The Distance Challenged
Golfers who are not strong enough to hit par 4’s in two will be subjected to a higher number of strokes before they ever tee up the ball on their first hole. Ability to overcome distance is a term used to describe a way in which a player can likely reduce their score based upon their natural physical strength. For instance, it is easier for a player who is in the rough to hit a green in regulation with a 9-iron than it is for someone who is in the middle of the fairway, but requires a 4-iron to do so. If you did not know, the USGA Course and Slope Rating of a course are directly related to the length of the course; the longer it is the higher it will be rated.
One reason why women golfers have high golf scores
The average lady golfer possesses a driver speed around 65 mph and distance of 160 yards. On average, a lady might hit her 3-wood 140 yards. Combining the distances of the driver and 3-wood would total 300 yards. Assuming that this lady golfer could hit two solid shots back-to-back, any Par 4 longer than 300 yards has already penalized the player as her strength does not allow the opportunity to hit the green in regulation. The odds of hitting the ball on a recovery shot and then one putting for par will be quite infrequent. Women on average score 17 strokes more per 18 holes than men. By not being able to reach the green in regulation could be one of the biggest reasons for this discrepancy.
Senior golfers distance woes
An average senior golfer has a driver swing speed of approximately 80 mph and a driver distance of 200 yards, while a 3-wood might travel a total distance of 180 yards, So any Par 4 over 380 yards is almost a penalty onto itself as this senior golfer is incapable of overcoming distance barriers. For most golfers, hitting their best possible drive and following that up by solid contact with the longest club in the bag designed to hit off of the fairway and still not reaching the green can be very frustrating.
An average male golfer hitting his driver 220 yards and a 3-wood 200 yards, then the barrier is 420 yards in which to reach the green in regulation. Distances longer than this aren’t found often off of the standard men’s tee box. But the odds that this player can again hit back-to-back solid shots and have the ball stay on the green are again slim. Consider the fact that a strong amateur player who routinely hits his driver 260 yards for him to hit his second shot into a 420 yard Par 4, he would only need to 160 yards or the equivalent of an 8-iron in his hands. For those of you who play on a regular basis, which club would you rather have in your hands on your second shot?
What would it feel like to be in the shoes of a strong amateur? For the lady golfer to have this same opportunity to hit her driver and an 8 iron a comfortable distance, the Par 4 would need to be 245 yards. For a senior golfer this distance would be approximately 320 yards. Next time you play, look at the scorecard and just see how many Par 4 holes are these distances. Even for an average strength golfer, a driver and an 8 iron is approximately 350 yards. There is a definite advantage to possessing strength and being able to propel the ball a long way.
Play the right set of tees
This is one of the reasons why you want to play the right set of tees. But if you do and are still unable to overcome distance barriers, then when looking for new equipment or for updates to your current set make up, then you should be concerned most with finding the correct driver (or driving club) to yield the best possibly distance. This may be one reason why LPGA players may actually use drivers longer in length than the men on the regular tour. You may also want to invest in more fairway woods than long irons since they will needed more often as well as be easier to hit.
For strong golfers, the emphasis on fitting and selecting the right type of equipment should be focused on accuracy. Far too often I see strong young men obsessively seeking a driver they can hit an extra 10 yards, rather than considering the 13 other clubs in their bag and making them more efficient. Concentrate on putting in clubs that will fill in any gaps especially in the scoring clubs, primarily wedges. Also look at replacing long irons with hybrids as so many professional have. Strength does indeed factor in how one should be fit.