This time of year I (Tim) typically get a chance to play in a few tournaments. Seems each time I play those rounds that “mean a little more”, it always reminds me of what is really important in the bag. Meaning – what is really important to scoring.
Thought I’d talk a little about these “important” clubs, how much you should be practicing with these clubs and some general fitting facts about these clubs.
1. The most important club in the bag….. The Putter.
Most of you probably already knew this, but how many of you really put this in to practice.
For the average golfer, over 40% of your scoring is with your putter. In fact, it can be close to 50% for many golfers.
25% of your practice time should be with your putter. I suggest practicing it first (during practice sessions) as to not forget or “short change” your practice time with this most important club.
Use a putting string / mirror, etc.. during your practice B sessions (sessions working on fundamentals).
When practicing before playing (warming up) I suggest practicing first (before hitting balls) (for speed / feel) and last (just before going to first tee) (for speed / feel and accuracy).
A perfect putter fit will be a length and lie that will allow you to get your eyes over the ball (creates ideal stroke) and does not hurt / stress your back. Example: 34 inch putter for a 6 ft tall individual on average with “good” back.
2. Second most important club in the bag…. The Driver.
You hit your driver up to 14 times a round (on average). It is hit more than any other club in your bag besides your putter.
If you are hitting your driver poorly, golf is not fun and obviously negatively affects your scoring.
Driver is not only a distance issue, but as important, an accuracy issue.
25% of your practice time should be with your driver. You should practice your driver after you are warmed up and not too tired.
Use an alignment aid every time you practice for not only alignment, but ball position. Many of the times golfers have difficulty with their driver – it is an improper ball position issue.
When practicing before playing (warming up) I suggest practicing after hitting a few wedges, irons, etc.. giving yourself enough time after warming up to hit a few drivers “good”. Do not hit too many, before playing is not the time to “fix” the driving – if you are struggling with the driver, find the longest club in you bag that you have confidence in that day. Maybe your fairway wood, etc.. If struggling, maybe only use the driver on the “open” holes, and the “confident” club on the tighter / harder holes.
Do not be a “hope” player with the driver. A “hope” player sets up over the shot and “hopes” it will be hit well. If you are “hoping”, hit a club you have more confidence in. Work on the driver later… The driver will always show your “swing faults” the most – as it is the longest club you will swing the fastest. It is a club that can be hit very well with a good single plane swing and a club, that when you have confidence in, can be the funnest club to hit…. (When Moe was asked what his favorite club was – he never hesitated and answered – “My Driver” – every time!)
A driver should be fit for length (depending on your height vs. arm length), shaft flex (gives you proper ball flight), loft (gives you maximum fly and roll), and grip size (allows for maximum speed and optimal feel).
3. Third most important club in your bag – The Lob Wedge (Your Most Lofted Wedge).
The lob wedge is typically a 58* or higher lofted wedge. For some, they might only carry a 54 or 56* wedge in the bag. The most lofted wedge is critical for good scoring.
For most, this wedge is used within 50 yards of the green (some up to 75 or 80 yards) – depending on swing speed.
This wedge gives maximum spin and feel and is the club that will “save” you many shots if you know how to use it.
It is used for chipping (maximum fly, minimal roll), pitching and flop shots. It is used from all different lies (tight, medium and thick grass), etc..
When practicing, it should be the first club you practice after the putter.
You should practice with this wedge (and your other wedges) 25% of your practice time.
When practicing before a round, this is the club you use to “loosen up” with. Just after putting, hit his club to warm up – start short and work up to maximum distance with this club. A few short shots, then a little longer, little longer, etc.. until full swing. After a few full swings – work into the rest of your clubs.
Your most lofted wedges (sand and lob wedges) should be steel shafted (for weight and feel) and a forged type head (for maximum feel and spin). It is very difficult to score well without forged type steel shafted sand and lob wedges.
All wedges should be fit for length, shaft flex, grip size and lie angle (lie angle is critical). If the lie angle is not fit properly in your wedges you can and will dig the heel or toe of the wedge into the ground and the club head will twist at impact. Making hitting these clubs with accuracy very difficult.
You should NEVER purchase these clubs (or any) “off the shelf”. They must be fit to you to maximize and optimize their use.
4. Fourth most important club – The Rest of the Bag
Yup – everything else in your bag, is the 4th most important club(s).
Think about it, if you add your putting, most lofted wedge play and your driver together, you are talking about close to 60% of your shots. If you include all your wedges – you are typically talking about 65 to 70% of your scoring.
Meaning – all the other clubs add up to about 30% of your scoring.
Believe it or not, you can actually be a poor iron (and hybrid) player and score pretty well. In other words, have a great short game and hit it pretty well off the tee, you will score pretty well… Not necessarily what we want, but because of the way golf is scored (putting counting as much as a full swing, etc..) – those with good short games typically score well. Those with a good short game and driver the ball well – can score very good.
Practice these clubs (the rest of the bag) 25% of the time.
When practicing fundamentals always use an alignment and ball position aid for the different clubs.
When practicing before a round – start warming up with the clubs after putting and the most lofted wedge. Many (including myself) like to work through these clubs in an “even” or “odd” system. Even system, hit a wedge a few times, 8 iron a few times, 6 iron a few times, 4 hybrid a few swings, etc.. Working up and making sure you give the driver enough in your warm up session. Don’t get “stuck” on one club. There are always good and bad days… Keep working up through the bag in your warm up session.
All clubs in “the rest of the bag” should be fit for length, lie angle, shaft flex and grip size. (Some hybrids and fairway woods are fit for lie angle, not all). ALL irons must be fit for proper length and lie angle for your height and arm length or it is impossible to hit these clubs with accuracy and maximum distance. Proper shaft flex gives you optimal height and distance and proper grip size maximizes your release to optimize distance and accuracy.
Hopefully this will give you a guide to the “important” clubs in your bag and some guidelines to practicing with these clubs.
If you have additional questions about these clubs, fitting of these clubs, etc.. please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
I am always happy to help everyone to make sure they have a perfect fit for all your equipment.