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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.