Selecting Golf Clubs

By Steve Silverman
LPGA Tour player Jimin Kang and her caddie consider distance, wind and hazards when selecting a club.
LPGA Tour player Jimin Kang and her caddie consider distance, wind and hazards when selecting a club.

Learning which clubs to use is a vital part of becoming a successful golfer. Most beginners have trouble deciding which club to use and when to use it. Experienced golfers seem to know without any trouble when to use a 3-wood and when to use a 5-iron, but beginners don't have a clue. If you learn which clubs you hit from 200, 150, 100 and 50 yards, you'll have a starting point for club selection.

Use your driver or 3-wood when you are on the tee of a par-4 or par-5 hole if there are no obstacles in your landing area. The driver will give you the most distance, but it is the most difficult club to hit accurate. The 3-wood will provide less distance, but most golfers fit it easier to hit with accuracy. You may hit one of these clubs from the tee of a par-3 hole if it is long enough. For example, if you hit your 3-wood 150 yards and the hole is 150 yards long, you should select your 3-wood for the shot.

Use your hybrid off the tee for shorter distance than you would get with your woods. You can also use the hybrid from the fairway or from the rough. Depending on your strength or skill level, your 3-hybrid might travel 120 to 200 yards. The hybrid is designed to provide a higher shot from longer distances. The design of the hybrid makes it easier to hit than irons or woods from longer grass.

Use your irons to hit your approach shots into the greens. Practice at the driving range to learn how far you hit each club. When on the golf course, choose the club that will most likely result in the proper distance. Don't base your club selection on the best shot you can hit with the club, but the shot you are more likely to hit. For example, if you have hit a 7-iron 150 yards once or twice, but you mostly hit that club 140 yards, don't use a 7-iron from 150 yards on the golf course. Choose a 6-iron instead.

Consider the weather conditions. If the wind is blowing toward you, choose a club that will go farther than the actual distance. If the wind is blowing toward the green, choose less club. For example, if you hit your 7-iron 140 yards but the wind is blowing toward you, choose a 6-iron instead. The same holds true in rainy and cold conditions. The ball won't travel as far, so you will have to choose a longer club.

Use your wedges when you are close to the green and need a high shot that lands softly on the green. Just as with your irons, you will need to know how far you hit each wedge. Use the sand wedge out of the green-side sand because that club has design features that allow it to slide through the sand rather than dig into the sand.

Choose a less-lofted club like a 7-iron or 8-iron and use a putting stroke for a chip shot near the green that stays low to the ground and rolls toward the hole. This is a safe shot when you don't have any obstacles to hit over. You can also use your putter from just off the green, or even from a sand bunker that does not have a "lip" of turf that you must hit over.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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