So you have finally decided to join the golfing world, perhaps as a professional or for the occasional fun? Of course, that is a great idea; unfortunately, choosing the right gear is as important as learning how to golf, and with the numerous options available, buying the right set of clubs can be a bit challenging. So we have prepared the following guide to choose golf clubs to help you purchase the right gear for your skill level.
There are numerous types of golf clubs designed to tackle a specific challenge in the course and improve your weakness. Therefore, using the wrong golf club can do more than mess up your experience.
Golfers are legally allowed to carry 14 golf clubs when golfing, but this doesn’t mean that you have to adhere to this rule. In this article, we’ll help you match your skill levels with the correct golf club.
Choosing the Best Golf Clubs
Whether you are an avid golfer planning for your next golf trip or a beginner, selecting the right gear is crucial for your game. Golfing with the right club can change how you play and even reduce your handicap. After all, you already have everything you will ever need to succeed in your bag, but knowing when to use each club is crucial.
So whether you are buying an entire set or a single club, the sheer number of clubs in the market can be overwhelming. So here are a few tips to help you pick the right golf club.
Factors to Consider When Buying Golf Clubs
The grip of your golf club may seem essential and least crucial when purchasing a club, but one thing you must understand is that it is the only contact spot between you and the club. So the first thing to consider in terms of grip is comfort. After all, the grips of different clubs vary in size and texture.
Therefore, whether you prefer a coarse feeling or a tacky wrap kind of grip, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable when holding the club. These grips also have performance considerations. Some grips are ideal for dryer conditions, while others are suited for humid conditions.
The second fact to consider in terms of grip is the size of the grip. Some golfers prefer a small-sized standard grip, while others love the midsize grip. Thick grips can restrict hand movement on the club and affect shot distance and swing speed.
On the other hand, your hands will be more pronounced when using a club with a thin grip, making it hard for you to hit the ball straight. In addition, a considerable percentage of the grips may be tapered, while others may have less-or-no tapering on them. Luckily, grip choice depends on personal preference; however, it should never be overlooked.
Your grip can limit the remainder of the swing, making it very hard for you to return to a neutral position after a shot. However, the grip can also free up the remaining part of your swing, making it possible for you to clean up an impact position and maximize your power. (1) An excellent grip allows everything in your swing to occur naturally.
Some of the most common types of grips include:
- Corded: as its name suggests, this grip comes with corded materials that help add traction. This material can help prevent moisture from affecting your swing. A corded grip is ideal for golfers with sweaty hands.
- Rubber: most golf gear producers love using rubber on their clubs. And that is because this material is easy to reproduce and shape. It is also firmer and can produce an adhesive-like feel.
- Wrap: this grip uses leather strips around the shaft. Wrap material produces a comfortable yet tacky feel.
The golf club’s shaft is an elongated tube connecting the head to your hands. And while numerous designs exist, the main objective of the shaft is similar. The shaft provides a means to generate centrifugal force when swinging. (2)
While the shaft is the primary contact part between the club and the ball, most golfers argue that the shaft plays a crucial role in the outcome of a swing. For example, a golfer playing with a proper shaft can see better results than an improper shaft. And some of the features to consider are the shaft’s flexibility, weight, feel, and length.
For example, the weight of the shaft will play a crucial factor in the performance and feel of the club. Naturally, a heavy shaft produces a lower ball flight while a lighter shaft produces a high club-head speed and long-distance.
While some golfers prefer a stock shaft, others are better served by a properly fitted shaft. Also, the length of the shaft will be determined by your body height. And that is because tall individuals require longer shafts to perform at their best.
The shafts are produced in various weights to suit a golfer’s strength and skill level. In addition, golf shops can easily alter the length of the shaft to match the height of numerous golfers.
The flexibility of the shaft is also ideal for your swing; after all, playing with a club that has a stiff shaft can cause loss of distance and low ball flight. On the other hand, too soft shafts can also cause loss of speed and ballooning. Remember, stiffer shafts can make you slice to the right, while soft ones can hook the ball to the left.
How the Shaft Functions
During a swing, the shaft tends to twist and bend since it is a flexible hollowed rod. While swinging, there is a position when your wrist-release comes to impact, which is characterized by the head traveling faster than the shaft.
This action forces the shaft to bend forward with the club-head ahead of it. The forward bending of the shaft forces the loft angle to increase at impact. Since the head’s COG (center of gravity) isn’t in line with the axis of the shaft, the centrifugal force produced forces the head to flatten by bending downwards.
Funnily enough, the bending action in several directions shortens the club length.
The loft angle or loft is determined by measuring the angle at which the club’s face lies relative to the line stretching at the center of the shaft. Fortunately, the loft angle of the woods and irons are measured differently but with effective results. (3) Golfers always carry numerous clubs in their bags that vary in loft angle (from high-lofted wedges to low-lofted driver) (4)
Measured in degrees, clubs with low loft-like 3-iron is about 23 degrees will hit the ball further than ones with higher lofts. Alternatively, a club with higher loft angles like 9-iron at 48 degrees will result in a higher trajectory before descending in a steeper angle.
You can easily judge a club’s loft by how much its face is angled upwards or by how much the top part of its face is angled away from its shaft. Club Faces with high loft angles appear more horizontally angled than the ones with a lower degree.
If you plan on making the most of the club, carrying different-sized club heads can be a game-changer. Fortunately, most brands offer oversized, midsized, and standard heads for their clubs. After all, your choice of club-head size will depend on your experience level.
Remember, the bigger the head, the more forgiving the swing will be. However, you can still make a poor shot and achieve excellent results with oversized heads. These clubs are generally hard to control and heavy.
What a Club-Head Does?
The club-head is considered by most golfers a free-wheeling part of the club. However, at impact, it reacts to its dimensional qualities and mass. For example, on an off-center toe-hit, the head rotates on its COG and is slightly opened.
Generally, the club-head doesn’t rotate around its shaft. When the head’s mass moves at a certain speed, it affects the energy of your shot on impact. It makes the club-head design parameters, such as a moment of inertia, weight, and COG location, so important when golfing.
5) The Material Used to Make Them
Golf clubs are made using either wood or metals. The woods are used for tee-shots or long-distance fairways, while the ones made from iron are used for a wide range of shots. On the other hand, the hybrid clubs, designed with both irons and wood, are becoming quite famous. (5)
Fortunately, the material determines the exact type of shot that you can make with a specific material. There are numerous types of metals used to manufacture club-heads, and some of them are:
- Beta titanium
- 6-4 Titanium
- 15-5 steel
- Maraging metal
- 17-4 steel
- Carbon steel
- Die-cast aluminum
All these types of metals have different levels of playability and hardness. And each will improve your game to some extent. But, for example, carbon steel and 304 stainless steel club-heads won’t create the distance and ball compression favored by pros.
Aluminum and zinc alloys are ideal for beginners. And that is because they are affordable, softer, and less durable than the other types of metals. The main goal of these clubs is to introduce you to the game, but make sure you replace them after a few years.
431-steel is a softer alloy of steel that is typically used to make high-end iron club-heads. 431-steel allows the producer to build forgiving and smooth feeling clubs. (6)
15-5 and 17-4 stainless steels are more popular with woods. And while they are harder than 431 steel, they do produce better distance and ball compression. Maraging metal is steel that has undergone a unique hardening process to make it one of the hardest metals in the golf club’s manufacturing industry.
Titanium is relatively standard among high-end clubs. And that is because of its two unique features (strength and lightweight) that make it possible for manufacturers to increase the size of the driver without affecting their strength. After all, huge club-heads equal large sweet spots and better distance and control.
Despite the numerous benefits and success of titanium with bigger club-heads, why do most golfers shy away from all titanium gear? Well, while this works perfectly on giant heads, it doesn’t work with smaller ones. Therefore, you must confirm the material used to make a club before purchasing it.
Here is a reliable rule of thumb when it comes to materials used to make golf clubs:
- Maraging metal is not that common, but it’s the best performing steel in golfing.
- No material matches the benefits titanium gives the driver golf clubs.
- 15-5 and 17-4 stainless steel are the best materials for fairway woods as they are more robust and create better distance.
- 17-4 and 431 steel are the best for iron clubs as they can be easily adjusted, feel great, and with better forgiveness.
- Aluminum and zinc are the best options for beginners.
Wood Species Used to Make Golf Clubs
Initially, golf club heads were made using a hardwood-like beech, while the shafts were made from hazel or ash. In fact, the early set was made up of two iron and six woods. Golfs were made from wood until the early eighteenth century.
But over the years, especially with the importation of wood from the American continents, the manufacturers of golf clubs started using persimmon for club-heads and hickory for shafts. Persimmon was adopted for the heads because it’s harder than oak or maple. (7)
Even after the USGA (United States Golf Association) agreed that golfers could use clubs with steel shafts in the mid-twentieth century, wooden club-heads were still a norm for fairway woods and drivers until the 1970s. And since clubs with ash shafts are rare, some collectors focus more on getting the ones with hickory shafts.
Another crucial factor that is sometimes overlooked is the confidence or belief that you’ll hit a great shot. If you doubt that you will hit a great shot even after swinging your club, then the chances are that your lack of confidence will reflect in your shot. Therefore, when you look down at your club, you must feel confident and comfortable enough that it will get the job done.
But if you look down and your club doesn’t inspire confidence, then you’re in trouble. Therefore, the general appearance of the club matters a lot. For some golfers, a bigger club may feel bulky and uncomfortable and vice versa. Well, these golfers can do great things with smaller clubs.
Therefore, whatever you prefer, it must inspire confidence when you look down on your club.
7) Level of experience
In golf, your strengths and weaknesses can help you purchase the right clubs. And that is because golf club manufacturers produce gear for a wide range of players. After all, just because you will look excellent with a high-end set of golf clubs doesn’t mean that you will play like Tiger Woods.
And just because you have never played golf doesn’t mean that you don’t have a handicap. So you can first borrow some golf clubs and hit the course to learn your weaknesses and strengths. To get your handicap, make sure you keep the correct scores; you can even get an avid golfer to accompany you while tackling the 18 holes.
Your companion can keep the scores and even sign the card after finishing the course. For a card to be valid, it must have two signatures, yours and that of the golfer accompanying you. And then hand the card over at the course where you usually play.
Now, a golfer’s handicap at any given point is 96% of the mean of the best 10 of their previous 20 scores. Luckily, most public facilities and clubs make it easier for you by feeding your scores into a program that calculates and updates your handicap.
Suppose your 10 scores averages at 100, meaning that in your first 10 rounds, you hit 1,000. If the par for the 18-soles is 72, then your average would be 28. It means that your handicap is 28.
Luckily, people with lower handicap scores are better golfers. (8) Generally speaking, we have three types of handicappers in golf; high, mid, and low handicappers. And there are clubs designed to improve their game every time they hit the ball.
Best Golf Clubs for Newbies
As a beginner, it’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of the game and purchase the best gear in the market. Fortunately, this game is best learned slowly, and you can upgrade your collection with time as your skills improve. If you’re getting into golf, it’s best to get used clubs or borrow from a pal.
After a couple of rounds, you can decide if you want to continue and need your clubs or not. When buying your first clubs, you should stay away from the top brand names and custom-fitted clubs. In fact, for your first set of clubs, we recommend a putter, odd-numbered irons (9, 7, 5, and 3), 3-wood, and a driver.
Other than some fundamental decisions like left or right-handed, you may need to only pick between graphite and steel shaft clubs.
Best Clubs for Experienced and Intermediate Golfers
After golfing for over a year, you can start buying a set of customized clubs for your abilities and physical characteristics. Intermediate players can build up their collections of clubs as their game improves. On the other hand, experienced players can go for the latest models and top brands.
Your strengths and weaknesses will guide you as you choose the best options for your level of experience.
8) Type of Clubs
Generally, there are lots of golf clubs in the market that can be categorized into the following groups:
Wood clubs are long-distance options that are designed to hit the balls a long distance towards the green. These clubs come with a long shaft and a massive head for maximum speed. As aforementioned, clubs were initially made from wood, particularly persimmon, with some producers developing laminated woods.
TaylorMade Golf launched the first wood made from steel in 1979. After that, some manufacturers started making this type of club using other materials like scandium, titanium, and carbon fiber. But although they are made using a wide range of materials, they are still referred to as woods.
Therefore, the name “wood” refers to its general shape and not necessarily the material used to make them. Most wood clubs currently come with graphite shafts, hollowed steel, composite, or titanium heads that allow high club-head speeds. As a result, woods are considered the strongest and longest of all the golf clubs available.
There are 3 or 4 woods in any bag that can hit the ball from the tee perfectly. The longest wood, commonly referred to as 1-wood or driver, is made using feather-light shafts and hollowed-out titanium. The length of 1-wood has been increased over the years, and currently, the length of the clubs with a graphite shaft is 45.5 inches.
Irons come with a flat-angled face, solid metal heads, and a shorter shaft. For ease of access, these clubs have a more upright lie-angle than the woods. Irons are engineered to tackle a wide range of shots on the course ranging from dog-legged holes to fairway or removing the ball out of hazards, among others. A considerable percentage of the irons are numbered from one to nine, corresponding to their loft angles, with the most commonly used being three to nine.
Irons are categorized according to the intended traveling distance, and this relates to the difficulty in hitting and shaft length. Like woods, this type of club got its name from the material manufacturers initially used to make them (forged iron). However, the newer irons are made from steel alloys that allow for a unique cavity-back design with high moments of inertia and low center of mass, giving them better distance and making them easier to hit.
Wedge is a subclass of iron clubs but with a greater loft angle which starts at 47-degrees. Wedges also have wide soles and higher mass club heads. This type of club is used for high-altitude, short distance, and high accuracy shots.
You can also use wedges to hit balls out of roughs or hazards to the green. Five types of wedges vary in loft angle: ultra-lob, Lob, Sand, Gap, and Pitching wedges.
Hybrid is a perfect cross between iron and wood, which gives them the iron’s unique swing and the wood’s higher launch and long-distance. In addition, their club-heads have wood-inspired convex faces that are hollowed for faster swing speeds. Hybrids also come with a smaller head than the woods.
The hybrids replaced the low numbered irons (2 to 5 but commonly 3 and 4), which are the most demanding clubs to use. Unfortunately, they also make the higher-lofted woods redundant.
A putter is an excellent class whose loft doesn’t exceed 10 degrees. Putters were designed to roll the balls along the grass. Modern putters come with a groove that promotes rolling instead of skidding off the impact.
This design reduces bouncing while increasing rolling distances. In addition, a putter is the only class of golf clubs allowed to have unique features like bent hosels, two striking faces, and appendages to help you aim.
Chippers are designed to feel like putters but with a bigger loft. Chippers are used to lift the balls out of high grasses and drop them in the green region. Chippers replaced the high-lofted irons.
The loft of most chippers is over 10 degrees. Unfortunately, this club cannot include features that are only allowed on putters like the 2-striking faces. And adding these features disqualifies the design of chippers.
As a Newbie, Should I Purchase New or Used Golf Clubs?
If you have just started, buying a new set of golf clubs is not a good idea. After all, you haven’t discovered your strength and weaknesses. So you should first borrow from a friend and then go for a used set of clubs and only go for a new set of clubs after learning your handicap.
Should I Purchase an Entire Set at Once or Individual Clubs?
The main advantage of separately purchasing your clubs is that you have a lot of freedom, especially with the numerous brands available. And as a beginner, buying clubs separately as you improve your skills can be an excellent idea. Separately buying them will also make it possible for you to upgrade them with time.
Are Cheap Clubs as Good As the High-End Brands?
The types of material used to make cheaper clubs are surprisingly comparable to the expensive ones. Therefore, they can both serve you while you are on the golf course, and the main difference between them is durability. So don’t pay more for a sport you aren’t conversant with; instead, you should go for the high-end models after your skills have improved.
Golfing is an excellent and relaxing game that can be fun when played correctly. But with the wrong gear, you may dislike golfing within a few minutes, so we have prepared the above guide to help you purchase the right club for your skill level. Remember, owning a high-end pair of clubs with zero experience won’t make your game better.
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- Samantha Prust, wood used for making golf clubs, https://golftips.golfweek.usatoday.com/wood-used-making-golf-clubs-20452.html/ Accessed Jun 26, 2021
- Dummies.com contributors, How to use the golf handicap system? https://www.dummies.com/sports/golf/how-to-use-the-golf-handicap-system/ Accessed Jun 29, 2021