It's Time to Dial in Your Distances
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
To me, one of the most fascinating things that PGA and LPGA Tour players do that most amateur golfers generally don’t do is make it a point to have a very, very precise knowledge of what distances they hit each club.
Let me be a little bit clearer on that statement… Tour professionals generally know their full swing, full power, carry and total distances for each club, AND their carry and total yardages for each club at 90%, 80%, 70%, 60% and so on, in terms of the speed and power of the swing.
Some may even go as far as breaking it down in terms of partial swings too…full, 3/4, 1/2, etc. and still others may even go as far as knowing the yardages for full, 3/4, 1/2, etc. swings at full, 90%, 80%, 70%, 60% and so on, in terms of speed and power.
Kind of mind blowing, isn’t it?
Obviously, it takes hitting a lot of golf balls on a regular basis, along with having the right technology, like a Trackman, in order to get this important data. For most amateurs those two factors, the time needed to practice, and owning expensive tech like a Trackman, is just out of the picture.
However, there are indeed ways to gather some of this data yourself without having to worry as much about those two barriers... it may take a little longer to start to gather the data, but once you have it, and keep up with the process you choose for gathering it, inevitably the effort will start to pay dividends.
On the Range and Indoor Training
Most ranges are marked pretty good with the distances to each target. That’s a good basic starting point…set up range time, at least once every week or two, and start charting what clubs you hit to each target. In addition, you can get a little better idea on more precise yardages with a range finder in hand...trust me, it's worth the investment.
After a few sessions of hitting each club and charting your yardages, you will start to get a better representation of what you hit each club. Some ranges have technology available on site, such as TopTracer which actually gives you the carry and total yardages for each shot you hit, so obviously, that’s an even better scenario in getting your numbers.
More and more indoor training centers are popping up too, which utilize simulators and perhaps even Trackman or FlightScope units to allow golfers to gain this powerful, individualized data.
You can even create a “do-it-yourself” range or indoor practice station at home by putting up a net, getting a good quality hitting and stance mat, and using more economical tech such as a Rapsodo unit or even a SkyTrak or FlightScope Mevo.
On the Course
It’s always a good idea to chart your rounds while playing the course and keep stats like fairways and greens hit, up and downs made, and total putts taken. But you could take that one step further in regard to your yardages. By tracking and recording the distances you hit your drives, then what yardages you have left in for your approach shots and finally the clubs you used to hit from there, you will gain even more valuable personal yardage data. You could do this manually or there are several pieces of tech out there that will do it for you such as V1 Game, which is an awesome mobile app by V1 Golf.
So, whether it’s some range sessions gathering your yardage data; charting your rounds on course and noting distances and clubs used; or a combination of both, it is definitely worth your time to try and get up close and personal with what distances you are hitting each of your golf clubs. Over time, this knowledge will dramatically increase your ability to shoot lower and lower scores.