April 11, 2022

Which Golf Clubs To Use For What Shots?

Article Overview: Which golf clubs to use for certain shots.

Hey all, Linda here and this article is going to be a detailed, yet simple to understand beginners guide to golf club numbers and which golf clubs to use for certain shots.

While many things are essential for beginners to golf, one of the first things that any beginning golfer will learn on their first few days of golf lessons are the numbers of the golf clubs and in what situation is a club number best suited. 

Less than capable golfers might claim that the golf numbers are immaterial and a skill golfer can hit just fine with any one of them… DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. [no_toc]

Even professional golfers who play this game for a living know that selecting the right golf number is essential when making quality shots. 

If you hope to be even half as good, you’ll have to learn to do the same.

That being said, learning what each club is for isn’t really an intuitive process.

In fact, many beginners go through a period of confusion as they slowly try to learn through experience. The same won't have to apply to you though.

In this article, we’ll go over each and every one of the club numbers and explain their purpose in easy-to-understand language. With a better understanding of golf clubs numbers, you would have already given yourself an edge over other newbie players. Read on to learn more!

Why do golf clubs have numbers?

Why do golf clubs have numbers?

The golf club numbers (including the non-numbers clubs like drivers and wedges) refer to the loft of each club.

The loft is the degree of slant you see on each club head.

Different angles create different height and distance, thus, club numbers refer to the range of distance and height that the specific club can achieve. 

This affords the golfer much more control and predictability on his or her shots.

Without this classification, the distance of the ball will be determined by the force of the golfer’s hit — not the most reliable factor.

And with a game that relies on getting the ball in a hole in as few hits as possible, accuracy of distance is essential. 

Golf Club Numbers & Their Purpose

Numbered clubs:

Non-numbered clubs:

  • 3-wood
  • 5-wood
  • 2-iron 
  • 3-iron
  • 4-iron 
  • 5-iron 
  • 6-iron 
  • 7-iron 
  • 8-iron
  • 9-iron


golf drivers

The driver is probably the first club you’ll reach for when starting a round. They are usually the longest clubs on your golf bag and sport the lowest loft angle. 

The purpose of the driver is to hit the ball off the tee and get it as far into the fairway as possible. Sometimes, they are also used for hitting from a good lie in the fairway.  

Woods (AKA Fairway Woods)

Fairway Woods

Once on the fairway, accuracy becomes even more crucial now that you’re trying to draw closer to the green. Woods, irons, and/or hybrids are your best friends when taking shots on the fairway. 

Woods, also known as fairway woods, are a versatile selection of clubs used to take shots on the fairway or a good lie in the rough.

Some golfers will use a fairway wood off the tee if they struggle with a driver.

Woods are numbered clubs, meaning that each number translates to an average distance one can achieve using it.

Though distance can vary depending on the brand of clubs, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when reaching for woods is the following:

  • 3-wood = 125 to 240 yards.
  • 4-wood = 110 to 220 yards.
  • 5-wood = 105 to 215 yards.
  • 7-wood = 90 to 170 yards.


Callaway Apex Pro Irons

Iron clubs offer you much more control when you’re on approach, coming in a wider range of numbers, and can help you play out of trouble. 

In simpler terms, irons are for hitting towards the green, usually from a distance of 120–190 yards away. A good mindset to have is to use low-numbered irons for longer shots, and high-numbered irons for shorter shots.

Again, the average distance of club irons can vary depending on the brand but the following is a good ballpark to rely on:

  • 2-iron = 105 to 210 yards.
  • 3-iron = 100 to 205 yards.
  • 4-iron = 90 to 190 yards.
  • 5-iron = 80 to 175 yards.
  • 6-iron = 70 to 165 yards.
  • 7-iron = 65 to 155 yards.
  • 8-iron = 60 to 145 yards.
  • 9-iron = 55 to 135 yards.


Golf Hybrid

Hybrids are essentially the love child between irons and woods – providing you with the best of both.

Hybrids can offer you distance and height that’s usually provided by wood clubs without sacrificing the control and accuracy offered by irons. 


Wedges are types of irons designed with a higher loft which produces a higher trajectory for lower distance shots.

There are several different types of wedges, each one used to help produce shots of varying distances and get golfers out of different situations:

  • Pitching Wedge: This wedge sports the lowest loft angle, allowing for more distance. This makes the pitching wedge an ideal choice for shots approaching the green. You can use the pitching wedge for shots from 50 to 120 yards.
  • Gap wedge: This wedge has a little more loft than a pitching wedge. The gap wedge will result in a shorter shot than a pitching wedge but farther than a sand wedge. This type of wedge is used in different situations but is usually used in cases where the player needs to take a shot of relatively short distances.
  • Sand wedge: As the name implies, this will be your go-to when trying to get the ball out of a bunker (the forbidden sandy parts of the course).
  • Lob wedge: This wedge is usually the highest-lofted wedge in your golf bag. It creates a very steep angle of ascent and descent. This can help you get the ball into the air quickly in situations like getting over a tree. This is a solid option for shots between 35 and 90 yards.


Golf Putter

Once you’re on the green, you’ll need a putter to roll the ball into the hole. To avoid adding unnecessary shots, you’ll need a putter fitted for the situation.

This takes a combination of experience and decision-making concerning the putter’s length, clubhead, and features.

Putter club heads:

  • Blade putters are best suited for low-handicappers and designed to keep the golfer’s hands ahead of the ball through impact for quicker forward roll.
  • Mallet putters offer more consistency, having a larger, rounded clubhead, and the weight is typically balanced throughout the clubhead.

Putter Length:

The length of most putters ranges from about 32 to 52 inches, and is designed to keep your eyes over the ball at all times.

The shaft of your putter should fall neatly in line with your forearm when you’re in the address position.

Putter clubbed features:

  • Insert putters are inserted at the face of the butter and are made of a softer material than the clubhead in general. These inserts promote a better feel and smoother roll. 
  • Perimeter-weighted putters are an add-on that makes the putter exceptionally forgiving, afforded by a design that distributes weight around the edges. These putters provide a larger sweet spot because the perimeter weighting helps stabilize against mis-hits. This, of course, makes this feature a favorite among beginners.
  • Alignment putters come with larger clubheads painted with geometric alignment aids. As the name would suggest, these putters make it easier to start the ball at the target line.

The Difference Between Woods and Irons

The first and foremost difference between the two are, of course, the material they’re made of.

Though one might think that iron clubs, being harder, would offer more distance than wood clubs, the reverse is true.

For instance, a 3-wood can offer an average distance of 210 yards while a 3-iron will offer about 180 yards.

This means that the direct counterpart to a 3-wood would actually be the 2-iron. 

This might be confusing at first but, with a little memorizing and experience, you’ll be able to distinguish the benefits and downsides of both club types with ease. 

Also, you could make your life easier by using hybrids but these are best suited for more experienced players. 

To Summarize…

We understand if you’re a little dazed and confused by all the information. So to summarize neatly all the main points made in this article, refer to the table below:


What They’re Used For…


Teeing off at the beginning of a round and, occasionally, hitting from a good lie in the fairway.


(3-5, 7) 

For hitting towards the green, usually from 100-240 yards depending on the number. Offer more distance than irons by having less control or consistency.



Also for hitting towards the green, usually from 120–200 yards away. Use low-numbered irons for longer shots, and high-numbered irons for shorter shots.


Cross between woods and irons. Used for getting shots of 150+ yards airborne.


Hitting short, high shots from near the green or from sand bunkers


Used for rolling the ball into the hole after it’s on the green.

Now that you know what the club numbers are and what they’re for, all that’s left is to use them.

No matter how familiar you are with the numbers of the clubs, they’re only as good as the player who uses them.

Any questions, let me know - then go on and practice!

About the author 

Linda Parker

My name is Linda Parker, I’ve been around golf since I was born, and I’ve been golfing since I was four years old!

I’m here to share my love of the game with you, so please do let me know if you have any questions!

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