It’s commonly thought that a 3 wood is easier to hit straight from off the tee even though you sacrifice distance. While data shows that’s true, it’s only marginally more accurate. Our friends at Shot Scope share findings on why you might as well hit driver off the tee.
Shot Scope’s Driving Distance Findings
To make Shot Scope information more relevant to the individual golfer, we ask users to enter their handicap into the system. This allows us to see how performance changes with skill level, and as you can see we have split the data here into 8, 14 and 20 handicaps.
Generally, golfers think they hit the ball further than they actually do. A golfer will normally assume their longest distance is close to their average distance. Shot Scope P-AVG (Performance Average) removes outliers both long and short to give an accurate club distance for what a golfer would describe as a ‘good’ shot.
It is noticeable that there is a drop off between handicaps with drivers, yet not as much with 3 woods. A theory would be, increased loft from a 3 wood will help most golfers reach their distance potential.
Interestingly though, our data shows that regardless of handicap, 3 woods are only a fraction (1-2%) more accurate than drivers off the tee. Based on this information, we recommend that golfers hit Driver as often as possible, as the sacrifice in distance is not worth the tiny gain in accuracy off the tee. The further you hit down a hole with your tee shot leaves you a shorter approach shot, which Shot Scope shows us, allows for closer approach proximity.
How an increase of 30 yards would help you improve…
This is a good example of understanding the benefits of hitting the ball further. Taking a 14 handicap performance average (versus if they hit their longest drive on each hole) you can see there would be a difference of 24 yards (when they hit the fairway).
Being 24 yards closer to the green increases your green success percentage and also your average proximity to the hole with approach shots. This type of gain makes a significant scoring difference.
This theory can be applied to 3 wood distances off the tee versus Driver – the Driver goes further and of course the approach is shorter, resulting in a closer 2nd shot. Hitting a 3 wood off the tee would leave a longer shot in, with the approach finishing up further away from the pin than if Driver had been hit.
To conclude, for an average golfer on an average golf hole, there is no statistical benefit to hitting 3 wood instead of Driver off the tee. There is only a minimal gain in accuracy, not worthy of the 20-30 yards lost as opposed to hitting Driver.
Shot Scope captures data from all around the world. It is used globally in 52 countries. Shot Scope are the innovators of the first ever golf watch with both GPS and Performance Tracking combined in one device. Go to shotscope.com to find out more.