’t strike an iron well. Most ny problems consist of driver and hybrid problems as well as puttin. I can shoot 85-95 with blades just as I do with the super game improvement irons. Sure if someome can’t get the ball off the ground they should not jump into blades or a gamer iron. But if they can constantly strike the ball to get a good launch I firmly believe a player iron or blade will only help them in the long run should they choose to put in a little work at the range. My buddy who gave me the mp37 laughed when I told him I’m going to learn to play with them. He’s a 6 hamdicap. He was blown away when I was hitting darts at the pin on anything 150 in. Now I can’t stand to address a ball with anything bigger than a small cavity back with a thin line. Anyway, that’s my rant. Enjoy golf!! Sorry for tr typos. I’m on the iPad.

Reply

Mike July 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

To note, my opening sentence I meant to say I hit the ball fairly “well across the board”.

Reply

Leave a Comment