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Which club is really more valuable when it comes to scoring?
Welcome to Gear Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, a GOLF.com series in which we tackle your hard-hitting club queries.
I’m looking to get fit for the first time and based on my options I’m wondering if I should get fit for my driver or putter first? — Franklin H., Tampa
This is a great question and one that comes up often from golfers of all skill levels, because the driver and putter are the clubs that get the most use during a round.
Although the old saying goes “you drive for show and putt for dough,” modern statistics have proven that the ability to hit the ball longer and straighter off the tee is more beneficial than saving a stroke or two on the greens.
A big reason for this — which comes to life when you dive into driving and putting stats — is the average golfer basically never takes a penalty stroke when on the green (although three-putting is fairly common and universally annoying!). Also, even when you miss a putt, you are still almost always closer to the hole than you were before, which puts you in a better position to make the next stroke.
Driving, on the other hand, is a completely different part of the game. Although all strokes are worth the same on the scorecard, not every stroke offers the same potential to “hole out.” In the case of a driver, a well-struck shot will put you into a position to hit your approach shot closer to the hole which creates the opportunity to increase the chance of holing out the next shot; this is a super-simplified way of explaining strokes gained. This is also why a properly fit driver is so crucial for scoring.
Unlike when you miss a putt but are (in almost all cases) closer to the hole, an awry tee shot can result in some serious damage to the scorecard if you hit it into a hazard or even worse, out of bounds. Out of bounds is a death blow to your scorecard because not only are you not closer to the hole but you also have added two unnecessary strokes to your score and have to hit your next shot from the exact same spot as the first.
We highly recommend getting fit for both your driver and putter, but if you’re debating which fitting is likely to make the most immediate impact on your scoring, think back to the last time you hit a putt out of bounds and you’ll know exactly which club you should be fit for first.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.
Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.
GOLF.com and GOLF Magazine are published by EB GOLF MEDIA LLC, a division of 8AM GOLF