Distance. That seems to be the reason play golf, to see how far you can hit the ball. There’s the part about getting the ball into the hole, too, but if you asked any golfer if they wanted to hit the ball farther or score lower, the answer would likely be farther, every time. We can take care of scoring later.
This is a question that new golfers face, and it’s a mistake to look at the professionals for the answer. Male professional golfers routinely hit their 5-iron 200 yards. Heck, it was reported that Dustin Johnson recently hit his 7-iron 240 yards.
Let’s not concern ourselves with those numbers. What can golfers new to the game expect?
The answer depends on you. Most novices don’t hit the ball very far. Men might hit a 9-iron 120 yards, a driver 200. A woman new to the game might get 90 and 150, respectively. Whoever you are, much of it depends on your athleticism and your prior experience with ball-and-stick sports.
Every golfer has to realize there is a limit to the distance they can hit the ball. Hitting the golf ball a long way is a talent. Some baseball players hit home runs, others don’t, and you can’t tell by looking who can hit them and who can’t.
Similarly, some people can just hit the golf ball a long way.
What is important for the novice is learning how to hit the ball accurately. That means you make contact in the center of the clubface, with a square clubface square to the swing path. When you do that, you will get all the distance you are capable of. What that distance is doesn’t really matter. All you have to do is play from the right set of tees and you can play for fairways and greens all day.
Really now, what distances can a novice attain to? Look at the Trackman data for professional golfers. Go the LPGA Tour Averages chart, second column from the right. Make sure the Select Units button says Yards. For male novices, take 85 percent of these distances, female novices, 75 percent.
Those are the distances you’ll get until you learn how to hit the ball on the center of the clubface, with a square and in-line clubhead, and hitting the ball first, ground second.
And you know what? Even if you never hit the ball farther than that, if it goes straight, you can get a good score.
See also: Leave the Long Clubs Home
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.