There are so many variables in the selection of the right club for any one given shot, tee shot through chipping. In this article will we talk about the long game and which club to use by analyzing the fairway layout first, selecting the correct club to position the ball for your next shot, approach shots, some lies and weather conditions. We’ll play three holes and on each hole I will explain different situations which could apply to any one of the holes. For all your shots you need to know how far you are capable of hitting each and all of your clubs with solid contact and your regular tempo. The examples used are for the typical golf holes not the exceptions. Please keep in mind that there are many more variables than what I am discussing but these are some of the basics. I will explain the situations with the right handed person in mind so lefties please reverse.
Par Five: Starting from the tee. The fun comes in golf when you get to the level of planning your shot, not just trying to make contact with the ball. When looking down the fairway of a par 5, distance off the tee is a factor, so we’ll use the driver. If the wind is in your face the tendency is to swing harder when in fact you should swing slower to keep the ball down. You can also tee the ball lower. The opposite holds true when you are hitting downwind as you want to hit the ball high so the wind will carry the ball. Next, know the layout of the fairway because you want your second shot to be in the best position for an open shot to where you would like to execute your approach shot. People have favorite clubs and shots for their approach shots and remember pin placement is a huge distance factor when hitting into the green. It’s not just about getting the ball on the green but getting it as close to the pin as possible. Know your distance, how fast the greens are, uphill or downhill and select the club and shot you want to use accordingly.
Par Four: Off the tee again consider the elements; wind, rain and elevation. You may not need a driver off the tee as the idea on a par four is to get the ball in a good position to reach the green on your second shot, the approach shot. Remember it is not always about distance off the tee. You need to know the distance to the corner of the dog leg and how far you hit the ball. If it is a dog leg right, keep the tee shot on the left hand side of the fairway to give you an open shot to the green and vice versa if it is a dog leg left. Long hitters may be able to carry part or all of the corners but they need to what’s on the other side and exact yardage, and it’s always a higher risk if not hit with perfection. On your second shot if you have a downhill lie you may want to use a more lofted club as the hill has already taken loft off, consequently giving you more distance. Conversely, an uphill lie has added loft so you can use a less lofted club to achieve more distance. If the ball is above your feet choke down on the club to make a level swing and if the ball is below your feet flex your knees more to prevent topping the ball. On any of these hilly lies it is imperative to take a few practice swings so you can feel the land, maintain your balance and see where the club has brushed the grass. The brushed grass or small divot indicates where the ball should be in your stance, set up accordingly.
Par Threes: Here’s the fun. Hitting first on a par three is not always an advantage. Watching someone else’s shot can be a big help in club selection. You may not ask them which club they used (unless they are your partner), but you may look in their bag to see which club is missing. Wind is a huge factor again in club selection. A shot into a strong wind can be a three club difference and the same downwind. Remember when you are hitting downwind the greens tend not to hold as the wind takes the spin off the ball resulting possibly in only a two club difference for the same wind velocity. Try not to fight the wind but work with it especially the left to right and right to left winds. Know how many feet that pin is from the front of the green and make sure you equate in your yardage.
Golf is a game of endless learning. There is a lot of strategy involved and as your technique improves so can your strategies making this already great game even more engaging.