Carry is most important to me as I can better gauge how the ball will react once it lands in terms of distance and spin. This is especially important I find on iron shots into greens, especially multi-tier where you want to land, 2 hop and stop. I found last fall when my shoulder went for a crap when I had difficulty both on backswing and follow-through. I could still get distance but ball flight was lower with less spin so I could not control distance due to rollout. Thus, I was running through a lot of greens and proximity to the hole was significantly longer.
Carry, but I’m only concerned with max carry with the driver. I don’t want to push the carry on my irons if it means sacrificing too much spin. I want a short/mid iron shot to land and stop in its tracks or have minimal rollout.
With my driver I like to maximize total distance. I know my carry distance so hazards aren’t an issue. Even with soggy conditions I can get 40 yards of rollout if I flight it down. Somehow my carry just likes to stay near the same distance.
Total distance because I don’t have a long carry distance but I can get it out there with roll at around 280. Carry is maybe 250ish. Irons however, is all about carry. I want to know I can hit it over that hazard
Some of this depends on your ball a bit too. Some balls spin much less so you need to worry about where they will roll out too. I guess this really shows you need to focus on both. Someone mentioned hazards earlier as a reason to focus on carry so you know if you can hit over them or not. I agree, but it's just as important to make sure you don't roll into one as well. Obviously carry becomes more and more important as the loft goes up because the roll out gets shorter and shorter.
Through most of my bag it’s carry, but I compromise on the top 2 spots. 3 yards of carry aren’t going to make a difference for ME in my decision to take on a hazard because I’m not consistent enough. So those 2 spots I’ll look at both carry and total and possibly make a compromise.
The last decade I’ve optimized my driver for total carry because we get almost no roll with the wet clay soil at my home course that is typical in N. California. That will be changing now that I’m moving back to Minnesota where the have much better soil, drainage, and overall grass conditions that allow for more roll. By tweaking my launch I should be able to get average 15-20 more yards off the tee due to the added roll and the much faster fairways I’ll be playing on from now on. The back tees at my new club are 6850 but it plays like the 6600 yard tees at my old club.
Its all about the carry. Total distance is purely dependent on the type of course, location of the course, how the course is maintained, not to mention the dry or wetness of the course. Carry is carry no matter what and it is something you can depend on consistently