If you ask any half-decent amateur golfer how far they can hit a tee shot, then it seems now that the acceptable response to that question must involve the mythical 300 yard figure. For many golfers, this distance has become the default answer for driving distance and there are lots of good reasons for that.


After all, hitting a ball far makes your approach shots easier with shorter irons or even wedges. Some short par fours are even reachable from the tee. Club and ball manufacturers have spent millions on research and development to allow even the mid-range handicapper thump the ball further than the likes of Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and co were ever capable of doing.


But be very careful of believing the hype… Do you really hit your drives 300 yards?





For many golfers, the answer to this question may be an indignant “Yes, I can do and I have done”, no doubt there’s plenty of evidence accumulated in the memory bank of a golfer sweetly striking the ball from the tee and watching it sail down the fairway. Perhaps you’ve even watched your range ball sail past the 250 yard marker without even contemplating hitting the ground. So yes, you can hit a drive 300 yards.


But do you do that almost EVERY time you hit a drive?


Now you see, this is a crucial difference when it comes to the real issue at hand here: The importance of having an accurate and realistic understanding of your yardages for each golf club in your bag.


I will admit for many years, I always held a somewhat optimistic view of how far I could hit each club. I knew that if I connected with my driver 300 yards was clearly possible. I knew that I could hit my 3-wood almost as far, my hybrids when I connected right would easily fly 200 yards or more. I’ve even creamed 7-irons 170 or 180 yards.




150 yards with a 9-iron, not a problem if I connected right.


But here’s the thing, these yardages were not accurate and to be brutally honest, they weren’t even close.


At the start of the year I was an amateur with a handicap of around 18. I was also making the foolish mistake of assuming that I would hit the maximum yardages with every club in the bag, with every shot I played with them. Of course, that is nonsense. I am lucky to hit 1 or 2 drives in 10 to around 300 yards – I wish it were more but that is a more honest appraisal of my skills at present.


In fact, when I went to the range and measured, I reckoned an average drive for me, averaged out over 20-30 shots, was around 250-270. With a significant proportion of shots both shorter and longer than this distance.


I’ve spent a lot of time this summer, on the advice of a wizened old amateur, learning to understand how far I truly and reliably can hit each club. Reliably being the absolutely fundamental word here. I’ve taken to keeping a small notepad and pencil in my bag to note down the yardages of each club when I am at the range.




This, along with a fantastic tip I received from a local pro about my swing when I hit a tee shot, has been a revelation for my game over the year and has massively helped me improve my skills as a golfer and in particular, my on course management and judgement of yardage and which club in the bag to use.


I’ve worked hard to create a swing, which while probably inelegant, works for me in achieving some consistent results. That allied to my new-found ability to judge yardages of clubs so much more accurately, has meant that I am now giving myself far more putts for par, birdie and even on the odd occasion, eagle.


I have also drastically reduced the times when I have hit an approach shot and come up 5, 10, 15 or even 20 yards short of the intended target, all because I was using the wrong club.


The key to this has simply been knowing how far I hit each club on a reliable basis. So when I stand on the tee with 160 yard approach to a tricky par-3 with a well guarded green. I am not thinking to myself that I need to smash an eight iron because I can, occasionally, hit an eight iron that far. Instead, I know that if I repeat my usual swing with a six iron, that ball will land approximately 160-165 yards most of the time.


It’s a game of percentages and it’s worked – since the start of the year, my handicap has dropped from 18, down to a current 12.8. While I am yet to put together a truly spectacular 18 holes, I have recently twice played nine holes in one or two over par (and that was the front nine and then the back nine at the same course). I am sure that sub-80 round (only the second I have achieved) is not too far away.




So to answer the question posed in the title, the difference between a player who can hit a drive 300 yards and a player who hits tee shots 300 yards is simply that a player who can hit 300 yards, may not necessarily be able to do so on a regular basis. That yardage may be the “maxxed out” limit they achieve when everything goes right.


A player who hits tee shots 300 yards knows that when they perform their usual swing, with a driver, from the tee, the ball will travel 300 yards, or thereabouts, on average.


In essence, the first golfer  hopes he can hit his ball 300 yards, the second knows they will hit their ball 300 yards and that confidence and knowledge for all clubs and all shots, is absolutely vital if you are to become a better golfer.


So if you are going to spend some time practicing this winter, work on your yardages. I found the time I spent on t his over the year of enormous benefit out on the course and hopefully, you will too.


Images all from Gorilla Golf stock.


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Jeff October 28, 2013

I think I hit tee shots 300 yards, but not necessarily in the right direction. My main concern is generally how I can put the ball in play off the tee. I often have to put my driver away.


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