How Far Should I Hit My 7 Iron?

How Far Should I Hit My 7 Iron?

One of the most common questions on my lesson tee is

How far should I hit my 7 iron

The 7 iron is a pretty standard benchmark number which golfers tend to compare themselves against (the other obviously being the driver distance). So, with that in my, I did a little test today using Trackman to measure.

 

Test Procedure

I hit several golf balls aiming to swing at the following common 7 iron swing speeds

  • 65 mph (typical slower amateur)
  • 75 mph (average amateur)
  • 85 mph (quicker amateur)

 

I also only included results which had a higher smash factor than 1.36, indicating a pretty decent strike quality (especially for amateurs). I also only included swings which were within 1mph of the desired swing speed. I included 8 balls in each category of shot – the results show the averages. I also only included shots which finished within 10 yards of the target line, which is straighter than the average tour proximity to the pin.

 

Test Results

First, let’s have a look at the birds eye view of the results.

Birds eye

 

All of the shots were pretty straight, as I only included ones which fit the criteria.

If we have a look at the numbers for these below, we see in more detail what happened.

numbers

Although these were averages, they actually rounded up nicely to the desired swing speed. The results show carry distance (distance in the air). I didn’t include total distance, because this will be influenced by green hardness. But, you should be more concerned with carry distance, as that is what you are trying to optimise when flying the ball to the pin and over bunkers etc.

The smash factors were all the same (slight advantage for the slower swing speed) showing equivalent strikes. What the data shows is that

  • Spin rate increases as swing speed increases
  • Carry distance increases with about 25 yards for every 10mph
  • The ball flies on a much higher trajectory when swing speed increases, even though the launch angles were within 1 degree of each other

 

trajectory

I think  that last point is important to understand. As speed decreases, the ball flies much lower. Many slower-speed amateurs I see are trying to launch the ball as high as their faster swinging golf partners. As a result, they artificially manufacture this height by using poorer technique (such as hanging back and scooping). I think that, if players with less speed realised the height they should be hitting for their current speed, they would be more inclined to make the technical moves they desire (such as weight being on the left side more, and hands leading the clubhead into impact.

How a player is visualising their ball flight will have an impact on the technique they use

 

Other Notes

So, the answer to the question “How far should I hit my 7 iron” is that it depends. For a start, the distance you hit the ball is ultimately limited by the speed you produce (you are not going to hit the 7 iron 170 yards with 65 mph speed). But things such as strike quality are also huge. Strike will determine whether you achieve your potential distance.

For this article, I used strikes which were over 1.36 smash only, and averaged at 1.38. This is a very high quality strike – your average shots are unlikely to be this high – so the carry values presented here are likely to be your optimal distances with a given swing speed, and not the average (although better players may actually have a high average smash factor).

 

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22 Comments

  • David

    What was the loft of the 7 iron? Thanks to modern ‘it goes furher’ marketing technology, today’s.7 irons are yesterday’s 6 irons. Would be good to know the base setup to fully understand the results.

    • admin

      Hi David – loft was a standard callaway – although the loft is much less influential than the smash, launch and spin rates. Loft simply changes those numbers, which is why I included them in the study.

  • Marcus Erkel

    Is there anything to the fact that you had to move yourself slower in order to create the 65 mph swing speed? would a person swing at their max being 65 mph create a higher spin rate? i realize that mph is the same, but just curious if other factors of muscles working at max and not at max could change anything? maybe i am over thinking it. thanks

    • admin

      Hi Markus, good question.
      Spin rate has nothing to do with the effort that the person is providing – the ball cannot see that. It is has everything to do with what the club and ball are doing through impact. So, to answer your question – no, the fact I am swinging below my full speed has nothing to do with it (unless it changes a parameter at impact) – which I kept constant for this test.

  • Dave S

    Hi all,
    I stumbled across this page and have to say that the yardage given for an 85 mph swing speed are in line with what I have recorded. My 7 iron is 35 deg loft and I have a fairly consistent 85mph swing speed on both Trackman and Zepp2.
    Although my video analysis is showing that I cast too early so I might even be able to squeeze another few mph out. Just so long as I can keep it on target though….

  • Mark Kazman

    Would be nice to know the ball speed. Club head speed is irrelevant if you’re not connecting. Anyone can aimlessly swing a club fast.

    • admin

      Hi Mark. The smash factor represents the quality of strike or energy transference into the ball. Ball speed would be the clubhead speed X smash, so you can work it out.

      I put smash factor there to show that the strike quality was maintained for all clubhead speeds.

  • Murray Alce

    Hi Mark
    If I hit a strait shot with a 7 iron struck well I am usually around 145 yards carry.If I play a draw I can usually get an additional 2 to 3 yards carry with my 7 iron.Am I swimming faster when I hit a Draw or does the draw spin effect the distance?.

    • admin

      Good question Murray. All of the shots for the test were hit with a neutral/small draw ball shape. If you are finding noticeable differences with distance, it could be that 1. your draw swing is sequenced better and thus you have a higher swing speed 2. the impact dynamics mean that you are producing less spin loft (reduced loft and angle of attack differential) or 3. you are striking the ball crisper (increasing smash factor). 4. perhaps optimizing launch angle with the draw shot

  • Murray Alce

    Hi Mark
    I hit a lot of balls over the winter with a cg2 simulator and find my trajectory and peak height ball flight higher than a few of my faster swing speed buddies.It does not feel like I am scuping the ball, and I often work on trying to deloft my club face for a lower ball flight and added distance.I feel that after watching different trajectories I might be loosing distance with the higher flight.So I am noticing that my buddies with faster swing speeds and lower ball flights are getting more carry distance.
    My carry distance is almost bang on with my swing speed from your test.

  • Rick Heath

    My 7 iron is 145 @ nearly 67 yrs. old. Been playing golf since 15 years. old.

    • admin

      That’s a good distance. Modern tech is certainly helping in the distance department

  • Dr. Jay Narayan

    Hello Mr. Young, I am 80 years old now and began to play golf in year 2003. It was because I was getting ready to retire from work, where I was Director of Clinical Laboratory, Pathology, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Oncology. I now play golf once per week with SIRs Branch #142 here in San Mateo, CA. My handicap has gone up from 11.3 to 15.7. My goal this year is as follows:
    1. Get most closet to the Pin
    2. Get most birdies
    3. Get at least one hole in one. Also, I would like to be the club champion again
    I have reviewed and participated on the WEB: Top Speed Golf by Clay Ballard, Performance Golf Zone by Matt Walter, Adam Bazalgette and Eric Cogorno. So far I like your approach. Thanks

  • Max

    How the hell does Rory carry his 7 iron 205?? I know he leans the shaft, and de-lofts the club, but still – Jesus!

  • AM

    And yet … many top players give the visual impression that they are swinging easy: Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, Vijay Singh, etc.

    • admin

      Definitely. I explain how the pros look so effortless while generating insane speeds in my parametric acceleration module in Next Level Golf

      I also show drills and concepts that can quickly add this PA speed. I’ve had many guys pick up 10%+ speed instantly

  • Mike

    I swing my 7 iron around 86 mph on average and it carries about 170 yards but my launch angle is usually 22 to 24 deg. Not bad for a 49-year-old. I probably should work on getting my hands a bit further forward but I like a higher ball flight with less roll.

  • Josh Fenton

    At my iron fitting I recorded 105mph club head speed on my 7 iron. I get around 200 yards carry, not sure on launch angle but my ball flight is super high.

    • admin

      Great swing speed. Not many can achieve that. The farther you hit, the higher the peak height will be.

  • hubery robare

    i am 76 years old with a 75 mph swing speed but still getting 240plus with my driver how is it possible

    • admin

      I’d like to see some radar numbers of that – my guess is it’s not going as far as you think

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