If you are new to the game of golf, the different clubs and when to use them could be a confusing part of starting the game.
The golf swing can be complicated enough!
How to move your hips, how to move your arms, where should your weight shift to?
Are all legitimate questions.
Then you get to the clubs and it can be that much more confusing. What is a wood, what is an iron, what is a hybrid, when do I use my wedges!
Not using the right club or even having the right clubs could lead to making it even that much more difficult!
My goal is to provide a complete overview to help you get started and to ensure you are hitting the right clubs in the right situations.
What are the different golf clubs?
Golf clubs fall into 6 major categories. These include drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters. They all serve a different purposed and are used to produce the shot needed at the right time.
Below I will break down and provide of overview of every category of club and provide detail on when to use these clubs and how far they should travel.
We end with a BONUS TIP on speed and how to measure your distances in golf!
Let’s dive right into the complete overview!
Let’s start with the driver!
The driver is the longest club in the bag at around 45-46 inches and also has the lowest loft. The average loft on a driver is between 8 and 10.5 inches for most amateurs. Some pros might use less loft and some amateurs might use extra loft.
They actually make drivers now that can be adjusted by the golf to give your great flexibility when you buy the club. Overall, the driver is typically the most expensive club in the bag and the one that many amateurs are willing to shell out big dollars for!
They also have designed drivers that allow you to set up the club to have a bias towards a draw or a fade depending on the type of shot that you want to hit!
The driver has come a long way and now the head measures in at 460cc giving the golfer a great view and confidence that they can send the ball high and far.
It can be the most fun club to hit and the most frustrating due to the length of the club, how light the club is and the lower amount of loft. The lower amount of loft causes great curvature on the ball and many amateurs struggle with the slice.
The average driver swing speed is around 91-101 (see complete chart below) for most male amateurs. The pros will swing their driver on average at around 113 miles per hour with some pros topping out in the low 130s.
The driver has become more and more important in the game of golf as distance is the current dominating factor on the money list of the PGA Tour.
There has been many studies on how to hit the ball further and training tools put out on the market to help the golfer launch their driver high and far!
Do you want more speed? Check out our BONUS SPEED DRILL below!
When to use the Driver?
The driver is used off of the tee box on part 4s and par 5s. Some golfers will use a 3 wood off the tee if the hole is tighter or there is a hazard. However, generally speaking, when a golfer arrives at a par 4 or par 5, they are selecting the driver and trying to hit is straight and far.
The driver is not typically used at all anywhere outside of the tee box due to the design of the club. You will see the occasional pro hit one “off the deck,” but I would not recommend this shot and instead would encourage the fairway wood in these situations.
How far should I hit my driver?
On average, most amateur golfers hit their driver between 200-235 yards. As your handicap lowers, and you train for some speed, the driver can travel up to 250-300 yards for some elite amateur golfers!
Best driver on the market?
I currently play the Callaway Mavrik Driver and it is phenomeal!
The fairway wood are often numbered 3, 5 and 7. Most amateurs at a minimum carry a 3 wood, but most should also highly consider the 5 wood. The slower your swing speed, the more a 5 wood or 7 wood might benefit your game.
On average, the 3 wood is around 42-43 inches long and has around 13-16 degrees of loft. The 3 wood is typically the 2nd longest flying club in the and is often utilized on longer par or par 5s
The fairway woods have never been easier to hit from different lies on the course. The club can be used out of the fairway, rough or even a bunker. The key is to strike the ball before the ground and hit a clean, crisp shot.
The ball will typically fly higher than a driver due to the increased spin rate.
Other woods to consider are the 5 and 7 wood. These are versatile clubs that can be easier to hit than long irons
When to use the fairway woods?
The fairway wood can be used from just about any lie. However, if the rough is really thick of there is a big lip or mound on the bunker, I would recommend going with a mid to short iron.
Overall, golfers who lack distance with their driver will rely a lot on the fairway woods for approach shots on longer par 4s and par 5s. If you are only hitting your driver 215 yards or less, the fairway wood and making solid contact is essential to shooting your best scores!
How far should I hit my 3 wood?
Most amateur golfers will hit their 3 woods between 190 and 220 yards. The elite amateur or golf with premium swing speed will carry their 3 wood between 220 and 240 yards.
The more swing speed, the further you can hit any club. That is what speed training is important to reach your highest potential in the game of golf!
The hybrid golf club is maybe the best designed club for the mid to high handicap golfer. Or the golfer that lacks overall speed in their swing. These easy to hit clubs send the ball higher and further for most golfers when compared to a long iron.
If you are a beginner golfer this is a serious spot to invest some money and buy the 3 hybrid, 5 hybrid, and a 7 hybrid. Or for senior golfers, it is essential to be able to hit the ball high enough and far enough to reach those par 4s and par 5s in regulation.
The clubs are easy to hit and on average are around 40-42 inches in length. The loft can range from as little as 13 degrees up to 30 degrees. The design of these clubs make it easy to launch the ball higher and they feel pretty good!
The better golfer might struggle with the hybrid out of fair of the pull hook due to how light a hybrid can be.
When to use a hybrid?
The hybrid would be used from any lie and typical on approach shots between 130 yards and 220 yards. The loft of the hybrid will impact which one you are using from different places on the course.
Keep in mind that the lower the loft the further ball will travel. The higher the loft, the shorter the ball will travel.
The hybrid can also be used off the tee box on shorter par 4s or where a hazard is. These clubs will also be helpful on par 3s, especially the longer par 3s.
How far should I hit my hybrids?
The hybrids should travel between 130 and 220 yards depending on the loft of the hybrid that you are using.
The irons are the clubs that the majority of golfer will use when hitting the 1st shot on a par 3, the 2nd shot on a par 4 or the 3rd shot on a par 5. These clubs are designed to be precision clubs that help you control your distance, start line and curve of the ball.
The best golfers wil carry irons 3-9 or 4-9 and the mid handicapper will typically carry a 5-9 iron and replace the 3 or 4 iron with a hybrid.
The irons vary in loft. The higher the number, the higher the loft. Also the higher the number, the shorter the club is. The 4 iron has less loft and is longer than your 9 iron.
The irons are different lengths and lofts to help you create a chart of the distances you hit each club, so you can have great precision and accuracy with your irons.
The irons are typically seen as your scoring clubs. The professional golfers spends a good amount of time figuring out the best setup with lofts on their irons to be able to control their distance. The goal is to hit your iron a similar distance with every swing.
Over the years, the loft of irons has decreased. For example, 9 irons used to be around 44 degrees, the average 9 iron is now around 41 degrees. This was done to make the golfer feel like they hit their new set of irons further. It basically came down to marketing.
Here is my distance that I hit my irons:
When to use irons?
The irons are used on approach shots in the game of golf. The goal is precision and accuracy. The bests can control their start line, curve of the ball and the total distance carried with each club.
The irons can be used from a variety of lies including the fairway, rough and bunkers. The goal once again is precision over distance.
If you have 143 yard left, the goal is to hit a club 143 yards and not show off by flying it 153 yards and being in the back bunker.
How far should I hit my irons?
The hybrids should travel between 80 and 220 yards depending on the loft of the iron that you are using and the speed of your swing!
New to the game of golf? Need easy to hit irons that launch high and far. I would recommend Callaways.
The wedges in the game of golf range from 48 degrees all the way up to 64 degree. The 48 degree club is often called a pitching wedge, a gap wedge is around 52 degrees, the typical sand wedge is around 56 degrees, and the lob wedge is between 60 and 64 degrees.
The average setup for the average amateur would have a pitching wedge, sand wedge and a lob wedge. As a player gets better, they could start tweaking lofts to build a setup that has the fewest amount of gaps.
Some golfers can play with a 6 degree gap between wedges, while others will prefer to only have 4 degree separation between each club. It comes down to how good you are at hitting half or 3 quarter shots.
The wedges are designed to spin the ball at a higher rate to help the ball stop on the green. As green surfaces have become more undulating and fimer over the year, the ability to control your ball with spin has become more important
When to use wedges?
Most golfers will use their wedges from 100 yards and in. They are are vitally important clubs with hitting pitch and chip shots. 60% of all shots in a round of golf take place inside of 100 yards.
Getting good with these clubs and practicing the many variety of shots that will occur is essential if you want to score well!
I currently carry a 48 degree pitching wedge, a 54 degree sand wedge and a 60 degree lob wedge. I find myself hitting the majority of my pitch and chip shots with my 60 degree lob wedge.
How far should I hit my wedges?
There isn’t a specific distance. The key here is to know your distances. There are multiple ways to measure and I would highly recommend owning your own launch monitor to map your bag and know how far you hit each club.
I would recommend also creating a chart that gives you the distance with a 3 quarter shot and a half shot. Having these distance measured and charted out will help take the thought process out of the game. Go with your chart and adjust as needed.
How to measure at home?
The game of golf is changing for the better. What was once only a dream for most amateur golfers has not become a reality and affordable. There are several quality options for your own launch monitor to help determine what club is best for your game.
You can now test in the comfort of your own home, at the driving range or even on the course with a launch monitor of your own.
Knowing key data such as club speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and other key data provided by these launch monitors can be a game changer.
The professional golfers of today all have access to some great technology including launch monitors to help measure their swing and know their numbers. Can an amateur use this same or similar technology for game improvement?
Yes, absolutely and I would highly recommend it.
In today’s golf world, even amateurs can have access to amazing technology and data with the technology now available and know the distance they hit their irons and all of their clubs. This can help you map out your bag and have with pretty quality precision the distance you hit each club.
Even if you aren’t going to go all out and build an indoor golf simulator like I did (see below), you can still pick up a launch monitor at a reasonable price and use it in your indoor net or taking to the course or driving range with you!
Know numbers like spin rate, ball speed, spin axis and other key information is vital to your growth. Sharing these numbers with your instructor can be helpful and help with equipment selection as well.
Did you know that Tiger Woods replaces his wedges for every tournament!
I love my Cleveland Wedges!
I would recommend one of the three launch monitors listed below:
The putter might be the most important club in the bag. It will often make or break a round of golf. On average the putter is around 32-35 inches in length.
However, in today’s game there are many different options with the putter. There are now ways to measure what putter is best for your game. Some golfers will use the fancy tools to measure while many golfers will go with what matches their eyes and their feels.
They key to putting is to be able to control your start line and then learn to read the greens. This is an ongoing process in the game of golf and there will always be putts that just simply boggle your mind. You will think it breaks one way and it won’t break or it will over break.
The goal should be to practice your stroke, have a putter that allows you to be consistent and keep practicing and taking in the feedback that is provided with every putt.
When to use my putter?
The putter is always used on the green and many golfers will use from the fringe as well. Arnold Palmer used to promote thinking about if your worst putt would be better than your best chip.
Chances are the worse putt will be better. So stick with the the putter on the fringe and maybe even out of the rough if close enough and the rough isn’t too thick.
The great thing about putting is that it is free to practice at most putting greens at your local course and it doesn’t great speed, athletic ability or all of those other factors that influence swing speed, club control, etc. that impacts how well we hit the ball!
Get to your local course and become the putter everyone wishes they were!
How Far Should Each Golf Club Travel?
Here is a chart that I have created as a general guideline
|Senior||Average||Low Handicap||Tour Pro|
|Driver Swing Speed||91 and Below||91-101||102-112||113-123|
|Driver Distance||210 and Below||210-235||235-275||275-300|
|3 Wood Distance||200||220||230||243|
|4 iron Distance||170||185||195||203|
|5 iron Distance||160||175||185||194|
|6 iron Distance||150||163||173||183|
|7 iron Distance||140||153||163||172|
|8 iron Distance||130||143||153||160|
|9 iron Distance||120||131||141||148|
BONUS TIP: How To Gain 5-8% in Swing Speed
Let’s face it, regardless of the current state of your game we all want more speed. It has become very clear the need for speed in the golf swing and there are ways to add speed!
The analytics on all levels of golf show how important speed and additional speed are in reducing golf scores.
It is time to start training for some additional speed. This is a drill and training protocol that I would highly recommend.
SPEED DRILL: Increase your swing speed through overspeed training
- Check out SuperSpeed Overspeed Training Protocols
- Train every other day for 10-15 minutes.
- See a 4-6% increase in swing speed as early as the first training protocol.
The number one thing that has helped me gain significant distance is the SuperSpeed Training System. This overspeed based system where you train every other day for about 10-15 minutes with different swing sticks can help you increase your swing speed by 5-8% which can be 20-30 yards. Who wouldn’t want an extra 20-30 yards. Plus it helps improve your mechanics.
SuperSpeed Golf – Use Discount Code Golfjourney365 for some savings!
The analytics are pretty clear on the importance of speed in the game of golf. Would you rather hit your approach shot from 130 yards of 160 yards? The answer is pretty simple!
We know that over the course of time, we will hit shots from 130 yards much closer than from 160 yards, whether we are an average amateur golfer, a scratch golfer, or a PGA Tour member!
The key is having shorter approach shots, so we can hit the ball closer to the hole and then make more putts! Speed is king in the game of golf! Make sure you check out SuperSpeed Golf!
Final Thoughts: My Secret To Golf Improvement
The reality…in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently. About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.
I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.
This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer. I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.
I can practice or play rounds of golf. I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.
It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.
Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:
Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better
What does this mean for you? I believe in the following recipe to get better:
1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor. Here are some options:
Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:
2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed. Here are some options:
Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:
3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier. Here is a series on breaking through:
We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.
4 – Practice Frequently
Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system? It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions: