The Distance Challenged

Golfers who are not strong enough to hit par 4’s in two will be subjected to a higher number of strokes before they ever tee up the ball on their first hole. Ability to overcome distance is a term used to describe a way in which a player can likely reduce their score based upon their natural physical strength. For instance, it is easier for a player who is in the rough to hit a green in regulation with a 9-iron than it is for someone who is in the middle of the fairway, but requires a 4-iron to do so. If you did not know, the USGA Course and Slope Rating of a course are directly related to the length of the course; the longer it is the higher it will be rated.

The average lady golfer possesses a driver speed around 65 mph and distance of 160 yards. On average, a lady might hit her 3-wood 140 yards. Combining the distances of the driver and 3-wood would total 300 yards. Assuming that this lady golfer could hit two solid shots back-to-back, any Par 4 longer than 300 yards has already penalized the player as her strength does not allow the opportunity to hit the green in regulation. The odds of hitting the ball on a recovery shot and then one putting for par will be quite infrequent. Women on average score 17 strokes more per 18 holes than men. By not being able to reach the green in regulation could be one of the biggest reasons for this discrepancy.

An average senior golfer has a driver swing speed of approximately 80 mph and a driver distance of 200 yards, while a 3-wood might travel a total distance of 180 yards, So any Par 4 over 380 yards is almost a penalty onto itself as this senior golfer is incapable of overcoming distance barriers. For most golfers, hitting their best possible drive and following that up by solid contact with the longest club in the bag designed to hit off of the fairway and still not reaching the green can be very frustrating.

An average male golfer hitting his driver 220 yards and a 3-wood 200 yards, then the barrier is 420 yards in which to reach the green in regulation. Distances longer than this aren’t found often off of the standard men’s tee box. But the odds that this player can again hit back-to-back solid shots and have the ball stay on the green are again slim. Consider the fact that a strong amateur player who routinely hits his driver 260 yards for him to hit his second shot into a 420 yard Par 4, he would only need to 160 yards or the equivalent of an 8-iron in his hands. For those of you who play on a regular basis, which club would you rather have in your hands on your second shot?

What would it feel like to be in the shoes of a strong amateur? For the lady golfer to have this same opportunity to hit her driver and an 8 iron a comfortable distance, the Par 4 would need to be 245 yards. For a senior golfer this distance would be approximately 320 yards. Next time you play, look at the scorecard and just see how many Par 4 holes are these distances. Even for an average strength golfer, a driver and an 8 iron is approximately 350 yards. There is a definite advantage to possessing strength and being able to propel the ball a long way.

This is one of the reasons why you want to play the right set of tees. But if you do and are still unable to overcome distance barriers, then when looking for new equipment or for updates to your current set make up, then you should be concerned most with finding the correct driver (or driving club) to yield the best possibly distance. This may be one reason why LPGA players may actually use drivers longer in length than the men on the regular tour. You may also want to invest in more fairway woods than long irons since they will needed more often as well as be easier to hit.

For strong golfers, the emphasis on fitting and selecting the right type of equipment should be focused on accuracy. Far too often I see strong young men obsessively seeking a driver they can hit an extra 10 yards, rather than considering the 13 other clubs in their bag and making them more efficient. Concentrate on putting in clubs that will fill in any gaps especially in the scoring clubs, primarily wedges. Also look at replacing long irons with hybrids as so many professional have. Strength does indeed factor in how one should be fit.


  1. Mike says:

    I agree. I am a club craftsman, not clubbuilder, and work in a proshop in a 55+ community. I am always telling the older golfers to it from the forward tees. Unfotunately their egos won’t let them. Lets not call the red tees “ladies tees” but forward or middle , whatever to reduce the stigma.

    Mike Cipolla

  2. Jacques Piérard says:

    I do agree !!
    As a 69 year old golfer, and despite a solid drive of 170/190 meters, i have been having that distance problem on the Par 4 over 350 meters, i can hit a 8 iron 110 meters but cannot get my 3 or 5 wood going the distance of 170 meters needed to reach those par 4 in two, it is really frustating because i score better when playing short of the green than trying to reach the green with any long iron or wood !!

    Any advise would be appreciated.


  3. Jeff Summitt says:


    Is the problem due to not getting the ball high enough off of the fairway or rough or is because the club launches too high and falls from the sky?

  4. Jacques Piérard says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Please excuse me for the late answer, i feel like i let you down !!

    Yes and NO, i mean yes the ball seems to drop from the sky, my golfing pal keeps telling me, on a good strike, how well the ball start and then falls like a dead bird and of course too short.
    Only on Par of 320 meters i can use a club shorter than the long woods.
    My old Ping 7-wood is almost as long as my new 3-wood, or 140 meters.

    Ah yes, i forgot to say that i am in belgium and not in a sunny state like florida !!!

  5. Jacques Piérard says:

    Hi Mike,

    I hope you are reading me !!

    The senior Tees at my home course in belgium, a very wet country, are fairly long, and when shorter they are uphill or 90 degree dogleg, it is fine for the big hitters but though on the seniors!!
    Here are the distances in meters for the
    PAR 4

  6. Jeff Summitt says:


    If your course is very wet, then you need to rely on almost all carry. So the ball dropping out of the sky is good sign. I was concerned you didn’t have enough loft or a head with a low enough CG. Unfortunately the yardages you supplying are fairly proportionate to one another. You may need to check to see if the Ping 7-wood is longer than normal plus if it is lighter than normal too (depending on the model). Longer and/or lighter perhaps can give you a little more leverage and distance as long as you are fairly straight. I doubt you will find too many light heads today, but look at a lighter shaft.

  7. Jacques Piérard says:

    Thank you very much Jeff,

    My 7-wood is a Ping i3
    42 inch shaft Ping 350 series regular
    which is only one inch shorter than the 3-wood.

    Your are right on it !!
    It is my best club with the 9-wood same spec.

    Yet on a tee i can hit a 9-degree M42 Mc Gregor Driver at the same distance than a 10.5 degree Cleveland XL Driver. (180 meters)

    So something is happening when i play from the fairway !!!
    140 meters seems to be like the sound barrier for me!!

    Again thank you for your help


  8. […] taller individuals, it is logical to assume longer golf clubs are recommended. But it should be noted that a 1” increase in club length does not necessarily […]

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