Are you new to golf and looking for your first club set? Maybe you’ve been golfing for years but want to review what to keep in mind when buying new clubs. If you started golfing by borrowing a friend’s clubs or renting from your local course and found it’s an excellent activity for you, it may be time to purchase your own set of clubs. You can save money in the long term by buying clubs and avoiding rental fees.
We’ve created a beginner’s guide to picking the best golf clubs to help you purchase the clubs you need to play at any course without breaking the bank.
Beginner golfers may feel intimidated by golf’s frequently used terminology and the amount of equipment needed to play — but that doesn’t have to stop you. It’s simple to quickly learn all you need to know about the variety of clubs you can use. The United States Golf Association (USGA) limits the number of clubs you can carry to 14, but that full amount typically isn’t necessary as a beginner. You can start with a few essential clubs and add more as you continue playing and learn what feels best for you.
As a beginner golfer, you may want to use forgiving clubs that offer game-improvement features. Game-improvement features mean the club has construction elements that limit the effect of a poor swing and poor contact with the ball. They make it easier to get the ball where you want it to go, even if your swing technique is still a work in progress.
Each golfer has different preferences for club types based on their play style and swing. For example, if you commonly find yourself hitting long shots to get to the green, you may value an easy-to-hit hybrid over a more challenging wood or short-range iron. If you bring plenty of strength to your drives and spend most of your time hitting precise, short shots onto the green, you may prefer a few trusty irons. As a beginner, knowing how to buy golf clubs may rely on the types of situations you encounter and what club types work well for you.
It’s a good idea to have a general understanding of the types of clubs golfers use, even though you may not purchase all these types when you’re first starting. There are five primary types of golf clubs:
Woods earned their name because club manufacturers initially made them out of wood, and the term stuck. Now, they’re most commonly made from steel alloys or titanium. Woods are the longest clubs golfers use and also have the largest head. Drivers and fairway woods are both categorized as woods. You’ll typically use a wood to tee off and take long-range shots. Beginners may want to buy a driver with the largest head available because it can provide a more prominent sweet spot and be more forgiving while learning.
Sets of irons typically come numbered from a 3-iron to a 9-iron, with an unnumbered pitching wedge that sits above the 9-iron. A 2-iron also exists, but golfers use them infrequently, and they’re not necessary for beginners. The 1-iron is now obsolete, having been replaced by drivers and other utility clubs. The iron number range denotes loft, which is the angle the ball will travel.
A higher-numbered iron will have more loft, so the ball will travel at a wider angle for a shorter distance. You can expect the distance to decrease by around 10-15 yards for each iron number you increase. For example, shots with your 3-iron may travel 10-15 yards farther than a shot with your 4-iron and 20-30 yards farther than your 5-iron. Beginners may want to choose cavity back irons because they distribute the weight around the head’s perimeter, making them more forgiving and more comfortable to hit with.
Golfers use hybrids in place of irons, and they follow the same numbering format. A 3-hybrid is a replacement for a 3-iron, and so on. Hybrids are the newest categories of clubs and have seen a rise in popularity in recent years. Hybrids may be particularly suited for beginner golfers because they’re easier to hit than irons. The heads of hybrid clubs resemble a smaller version of woods. Hybrids are more forgiving than irons and offer many game-improvement features that irons don’t have. When deciding which golf clubs to choose, hybrids are a great option as a beginner.
Wedges are a group of specialized irons you use in specific situations when you want the ball to ascend and descend quickly and at sharp angles. They’re most useful in your short game. For example, you can use a wedge to get your ball out of the sand or over any rough terrain with a chip shot or a pitch shot. These clubs look similar to irons but have higher angles to provide more loft.
A few commonly used wedges are the pitching, sand and gap wedges. If you purchase an iron set, you’ll likely receive a pitching wedge with it. A pitching wedge should suit your needs as a beginner golfer until you decide what additional wedges would serve you well. If the course you golf at most has few sandpits, it may not be worth the money to purchase a sand wedge right away.
You use putters for your final few strokes on the green to get the ball into the hole. Putters are meant for precision and moving the ball short distances along the green. Putters are the most diverse club, with different head types, lengths and shapes. Choosing a putter comes down to personal preference and what feels best for you. It can be good to try out various styles until you find the putter you feel most comfortable with.
Now that you know more about the different types of clubs, we’ll dive into the process of choosing the correct golf clubs and some tips to help you select the best options for your game:
You can first make sure you enjoy golf enough that you want to make the investment of buying your own club set. You may start by borrowing clubs from friends or family members or renting a set at a local course. By starting slowly, you can ease into the game and figure out what works best for you.
There are many different styles and designs for golf clubs, so if you make a purchase when you’re first starting, you may realize another option would work better for you. For example, if you buy a set of irons, but try a friend’s hybrid and realize it is a much better fit, you’d have to spend more to get your own hybrids.
Spending time at the driving range or on the course experimenting with different club styles can help you pinpoint a better outline of what you’re looking for when you’re ready to purchase.
When you decide it’s time to purchase your own set of clubs, you can go to a discount golf or department store and browse their beginner sets. A specialized golf store may serve you well because they often have a large selection of used clubs in good condition that you can buy for a much lower price.
Consider looking for clubs that advertise game-improvement features that make it easier to hit the ball where you want it to go. These features can give your game a boost while you’re still learning and won’t detract from it as you become more experienced.
You’ll have the option of purchasing steel or graphite shafts for your clubs. Steel shafts are cheaper and more durable, so they may be the best option for beginners. Graphite shafts are lighter, which leads to a faster swing speed and more power. Try out both, and if you prefer graphite over steel and can find clubs in your price range, choose the clubs that feel best for you.
While you can carry a maximum of 14 clubs in your bag, that amount isn’t necessary for a beginner. Having six to nine clubs can set you up nicely and leave you room for expansion. Many sets specifically designed for beginners have around six to nine clubs, so these options are a great starting point. If you want to pick clubs individually, you’ll need a putter, driver, a few irons or hybrids and one or two wood clubs. When it comes to irons, you don’t need each club from 3-iron to 9-iron.
The small difference in loft between irons next to each other, like a 4-iron and a 5-iron, isn’t significant enough to make a big impact for beginner golfers. You can go with the odd-numbered irons like three, five, seven and nine to start. If you’ve experimented and found that you prefer using hybrids as opposed to irons, you can get a partial set of odd-numbered hybrids in place of irons. Pick up 3-wood and 5-wood clubs to finish off your set.
As you continue golfing, you can buy additional clubs for your set as you feel you need them. Over time, add in some specialty wedges and the even-numbered wedges to build a complete set.
A custom club fitting is a comprehensive process that involves a professional fitter asking you questions about your play style, needs and where you want to improve. After the interview-style session, you’ll perform test swings in front of the fitter, and they’ll analyze your form and technique. The fitter will then take into account your body dimensions, swing style and various other factors to pick out personalized clubs for you.
You can choose to have a fitting for a single club or an entire set. The price for club fitting varies, but you can expect a fitting for a single club to cost around $50 to $100 and a fitting for an entire set to cost about $200 to $350 depending on where you go. Many fitters offer to discount the price of the fitting if you buy a set from them afterward.
A fitting likely isn’t necessary if you’re a beginner golfer because you’re just starting to learn and aren’t too concerned with taking a few strokes off your game right away. It can help if you prioritize learning the basics and becoming a more confident golfer to get the most out of a custom fitting.
Custom fittings are a great option to get a set of clubs that work best for you, though, so if you’re committed to developing your game, a fitting may be worth it. It may be a good idea to check out local fitting shops to see your area’s costs. Some golf courses also offer custom fittings, so if you’re a member, you could likely receive a free fitting. If you know which clubs you need but still question how to choose new golf clubs that fit you specifically, a custom fitting is a good idea.
If you’re shorter than 5 feet 6 inches or taller than 6 feet 1 inch, it’s recommended that you go through a custom fitting. Those heights are outside the standard range for golf clubs, so you may have trouble finding a set that works for you without a fitting. A custom fitting could help you get clubs that work the best for your height and dimensions.
At Colonial Golf and Tennis Club, we welcome both new and experienced golfers to enjoy the day on our award-winning 18-hole course. Our nationally recognized course features beautiful rolling hills and century-old trees with large greens and multiple tee boxes. The course stretches 6,868 yards from the longest tees and is well-kept with lush greens and manicured fairways.
Members of our club enjoy a free customized club fitting service, free golf lessons, unlimited golf, merchandise discounts and enrollment in a local reciprocal program that gives you member access to an additional 23 clubs. If you’re looking to practice golf, you can also have access to our extensive practice facility. Here, you can hone your short game on putting greens, target bunker practice and practice long game at the driving range.
If you’re interested in becoming a club member, contact us online today.