Can you employ different golf clubs for specific types of courses and for changes in the seasons?
It’s certainly something that professionals do when they need to.
As an example, a lot of professionals on the US PGA Tour will employ lofted fairway woods or hybrids for most of the regular season.
If they are competing in the Open Championship they are likely to switch their lofted fairway woods or hybrids for driving irons.
Another change they will make is to their wedge set up which normally entails getting wedges with less bounce compared to what they normally use.
They do this because:
- The playing characteristics of an Open venue links course are different to a US PGA Tour layout
- The weather conditions can be different - links courses are more exposed to the elements
So if the professionals alter their club based on course type and seasonality is there any merit for amateurs to do it?
We’ll investigate the following aspects when considering putting different clubs in the bag for maximum effectiveness:
- Understanding the different types of courses you play
- The switch to winter golf
Understanding the different types of courses you play
Whether you are a serious player competing in regional tournaments or you and a group of friends organise away days and trips the chances are you just aren’t playing your home course all year long.
Different courses will offer up varying playing characteristics allowing you to optimise different departments in your golf bag.
We can start by looking at a typical inland, parkland-style layout.
These types of courses can be tree-lined offering natural protection against the worst of the elements.
They can also feature thick and juicy rough in the summertime and if there is any prolonged wet weather, the course can become soft underfoot.
What we would typically focus on in our golf bags are clubs that can offer higher trajectories to tackle long approach shots and having the correct amount of bounce in our wedges.
Starting at the longer end of the bag, lofted fairway woods have become more popular in recent years, giving us several advantages on inland, parkland-style layouts.
With lofted woods, we can:
- Hit the ball higher than a long iron
- A higher trajectory will offer better stopping power
- Get more forgiveness on off-centre hits
These are useful assets if the courses present us with long approach shots into par 4s and par 5s.
Lofted fairway woods also perform well out of thick rough.
Their wider soles offer better turf interaction plus the centre of gravity can be positioned deep in the back of their heads creating additional stability.
If you aren’t sold on the looks of a lofted fairway wood hybrids can offer similar playing characteristics in a different design.
Hybrids still offer good levels of forgiveness and promote higher ball flights.
Looking at the other end of the bag we turn our attention to our wedges.
Whilst getting the loft gapping correct for wedges is crucial getting the right bounce is equally important when we look at the different types of courses we play.
For inland courses, having more bounce on our wedges can be beneficial.
With the ground under the ball being softer having more bounce on your wedge will prevent the leading edge from digging in through impact.
Additional bounce can also be more helpful at cutting through thick rough more easily.
Links courses present a different challenge.
More exposed to the elements, keeping the ball lower to the ground is still valuable advice for golfers wanting to score well on links courses.
At the longer end of the bag, we have the opposite problem to inland layouts as we look for clubs that promote lower trajectories.
Removing the lofted fairway woods and replacing them with driving irons is one option.
Driving irons generally offer lower launch and lower spinning characteristics.
With harder bouncier conditions experienced on links courses, the lower flight can be complemented by more run out of the fairways.
Driving irons will also perform better if you are playing into the wind with less chance of a ballooning ball flight robbing you of distance compared to a lofted wood counterpart.
Driving irons tend to favour lower-handicapped golfers as they aren’t as forgiving on off-centre hits but hybrids still offer a valid alternative if pure ball striking isn’t your forte.
Hybrids give more flexibility as they are easier to use when playing out of the rough compared to their driving iron counterparts.
For wedges, opting for lower bounce models can be advantageous.
Wedges with too much bounce can make a crisp contact difficult from harder or bare ground under the ball.
The danger from too much bounce is that the sole skids along the turf leading to thinned shots.
Wedges with lower bounce can provide some more flexibility as it is easier to open the club face allowing the sole to slide more easily under the ball for lob shots.
Links courses also open the possibility of adding a higher lofted lob wedge into the bag to add more shots around the greens and easier escapes from deep green side bunkers.
The switch to winter golf
We can still get some beautiful days in the winter where being out on the golf course can feel as good as the summer time albeit with a few extra layers on!
So do we need to change any clubs in our bags to accommodate for winter conditions?
If you have been using a driving iron over the summer you might prefer the additional height created by the fairway wood or hybrid if the conditions are softer.
From a wedge perspective, having more bounce would also be a valuable switch.
Having additional bounce will negate the potential for the leading edge to dig into the softer ground which could lead to fatted shots and sore hands!
In conclusion, we don’t need to make wholesale changes to our golf bag in order to play different types of courses and seasons more effectively.
A key area where alternatives can be considered is at the top end of the bag:
- Lofted fairway woods are better suited to inland layouts
- Driving irons are preferred on more exposed links courses
- Hybrids can be suitable for both parkland and links-style courses
Having the right bounce on your wedges can assist with your ball striking and shot selection.
- Higher bounce for more inland layouts which are softer underfoot and with thick, juicy rough
- Lower bounce for harder links-style courses promoting better ball and turf interaction
Winter conditions can make courses play softer.
Switching the driving iron for a hybrid or lofted fairway wood and having more bounce on your wedges can be advantageous.
We have a wide variety of lofted fairway woods, hybrids and driving irons available on our website which you can customise to your particular requirements.
In our wedge range, there are some options for different bounces available in the custom options but please contact us if need any more information on any of the wedges we offer.
Alternatively, we offer comprehensive in-house custom-fitting, you can book an appointment on our website or contact us directly for availability.