Keep the Long Clubs at Home

Handicap golfers get into trouble by hitting shots with clubs they can’t handle well. I’m thinking of the longer clubs, the driver and the long irons/hybrids. Because these clubs have a straighter face, sidespin is accentuated, exacerbating your slice or hook. Because you’re aiming at targets fairly far away, identical errors in accuracy are magnified relative to shorter clubs.

The longer swing makes it harder to contact the ball squarely. It’s harder to get the ball in the air, too. There are too many ways to go wrong. You will therefore save yourself strokes if you follow this rule:

Never use a club that has less loft than your average score over par.

If you aren’t breaking 100 (28 over par), the 5-iron (32 degrees of loft) is your big gun. Break 90 regularly and you can move up to a 2-iron/hybrid. Drivers are for golfers who break 80.

By following this rule, the ball will be in the fairway much more often because you will be hitting straighter shots. Trade occasional distance for habitual accuracy, and you will get to the green in fewer strokes than you do now.

Yes, you won’t be shooting for par on every hole, but since you’re a handicap golfer anyway, par is not always your expectation. What you will remove from your scorecard are the doubles and triples.

You will also learn more about playing the game because your ball will more often be in a position for you to play a hole by attacking it rather than by recovering from wayward shots.

I know the driver is loads of fun and it feels great and you impress your buddies when you nail a long one. But if you want to shoot a lower score than they do, this might be the way to go.

See also Ten Easy Ways to Play Better Golf

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

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