How To Gap Your Golf Bag

Working out how far you hit each club (your gapping) is one of the simplest ways to lower your scores – you don’t have to spend hours changing your golf swing, one task and you will hit your shots closer!

It will take you an hour, and you may have to pay for the use of a launch monitor, but it will pay back your time and money almost instantly with lower scores.

If this is a new concept to you don’t worry. Gapping refers to the distance you hit each of your clubs and the ‘gaps’ you have in between each club. This is one of the first tasks I set for our high-performance players at Exeter University. Everyone sees an immediate improvement in their ability to score on the golf course.

Setup

Find a golf club, fitting centre (or wealthy friend) that has a launch monitor. TrackMan, GC Quad and FlightScope are the top-of-the-range options, but a FlightScope Mevo Plus, FlightScope Mevo or SkyTrak will all work well for this task.

Use proper golf balls. Range balls tend to only fly 80-90% of the distance. Secondly, if you are using a radar-based launch monitor indoors, use golf balls that will pick up the correct spin (add a metallic disc or buy Titleist RCT golf balls) as accurate backspin rates are critical for how far a golf ball travels.

Gapping task

Perform a solid warm-up with some dynamic stretching and 10 warm-up shots. Then start by hitting 5 shots with your lob wedge. Remove any dreadful shots (shanks or tops), but keep all miss-hits that are part of your general play on the golf course.

Once you have hit 5 shots note down your average carry distance (not total distance). Repeat this process with your sand wedge, pitching wedge…and continue to work through your golf bag.

Take a rest when needed, this is a surprisingly effortful task.

Analyzing your data

At the end of the session, you should be left with an average carry number for every club in your golf bag. This is your golden ticket to lower scores. Write these down on a card or make a note on your phone so you can quickly access them when playing golf.

If you’ve never done this before the numbers will surprise you.

Example gapping data

Below is an example from a +2 golfer. Hopefully, it shows you that you don’t have to hit it Bryson distances to reach this level of golf.

ClubCarry (yds)
60º Wedge75
56º Wedge87
50º Wedge108
Pitching Wedge124
9-Iron130
8-Iron141
7-Iron154
6-Iron176
5-Iron187
4-Iron201
3-Iron217
3 Hybrid206
4 Wood234
Driver274
Example gapping data from a +2 handicap golfer

You’ll notice we’ve got inconsistent gaps across the wedges, followed by too smaller a gap between his pitching wedge and 9-iron.

The rest of the clubs are spaced quite well until we get to his 3 Hybrid, it is very similar to his 4-iron. I’d question the use of this 3 Hybrid, unless there is a specific need. For example, all irons have a very low trajectory and this club hits it higher into par 3s, long par 4s and par 5s.

What is the proper gapping for golf clubs?

The proper gapping depends on your swing speed. For short hitters, 5-8 yards is a good target between your irons. For longer hitters, 9-16 yards between your irons is a good guide.

How to use this information for custom fitting

Are there consistent gaps between each club, or do you have some giant gaps? Do two of your clubs carry the same distance? What are the key yardages you tend to have on the golf course – do you have the right tools to help you hit these shots with confidence?

These are all easy wins that will help you buy the right equipment and shoot lower scores, with no swing changes needed!

How to use this information when playing?

When on the golf course your aim is to hit the ball to your intended target (not always trying to aim straight at the flag, sometimes the middle of the green is ideal). However, distance control plays a key role in how close you can get and how low you can shoot.

below is the process to use your data on the golf course. In this scenario we’re aiming for a flag at the front of the green (examples distance in brackets):

  1. Distance to flag (150 yards).
  2. Ideal target 6-8 yards long (157 yards).
  3. Alter distance for wind and slope (160 yards).
  4. Estimate how far the ball will roll out – possibly 3-4 yards (ideal carry distance = 156)
  5. My ideal club based on my gapping is a 7-iron.

These five steps might sound complicated, but after 2-3 rounds this process will become almost automatic and you’ll complete it in less than 10 seconds.

Summary – How to gap your golf bag

Trust me it is one of the easiest ways to shoot lower scores.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

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A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

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