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  • Stephen Arnold

Track your carry for better decisions

One of the major benefits of teaching with Trackman is that it is completely objective. All it does it is track the club and the ball and give back the data. This can be infuriating to some students however, when Trackman tells them exactly how far their ball actually went. In my experience as a teacher, I have found that most students believe they hit the ball much farther than they actually do. They also tend to misinterpret carry distance and total distance.


Why is it some important to know how far you carry the ball? Below are examples of 2 shots with the exact same yardage that are two very different shots. The first example is the approach shot into the Par 5, 5th hole on the Blue course at Longboat Key Club. The second is the approach shot into the par 4, 6th hole on the Blue course. Both shots are 110 yards but play entirely different.

On the 5th hole there are only 5 yards between the hole location and the water, if the ball carries 105 there is a very good chance it comes back into the penalty area. On the 6th hole there are 20 yards of green before the hole location. If a player hits their standard “110” shot that really carries 100 and bounces to 110 on both shots, they will find the water on 5 and a have a kick-in on 6. They played the same number, the same club, and the same shot and had two very different results. If we don’t know how far the ball carries in the air it becomes very hard to make a decision and can lead to some very big mistakes.


The easiest way to learn your carry distances is to set up a time on Trackman and go through the bag and get your numbers. I do this for a lot of clients and create a yardage carry guide they can keep in their back pocket. Outside of this, the next best thing you can do is to track your results on the course and start to build your own database of how far shots carry and how far they finish. Below is a guide I give to players so they can chart their approach shots on the course.

The guide takes into account how far you are, what the wind is doing, what club you hit, where it landed and where it finished. I chart the wind on a scale of 1-5 and it’s just a reference point for me. You can make a chart like this and keep it with you, or just use a scorecard. If you hit the green and there is a pitch mark, then you know how far it flew if you step it off in relation to the flag. If it landed short of the green then you can ball park your guess. This helps in both learning your carry and understanding how firm the greens are that you play on. Bounce and roll will depend very much on course conditions and wind conditions. The more you chart this during the round the more confident you can be in your distances. The longer you do it, the more confidence you will build and hopefully you’ll stop making the same mistakes on course.


Next week I will build on this information and delve deeper into decision making and target selection. However, it is impossible to make good decisions and pick good targets unless you have at least a reasonable idea of how far your ball is going in the air, so take the time to learn your distances. I hope you find this helpful and gives you something to think about in your next round. Taking the time to learn your distances will have massive benefits going forward in your game and help you build the trust you need to keep playing better golf. As always feel free to share and I always welcome any feedback or questions.

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