John Renslow
Golf Columnist

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January 17, 2013
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Renslow: Mind the gaps, reap the benifits

Many matters in life are important, but we tend to put them off.

We think that the process is too cumbersome or worse, it might result in bad news. Golf, being a microcosm of life in many ways, contains similar scenarios. Even though we would like to improve, we tend to procrastinate on the less entertaining issues.

Getting a new driver or a putter is pretty cool, maybe we’ll hit that 300 yard drive or sink a few more putts (because the putter rolls them for us, right?). Other, perhaps more necessary items, get shelved for another day that never comes.

A common flaw that often surfaces, but then quickly discarded, is your gap. No, it’s not the gap some have said is between our ears or our front teeth, it’s the yardage gap. This gap is caused by one club performing dramatically different than its neighbor.

Here are two primary examples. First, when Jane hits a 9-iron, the ball travels 120 yards. This player’s average shot with a pitching wedge (PW) travels 100 yards. So, what do we do if we are 110 yards from our target?

The on course plan is challenging, yet not impossible; we either hit the PW as hard as we can, hoping for the best or we ease up on the #9-iron while trying to keep the motion somewhat normal. These are the top two options, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Next, Jim has a Driver and seems to hit the 3-wood (no, they’re not made of wood anymore, but we still call them ‘woods’) fairly well. The problem is the ‘long’ irons. This player hasn’t tried to hit a 3-iron in years.

An average tee shot travels about 240 yards and the 3-wood goes 210 yards. Now, the dilemma; the 4-iron goes 170 yards. What do we do for the 190 par-3 hole?

The on course plan is next to impossible. Trying to take some distance of off a 3-wood shot isn’t easy and the attempt to muscle a 4-iron is not going to be successful. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Your set of golf clubs should have a scheme and this scheme should be personalized. A quick consideration of a set of irons will help. Starting from the longest iron, each club is a half inch shorter than the next and has approximately four degrees more loft.

The objective is to have 5-to-10 yards (depending on the skill/strength of the player) difference from one club to the next. This will enable a routine swing to produce different distances rather than trying the near impossible missions described above.

Here is the best answer for Jane; have a golf professional verify that you have the appropriate set of wedges for your game and those wedges compliment your irons. Often, if the wedges are from different manufacturers, the shaft flexes and lofts are inconsistent. We need to make sure that the sequence is correct and may take a little ‘test drive’ to make sure they match.

This category of golf clubs has become some so diverse that you will hear the generic word ‘wedge’ less and less, in favor of identifying a specific loft, such as 48, 52, or 56 degrees.

For Jim, here is the plan; look into the world of ‘hybrids’. The 21st century has brought us an array of hybrid clubs that give us a large head (easier to hit) like the fairway woods, with shorter shafts and specific lofts (like the irons) to help us control distance.

Similar to the wedges, you won’t hear 3 or 5-wood very often, it’s 15, 19, or 24 degrees.

So, don’t wait until you’re standing on the tee of that long par-3. A large pond short of the green also shapes the green along the right. The bunker at the back of the green is very deep and the shot needs to be the right distance.

If you have the gap…or gaps, the time is now to fill the need and your local golf professional is glad to help.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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The Union Updated Jan 17, 2013 12:58AM Published Jan 17, 2013 12:52AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.