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GSwag

The Three Club Round

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What?  A round of golf, using only three golf clubs

Why?  A) Because it's still hot as blazes, and if I can lighten the load and not have to lug an entire golf bag, why not, and B ) to see if I can score as good or better with just three clubs, versus the entire set of 14 that is allowed.

Where?  Jack Gaither Golf Course, Tallahassee, FL - a 9-hole course that is easily walkable, and often times empty, that costs anyone who wants to play $10 for unlimited golf.  The course plays 2,849 yards from the white tees, which is the tees I used for this round.

So I grabbed my 4 iron, 7 iron and Pitching Wedge, and set out to see how using just three clubs on this 9-hole track would work.  For reference purposes, I can hit a 4 iron about 200 yards, a 7 iron about 165 yards, and my PW goes about 130 yards when I hit them all full.  I chose to putt with my 4 iron, de-lofting it like a hockey stick, and seeing how that worked.

As a disclaimer, this is not my first rodeo with the three-club game of golf.  During the summer of 2009, when I was unemployed and had a membership to a local club in North Carolina, I opted to walk carrying three clubs, and found the experience interesting, and discovered that over the course of a number of three club rounds, that my scores did not increase dramatically.

Using just three clubs not only eliminates a lot of guess work with club selection, but also makes you think through hitting a shot a bit more, mostly for shots that are a 3/4 or less swing.  And because you are not carrying a golf bag, some pre-planning with regards to golf balls, and assorted other accessories is needed.  I wore a pair of shorts that were golf shorts, but also had several other pockets in the front, like cargo shorts, that allowed me to store everything I carried with me in those pockets.  This included car keys, wallet, cell phone, tees, divot tool, and 4 golf balls.  The golf balls are the most challenging in consideration of doing this, because with me only carrying 4 balls, and if I have a bad round and lose all four, your round essentially ends when the last ball is gone.  With that said though, that was not a problem on this particular occasion, as I left the course with the same amount of golf balls that I entered it with - no lost balls.

My handicap is a 7 for our demonstration purposes here, and using that as a metric, my typical score for 9 holes is around 40 strokes.  The question is, can I score around my average with just three clubs?  What are the biggest challenges and what obstacle did you face that made using just three clubs really hard?  And based on my club selection, I'm sure a lot of you are assuming that putting will be the biggest hurdle to overcome, because just pulling out a 4 iron, or blading a wedge for putts, is not something that screams, "I'll be making putts left and right with this thing."  I will grant you that putting with a lofted club of any other sort requires some adjustment, and you will find yourself adjusting the swing of whatever club you choose to achieve the desired results for each putt.  Ultimately though, your goal is to lag your first putt to within tap in range, and walk off with no more than 2 putts on any hole.

My results?  1 double bogey, 2 bogeys, 3 pars, and 3 birdies.  The break down is as follows:

Double Bogey was on #5, a short par 3, where I had 119 yards to the pin.  This was actually a perfect distance for a full PW, but the wind was in my face, and I swung easier than normal to prevent flying a full PW over the green, and I ended up leaving it in the front bunker.  This was my only bunker of the day, and now is where not having your sand wedge or lob wedge presents a huge hurdle.  My sand shot require loft, because I was just below a high lip, so I had to try and pop out this ball from the sand with the PW.  I miss-fired a bit with this, and the ball ended up just over the green.  I chipped back on to about 10 feet, and 2 putted for double bogey.  

I bogeyed the first hole, which was a par 4 of about 360 yards.  I hit my 4 iron to about 170 in, which required everything I had to get a 7 iron there.  I attribute the 7 iron shot to being somewhat cold, as I did not have a warm up, as there is no range at this course.  I slightly hooked the 7 iron just short and left of the green.  I chipped on with my PW and then 2-putted for bogey.  Honestly, my 3 clubs really didn't cost me much here.

I also bogeyed the third hole.  Another par 4 of about 330 yards.  I hit a perfect 4 iron that literally landed next to the 100 yard stake.  Now we have a choke down PW to try and hit a 130 yard club about 100 yards.  I misjudged the swing and sent the ball over the green a bit and it actually landed on the tee box of the next hole.  So I chipped on the green from there and 2-putted for bogey.  Had I had my SW from 100 yards would I have had a better chance at birdie or par?  Probably, but I'm not going to lose sleep over misfiring on a choke down PW too much.

Now here is where it gets interesting.  I birdied the last three holes of this little 9-hole track.  Hole #7 is a 285 yard par 4.  I hit a nice 4 iron to the left side of the fairway with about 85 yards in.  I choked down again on a PW and hit a perfect shot to about 6 feet above the hole.  Playing hockey with my 4 iron, I knocked in the 6 footer for the birdie.

Hole #8 is a par 3, in this case of about 145 yards with the pin being tucked left and front.  I choked down on my 7 iron and swung easy.  My shot landed on the back of the green above the hole, leaving me with a downhill 25 footer.  Using my modified 4-iron hockey stick I watched as the ball hopped a bit on the longer stroke, and found it's way into the bottom of the cup.  Now I am laughing hysterically to myself saying, "Man, I think I putt better with a 4 iron then I do with my putter."

Hole #9 is a short par 4 of maybe 280 yards.  I rip a perfect 4 iron right down the middle, where I have about 100 yards to a very back pin location.  It was actually about 85 yards to the middle of the green, but I digress.  So I choke down on the PW again, and hit an absolute beauty to about 2 feet for the tap in birdie.

You are probably looking at these yardages and saying that this course is ridiculously short.  Well, again, I played the white tees, and you can step back to the blues, which is what I normally play.  That par 3 8th hole is about 195 from the blue tees.

This course really is a good place to just practice and get some work in on your game without stressing too much.  You aren't out here to set course records, or to think too hard.  The greens are always so so, and putting is usually an adventure in how many bumps you roll over.  I play it mostly because it's 5 minutes from my office and I can get in a quick nine before dinner after work.  I finished this 9 hole round in about an hour.  Except for a twosome I ran into on the 7th hole, there was no one else on the golf course.  It's peaceful and I'm by myself with me and my thoughts and a little golf.

To summarize though, my average score for 9 holes is 40, and I walked off with 37 strokes here.  Not a bad start to the three club golf experiment.

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A year after I started playing golf full time back in 1992, I played in my company league; 9-holes after work.  Interesting, I played on a course that is at the same location as where I play now.  However, in the late 1990's the 18 hole par 66 course was totally gutted, rebuilt, and renamed to what it is now.  But I digress.  

All year long in the league I couldn't break 60 for nine holes.  Near the end of the season the league had a 3-Club tournament.  I select 5i, 9i, and putter.  I shot 47.  After the tournament I went back to my entire bag and couldn't break 60 again, but I kept trying!!  

The course I played prior to joining my current club was a 9-hole dog track that was 2800y from the tips; one par 5, two par 3's and six par 4's.  It was great in that at certain times, it was not crowded.  I could play 9 holes in an hour, or I could take my time and play the course hitting different clubs off the tees to give different yardages into the greens.  It was a cheap place to practice all the shots, except it had no bunkers and the greens rolled about 6 on a stimpmeter.  Not a good place to practice putting, especially when I traveled and played golf at a lot of courses that had much faster greens.  At some point I may end up back there when I can no longer play a regulation length course at the level that I want.

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At the beginning of the year we will be doing a 4 club tourney again, it’s fun. I shot an 82 last year and I had 6 three putts in the round. 

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I host an annual 3 club tourney, it’s alotta fun and the winner usually shoots low 80s on an 18 hole course. Got mine coming up in 2 weeks.

Likely going 3W or 16.5 hybrid, 8i, 55 wedge.

Due to the various skill levels, we’re doing 2 member teams this year.

 

Happy to see more people doing it.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy

 

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these 3 club comps are great fun especially as you have to manipulate shots.

Usually I take 3 iron, 7 iron, PW.

 

Seve used to do a whole round with just a 3 iron, watching him splash out of greenside bunkers with a 3 iron is magical.

 

It's worth everyone trying these as you get a real feel for the swing and shot making.

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Never tried this format, but it sounds like fun.  Reminds me a little of the "One Fly" tournaments where we select a single fly and fish it the whole day.  If you lose it (be it to the vegetation or a fish) game over.  Depending on course/hole lengths I think I'd take my 4i, 7i, and PW.

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We used to do this in high school every once in a while. It was a P59 round. Scores were usually pretty close to normal, but it did help with the creativity.


Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy

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Years ago I was in a 9-hole after work league that did a 1 club (+putter) tournament once a year. It was fun as a change of pace. I wish our current league would do it once a year, but not in the cards. I always chose my 5-iron. It is surprising how close to normal scores one can get with just one club.

Last year I started off using irons only for 6-8 weeks, NO woods or hybrids. Since then I use woods and hybrids where they're intended like most everyone else, but my scores aren't any better...

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I will play with a couple of my friends what i call the 2 club challenge. I will play with my 7 iron and 56* wedge. My friends insist on playing with 2 clubs and a putter. For some reason they just cant get behind not putting with a putter. I think that my game usually gets better after playing it. I know it helps my putting a lot. 

As an aside, i have never enjoyed walking a round of golf more that just carrying only 2 clubs.

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I just can't imagine going to the golf course specifically for the purpose of playing 9 or 18 with 3 clubs. Now don't get upset or anything. I'm reading where some of y'all enjoy it and such. That's fine. It's just not for me. Even occasionally for practice on the course I'll take a small assortment of clubs and work on those only.  Hitting multiple shots - chipping and pitching - putting, etc. I just don't have time to lose a day playing golf with only three clubs when I could be playing a regular match against my buddies. I'm not retired (completely) so my time on the course is important and as I only have one or two days a week to play. And as you regulars know.... my group plays competitively against each other and always for a little bit of $$. 🏌️‍♂️

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Great write up GSwag.But more impressively is that price of $10 unlimited golf.That is a deal in itself 

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This is insane! I decided to double down on this idea and got a “Sunday bag” that fits the 5 clubs I am going to use when I walk a quick nine holes after work. So what do I do but go out today and shoot even par (36) on the back nine of my home course. Here’s the bag I bought to fit the clubs I am playing with in this format.
IMG_2340.JPGIMG_2341.JPG

If I keep playing this good with this few clubs I may have to reevaluate how I play the game going forward.


Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy

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12 hours ago, GSwag said:

If I keep playing this good with this few clubs I may have to reevaluate how I play the game going forward.

I too have a small and lightweight Ping "moon" bag for practice. Good 9 holes you shot . You're kind of like the Pros as they only use 3 clubs too. 🏌️‍♂️

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On 10/22/2018 at 4:33 PM, GSwag said:

This is insane! I decided to double down on this idea and got a “Sunday bag” that fits the 5 clubs I am going to use when I walk a quick nine holes after work. So what do I do but go out today and shoot even par (36) on the back nine of my home course. Here’s the bag I bought to fit the clubs I am playing with in this format.
IMG_2340.JPGIMG_2341.JPG

If I keep playing this good with this few clubs I may have to reevaluate how I play the game going forward.


Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy

So, you are saying that you can shoot even par with those four clubs, but not when other clubs join them in the bag?  Have you analyzed why that is?  Armed with that knowledge, you should be able to shoot even lower scores when you have clubs available that better fit certain shots.

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11 hours ago, Kenny B said:

So, you are saying that you can shoot even par with those four clubs, but not when other clubs join them in the bag?  Have you analyzed why that is?  Armed with that knowledge, you should be able to shoot even lower scores when you have clubs available that better fit certain shots.

I was discussing this with my brother (who uses just 10 clubs to play hickory golf) and he outright stated that shotmaking is gone when you incorporate 14 clubs, because you have a specific club for a specific distance, rather than having to think through how much to swing to get a ball to travel a certain distance with say a 7 iron from 140 yards (when I can hit it 170 yards full swing).

I also think that when you are hitting the same clubs over and over again you are gonna get better with them, versus pulling a 6 iron once a round for one shot and never using it again all day.  Just like pulling driver on anything but a par 3, and putting on every hole, those two clubs you are very familiar with, versus the rest of the clubs.

Just taking chipping as an example.  I have 4 wedges in my full set, but if I am just bringing PW for any shot inside 125 yards, I'm gonna get more comfortable with that one club, with various swings and techniques using it, versus just taking a full flighted SW everytime I have 100 yards in to the green.  I just think you get more comfortable with a few clubs, versus hitting all 14, and again maybe hitting one club once during a round, if at all.

Going back even further, when I learned to play golf my Dad handed me a 7 iron and nothing else.  He just told me to hit it until I got good with the 7 iron.  Now we have these starter sets with 10 clubs or whatever, and you're asking a complete beginner golfer to master 10 clubs all at the same time, meanwhile they don't even get good with 1 club.  If I am teaching someone how to play golf I'm employing the 7 iron method.  They are gonna get good hitting a 7 iron before I hand them anything else.

 

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I routinely played with the number of clubs that my cart bag was designed to hold--FIFTEEN.

The game was still far too hard for me,, even with fifty-plus years of experience.

It probably wouldn't have been much harder with SIX clubs,

but a pencil bag just doesn't attach to a cart that well.

 

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2 hours ago, GSwag said:

I was discussing this with my brother (who uses just 10 clubs to play hickory golf) and he outright stated that shotmaking is gone when you incorporate 14 clubs, because you have a specific club for a specific distance, rather than having to think through how much to swing to get a ball to travel a certain distance with say a 7 iron from 140 yards (when I can hit it 170 yards full swing).

I also think that when you are hitting the same clubs over and over again you are gonna get better with them, versus pulling a 6 iron once a round for one shot and never using it again all day.  Just like pulling driver on anything but a par 3, and putting on every hole, those two clubs you are very familiar with, versus the rest of the clubs.

Just taking chipping as an example.  I have 4 wedges in my full set, but if I am just bringing PW for any shot inside 125 yards, I'm gonna get more comfortable with that one club, with various swings and techniques using it, versus just taking a full flighted SW everytime I have 100 yards in to the green.  I just think you get more comfortable with a few clubs, versus hitting all 14, and again maybe hitting one club once during a round, if at all.

Going back even further, when I learned to play golf my Dad handed me a 7 iron and nothing else.  He just told me to hit it until I got good with the 7 iron.  Now we have these starter sets with 10 clubs or whatever, and you're asking a complete beginner golfer to master 10 clubs all at the same time, meanwhile they don't even get good with 1 club.  If I am teaching someone how to play golf I'm employing the 7 iron method.  They are gonna get good hitting a 7 iron before I hand them anything else.

 

I agree that beginners should start out with fewer clubs.  It's not the most fun thing to do, but golf will likely be more fun if beginners spend enough time on the range learning to hit that 7i, rather than heading out onto a course with a full set of clubs.  

My first time on a golf course was in 1991 in CA on a business trip.  A bunch of guys decided to play on the weekend.  We rented clubs and I slogged it around all day.  I'm sure I pissed off a lot of people, but I don't really remember.  A year later when I decided to learn the game, I went to a local club builder, and he made me a set of PE2 knockoffs, and a 2W and 4W, but only made the odd numbered irons; I probably didn't need all of those!  After playing for a year, I went back and he made the even numbered irons.  

Keep posting on your experience.  I am interested in your decision on whether to add clubs back in the bag, or stay as is.

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5 minutes ago, Kenny B said:

Keep posting on your experience.  I am interested in your decision on whether to add clubs back in the bag, or stay as is.

Well, that's the cool thing about this.  I've been doing this mostly for weight and logistics reasons.  If I am going to walk in the heat and humidity, I figure I'll just take a few clubs to lighten the load.  But now with my game improving with fewer clubs, who knows.

The other way to do this also, is that if I enter a tournament or some event, I can still bring the full 14 clubs, but I can keep the same 5 clubs in play or so and see how it goes.  I guess that would just require discipline as you want to play just with the 5 clubs, but having all 14 in front of you might just be too tempting to avoid pulling another one for a certain shot.

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This is an excellent Idea, A few years back, in an effort to get better shot making with my 8 iron I played the entire summer carrying only a driver, 8 iron and putter. Really improver my shot making, had to be real selective on where and how I was going my make the shot to keep the score as low as possible. I need to revisit this method next season.

Chris

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