When lining up a shot on the course, working out what golf club to use is an essential element to hitting the right shot.
Which golf club to use is something professional golfers agonize over.
Of course, the pros have a caddy to talk to, a very detailed course guide, and at least 30 seconds to a minute to decide, luxuries most amateur golfers don’t have!
So what we need is a quick and easy guide to golf club selection, telling us what golf club to use for each shot.
A key component of golf club selection is distance. Knowing how far you hit each club in your bag is key to selecting the right club, so make sure you know your distances!
Keep reading for a guide on which golf club to use in several scenarios you may find yourself in on the course.
Let’s get started!
What golf club to use off the tee
Deciding which golf club to use off the tee is easy, right?
Just take out your driver and rip it down the fairway!
Choosing the right golf club is not so simple, and the correct club selection varies depending on the hole you are playing.
When faced with a long hole and a nice wide fairway, then normally a driver is the best golf club to use off the tee.
The large clubhead will provide plenty of distance to make your next shot easier, and the lessened accuracy of a driver shouldn’t be an issue if you have a large target to aim for.
But which golf club to use when you find yourself facing a narrow fairway, flanked by hazards?
When aiming for a narrower target off the tee, consider using a fairway wood (like a 3-wood or 5-wood) or a long iron (5-2 iron).
Selecting one of these clubs could help provide the extra control and accuracy needed to hit a narrow fairway, while still achieving distance off the tee.
You may find yourself with a longer approach shot, but better to have a longer shot from the fairway than a shorter shot from a bunker or thick rough!
So when considering which golf club to use off the tee, assess the situation before deciding on what club to use.
Which golf club to use for approach shots
Selecting the right club for an approach shot to the green is key to scoring well on a hole.
Get it wrong and you may find your ball flying off the back, or coming up short of the green.
Either way, you’ll be taking a wedge out for your next shot and not your putter!
Which golf club to use with an approach shot depends on the lie of the ball and the distance to the green.
So what golf club to use when faced with a long approach shot from the fairway?
If you have a significant distance to carry (200+ yards) and the ball is lying well, then a fairway wood is the ideal club.
A fairway wood will produce the distance needed to get the ball on the green, but they can be tricky to hit so make sure the lie is good!
Which golf club to use with a middle approach shot (160- 200 yards) very much depends on how far you hit your clubs.
Generally, however, for shots in this range, you will be hitting a low iron (3-6 iron).
When using flatter irons, it can be harder to achieve a consistent ball strike.
So when using a low iron in the rough, ensure the ball is sat up in a good lie. Otherwise, you may find your shot gets caught in the rough and doesn’t fly very far!
When faced with a long approach shot in the rough and the lie is poor, deciding what golf club to use can be tricky.
Low irons are unforgiving in this scenario, and higher irons (7-9) will not generate enough distance to get the ball near the green.
Luckily a hybrid club is ideally suited for hitting longer approach shots from the rough.
Their chunkier heads can cut through the grass, stopping the grass from getting between the clubface and the ball, while they also provide distance.
For shorter approach shots (160 yards or less), which golf club to use depends on the distances you hit each club.
As a general guide, for shots between 120 and 160 yards, you’re likely to be hitting a 7-9 iron.
For shots below 120 yards, you might be using a wedge.
Hitting full shots with wedges can be a difficult skill to get right, so be sure to practice it at the range!
Which golf club to use around the green
When playing a shot around the green shouldn’t use just pull out a wedge, aim at the flag, and take a swing?
Unfortunately, getting your short game right is not that simple, and if you want to cut your handicap, which golf club to use is a key part of your short game.
Club selection around the green is decided by the position of your ball relative to the flag and what shot you should hit.
If you find your ball on the long side of the green (the majority of the green lies between you and the flag), then take out a pitching wedge or short iron and play a chip shot!
In this situation using a pitching wedge or short iron to play a chip will give the ball a little more loft so you can control your shot better and roll it closer to the hole.
Chip shots are also most suitable when your ball has a good lie, as thick grass between the club and the ball can mean less control over your shot.
If your ball is on the short side of the green (there is very little green between you and the flag), which club to use?
Here your best option is to take out your sand-wedge or lob-wedge and play a pitch shot.
A pitch shot with a more lofted wedge will give the ball the height and backspin needed to stop it quickly on the green.
This way you can land the ball closer to the hole and the lack of green to work with becomes less of a factor.
More lofted wedges are also good for digging balls out of bad lies, so consider using a sand-wedge or lob-wedge when playing from rough around the green.
So when figuring out which golf club to use around the green, always assess the position of your ball before selecting.
What clubs to use in golf
Selecting which golf club to use is important, but ensuring you have the right clubs in your bag is essential as well.
To a beginner, the range of different types of clubs can seem overwhelming but there are a few tips and tricks to work out the right set of clubs for you.
With irons and wedges, it is reasonably easy to differentiate between clubs aimed at beginners and those aimed at more experienced golfers.
Cavity-backed clubs (ones that have large, hollow backs) are the most forgiving and are aimed at golfers with mid-to-high handicaps.
Bladed clubs (ones with smooth, flat backs) are the least forgiving but offer a greater ability to shape shots and thus are aimed at low handicappers and pros.
Muscle-backed clubs are somewhere in between cavities and blades and similarly offer a blend of the qualities of the two. Fittingly they are aimed at mid to low-handicappers.
So with irons and wedges, it is easy to know what clubs to use when playing golf, based on your handicap and skill level.
But with woods, it is much harder to spot the difference between those aimed at the pros and those aimed at a new golfer.
When weighing up which new fairway wood or driver to buy, always check the designer’s specifications to see if it’s the right club for you.
If you want to improve your driving game, check out the video linked here of Rory Mcilroy giving some great tips!
So that’s our quick guide to golf club selection.
Working out which golf club to use is always very dependent on the scenario you find your ball.
Be sure to take time to assess your distance to the hole properly, your ball’s lie, and any hazards around before you decide which golf club to use.
Laser range finders can be a very helpful tool for helping with this but be warned most club competitions ban their use, so they are most helpful in practice rounds.
Finally, we always recommend practicing as much as possible.
If you want to get to know the distances you hit all your clubs, head for a session at the range so that you are completely sure.
Practice and knowing your game will only help you when deciding which golf club to use.