Most amateurs get the distance to the target and then pick the club that will be just strong enough to reach it—if they make really solid contact. But what if they don’t hit their best shot, or it’s windy, or there’s room in front of the green to play a lower shot that runs up to the hole? Instead of, say, a 7-iron from 140 yards, maybe a 6- or 5-iron makes more sense.
There’s a fun little practice game that teaches a feel for distance and swing-speed control. Take those three clubs—7-iron, 6-iron, 5-iron—and try to hit them the same distance.
You can achieve consistent results by adjusting the length of your backswing and your swing speed. You will develop a feel for a shortened swing. A shorter swing should be slower and will produce a shot with a lot less backspin. The ball will fly lower and roll more. Allow for more roll with the 6- and 5-iron to get the same distance as your full 7-iron.
If you can train yourself to swing the club at different speeds and lengths, you’ll add a valuable weapon to your arsenal. You’ll be able to play more shots and make the game easier.