How close should you hit it from 100 yards? (Not as close as you think!)

tiger woods wedge

If you and Tiger Woods have the same expectations for your wedge shots, you might end up disappointed fairly often.

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You’ve bombed your tee shot on a par-4, leaving that sweet, sweet yardage: 100, on the dot, to the flagstick. Visions of tap-in birdies dance in your head. You pull out that 52-degree wedge and hit it just right and short of the hole, leaving yourself an 18-footer for birdie.

One of your playing partners is impressed. “Nice shot!”

You shake your head, muttering something about how you wanted to get it closer from there.

But your buddy is right. It was a nice shot — unless you’re a a PGA Tour pro, which seems statistically unlikely given the makeup of our readership. Even if you do have your Tour card, it was an average shot. And it might just be time for you to readjust your expectations.

One of the more insightful Twitter follows in the golf world, Lou Stagner, posted a chart over the weekend that showed how often Tour pros hit it close from different yardages — and, more tellingly, how often they don’t.

From 100 yards, it seems like the guys on TV hit it to kick-in range all the time, right? Not so much. Just 4 percent of approach shots finish inside 3 feet. That’s only 1 of every 25 attempts. Just a quarter (25 percent) of approach shots from 100 yards settle inside 9 feet. The average shot ends up 18 feet, 5 inches from the hole. And again, this is for Tour pros!

So remember, the next time you’ve got a wedge in your hand, to manage your expectations. If you’re going to be disappointed by anything that’s not a top-tier professional golf shot, you’re probably not going to have too much fun on the golf course.

The entire chart is fascinating, and really might make you re-evaluate how you see certain approach shots. Here are five other moments that jumped out to me:

1. From 50 yards, pros hit it inside 12 feet just half the time.

When we get close to the green, expectations skyrocket. But 50-yard shots are tricky! They’re definitely not twice as easy as 100-yard shots. Pros hit it, on average, just 3 feet closer from 50 yards than they do from 100 yards. The middle of the green is still a wholly acceptable result from 50 yards away.

2. From 115 yards, plenty of pros miss the green.

Don’t be ashamed of a missed green with a wedge — seriously! Only 80.4 percent of PGA Tour pros hit the green from 115 yards out in the fairway, which means that 1 in 5 miss the green altogether. Less than half their approach shots are ending up inside 18 feet. So don’t beat yourself up and instead remember: it happens to the best of us!

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3. From 160 yards, it’s really hard to hit it tight.

Really, really hard. Pros hit it inside 3 feet from 160 yards just 1 percent of the time. They’re inside 6 feet just 5 percent of the time. No wonder making birdies is so difficult — it requires a top-tier approach shot and rolling in a nice putt, too.

4. From 205 yards, it’s a coin flip whether Tour pros will hit the green.

This is shots from the fairway, mind you. From 205, the average Tour pro is going to hit the green exactly half the time, leaving the ball an average of 43 feet, 5 inches from the hole. It’s no wonder these guys are chasing distance; from 150 yards they’ll hit the green 3 out of 4 times versus just 2 out of 4 from another 50 yards away. Those percentages add up.

5. From 250 yards, it’s really hard to hit it close.

Again, it can seem from watching Bryson, Rory and the big-hitting gang like Tour pros are hitting 5-irons 250 yards with some regularity, but it’s worth a reality check: Just 20 percent of shots from 250 yards hit the green, and just 14 percent (about 1 in 7) finish inside 45 feet. If you snag yourself an eagle putt, it’s well-earned.

Manage those expectations and you could well play better and have more fun, too.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.