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John Renslow: Go clubbing to tweak your game

Many matters in life are important, but we tend to put them off. We think that the process is too cumbersome or it might result in bad news.

Even though we play the game for fun, and would like to improve, we still 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, things get shelved. 

A pervasive flaw that often surfaces, but unfortunately just as quickly is 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 Player A 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. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Next, Player B has a driver and seems to hit the 3-wood (no, they’re not made of wood anymore, but we still call the ‘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 half-inch shorter than the next and has approximately four degrees more loft. 

The objective is to have 5-10 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 Player A; have a golf professional verify that you have the appropriate set of wedges for your game and those wedges complement 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 trial and error to arrive at match.

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

For Player B, 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 jrenslow@pga.com.


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