My Golf Instructor

Getting the Perfect Gap in Your Yardages
How to Make Your Irons Go Different Distances

Beginner golfers and higher handicappers are often frustrated as it commonly seems all their clubs tend to go the same distances. It's a common complaint during the interview process on the lesson tee. I like to quickly put students at ease by letting them know that it is: a) a very common complaint and b) often 2-3 years before one can establish a consistent gap between clubs. The reason for this is that their swings are still developing. Beginners and higher handicappers certainly aren't swinging consistently or even correctly for that matter from swing to swing. As timing and positions improve, so does the gap between irons.

The ideal gap between irons is 10-15 yards with most players getting 10. Non the less, the amount of gap will vary from player to player (based on their technique) and model to model (based on what they feel is standard loft). Over time the typical lofts on irons has changed quite a bit. Modern clubs are typically "jacked up" for lack of a better way of saying it. Lowering lofts on clubs and making consumers "think" they are hitting irons further is a typical ploy. Non the less, standards today are different as a whole. A pitching wedge for instance typically travels the distance of an 8 or 9 iron of the past.

The average lofts on irons in degrees (depending on the manufacturer) are as follows:

  • Lob Wedge 60
  • Sand Wedge 56
  • Gap Wedge 50
  • Pitching Wedge 45
  • 9 Iron 41
  • 8 Iron 37
  • 7 Iron 34
  • 6 Iron 31
    Learn how to get the perfect gap in yardage between clubsThe Gap Between Irons
  • 5 Iron 28
  • 4 Iron 25

Have the Lofts on Your Clubs Checked

If you are having trouble getting that perfect gap between your clubs, the first thing you ought to do is have your clubs checked by a qualified club fitter/maker. When working at The Midwest Golf Lab with expert fitter John Kelly, I was enlightened to find that even the top of the line manufacturers often sent out clubs that were off on their lofts. We had local touring pros visit frequently when they received new clubs to check the lofts and make sure they were correct.

The next thing to do is to take the time to go out and hit each club to determine how far you hit it. I believe often players don't think they are hitting their clubs different distances when they actually are. If there isn't a range nearby with markers every 10 yards you can take the time to go out to the course when it isn't busy and walk off different yardages in 10 yard increments and quickly discover how far each iron is going. An open field works just as well. Make a chart so you know how far each club carries.

Check 3 Things in Your Swing to be More Consistent With Yardage

Once you have had your clubs checked and have charted the distance each club goes, if you aren't satisfied that you have a consistent gap, here are 3 things in your swing to address:

  • Speed - Everyone knows that speed affects distance, but they often don't think about the loft. Getting a consistent loft on your clubs means getting a consistent gap. Often times a golfer swings too slow to actually utilize the effective loft that is built into their clubs. A perfect example might be imagining a 90 year old, frail lady swinging her clubs. Because her club head speed is so slow, her pitching wedge will actually travel further than her 3 wood simply because the pitching wedge has much more loft. With her slow club head speed the ball is still getting into the air and carrying. With the super slow club head speed the 3 wood with its low loft on the other hand is simply diving into the ground and getting caught up in the grass with little roll. When you see a stronger player that swings hard however, you can really see the effective loft of each club at work and see the varying distances that each club goes. To get your gap, make sure you are generating amply club head speed.
  • Swing Plane or Angle of Attack - If your swing plane is changing from swing to swing and your are attacking the ball at a different angle of attack the loft and spin will both be inconsistent resulting in uneven gaps between clubs. Coming down very steep into a 5 iron for instance ill make it balloon up high with more back spin than usual. This may make it come out more at your 6 iron distance. So it's just like anything else in your swing. consistency is the key. Make sure to practice drills to groove a consistent plane and angle of attack.
  • Shaft Angle at Impact - Having a consistent shaft angle at impact is easily as important as speed and swing plane. If your club shaft is leaning forward on one swing in a de-lofting position and then leaning backwards on the next adding loft, you will be seriously messing with the effective loft on your clubs. Again, clubs are designed with a specific amount of loft on each iron, so we don't want to change that too much. If you are going to de-loft them as most good players do, you want to make sure to de-loft a consistent amount. That way you can be sure to establish a consistent 10-15 yard gap between your irons.

Getting your clubs checked, making a chart, checking your speed, swing plane and shaft angle is a great game plan for getting more consistent with your iron yardages. MyGolfInstructor.com has all the tips, drills and information you need to improve your iron play.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
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