Our Essential Golf Club Buyers Guide
Educate yourself before you buy
We all want to improve our game-whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or a highly skilled player. The better you are, the more you enjoy playing. While practice is the key to improving, other factors sometimes impede your progress, like your clubs. Having the right clubs increases your chance of playing well and instills self-confidence-a critical factor in improving your game. But finding the right clubs is a challenge.
With so many options out there, it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. Our buyers guide provides information that will help you choose the right clubs for you. Easy to understand, the guide offers a step-by-step approach for selecting the right clubs.
When it comes to buying equipment, we all think alike: The higher the price, the better the clubs. While price often indicates quality, those expensive brand name clubs touted by a PGA pro may not be right for you. You don’t need a $1200 set of clubs to play well. In fact, you can play better with clubs costing hundreds less than brand names if they fit your swing and your game. How do you find the right clubs?
Knowledge is the key to selecting your clubs. Knowing how a club affects your swing and your ballstriking helps you choose a set that’s right for you. That’s something only you can do. Your favorite salesman at the local pro shop-as knowledgeable as he is about clubs-can provide some help, but it’s limited, since he probably doesn’t know how you play. Using our guide will help you make a better, more informed decision.
The major components of a golf club are the head, the shaft, and the grip. These components come in a variety of makes, models, sizes, and materials. If one of these components doesn’t match your swing or if your clubs are too old, you’ll struggle to improve your game. Below are details on these key components.
CLUB HEAD STYLE
Manufacturers have come a long way in club making technology. Today, clubs are more forgiving than ever, and no where is the impact of those advances felt more than in club head design and construction. A club head’s main characteristics are offset, perimeter weighting, sole width, heel-to-toe length, and face height.
Offset is the amount the face of a club sits back from the hosel of the club. Offset reduces the chances of hitting a slice and increases the chances making solid contact with the ball. Solid contact affects distance and accuracy. Better golfers require less offset than poorer players. In fact, offset can be a major factor in helping players with high handicaps play well. Even players with lower handicaps benefit from using clubs with offset club heads.
Perimeter weighting places more material around the club head’s perimeter than its center, creating a larger sweet spot on the club. This design makes the club more forgiving when hit and reduces the effects of mis-hits. Better players prefer the club head’s mass behind the center to achieve more distance. Poorer players want the weight around the perimeter to correct off-center hits. If you’re a highly skilled player, buy clubs with no perimeter weighting. If you are a less skilled player, opt for clubs with perimeter weighting.
Size is another factor when buying irons. Put simply, the larger the club head, the easier it is to get entangled in the rough or a plush lie. The smaller the sole, the easier it is to get out of the rough or a plush lie. That’s why many teaching pros recommend a mid- to wide-soled iron for clubs from 2 to 9, and more blade style irons for wedges. Blade style clubs improve your chances of hitting out of the rough or a plush lie while providing the ability to stop the ball quickly on the green. Consider buying blade style wedges if you often find yourself playing from the rough.
Heel-to-toe length is more cosmetic then anything else, although it somewhat affects forgiveness. Some players simply like the look of a more compact iron even though the longer heel-to-toe design offers a larger, more effective hitting area. If you want the maximum amount of forgiveness in your clubs, select ones with a longer heel-to-toe design.
Face height is similar to heel-to-toe length. If you are looking for the most forgiving irons you can find, choose ones that have more face height.
Poor ball flight pattern plagues many golfers. Poor pattern causes players to lose 3-5 strokes or more a round. The ideal is a high, penetrating shot that lands softly on the green or the fairway. Too low a ball flight pattern prevents you from stopping your shot where you want. Instead, the ball rolls off the green into trouble. Too high a ball flight pattern robs you of distance, preventing you from clearing hazards or from reaching the green on an approach shot. Poor ball flight pattern could be a sign that you don’t have the right shaft for your clubs.
The shaft is a vital consideration when buying clubs. The key features of a shaft are flex, torque, length, and weight. If one of these features is off, it affects your swing, preventing your ball from achieving that high, penetrating shot we all want. Below is information on each of the key features of a shaft.
Flex is one of the most important, if not the most important, feature when selecting a shaft. Flex is the amount a club bends during the swing. The shaft’s flex must match the player’s swing speed for best results. If there’s too much flex, the player has less control of the ball when hit. This player will have a tendency to draw or hook the ball. It there’s not enough flex, the player loses distance but gains control. This player will have a tendency to fade or slice the ball.
Another important consideration is torque. Torque is the amount the club head twists when the player swings the club. Torque, like flex, must match the player’s swing speed. To get the maximum distance and control from a shaft, you need to have the right torque rating. If you have a shaft with a rating of 2.5 stiff and your hitting the ball 275 yards without roll, you’re probably not getting the most out of your shaft. That’s because you’re not putting enough load on the shaft to maximize the club’s torque rating. Without sufficient load, the shaft won’t unload at its maximum capability.
Many players need help getting the clubhead to release properly through impact. That’s where torque comes in. More torque, however, means less control of the club head when hitting the ball.
Weight affects how the club feels. Every golfer likes a different feel to his clubs. Some like clubs with their weight in the club head, others like clubs with their weight more evenly distributed. Some like irons with the weight in the club head, and woods with the weight evenly distributed. Others like irons with the weight evenly distributed and woods with the weight in the club head. It all depends on the feel. The feel of a club is important because it affects the player psychologically. That, in turn, affects his self-confidence.
Do you often find yourself choking up on your clubs? Does your back hurt the morning after a round of golf? That’s your body telling you your clubs are too long or too short. Your body changes its motion to compensate for the wrong size clubs. Using a new motion brings new muscles into play, stressing them and generating pain. This change also hampers your swing rhythm, a key to playing successful golf. Without good rhythm, the player will never develop a powerful swing.
If your clubs are too long, you’ll see these types of shots:
- Low Hook
- Higher ball flight
- Fat shots
- Worm burners
- Push or Slice
Low Hook – The extra long shaft makes the club’s toe stick up, causing the heel to grab the ball first. This development in turn creates right to left spin on the ball and lower ball flight.
Higher Ball Flight – Golfers often compensate for the additional length by standing too tall and leaning back on their downswing. Leaning back creates extra loft, causing a high shot with little distance.
Fat Shots – Because you have longer shafts you tend to compensate for the additional shaft length. But you forget to compensate about 40 percent of the time. This causes you to make contact with the ground a hair to soon, resulting in fat shots.
Worm Burner – This is the opposite of the fat shot. Here, you over compensate for shaft length by standing too tall. Instead of making solid contact with the ball, you hit the upper part of the ball, causing a worm burner or the low skimming shot that flies 60 yards over the green.
If your clubs are too short, you’ll see these types of shots:
- Push or slice
- Catch the ball thin
Push or Slice – An iron that’s too short points the toe into the ground, causing it to grab the ball too early in the swing. It also pushes your heel forward, which in turn generates left to right spin on the ball resulting in a push or a slice.
Catching It Thin – If you’re hitting weak shots with little distance or height, you may be simply catching the ball too thin. That’s a clear indication that the clubs are too short for you.
As long as you are not (yet!) a PGA Pro chances are that online fitting will serve you well enough to get a good fit. Getting custom fitted online is easy and painless with web-based fitting tools like the ‘club fitting wizard’ at Pinemeadow Golf. This tools is free, you can just click the link and try it out. It helps to have a partner who assists with some of the measurements required, like your full hight and your wrist hight from the ground.