Choose the right club.
If you're like most golfers, you probably have a distance number attached to each of your clubs, and stick to it in almost every situation. In reality, however, how far you'll hit each club depends on a variety of factors. Weather, tee or green elevation, ground conditions, and your lie, all play a crucial role in the actual distance you get from any given club. Here's a short rundown on each, and some simple adjustments, that will help shave some strokes, your next round.
Wind – Wind is the most common weather issue that impacts play. In light to moderate wind in your face, club up one and make it two to three clubs up into a stiff wind. Do the reverse when the wind is at your back. Also, keep in mind that the wind at your back is far less evident than when it is in your face. Then, take your regular swing. Clubbing up or down will avoid the tendency to either swing too hard into the wind or to fail to follow through when trying to swing too easy.
Elevation – Raised greens create unique challenges in two ways. Because the hill in front of a raised green cuts the ball off before it completes its flight, and also stops it from rolling forward once it lands, some elevated greens play as much as twenty to thirty yards longer. Go at least one club stronger for the first five feet of elevation, and at least two for anything higher. Golfers often enjoy their furthest drives when hitting from a raised tee box. Go at least one club shorter when the green is more than five feet below your feet.
Lie – A steep uphill lie can quickly make a six-iron perform more like a nine-iron. The same holds true in reverse on a downhill lie. Use more club when hitting uphill, and less when hitting from a downslope position. From thick rough, consider hitting as much as two clubs longer when using an iron, or one club longer with a hybrid.
Course Conditions – Like racetracks, golf courses play slow some days and fast others. Choose the club that gets you to the back of the green when the fairway is soft and moist. When the ground is hard and dry, anticipate roll and play for the front of the green.
Consistency is a wonderful skill in the game of golf. It’s great to know how far you *can* hit each club but, even better to know how far you *will* hit each club given the conditions.