Golf Carry Distances | Golf Mentor

Carry Distances

The carry of a golf shot is how far the ball travels before it hits the ground for the first time. In other words, it is distance to first bounce. Often you are only concerned with how far the ball travel, but at crucial times, you are much more interested in the carry. It is also important to keep in mind the ball run which is how far the ball runs after the first bounce. The sum of carry and run is the total distance.

You will care about the carry of a club when you are hitting over water, a hazard or onto a raised green. In these situations it is crucial that the ball does not bounce till it over the obstacle or has landed on the raised green. So how to you estimate the carry of a club?

The carry tends to increase the lower the loft of the club. The reason for this is that the lower the loft, the lower of the starting angle of the ball flight, and correspondingly, the lower the landing angle of the ball. From the viewpoint of physics, the lower the landing angle, the greater the horizontal component of the velocity, so the further the ball will run once it lands. Just think about a shot that goes very high, it will come down and a very steep angle with most of the energy in the vertical direction, so the ball can actually plug into the ground, meaning there is no run at all. On the other hand, consider a ball hit at a very low angle, when it lands it will at a small angle and the ball will tend to run a long distance after that first bounce. Such a shot will almost never plug into the ground.

By far the best way to find out the carry of each of your clubs is go to a driving range that has distance markers and note down the carry distance and the total distance of each club. Do this many times for each club. For each club choose the median carry and the median total distance. If you have not had a chance to do this, then the following table will give you an approximate idea of how the flat carry will vary with club loft. The flat carry is the carry on level ground.

Club

Loft (degrees)

Distance for men (yards)

Distance for women (yards)

Driver

8 - 13

197

138

2-wood

12 - 15

189

132

3-wood

12 - 17

185

129

4-wood

15 - 19

172

121

5-wood

19 - 21

168

118

6-wood

21 - 23

160

112

7-wood

23 - 25

152

106

8-wood

25 - 27

143

100

9-wood

26 - 28

130

91

1-iron

15 - 18

185

120

2-iron

18 - 20

168

109

3-iron

21 - 24

156

101

4-iron

25 - 28

148

96

5-iron

28 - 32

140

91

6-iron

32 - 36

132

86

7-iron

36 - 40

124

80

8-iron

40 - 44

116

75

9-iron

45 - 48

103

67

Pitching wedge

48 - 52

100

65

Gap wedge

52 - 54

91

59

Sand wedge

54 - 58

77

50

Lob wedge

58 - 62

67

44

Effect of conditions on Carry

Carry

If you are a consistent golfer, the carry distance will be fairly predictable. The most important factors to take into account are the wind and elevation of the target area.

A rule of thumb for elevation is to add one club length for every 10 yards of elevation, and conversely subtract one club length if the landing area is lower in elevation by ten yards. A simple rule of thumb for wind speed is increase the yardage by 1% for every mile per hour of swing speed. So if the total distance is 150 yards and you are hitting into a 10 m.p.h wind, then adjust by 10% or 15 yards, so assume you need to hit 165 yards. On the other hand if the wind swings around on the same hole so that it is behind you, then you would only need to use a 135 yard shot.

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