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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Choosing Which Wood to Drive With

I have an older book called How to Break 90 (2001) by PGA teaching pros T.J. Tomasi and Mike Adams that -- surprise! -- focuses on how to get your score consistently below 90. They begin with the idea of personal par which simply means you focus on making bogey on each hole. As they point out, if you can bogey 17 holes you only need to par 1 hole to break 90.

One of their strategies involves choosing which wood to tee off with. Since the concept is simple, I thought I'd pass it on: You choose the wood you'll tee off with based on the length of the hole and the width of the fairway. Here's how that works out:
  • If the hole is over 400 yards and the fairway's wide, hit your driver.
  • If the hole is over 400 yards and the fairway's narrow, hit your 3-wood.
  • If the hole is 400 yards or less and the fairway's wide, hit your 3-wood.
  • If the hole is 400 yards or less and the fairway's narrow, hit your 5-wood.
  • If the hole is a Personal Par 6, base your wood choice solely on the width of the fairway. At this distance, length off the tee isn't really a factor so hit the wood you know you can put in the fairway.
Tomasi and Adams also recommend these guidelines:
  • If you have a 7-wood, you may prefer that to the 5-wood. And since some 7-woods have longer shafts -- Callaway's HeavenWood is such a club -- you may not see much difference in distance between the two.
  • Take your personal tendencies into account as well. If you have trouble hitting a 3-wood straight and the fairway's narrow, feel free to hit your 5-wood even if the hole's over 400 yards long.
  • They also say that, if you're trying to break 90, you shouldn't use long irons off the tee because you shouldn't even be carrying them. But this book was written back in 2001 and now we've got hybrids that some of you can hit pretty straight and pretty long, so I'd say you could probably consider those in place of the 5-wood.
Remember: Part of the key to breaking 90 is playing from the short grass instead of the trees. Choose your "driver" with that in mind and you'll probably cut several strokes from your score without any other change. Wouldn't that be a nice way to start 2015?


  1. Based on this post I ordered a copy of How to break 90, I had never heard of it, and its a really good book, especially the first third on course strategy.

    I now have a small library of older books, and its surprising how good advice seems to disappear in Golfing

  2. I know what you mean, Azu. In going back through some of the old golf books from the late 1800s and early 1900s (digital copies are often available on the Web), I've been amazed to find info on topics that didn't become common in modern golf literature until 10 or 15 years ago. I'm beginning to think we've forgotten more than we've learned!