Lou Stagner's Newsletter #44

Approach Shots and Yardage Gaps

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Approach Shots and Yardage Gaps

A few months ago I sent out a newsletter about approach shot distribution. Today’s topic is related to that with a focus on club gapping.

If you have ever had an iron fitting, one of the goals is usually to have relatively even club gapping. Many fitters will strive to put you into a set of irons that has consistent gapping as you work your way through the bag. In most situations this is a good idea. But not always.

There are a lot of golfers that play most of their rounds at one or two courses. They are not traveling around playing a wide variety of tracks. When you play the same course most of the time, where you are hitting your approach shots from will tend to be similar across rounds.

Where consistent gapping can be less than ideal is when a player has a high percentage of approach shots clustered around a small distance range.

The reason I think this is an issue, and something you should be thinking about, is I have run several studies on shot dispersion, and most players tend to have the tightest dispersion with their stock shot. If you ask them to hit an iron a little firmer, or a little softer, their dispersion gets bigger. That being the case, we ideally want to have as many stock shots as possible.

Anecdotally, I am sure you have watched a post-round interview of a tour golfer that shot a great score and they said something along the lines of “I had so many good numbers today”.

I looked in the Arccos Database not only at where a player was hitting their approach shots from, but I also looked at what their club gapping was like. (Use code DATALOU15 to save 15% on Arccos).

The average player, across all skill levels, has ~34% of their approach shots inside a 50 yard distance range (e.g., 34% of their approach shots are from 100 to 150 yards to the hole). About 12% of players have 44% or more of their approach shots inside a 50 yard distance range.

If you are a player with a higher percentage of approach shots inside a 50 yard window, you may want to consider having slightly smaller gaps between clubs within that distance range. This would allow you to increase how often you are hitting a “stock” shot. If you can increase how often you are hitting stock shots, you will likely score a little better.

One other item I want to mention is related to longer hitters. I see this in the Arccos data, and also with several college players I have coached. There are a number of longer hitters that will have a wedge they hit somewhere between 100 and 110 (maybe a 56 degree wedge), and their next longest iron will be a 49 or 50 degree wedge that they hit 18 to 23 yards longer.

They have this massive gap and it’s often a distance where they tend to have a lot of shots from. If this is you, I would be working on figuring out a way to remove that 20’ish yard gap between wedges.

My Thoughts

Make sure you are thinking about your yardage gaps. They are important!

One tip, that many do not think about, is to have more than 14 clubs you can choose from. You can only use 14 in a given round, but as you are planning your round, you can roughly estimate where your approach shots will be from. This will allow you to put different clubs into play for THAT round, so you can try to maximize how often you are hitting stock shots.

As you increase the number of stock shots you hit, your dispersion will tend to get tighter, which will tend to improve your scores!

See you next week!


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    Have a great week!

Lou Stagner