Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Set of Golf Clubs
Educate yourself before you buy
Golf clubs come in a variety of makes, models, and sizes. They also come in a broad range of prices, with endorsements from well-known professional golfers. But buying a set of golf clubs promoted by Tiger Woods or Sergio Garcia, won’t make you play better golf. And they could be expensive. Instead, look for a set of golf clubs that fits both your game and your budget.
Basic Set of Golf Clubs
A golfer can carry any combination of 14 clubs in his/her bag, according to the rules of golf.
The standard set of golf clubs includes 3 woods (1, 3, 5), 7 irons (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), a pitching wedge, and a putter. Many golfers add a sand wedge to their bags for getting out of sand traps. Others add additional wedges or a club designed for a specific situation, such as chipping to the green. Still others are replacing their long irons with hybrid clubs, a “cross” between an iron and a wood. These clubs are easier to hit than the longer irons but generate the same distance. What you carry in your bag will depend on your experience and how comfortable you are hitting each type of club.
You can buy a set of clubs-new, used, customized, or cloned- in a wide variety of ways: direct from a manufacturer, over the Web, or from a local sporting goods store. New clubs are ideal, but may be more than your budget. Used clubs save money, but might not be right for you. Customized clubs could be exactly what you want and may be what your actually require. Cloned clubs are more cost-effective versions of well-known brands, but there are also be illegal copies of brand clubs out there. It helps to know something about golf club selection before you buy.
Basics of Golf Club Selection
The key features of a golf club are loft, lie, and shaft. Each feature is described below.
Loft: The number on the bottom of a club indicates its loft. The higher the number, the greater the club’s loft. A 9-iron offers more loft than a 4-iron. The lower the club’s loft, the longer the club. Longer clubs generate more distance, but are much harder to hit, which means you’ll be less accurate with the club.
Lie: Lie is the angle the hosel makes with the club’s shaft. The hosel is the part of the club that connects with the shaft. The hosel projects out of the club at standard lie. It can be altered to fit a golfer’s individual characteristics. Small players generally prefer shorter clubs, which feature flatter lies.
Shaft: The shaft is a key club component. Every shaft has flex, which refers to how much the shaft bends when you hit the ball. The weaker the shaft, the more flex it has. The more flex it has, the more it bends when a player strikes the ball. If the shaft has too much flex it bends too much, and the player loses control of the ball’s flight. The stronger a player is the stiffer a shaft he wants. It is important to know that the same shaft manufacturer sells different grades/qualities of any given shaft model. A good article that highlights this can be found HERE
You’re more likely to hit an iron from the fairway than any other club. Use them to make approach shots, recovery shots, and chip shots, among others. When buying irons, you can buy “game improvement” irons or traditional irons. Game improvement irons are good if you are an average player or below. They offer features, like an oversize face or a low center of gravity, that compensate for imprecise ball striking. Traditional irons are good for an above average player. They don’t necessarily come with special shotmaking features, but they do provide more feel and better control.
Woods are generally for hitting long shots from the fairway and for driving off the tee. Years ago woods were made out of persimmon and laminated wood. They felt good when hit, but they weren’t very forgiving. Today, woods are made from a variety of metals. They’re much more forgiving than previous versions. Club heads are also larger, providing more club with which to hit the ball.
You’ll hit your putter more than any other club in the bag. In a complete round of golf, it would not be unusual to use your putter more than 40 times. The key features of a putter are clubhead, alignment system, loft, and head shape. Putters also come with inserts, which reduce skipping at impact. While they are the most “personal” of all the clubs, you don’t need an expensive one to putt well. Comfort is a big factor.
Try out a set of golf clubs before buying them. Some sporting good stores have an area where you can try the clubs by hitting a ball into a net. Many have a small putting green where you can try out a new putter. The key when buying golf clubs is feel. If the clubs feel right in your hands, then they’re probably the right clubs for you.