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How to Tell Which Golf Club to Use

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Caddies hold a special place in golf lore. As a personal assistant, it’s their specialty to suggest the right club. They’re also called on to distract angry ex-girlfriends and impart certain sage wisdom about life that may or may not have any connection to your round of 18 holes.

Enjoyable though it may be, most golfers don’t use caddies and instead select their own clubs. If you’re not sure which one to use in a given situation, read on to learn how to evaluate a shot and select the club for the job. 


You may know that golf clubs break down into four basic types. Irons are typically for when the ball is less than 200 yards from the green. The longer the iron, the farther it will hit the ball. Drivers, or woods, are for teeing off and very long fairway shots. Wedges are generally for approach shots or to escape a hazard. When it comes time to keep things on the ground, that’s where the putter comes in. 


Within the categories of clubs, you’ll find different variations that inform the range of your shot. For long distances, you should use a fairway wood or low-numbered iron. Fairway woods can be challenging to master, but resemble a smaller driver. In lieu of this option, many golfers choose to use a low-numbered iron, such as a four iron. 

As you move closer to the pin, your wedges come out. Most golfers carry just a pitching wedge and perhaps a sand wedge, but there are many variations on the design, and choosing the right one could help your game. 


Clubs with flatter, upright profiles, such as a four, five or six iron, send the ball on a straighter trajectory over more distance. Those with a slacker profile, such as a nine iron or pitching wedge, lift the ball into the air, converting more of your swing energy into vertical movement. A ball sent in a vertical trajectory tends to roll less, allowing more precision.

Convention dictates the amount of loft on some popular club designs, such as most irons. However, you can find wedges and woods with varying degrees of loft.

Putting It All Together

Choosing the right club based on the type of shot, distance and appropriate loft is an art form caddies have perfected. However, you can do it without their help. 

Everyone’s game is different, but it starts with the basics. Drive with your driver, approach with irons and wedges, then putt. As your game gets stronger, you’ll realize that you hit your seven iron better than your six, or you prefer to use a sand wedge for approach shots.

Further down the line, you can begin to work towards maximizing every club. Once you get the knack, travel around to different courses to test out your skills. Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Oregon, for instance, offers challenging sand dunes and stunning seaside views. You can also try out Friar’s Head Golf Course in Baiting Hollow, New York. When you switch up your location, you maximize your abilities. 

How to Improve Your Golf Game

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Frustration seems to be an inherent part of golf, but becoming accomplished in the sport is a good feeling. Part of the allure is the personal development required to play competitively. 

You can improve your game — it just takes effort. Don’t keep doing the same old thing, though. Instead, commit to trying new things and advance your experience on the links. As with anything, you’re going to have to get outside your comfort zone to become a better golfer. 

Travel to New Courses

You’re probably used to playing the local municipal course, or maybe you’ve got one at your country club. If so, you’ve already made one smart choice that will let you play more. Now, how about traveling to a friend’s favorite practice space? 

Do you travel on business? If so, bring your clubs! Make it a vacation to visit a famous course with your buddies and play there. Find opportunities to play in new settings, because these will force you to recognize the strengths of your game and where you can improve. 

Take Lessons

There’s always something more to learn in golf, which is why instructing golfers on how they can improve is an entire profession within the sport. Working with a golf pro, you will uncover things you never realized you were doing wrong. There’s so much technology out there now to help you advance your game. If you haven’t taken a lesson, it’s time to sign up for one. You’ll be impressed at how much you learn. 

Play With Others

It’s always a good idea to push yourself by playing with more advanced golfers. It might seem intimidating at first, but remember, they started in the same position you are. After a few rounds, you’ll have an idea of where their game differs from yours, and you can ask for some advice about how they improved in one area or another. 

Stay out Longer

How much golf do you play in a week? One game? Three games? Golf can be time-consuming, but if you want to be your best, you’ve got to spend more time on the links. If you’re someone who frequently walks nine or 18 holes, consider investing in a cart and tacking an additional nine or 18 holes onto your typical round. The extra swings will drastically help move your development forward. 

Practice the Short Game

Scores come down to your chips and putts. While it can be enticing to spend all your practice time at the driving range, you’d do far better to spend it at the putting green and working on short-range shots that constitute most of the game. They might be less glamorous, but they’ll have a more significant long-term impact on your scores. 

Now that you know all the secrets, you’ll be a scratch golfer in no time! Except, no, that’s probably wrong. Golf is a lifelong endeavor, and even the best golfers spend decades reinventing their swings. But you will get better, and part of the magic of the sport is the self-exploration that comes along the way. So book that next tee time today!