Score Lower Knowing Golf Course Yardages

How far away is the hole? When you first start to play golf, one of the hardest things to learn is; How far away you are from the hole? Which club should you use to make it there?

These questions can be learned and understood only when you:

  1. Figure out how far you hit each club
  2. Know how to figure out your distances to the hole

Here are my simple tips to understanding golf course yardages

Why is it Important to Know your Club Distances

Knowing your golf club distances on the golf course is one of the best ways to improve your game.

As you probably learned from my article “which golf clubs you need in your bag” each club varies in loft which effects the distance of the golf ball after contact. ( ex. An 8 iron will go further than a 9 iron because it has lower loft). So to know which golf club we need to use, we need to know how far each one of our clubs goes so that the yardages on the course make sense.

The best way to find out your individual, golf club yardages is to head out to the driving range and aim at specific targets where the distance has already been measured. (Usually colored flags) The key to finding your club yardages is consistency and contact. Take 7-10 well struck golf shots with each club and then take the average distance to find out that particular club’s distance.

Once we know how far each one of our clubs goes, the different yardages on the golf course will make so much more sense!

Look at the Scorecard

Now that you know how far you hit each golf club, we can look at the course’s scorecard t0 learn the distances of each hole.

Scorecards list the hole yardages of each hole for each colored tee you choose to play from.

how to read a scorecard

Always note the total distance for each 9 so that you can evaluate which tee markers to play for your particular skill level

Red Marker

A red yardage marker means that you are 100 yards to the center of the green.

Red markers can be:

  • A line on the cart path
  • A red stake on the fairway

White Marker

A white yardage marker means that you are 150 yards to the center of the green.

White markers can sometimes be white/black checkered and located either:

  • One the cart path
  • As a stake in the fairway

Blue Marker

A blue yardage marker means that you are 200 yards to the center of the gree.

Blue markers can be:

  • A line on the cart path
  • A red stake on the fairway

Yellow Marker

Yellow yardage markers aren’t as common but still appear at some golf courses

Yellow makers mean that you are 250 yards to the center of the green.

They can be:

  • A line on the cart path
  • A red stake on the fairway

Sprinkler Heads/Drainage Caps

Golf courses also sometimes list yardages to the green on the tops of sprinkler heads or drainage caps located in the fairways.

How to Determine your Exact Distance

The easiest way to determine your distance on your own is to walk off your yardage.

Rule of Thumb: 1 large step= 1 yard/meter

So by finding the closest yardage markers and then walking on a straight path towards the green, you can find how far away you are to the center of the green to use the appropriate golf club.

GPS Carts

Carts with GPS systems are becoming more and more popular at larger golf courses.

Most GPS systems give you a birds-eye view of the hole and the distances to the front, middle and back of the green.

GPS Golf Carts


The easiest way for knowing your “exact” distance to the flagstick is to use a rangefinder.

You just scope out the flagstick through the lens, and it gives you your precise distance to the pin.

You can read about the rangefinder that I recommend here!

Best Rangefinders
My <3

GPS Devices

As technology keeps expanding, it becomes easier to track your distances on the golf course using a multitude of devices.

Other GPS devices include:

  • GPS watches
  • Skycaddie
  • Cell phone Golf Apps



Many private courses and country clubs still offer the use of a caddy for those who still want to walk the course.

Caddies are taught how to:

  • Clean and organize your golf bag
  • Repair divots
  • Rake bunkers
  • Give general knowledge about the course’s holes
  • Keep the pace of play
  • Tell you the yardage for every one of your shots

Many caddies are given a yardage book which they use to provide you with accurate distances around the course


Knowing which club to use for specific yardages is imperative when trying to play better golf.

Use the following to find distances out on the course:

  1. Scorecard
  2. Red Yardage Markers
  3. White Yardage Markers
  4. Blue Yardage Markers
  5. Yellow Yardage Markers
  6. GPS Devices
  7. Caddy

Knowing your distances on the course will help you navigate better around the course and improve your confidence in your playing ability!

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