When to Use What Golf Clubs for Your Best Shots – Explained by Pros

when to use what golf clubs

Golfing is not just a sport, it’s a way of life. & as a seasoned golfer, I am always on the lookout for tips & tricks to better my game. One day, I found myself on the fairway, contemplating the next move as I stared down at my club collection. I couldn’t decide which one to use, & it got me thinking; do I know when to use what golf clubs? After this little hiccup in the course, I decided to do some research & put together a comprehensive guide on the matter. 

Get through my personal experience on what golf clubs to use & how they can improve your game. So, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, get ready to sharpen those golfing skills, because here’s what you need to know about using the right clubs at the right time. 

When to Use What Golf Clubs (Expert Advice)

Every golfer knows that a golf game requires a variety of clubs, each with a specific purpose. Most golfers carry a set of 14 clubs, but you don’t always need to use them all. Each golf club in your bag has its own unique purpose & can be used in a variety of situations. The key to golf club selections is understanding the distance, terrain & conditions of the shot you’re facing. Here is a breakdown of the different types of golf clubs & when they should be used.

1. Drivers

The driver is the longest club in your bag & is primarily used for tee shots on the first & longer holes. It can also be used for long shots off the fairway. The driver’s large clubhead & long shaft give you the power to achieve maximum distance but can be difficult to control. 

Image of a golf driver and a golf ball

One time, I was playing a course with a narrow fairway & decided to use the driver off the tee. Unfortunately, because of my lack of control, I ended up hitting it into the rough. Lesson learned – it’s essential to assess the terrain before you select golf clubs.

When to Use Drivers
SituationClub Selection
Off the tee on long par 4s & 5sDriver
Long shots off the fairwayDriver
Table: When to Use Drivers

2. Woods

Woods, also known as drivers, are designed to hit the ball the farthest. They typically have a large clubhead & a long shaft, making them the most powerful club in your bag. Woods are used for tee shots on a par 4 or 5 hole, where the distance to the green is far. They’re also useful when you’re playing an uphill or downhill hole. In such scenarios, choosing the right wood can tremendously help your shot.

Woods Golf clubs

In my experience, I’ve found that a 3-wood is excellent for hitting shots that need both distance & control. A 5-wood can be a great option when you need to hit the ball from the fairway, & there’s a little more than 200 yards to the green.

When to Use Woods
SituationClub Selection
Mid to long-range shots off the fairway3 or 5 wood
Shots over trees or other obstacles on the fairway3 or 5 wood
Table: When to Use Woods

Skills Guide: Learn Bouncing Golf Ball on a Club in 2 Hours 

3. Hybrids

The Hybrids combine the characteristics of wood & iron, making them versatile clubs. They are great for shots where you need accuracy & lift, such as hitting the ball out of rough or off a difficult lie. 

I was playing on a course with a particularly thick rough, & I knew it would be difficult to get the ball out with a traditional iron. I decided to use my hybrid, & it worked like a charm. The hybrid lifted the ball out of the rough & onto the fairway.

When to Use Hybrids
SituationClub Selection
Difficult lies, such as in the rough or in a bunkerHybrid
Shots that require accuracy & liftHybrid
Table: When to Use Hybrids

4. Irons & Wedges

Irons are the most common golf clubs, & there are typically 7-8 in a set. They are used for shorter, more accurate shots & are ideal for approach shots to the green. The higher the number, the shorter the club & the higher the loft. 

irons and wedge golf clubs and a golf ball

Wedges are specialty clubs designed for short shots around the green. There are a variety of wedge types, including pitching, sand & lob wedges. Their high loft helps to get the ball in the air quickly, making it easier to stop on the green. 

When to Use Irons & Wedges
SituationClub Selection
Shorter, more accurate shotsIrons
Approach shots to the greenIrons
Specialty short shots around the greenWedges
Table: When to Use Irons and Wedges

Which Golf Club to Use – All Factors to Consider

I remember one time when I was playing at a local course with a friend who was still learning the game. He was struggling with a long par 5, & I noticed he was using his driver for every shot – even when he was just a few yards away from the green. I advised him to switch to his pitching wedge, & he was able to make a fantastic chip shot onto the green & nail the hole for par. It was a small but valuable lesson that helped him immensely.

Also, a study published in 2005 on the role of biomechanics in maximizing the distance and accuracy of golf shots portrayed all the factors which even analyzed the effect of club choice on the swing mechanics of golfers. Read the study to get better insights now.

To help you make better decisions to select golf clubs on the course, I’ve compiled some tips & tricks for which golf clubs to use. So, whether you want to use clubs in cold weather or on a hot summer day, just stick with these basics & learn more advanced techniques along the way.

Table 1: What Golf Club to Use When | Basic Club Selection
ClubDistanceWhen to Use It
Driver200+ yardsOn tee shots for maximum distance
3-Wood180-210 yardsFairway shots where accuracy is important
5-Iron160-180 yardsFairway shots where maximum distance is needed
7-Iron140-160 yardsApproach shots to the green
9-Iron110-140 yardsApproach shots to the green
Pitching Wedge80-110 yardsShort shots to the green
Sand Wedge40-80 yardsShots out of bunkers or roughs
Table 1

Table 1 shows the basic distances for each club & when they’re best used. It’s important to note that these distances vary based on the golfer’s skill level & personal preferences. It’s also essential to consider the course layout, weather conditions & any obstacles that may come into play.

Table 2: When to Use It
ClubWhen to Use it
DriverOpen fairways
3-WoodNarrow fairways
HybridTight fairways
6-IronFairway bunkers, long rough
Pitching WedgeBunkers, rough, short grass
Table 2

Table 2 demonstrates how golf course layout affects hitting distance & influences your golf club selections. For example, if a course has narrow fairways & hazards, you may want to opt for a 3-wood or hybrid instead of a driver.

Table 3: Wind Conditions
ClubDistanceTailwindHeadwindCrosswind
Driver10+ yardsUse for maximum distanceUse for more accuracyAim into the wind, use less loft
3-Wood5-15 yardsUse for maximum distanceUse for more accuracyAim into the wind, use less loft
5-iron5-10 yardsUse for maximum distanceUse for more accuracyAim into the wind, use more loft
7-iron5-10 yardsUse for accuracyUse for distanceAim into the wind, use more loft
Pitching Wedge5-10 yardsShort shots for accuracyHold back on the downswingAim for more spin
Table 3

Table 3 highlights how wind can affect club selection. In a tailwind, you can use less loft & get more distance with clubs like the driver & 3-wood. In a headwind, you’ll need to aim into the wind & use more loft to counter the force. Crosswinds can be more challenging, so using less loft & aiming into the wind can help.

Table 4: Shot Shape
ClubDistanceFadeDrawStraight
Driver10+ yardsHold the face openRoll the right handUse a neutral grip
3-Wood5-15 yardsHold the face openRoll the right handUse a neutral grip
5-iron5-10 yardsHold the face openRoll the right handUse a neutral grip
7-iron5-10 yardsHold the face openRoll the right handUse a neutral grip
Pitching Wedge5-10 yardsHold the face openRoll the right handUse a neutral grip
Table 4

Table 4 explains how shot shape influences your selection of golf clubs. Fades are when the ball moves from left to right for right-handed golfers, while draws move from right to left. A straight shot is a neutral ball flight. Adjusting your grip & stance can help you shape shots.

Bonus Section: What Golf Clubs to Use in the Rough

Below you’ll find a table of comparisons to help you make an informed decision about what golf clubs to use in the rough.

ClubBall HeightDistanceBall FlightAccuracy
High IronsHighShortStraightHigh
HybridsMedium to HighMedium to ShortStraight to Slight FadeMedium
Fairway WoodsLow to MediumLongStraight to FadeLow to Medium
Table: What Golf Clubs to Use in the Rough

Clubs are Important But No Need to Ignore the “Perfect Tees” for Golfers

Despite efforts by golf associations and individuals, many golfers still struggle with choosing the appropriate tee that matches their hitting distance. Popularized systems such as the “Longleaf Tee System,” “Tee It Forward,” and “Setting Up Golf Courses for Success” have been introduced to guide golfers in their tee selection. However, there is still ample room for improvement. 

Neglecting the importance of tee selection can lead to suboptimal performance on the golf course. So, while clubs are essential, let’s not overlook the importance of choosing the “perfect tees” for an excellent golfing experience.

USGA Survey on Best Tees, Ability & More (PGA and LPGA Pros) 

According to a survey conducted among more than 700 PGA and LPGA professionals, it is said that approximately 92% of golfers choose a tee set that is quite long for their ability level. These findings are backed up by the score posting analysis conducted by the USGA, in which about 75% of female and 50% of male golfers regularly opt for a tee set that is too far back for their hitting distance. 

How common is it for golfers to choose a tee that is too long for their ability

Image Source: www.usga.org

Besides, in a survey of 20,000 golfers, only 53% believed that people play from the right set of tees for their ability and driving distance, and 57% stated that courses often or sometimes feel too long for them. Golf course employees, such as starters and shop staff, have witnessed this problem and agree that many golfers play from too far back as well.

Follow the below golf club measurement chart & get insights into the best tees recommended system for men & women.

Average golfer data on distance

Image Source: www.usga.org

Final Notes – When to Use What Golf Clubs?

Golf may seem like a simple game, but mastering it becomes easier when you know which golf clubs to use at the right moment. Just like in life, you have to choose carefully which tool to use for every situation. Using a driver for a short putt is like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. It’s hilarious, but it won’t cut it in the golfing world!

So, here are my key takeaways: learn the distance & loft of each club, practice makes perfect & don’t be afraid to experiment.

And if you want to master that backspin golf ball shot, then take your time & get to know your irons inside out – you can’t rush perfection after all!

Remember, the journey to becoming a golf ace starts with a single swing. So, practice your heart out & always aim high! & don’t forget to follow Golf Ace Nation for more tips & tricks. See you all on the green!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do I know what golf clubs to use?

When it comes to knowing what golf clubs to use, there are a few key factors to consider. Firstly, determining your level of skill can help guide you towards the appropriate clubs. Additionally, the type of shot you plan on executing & the conditions of the course can also influence your club selection. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a pro or rent golf clubs to try out different options before making a purchase.

Q2. Do you hit woods on the fairway?

When playing golf, hitting wood on the fairway requires precision & skill. While some golfers prefer to stick to irons, others rely on their woods to achieve greater distance on the fairway. It’s a personal preference, & can depend on the specific hole, the lie of the ball, & the golfer’s overall strategy. However, hitting woods on the fairway can be a challenge, requiring a solid swing & perfect aim in golf.

Q3. What club do you use to hit the ball the farthest?

If you’re looking to hit the ball the farthest on the golf course, the club to use is a driver. With a long shaft & a large head, drivers are specifically designed for maximum distance. It’s important to choose the right driver for your swing & playing style, so it might be worth seeking out a professional fitting or trying out different drivers on the course. And, if you’re on a budget, don’t worry – there are plenty of free golf club exchange programs & other resources to help you find the right driver under budget.

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