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How to Figure Distances of Each Golf Club in Your Bag

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Very seldom when I am giving a golf lesson do I get an accurate answer about how far the student hits each club in his/her bag. The answer most every time is “I don’t really know,” or some estimate of how far the ball travels to its resting place.

Breaking It Down

Calculating the distance you hit each club needs to be broken down into segments. 

Carry + Roll = Total Distance. This needs to be done honestly without allowing ego to come into play. Your shot distance outcomes will be much more accurate without using inflated numbers.

Playing “your game” is a major key to success on the course. Distances need to be calculated as accurately as possible. There are many factors on each course that make this important. Wind, penalty areas, course layout, elevation, and many other things can affect carry distances.

Having a base distance for each club will allow you to evaluate and adjust each shot for the conditions.

Carry Distance

Base carry distances can be easily figured using a launch monitor. If not available you can then use a range finder. To find your base carry distances, hit ten solid shots with each club recording each distance.

Take the average of those carry distances for your base carry distances.

Roll Distance

Roll after carry is also a must to know. This will vary with course conditions. Slope, elevation, and wet/dry conditions must be taken into consideration.

The spin you produce with each club and the lie you hit the shot from also affect roll. Once again starting with a base roll distance after carry allows these things to be added into the equation.

Total Base Distance

Total distance of each club is the combination of the carry distance and roll after carry. This is your average outcome of the shot with the chosen club, your base total distance.

Other Variables

Weather conditions also need to be taken into consideration when adjusting club distances. Rule of thumb is that you lose about two yards in carry distance for every ten degrees in temperature drop.

On cold days it is common to wear more layers of clothing. This will also slow your swing speed which in turn will cause some loss in carry distance.

Wind and wind direction are also major factors. Into the breeze, swing with ease. Spin on the golf ball increases the harder you swing the golf club into the wind. This can cause the ball to balloon into the air or go farther right or left depending on the spin.

One final variable could be the softness of the ground itself. It is much harder to press into the ground in soft conditions and use it to produce club speed. Example: It is easier to jump higher off a hard floor than to jump off of a surface that gives.


In conclusion, if a golfer is armed with the knowledge of accurate base carry distances and roll after carry distances it greatly improves their chance to manage the course being played.

Knowledge is power! In future posts I will expand on how some of the variables affect these club distances. You can always look to your local PGA professional for help as well.

Do you know your club distances? Let me know if you try this and if it improved your club selection.

Read more on golf ball flight laws to understand why your golf ball flies in the direction it does.

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