Sometimes you hear talk of the scoring clubs. They are best defined as the clubs that, if played well, will have the largest influence of keeping your score down. There is no fine line between the scoring clubs, though, and the scoring shots they hit. Let’s talk about both.
Probably your most important club is your putter. The difference between being a good putter and a bad one is about six strokes per round. If you take more than 36 putts per round, you’re a bad putter. A few putting lessons, and more putting practice will get you those six strokes.
The putts to practice are the ones from four feet in, and from 25 feet out. You just can’t throw away strokes by missing those short ones, and three-putt greens are the result of leaving long approach putts too far away from the hole.
Some people might say that the next most important scoring club is the wedge (or the family of wedges), but I’m going to go with the short irons — the 8-iron, 9-iron, and pitching wedge.
Hitting a second shot into the green from the distances you hit these clubs is a gift. There is no reason why you shouldn’t get down in three with your eye on the green and a short iron in your hand. At the range, hit these clubs three times as often as you hit your driver. You should be able to hit the green with a short iron more than half of the time, and still be close to the pin when you miss.
The last scoring club worth mentioning is your 6-iron. Not from the fairway, but from beside the green. Because of inaccuracies in iron play, most recreational golfers chip onto the large majority of greens. Getting up and down needs to become routine. Getting down in three (or more!) shots is a needless way to add to your score.
The 6-iron chip will save you as many strokes as good putting can. Let the professionals chip with their lob wedge. Hit your greenside chips with a 6-iron, to get the ball running to the hole as if it were an approach putt.
Notice that I didn’t mention the driver. OK, I did mention it once, but not as a scoring club, because for most recreational golfers it’s an anti-scoring club.
I have a rule of thumb that you should never hit a club that has less loft than your handicap. Until you get pretty good, that means leaving your driver home. Hit from the tee with the longest club you feel confident that you can put the ball in the fairway with. Don’t worry about the loss of yardage. That seldom leads to a loss of strokes.
Think of scoring clubs as the ones that deal with getting the ball close to the hole and into the hole. Practice with them more than any others, and your score will plummet.