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Effington

Finding your Distance

7 posts in this topic

Hey guys,

I picked up golf in July of this year and have been a "range rat" ever since, spending ~2 hours per day practicing, with almost no exceptions.  I also have a teacher and take a lesson whenever I can't figure out a swing flaw.  I know I have a lot of room for improvement, but can also see that I've improved a lot since I began...the beginning was extremely frustrating!

I stick to playing a very short par-3 course, with a personal best of 33, including hitting 5 greens, and even had a birdie!  It was my best highlight so far and was a great feeling.  Golf gets very expensive on nice, full length courses, so until I am confident I can score well, I am sticking to less expensive courses.  I also don't want to be losing strokes in my short game, because I don't anticipate being a very long hitter.  I'm 115 lbs.

Anyway, I'd like to run by my current scenario and get some feedback because I'm guessing many of you have gone through this.  In general, my distances are as follows, with a confident but not overly aggressive swing:

PW: 100-110
9i: 110-120
8i: 120-130
7i: 130-140
6i: 140-150

I'd say the majority of my swings fall right in the middle, or on the lower edge of each range.  Right now, I don't really practice any other clubs because the course I go to has 8 of 9 holes under 150 yards.

The issue I'm having is that on any given day, my ranges change.  If I'm hitting them well, I can add as much as 10 yards per club, and if I'm hitting them poor, -5 yards.

This primarily presents an issue when managing my expectations, AKA the mental game.  On "bad days" where I'm hitting my PW around the 100 yard mark, usually after awhile I start to over swing to compensate for lost distance.  That always leads me down a bad path and 10 minutes later I'm shanking the ball in crazy directions.  On my most recent bad day, I made a conscious effort not to over swing, and ended up gaining that 5-10 yards back after about 30 minutes of practice, but I'm still not sure why.  My only explanation is that my muscles were more fully stretched out later.

Have any of you had similar experiences and care to share any insight?

Also, on a slightly related note, the only wood I own is a 5w and just can't seem to hit it right.  Maybe 1 out of 5 days it just clicks and I can nail it 170-180, which is what I'd expect, but most of the time it only carries 150-160, which seems much too short for me.  Any tips?  I try to use the same swing as my iron, I just push the ball an inch or two up in my stance.
My swing speed with the irons is generally in the mid/upper 70's.
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There are many factors that could take away distance from your shots.  Even if you hit it just slightly fat, you'll lose 5 to 10 yards off your "normal" distance.  Also, even with game improvement irons today, if you hit it off the toe your gonna lose distance.  Some days you just hit it better than others.

In response to the 5W, it's a little different swing than an iron.  There's a lot of good videos on YouTube on fairway woods.

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That's a tough thing for an Amateur is knowing distances when solid contact isn't there. Believe me, i've hit a wedge +15 yards before because i just stripped it. Makes me think, what the heck i was doing 95% of the other time.

The key is, get better. If you get better your distances will tighten around a smaller variance.

For me, i know my irons will land +/- 1-2 yards. Sometimes its a bit off and i have to adjust during the round. Sometimes i am stiff earlier and loosen up after a few holes, so i might play half a club more in the first 2-3 holes, and then back off later. It just feel it out.

Just get better, that's the best advice i can say. Until you do, your going to fluctuate as your swing fluctuates.

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Also, the height of the shot will affect distance.  If I hit a PW a little lower than normal, then I will get another 10 yards but it will not check up.  Pay attention to this as well when your distances seem off.

Once you know your distances in calm conditions and normal temps, then you must start to factor in wind and temp.  40 - 50F will be 5 yards shorter for me for a 7 iron (normal carry 150 yards).  On hot days, 95F, I will get +5 yards carry or more.  A 10 mph wind in the face can take 5 yards, 20 mph, 10 yards, etc.  Not as much gain with the wind coming from behind.

Par 3s are a great way to get off the tee distances, but if you can find an inexpensive Municipal course, it will get more fun.

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Thanks for the replies!

I had another "bad" day and went over and put some tape over my club to see if I was hitting it off center.  Most of my hits were closer to the toe and a little low.  This seems to be the main culprit.  I guess it's just more practice that I need...

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So you're having trouble nailing down your distances on each club and getting clean contact/striking? Last time I checked, that was called golf.

In all seariousness, the best advice I ever received about this wonderful game (in terms of actually playing a round) was to manage my expectations each time I step onto the course.  If I step onto the course expecting to shoot a personal best, I am almost sure to be disappointed and have a "bad" round.  On the other hand, if I accept that anything could happen, i.e., I might have a bad day, I might have a great day, or anything in between, I am mentally prepared for anything and rarely have a bad round, even if I don't score well (because, hell, I factored this possibility into the equation before I even teed off!).

In terms of distances, I find that most of it just comes down to the quality of the strike.  If I'm brining the clubhead square into the back of the ball and hitting the sweet spot, I get a tremendous amount of distance.  Less so if I miss the sweet spot.  There is no shame in taking less club and accepting that the ball may fall short and leaving you with an easy chip shot.

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Go with your gut for now. Trying to guess how whether or not you hit a flush shot (for you) is a waste. At 40 cap you just want to work on consistency. If you really want to narrow it down, use a range finder and document your distance on the course. Range rocks won't be consistent enough to use for distance..
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