Common mistakes in club selection and how to improve your decision-making.

15 Professionals Contributed |
Have you ever found yourself scratching your head on the fairway, wondering why you chose the wrong club? In this roundup, we'll dive into the common blunders golfers make when picking their clubs and share some great tips from our golf professionals to up your decision-making game.

Tips to make better club selection choices

When it comes to club selection in golf, there are a few common mistakes that many players make. However, by recognizing these errors and implementing some strategies, you can significantly improve your decision-making on the course. Here are some tips to help you make better club choices:

1. Overestimating Distance: One of the most frequent mistakes is overestimating your distance capabilities. It’s essential to have a realistic understanding of how far you can hit each club. Spend time practicing and tracking your distances during practice rounds or on the driving range. This will give you a better idea of your average carry distances and help you make more accurate club selections.

2. Ignoring Course Conditions: Failing to consider the course conditions can be detrimental to your club selection. Pay attention to factors like wind speed and direction, elevation changes, and the firmness of the greens. Adjust your club choice accordingly to compensate for these conditions. For example, on a windy day, you may need to select a club with more loft to keep the ball flight lower and more controlled.

3. Not Considering Hazards: Many golfers tend to focus solely on the flagstick without considering potential hazards like bunkers, water bodies, or out-of-bounds areas. Assessing the layout of the hole and identifying potential trouble spots will help you make smarter club choices. Sometimes, it might be better to play it safe and choose a club that will keep you away from trouble, even if it means sacrificing a little distance.

4. Lack of Course Management: Poor course management can lead to improper club selection. Instead of always trying to hit the ball as far as possible, think strategically about positioning. Consider your strengths and weaknesses and choose clubs that will put you in the best position for your next shot. Sometimes, a shorter club that keeps you in the fairway is a better choice than a longer club that might bring more trouble into play.

5. Not Factoring in Shot Shape: Every golfer has a natural shot shape, whether it’s a fade or a draw. Consider your shot shape when selecting a club. If you tend to hit a fade, you might want to choose a club that will help you aim slightly left to compensate. Understanding your shot tendencies can lead to more accurate club selections and better course management.

Improving your club selection requires practice, experience, and a keen understanding of your game. By avoiding these common mistakes and considering the factors mentioned, you can enhance your decision-making skills on the golf course and

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Get Familiar With Your Game

When it comes to golf club selection, some common mistakes include:

1. Overestimating distance: Many golfers tend to overestimate their hitting distance, leading them to choose a club that doesn’t suit the shot. Be realistic about your capabilities and choose a club accordingly.

2. Ignoring weather conditions: Wind speed and direction significantly impact the flight of the ball. Neglecting these conditions can result in poor club selection. Take the weather into account when choosing your club.

3. Failing to consider hazards: Golf courses often have various hazards such as bunkers, water bodies, or trees. Neglecting to consider these obstacles can lead to poor club selection. Plan your shot carefully, taking hazards into account.

To improve course management while playing golf:

1. Develop a strategy: Study the course layout, understand the distances and hazards, and devise a game plan accordingly. Focus on playing to your strengths and minimizing risks.

2. Play within your abilities: Be honest with yourself about your skills and capabilities. Make conservative decisions that suit your game and avoid unnecessary risks that could lead to trouble.

3. Prioritize accuracy over distance: It’s often better to hit a shorter, accurate shot than to take unnecessary risks for extra distance. Play smart and position yourself well for your next shot.

4. Manage your emotions: Golf can be a mentally challenging game. Stay calm, focused, and positive throughout your round. Emotional decisions can lead to poor course management and mistakes.

5. Practice course management: Spend time practicing various shots and scenarios on the course. Experiment with different strategies and club selections to gain a better understanding of what works best for you.

Remember, course management is about making informed decisions and playing to your strengths. By avoiding common club selection mistakes and improving your overall strategy, you can enhance your golf game and performance on the course.

PGA Golf Pro
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Be Prepared and Make a Plan

Here are three ways to improve your club selection and decision-making process out on the course:

1. Have Options: always have three clubs with you to give you options. I often observe golfers who grab just one club based on the yardage. Due to variables such as incline, wind, lie, etc., you will likely need club choices.
2. Plan the Shot First: before selecting your club, visualize and plan your shot. If the green is heavily guarded or the lie is less than ideal, the situation will help shape your plan and select your club. Rather than picking your favorite club or solely basing selection off a yardage number, keep your options open based on variables.
3. Plan for Normal: select clubs and make decisions based on your normal. To paraphrase a famous saying in the Navy Seals, “you sink to the level of your training”. Base your decisions on what you train during your practices. Plan your play from what you see regularly and not the “hero shot” or the “worst case scenario”.

Being prepared with several clubs and selecting based on the situation will give you confidence and improve pace of play as well.

El Caballero Country Club
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Elements and variables

Correct club selection requires an understanding of elements and variables.

The elements are:
Cold or hot
Uphill or down
Windy or calm
Elevation in relation to sea level

Knowing Carry distance in perfect conditions so one can adapt for not perfect days
Quality of lie
Carry and Roll
How are you swinging that day?
Area one is hitting to; small or big

The elements and variables above give a good overview of what needs to be considered when choosing a club. Most often the wrong club selection is made by amateur golfers because of temperature and squareness of contact.
The temperature has the biggest impacts on distance. The colder the weather the shorter the carry and the warmer, the farther the ball will carry. Secondly, golfers tend to grab a club that if they hit it perfect, they have enough club. Statistically, the chances of hitting a perfect shot is about 1/15. Grab an extra club so you don’t have to be so perfect.

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Club Up for Better Contact and Distance control

I think we can all say that most incorrect ball contact comes from not using the right club and trying to swing too hard. Learn your distances with your clubs for sure but never feel like you are going 100% at a shot. By believing you have enough club to get to your target your tempo, timing and ball contact should all be better. Also, understand and evaluate the conditions you are playing in. Cold days, into the wind shots or awkward lies all call for a less lofted club than under normal conditions. We all will make bad swings but I strive to make my students make correct decisions before their shots. That takes mental planning and belief in process which I think leads to confidence. Focus, take your time making your decisions and then trust the decision.

Good luck and be prepared for whatever the course and conditions may throw at you. Cheers!!

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Don’t Under-Club Yourself

The most common error in amateur golf is under-clubbing. Don’t come up short of your target! Amateur players should over-club themselves and simply swing easier. After all, golf course architects put bunkers and lakes in front of the greens! There is less danger, when you go long. My advice, once you get your yardage to the pin, is to hit one extra club, using effortless power. You’ll swing smoothly, knowing you have plenty of club! Enjoy!

The Country Club of Virginia
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Choose hybrid or 5 wood out of the fairway

When I give playing lessons, most players think they have to hit 3 wood if they can’t reach the green, even if it’s a bad lie. Consistency is what most amateurs are striving for. If they can eliminate their disaster shots, they can turn doubles into pars and bogeys, 4-5 times a round. So next time, choose a 4 hybrid or 5 wood when you can’t reach the green or have a “thin” lie. It’s okay if you don’t reach the green. You will be in play and not in the water, out of bounds or a few yards in front of you.

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Know Your Carry Distances

The single biggest mistake ALL golfers make is using the wrong club for a yardage. Statistical data supports this claim, of you making a club selection that almost guarantees you come up short of your intended target. One of the reasons why you do this is you don’t know the “Carry” distance of each of your clubs. Knowing the carry distance of all your clubs is the #1 way to insure you make the right club choice for every shot you attempt. Take a look at this video I published in 2021 explaining carry distance and its importance to playing smarter golf.

John Hughes Golf
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Play the percentages

As humans, we don’t do everything perfect every single time. Be it driving a car or shooting pool, we make mistakes. The golf swing/shot is no different. We would like to think we hit every 6-iron the same every day of the week but that is just not true. When selecting a club to hit, evaluate the safe and danger zones of the shot and try to play towards the safe side. This will help eliminate the big number on the scorecard and hopefully lower your score for the 18 holes.

A golfer can recover from a bogey, it is the doubles and triples that cause us trouble.

Sun City West Golf
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Club selection

That is an easy question to answer in two parts. First you need to know how far you hit every club in your bag find a PGA professional that has a TrackMan and hit every club in your bag and find out how far they go you should do this at least once per year should cost between $100-$200 a session. Secondly especially on pins that are on the front of the green play to the center of the green shots coming up short being shortsided leaves to bogeys and doubles and you will improve greatly if you play towards the middle of the greens on front pins

See that was easy.

PGA Golf Professional
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Not just yardage

Getting the actual yardage is just the first step in determining what club you choose. Wind , type of lie (flier, bare lie , uphill, downhill,etc., air temperature, how the golfer feels that day, firmness of green, etc. Obviously not a simple process; but miss- clubbing usually can be traced to ignoring a factor that, if examined, will reveal a factor that will strongly affect the distance a particular shot will travel. It is a constant work in progress, as we see tour pros (with the assistance of very skilled modern caddies) still hit the wrong club to a green. Not a simple process, but can yield strong rewards if taken seriously.

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Pulling the Right Club

When we practice or play we want perfect conditions, Flat lies, the sun out, no wind. Tiger would practice into the wind and rain. If you play in the COLD select ONE extra club because the golf ball does not travel as far. Where if it’s warm or playing in higher alittude the ball will travel much more take less club. Into the wind more club and visa versa down wind. But playing in the situations do help so try one or more time or do it on the driving range.

Fox Hollow Golf Club
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Club Selection

The biggest mistake in club selection is being honest with yourself. Many mid-to high handicap players don’t use enough club when choosing a club to hit shots especially on approach shots or on par 3’s. Be true to yourself and better results will come.

Tega Cay Golf Club
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Give yourself some room for error

Average players tend to neglect to take into account mishits, wind, green elevation, cold and air density and if they are feeling less energetic. After factoring in all of that give yourself some room for error and aim to hit past the hole and and see how your scoring is.

Links at Mariners Point
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Commit to it...

You know they say your first instinct is usually pretty safe – well in golf it is no different. Commit to your first read on the green, commit to your first thought on club selection. Here’s how I look at it – no matter what there is a 50/50 chance you are either right or wrong. However, I believe there is a 100% chance of hitting a poor shot when doubt is running through your head. So go with your first instinct and commit to it – all in! If you were wrong, you learn for next time. But indecision can lead to much worse in the long run…

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