Do you really know how far you hit the ball?

By: Owen Davies | Mon 25 Nov 2013


Neil Cooke is Professional Clubmaker and the Tour Technician on the European Seniors Tour and Golfshake is lucky enough to have Neil writing a blog on Golfshake to give the inside view on a professional golf tour.

Neil's got over 30 year experience in club fitting, club making and was the Technical Director at Golfsmith Europe. He's considered an expert in his field and regularly writes technical articles for various golf publications and runs Golf Technical Services supporting the European Seniors Tour.
 

How far do you hit the ball? No seriously, how far DO you hit the ball? Most golfers will answer honestly, but totally inaccurately as nearly all of us don’t know how far we hit it. Having worked in club making and club fitting for nearly 30 years, I’ve found that everybody in the UK hits the ball off the tee 250 yards! It seems that 250 is the magic figure, in Europe it’s probably 250 meters! The truth is we all have an unrealistic perception of how long hitting we are. When we get to the range, these people that tell me they’re 250 yard drivers are adamant that it’s the “ball compression”,” wind direction”, or just simply uncharacteristic mishits that result in drives failing to reach the  200 yard marker.  Let’s face it, if your course had a 240 yard par 3 (10 yards shorter than an average drive, after all) the members would be up in arms that they can’t reach it in one.

This delusion is not just a problem off the tee but all through the bag, as the same optimism holds with the irons. Most of us work our yardages off a 7 iron, we all believe we hit a 7 iron 150 yards (some think it’s an 8) and so with 10-12 yards between we hit a 5 iron 170-175 and son on. In reality, few golfers have that magical yardage separation in between clubs. The problem is that we just don’t think about it or have the facility to rectify the situation. This is why we’ll keep failing to carry that bunker off the tee and leave 99% of approach shots short of the flag,( the 1% being that thinned approach!).
 
With the competitive golfing season all but over, now is a good time to look at how far you really do hit the ball and are your yardages right.  It’s worth taking a couple of hours to work with your professional or club fitter using a bit of modern technology. Whereas the tour player has his/her caddy stand down the range, a launch monitor, range finder or simple Doplar radar device will give the correct data.
 
When I carry out these sessions, I try to hit a few balls as possible to avoid fatigue. If the player hits say 6 – 10 balls with each club this will be more than adequate. This usually results in more shots as we need to ignore the out and out miss hits. If the miss hits with the longer irons outnumber the good shots, then maybe the player just doesn’t have good enough technique to use those clubs. I often find golfers hit their 5 iron further than both their 4 and 3 irons because that is the longest club they hit properly, consistently. In addition, hybrids often don’t go the required distance, either longer than the fairway woods or shorter than the longest irons.
 
Here is the data from a recent session with a category one golfer:
 
Neil Cooke yardage data
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As you can see the lofts aren’t too bad, the 7 needs strengthening a touch and the 6 weakening, the yardages aren’t what you’d expect or want. With a bit of tweaking we managed to get the distance between each club correct even if the final lofts weren’t text book on paper. In a lot of cases with the “standard” club golfer it’s more a matter of taking some clubs out of the bag and replacing them with the designs that go the right distance.  Here’s another case study of a 15 handicap golfer,  all we ended up doing was taking out the 3 & 4 iron and replacing them with a hybrid.
 
Neil Cooke yardage data
 
So next time before you take on that career shot over the lake, make sure you know the club you’ve selected goes far enough! 
 

Neil Cooke is Professional Clubmaker and the Tour Technician on the European Seniors Tour and Golfshake is lucky enough to have Neil writing a blog on Golfshake to give the inside view on a professional golf tour.

Neil's got over 30 year experience in club fitting, club making and was the Technical Director at Golfsmith Europe. He's considered an expert in his field and regularly writes technical articles for various golf publications and runs Golf Technical Services supporting the European Seniors Tour.
 

 


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