Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

How do you compare?

What stats reveal about a key mid-iron shot for 80s shooters

August 18, 2023


Last week I wrote about the humbling, but sad truth that golfers simply do not hit the ball as far as they think they do. It's true with their irons, and it's especially true with their drivers. If you're a 10 handicap who shoots 80, when you factor in mishits, your average drive is about 230 yards. That, courtesy of our friends at Arccos, is a fact.

When you consider a pretty average par-4 length of between 380 yards and about 404 yards, it means that those 80s shooters will have lots of approach shots between 150 yards and 175 yards. So that's the stat I wanted to dive into, using stats from our How Do You Compare interactive (which you can check out in full right here).

Here's how golfers of all levels compare from that crucial 150- to 175-yard range...

3 mistakes to avoid

1. Unrealistic expectations

It's fast becoming a cliche in golf, but that's because it's really important. Many golfers, from this range, may have a mid-iron in their hands. Not a wedge, sure, but something that still gets the birdie juices flowing. Hopefully one look at the stats above will disabuse you of that notion.

The average scratch golfer, from this range, hits these shots to more than 30 feet on average. The average 10 handicap? Closer to 60 feet, or 20 yards. Remember that stat the next time you hit a shot from this range. Any shot in the vicinity of the green is an objectively good shot—and any shot on the green is a great one. Embrace that fact. Congratulate yourself on shots you ordinarily wouldn't. Get some positive self talk going. It will help you enjoy golf more, and create some positive momentum for the rest of your round.

2. Not giving your shots a buffer

Lots of golfers see the green, the pin, and then think about the shot they want to hit. Instead, think about the shot you're most likely to hit. That's where the stats above come into play.

If an average 10 handicap, at any given moment, hits their shots from this range into a 20-yard zone, then plan for that. That's what the pros do, after all. If the pin is front left, aim long right. Do the opposite if the pin is on the right side of the green. Your goal is not to plan for the perfect shot, but to make sure your less-than-perfect shots are still in decent shape.

3. Not focusing on making solid contact

Finally, it's really not worth trying to swing too hard from this range. It's really not going to help. Instead, realize that the key is solid is the key to leaving your ball in the vicinity of the green. It's the disaster contact errors—and by those we mean, chunks, thins, shanks and tops—which will you.

It's obviously easier said than done, but Golf Digest Top 50-ranked teacher Michael Breed has some good contact basics via his "Facts of Impact" series to keep in mind:

  • The low point of your swing should be ahead of the ball.
  • The shaft leaning toward the target can help you control that low point.
  • That move will also help you impact the ball with a descending blow on the ball, which will improve your compression.

Once again, you can check out the full How Do You Compare interactive here.