How To Know What Golf Club to Use on the Golf Course

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The Ultimate Golf Club Selection Guide for Women and Beginner Golfers

This article will help guide golfers on when to use what golf club out on the course.

When you walk into a golf shop, what usually hits you is a sea of golf clubs from drivers, irons, hybrids, wedges and putters, and so many others. And when you are out on the golf course, it can be confusing to know what to use and when.

I’ll first talk about each type of club and when they are typically used on a golf course. Then I’ll cover average distances for a recreational female golfer so you can have a baseline.

And finally, it will be very important for you to know what distance you actually hit each of the clubs in your bag. This will help steer you in knowing what golf club to use when you are actually playing a round.

Main Types of Golf Clubs

A golfer can carry up to 14 golf clubs in their bag during any given round. Here are the main types of golf clubs.

  • Drivers
  • Fairway Woods
  • Hybrids
  • Irons
  • Wedges
  • Putters


Drivers are typically the longest and largest golf club. A driver is hit off of a tee in the tee box. It is designed to provide the longest distance of all the golf clubs.

Drivers can be really hard to hit because a golfer has less control as it is the longest and largest club. However, it can also be easier to hit because a tee perches the ball up in the air.

It is also important to know that you are not required to use a driver just in the tee box. In golf, you can pretty much use any club wherever it is permissible to hit. However, the only golfers I have ever seen using a driver anywhere else on the course was a few Tour players and the announcers were impressed that they could actually get it off the ground.

Fairway Woods

Fairway woods are used (like the name suggests) typically for the fairway. Golfers hit them as a 2nd and/or 3rd shot from the fairway, the rough and sometimes off the tee.

Woods, as they also called, are the next longest clubs from the driver with the exception of a few long irons. Woods tend to come with numbers 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9.

The lower the number, the longer the length of the club and the least amount of loft. Lower numbered golf clubs are designed to travel lower in the air with further distance than a higher numbered golf club.

As a side note, many golfers (beginners and experienced) find hitting their 3 wood somewhat challenging. I have a love/hate relationship with mine and many times it in a time out :).

The other interesting thing about 3 woods is that many golfers, even professionals, will use this club off the tee as it can produce a straighter more controlled shot.

Many club sets do not offer 7 and 9 woods, but they are available to purchase ala carte. Because of their higher numbers, they are often easier to hit than a 5 or 3 wood and are good for getting out of rough.


Hybrid golf clubs, also sometimes referred to as “rescue clubs” are becoming a standard in the golf bag. A hybrid golf club is a cross between a fairway wood and an iron. Originally it was designed to be a “rescue” or “utility” club, to help a golfer hit out of some tough situations on the golf course.

They are known to be more forgiving, and are designed to provide more loft and may be easier to hit than longer clubs with low loft. Because of this, some golfers have replaced their fairway woods and long irons with the new hybrids on the market.

Hybrids typically come in numbers ranging from 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Hybrids can be used anywhere on the golf course and are usually seen being used off the tee, in the fairway, in the rough and even in penalty areas.

Some golfers carry 1 or 2 and some carry more in their bag. It all depends on the golfer.

I tend to like to hybrids more than irons these days. So I use 4, 5, 6, 7 hybrids and an 8, 9 irons. The standard hybrid if you were to have just one would probably be a most likely be a 5 hybrid depending on what distance you’d like it to provide.


Irons are golf clubs that have traditionally used a steel club face, thus the name.

Golf Club Guide

They most commonly range from 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 , 8, and 9.

Most golfers don’t use the 1 or 2 irons any longer but these “long irons” can still be found in a few golf shops and golfer’s bags. These low numbered irons can make a ball travel a long way if hit well. Unfortunately, they are extremely difficult to hit, which is why many golfers don’t use them any longer. Instead using a hybrid or fairway wood in its place.

Just like the fairway woods and hybrids, irons are numbered the same way. The higher the number on the clubface means the higher the trajectory or loft the ball will travel and less distance than a lower numbered club.

From my experience, the 5 iron is a standard iron and used to be my favorite club when I was younger. Many beginners love their 7 iron as it is a good standard length club when first starting out.

Irons are used all over the golf course. From the tee box, fairway, rough, and even can be used as a bump and run up to the green.


Wedges are golf clubs that provide the least amount of distance (except for the putter) and the highest loft. They are used in what is referred to as the “short game” of golf. For the average golfer, this means about 100 yards or less from the green.

Wedges come in all types of lofts and types, but standard wedges that come in a set include the pitching wedge, sand wedge and sometimes an approach or gap wedge.

The pitching wedge offers the most distance, next the approach or gap wedge, and finally the sand wedge with the least distance. The sand wedge is usually what you would use to hit out of the bunkers or sand traps.

Golfers carry between 2 – 4 different wedges.

Professional golfers or low handicappers often carry at least 4 different wedges to help them pinpoint exact distances to the green on their approach shots.

Many beginners will carry a pitching wedge and a sand wedge.

The biggest difference between the different wedges offered is the degrees of loft which produce varying heights in the air and distance.


Putters are used specifically on the green and offer the least amount of distance and no loft as they meant to “roll” the ball into the hole. A golfer carries one putter in their bag on any given round of golf.

There are many different styles of putters that can be used like a blade, mallet, and a half mallet putter. It all depends on the style or feel of a putter that you like.

Putters can also be used just off the green especially if it can be rolled to like from the fringe or apron of the green.

How to Know What Golf Club to Use and When

Now that you know the various types of golf clubs used, how do you know which golf club to use and when?

Especially out on the golf course. It can be confusing with all the choices!

Here’s the thing, you are allowed to use any of the 14 clubs you carry as long as the golf clubs conform to the USGA or R&A rules of golf.

Basically, all this means is can you use a hockey stick? No.

Can you use a pool cue or lawn tool like in the movie “Happy Gilmore” with Adam Sandler? No.

But, could you use your putter in the fairway? Yes, you could. Should you? Probably not especially if it is more than 100 yards away.

I am listing here what most typical golfers would use in certain areas of the golf course. A guide for those just starting out.

Golf Clubs To Use In Different Areas Of A Golf Course

Tee Box:

  • Driver
  • Fairway Wood
  • Hybrid
  • Iron


  • Fairway Wood
  • Hybrid
  • Iron
  • Wedge


  • Iron
  • Hybrid
  • Maybe Fairway Wood (higher numbered like a 7 or 9)
  • Wedge

Outside/Around the Greens (Within 100 yards)

  • High Numbered Irons or hybrids (8 or 9)
  • Wedges
  • Putter (you can putt from off the green)


  • Putter

Why Golf Club Distance Is Important

The purpose in golf is to get the golf ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes as possible. Distance in golf is measured in yardages. The biggest question is “how far away is the hole from where you are hitting?”

There are a number of ways you can estimate or measure this distance. Once you know this distance, then you can select the golf club that will best get you to the hole. For example, if the distance is 120 yards to the hole or to the green, then you want to use your 120 yard club.

I know what you are thinking now. How do you know what your 120 yard club is???

As a beginner, you probably don’t know this yet, at least with all your clubs. You may have an idea from experience with a few of your clubs. And that’s good – you can use this info to help you out on the golf course.

Let’s first look at the average recreational or amateur female golfer and her distances for each of the most commonly used golf clubs.

I pulled this information from my other post on Golf Club Distances and Driving Distances for Women and am providing it in a chart form here.

Average Distances of Each Golf Club for Recreational and Amateur Female Golfers

Foresight Sports provided the numbers below for female amateurs or female recreational golfers. It is a pretty good size range of avergae distances for each golf club, but that is how golf is and every golfer is different.

There are many factors that play into club distance from athleticism, age, gender, clubs, golf skill, swing mechanics, etc. But this hopefully provides a good baseline to start.

Golf Club Selection Chart for Female Golfers

Female Amateur Average Club Distance
Source: Foresight Sports

Hybrids are not listed. Typically, they correlate with the same numbered iron give or take. For instance, I hit my 5 hybrid about the same as my 5 iron. I prefer to use my hybrid because I hit it more solidly.

This provides a good starting point. However, the next step in determining what golf clubs to use in your golf game is to know your own specific distances.

How to Track Your Golf Club Distances

So, how do you track or figure out your own distances?

Method 1 – Trial and error out on the golf course. If you play a lot, you will start to realize from experience which clubs to use when. However, this may take a while to get an idea of all of your clubs.

Method 2 – Range finder on the practice range. You could also use one on the golf course, however, you don’t want to be holding anyone up behind you especially if you are hitting multiple balls to get an average.

Method 3 – Portable launch monitor on the practice range This would include a TrackMan, Flightscope, or other kind of tracking device. They aren’t cheap, but some clubs and practice facilities have them. Because of their portability, many golf instructors can provide access to them in a golf lesson.

Method 4 – Indoor simulator. These can be found at indoor practice or entertainment facilities. The information that you can get from each shot is pretty amazing. You can get the total distance, the carry, as well as other information like clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle. All sorts of other information is provided if you want it.

Golf Club Distance Chart Tracker & Printable

Once you have figured out how you will track your shots, be sure to grab my Free “Golf Club Distance Chart Tracker and Printable” below. This will help you determine the average distance for each of your clubs.

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Once you have determined all your average distances, bring the sheet or write down your yardages on this Golf Club Distances Bag Tag.

Have it laminated or use contact paper and hang it on your golf bag so you can refer to it on the golf course. It is hard to remember all the distances for your clubs!

Now that you know your distances, playing on the golf course will become a bit easier. You’ll be much more confident in knowing which clubs to use and when.

Other Factors In Club Selection on the Golf Course

Though distance is probably the number one factor in deciding which golf club to hit, other factors include the type of lie or the condition of where you are hitting from.

Is it thick rough or grass?

Typically you’ll want to use a higher lofted iron or hybrid or wedge.

Are you in a greenside bunker?

Then likely your sand wedge or other wedge depending on the distance and how high you have to hit out.

I could go on and on, but this hopefully gives you a good idea of what to think about when you are out on the golf course and need to select the right club to use.

As you play more rounds and gain experience, selecting the right club will become easier.

Closing Thoughts On Golf Club Selection

Knowing the right club to hit and specifically how far you hit each of your golf clubs will have a big impact on your golf game.

I hope this article has helped provide a better understanding of club selection on the golf course, the importance of distance, and how to determine your own golf club distances as you continue along in your golf journey.

Be sure to sign up for the Lynn on the Links newsletter/email which is sent out every 1 – 2 weeks and includes new post alerts, more helpful golf tips, and guides, and discounts and product reviews. All related to golf and women’s golf specifically. When you sign up, you’ll receive the Free Golf Guide to Playing Your Best Round as well.

Also, if you are brand new to golf, feel free to join our Beginner Golf for Women Facebook group. We are a highly engaged and supportive community of women golfers. Hope you’ll join us!


Related Posts:

Golf Club Distances for Women and Average Driving Distance
Golf Etiquette for Beginners
Best Beginner Golf Club Sets for Women Golfers
First Tee Jitters? Conquer Your Nerves on the Golf Course

Best Putters for Women and Buyer’s Guide

How To Know What Golf Club to Use on the Golf Course

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