Boost Your Shotmaking with Fewer Clubs

Fewer Clubs, More Creativity

Is your game stuck in a rut?  Are you playing the same course and hitting the same shots time and again?  If so, here’s a simple solution: try a round with a minimalist set.  Below I’ll lay out a few different approaches and some of the benefits you’ll get from carrying fewer clubs.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You want to improve your shotmaking

You want to see your home course in a new way

You want to carry a lighter golf bag

Minimalist Set Options

There are countless ways to approach a minimalist set, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

Evens or Odds

Play only the even or odd numbered irons in your set.

One of Each

Pick one wood, one iron, one wedge, and your putter.

Seven Clubs

Pick any seven clubs.  Thinking about your seven most important clubs is a good way to evaluate your game and your set make-up.  Are you carrying clubs you never hit?

The Roy McAvoy

Head to the course with only your 7I.  “Anybody want to bet me I can’t par in with a 7 iron?”

Benefits of a Minimalist Set

Improved Shotmaking and Creativity

The biggest benefit to your game will be an increased ability to create shots.  Most of us play fairly robotic golf – “It’s 150 yards.  I’ll hit my 8I.”  If your 8I is gone, you’ll be forced to hit a hard 9I or a soft 7I.  You’ll learn the value of choking up on the club to take some distance off, swinging a little harder or softer, and trying to add or remove a bit of loft.  You can also find out how much distance you gain or lose by hitting cuts and draws.

Seeing an Old Course in a New Light

If you have a regular track, you can probably recite from memory how each hole goes.  That 400 yard, straightaway par 4 is almost always driver-8I, but when you step to the tee with a 3W and a 6I, you’ll see things in the hole you never noticed before, and it will be an entirely new experience.

A Lighter Golf Bag

This may not be as important as being a better shotmaker, but there is a certain pleasure to strolling the course with a few clubs in a Sunday bag.

Deemphasize Score

It’s unlikely that you’re going to shoot your personal best with a minimalist set, and that’s ok.  In fact, if your enjoyment of the game is waning because of the numbers on your card, that could be a very good thing.  Playing with just a few clubs can put you back into the “play” mentality which, I find, is closely connected to having a better time on the course.

The following two tabs change content below.

Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)

9 Comments

  1. This is exactly what I have been doing lately, added to trying to play at a faster pace I can say that I see my scores have gone down. To use an old cliché I am now more playing golf rather than golf shot and that has me a lot more engaged in a task vs technique.

    I typically go with 7 or 8 clubs in a Jones bag which makes walking a breeze. My set is usually Driver, 4/6/8/9/PW/SW/P. Depending on the course the driver might swap into a 3w.

  2. Nice article Matt. At least once per season I like to do this on the course. I notice the benefits in my game, especially if I use clubs that I am not as comfortable hitting or I am struggling with. Plus doing this on the course vs the range brings real strategy per hole into account vs trying to simulate it on the range.

  3. jake krayson

    Couldn’t agree more…love to play practice rounds walking with6-7 clubs & a Sunday bag. #No hassles

  4. Fully agree Matt … I transitioned to a full-time minimalist player a few years ago for all my rounds regardless of course. There are so many benefits. I’ve never enjoyed the game more.

  5. Gia Murray

    This is in fact how I began playing. At first I only had a driver, 7i (borrowed), Sandy Andy, and putter. I used to hit driver off the deck as I didn’t know any better. Thanks for the article.

  6. The timing of this article is funny. My last 3 rounds I’ve stopped hitting full shots inside 160 yards and instead been clubbing up and swinging 80% with a lower trajectory to the middle of greens. I’m hitting a lot more GIRs and making a lot more pars :)
    It hit me on a windy day surrounded by tall trees…. I got frustrated a few holes into my round after going 5 over on the first 4 holes (thanks in big part to the wind) and decided to club up, swing a bit slower and finish lower to keep the ball down…. ended up going 5 over on the next 14 holes to put up a respectable 82 considering the crazy conditions!
    I’m going to stick to this plan for a while and see what happens

  7. I sometimes play with 9 clubs in an easy bag. Putter, two wedges, 4 irons and 2 woods. Not much difference in scoring or shot selections, if any, vs my standard full 14 bag…. less clubs start to be limiting, so more really just for fun or creative shotmaking, as suggested… fully recommend…

  8. Great advice and one I have taken many times. Played 4 under my handicap last Wednesday with 6 clubs in the bag (D, 2h, 6i, 7i, pw, putter). Only since this year (been playing since 2011) I am playing with a full iron set (5-pw + 56o) though still not 14 clubs. Yesterday that got me to a 90 net…(114 off the stick..) – so much for a full set of irons then!
    I used to read that beginner golfers don’t need a full set and would do just as well with a half set. At 24HC and never lower, I am kind of a “beginner” forever!
    Few years ago I played for about a year and a half with 4 clubs: 3w, 6i, Gap wedge and putter. Didn’t seem to affect my HC much either. It frees one’s game up.

  9. Haven’t done this in a while and will give it a go this weekend. I’m thinking just the 7i or maybe one of each type of club. Great way to get those gaming skills a boost. #SecretGiveaway

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.