Golf is one of the most popular and widely played sports in the world today, and whether you have been playing for years or have never touched a club, buying golf equipment can be a daunting task. This golf club buying guide will help you put together the perfect set for yourself and give you tips to make the process fun and painless.
When looking for new golf equipment, it is important to know what to look for and what you need. The first indicator that will help you in this process is to identify what your ability level and handicap are. The next step is to know what clubs and other accessories make up a complete set. First are the clubs. The rules of golf limit you to 14 clubs in the golf bag from putter to driver. A baseline set that is a good start for any golfer includes a driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 3 iron through pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, and putter. Based off of this as a base-line set you can develop the perfect set for yourself depending on your particular ability level. Though the clubs above are listed as a baseline set, there are an infinite number of possibilities to develop a set of clubs. It all depends on your preferences and how well you hit different clubs. Long irons can be replaced with hybrids or woods, irons can even replace woods and any number of wedges can be chosen to be put into your bag. These are just a few ways to switch up what is in your bag and see what you like best. The possibilities are endless but by starting with this basic set, you can easily determine what is going to be the perfect set for you.
Now that you have an idea of what a basic set is, we can delve a little deeper into exactly what you are going to be looking at when trying to find golf clubs. There are four major categories of golf clubs. These categories are woods, irons, wedges, and putter. Each of these categories has several major components in common that make up all golf clubs on the market today.
The first of these is grip. The grip is a rubber cover that goes over the last eight or so inches of the shaft and allows you to hold onto the club. There are many different designs and textures that can be found, but all serve the same purpose.
The grip is placed over top of the shaft which is the next major component of the golf club. This component is a cylindrical piece of graphite or metal and its length depends on the club in which it is installed. This component comes in different flexes which make the club's shaft stiffer or more flexible. Based on your clubhead speed, you can decide which flex is correct for your swing. The stiffness levels are labeled by different letter: L stands for ladies, A stands for amateur (or senior), R stands for regular, S stands for stiff, and X stands for extra stiff. The most common flex for men is R and for women is L.
The next component is the hosel, which is used to connect the shaft to the club head and control the lie of the club. The lie is the angle between the sole of the club head and the shaft. If you need the shaft bent to increase that angle then you have a flat lie and if you decrease the angle you have an upright lie.
The final component is the clubhead. This is the part of the club that you actually hit the ball with and the part that controls the height and ultimately the distance that the ball will travel. The club head design varies by club. For the driver, the club head is very large and has few grooves on the face and typically none in the center or sweet spot of the face. For the rest of the woods, there are grooves all the way across the face and from top to bottom and the clubhead is still large, but not as big as the driver head. For your irons, the look completely changes. There is no large head, but a sleeker thin face that has grooves just like the woods do. The the putter is nearly completely flat and typically has no grooves at all on the face and is typically small, though it can be rather large in some cases.
Golf Club Categories
Woods are long distance clubs used typically off the tee box and in the fairway on longer holes. The 1 wood, more commonly known as the driver, the largest of these clubs, hits the ball the farthest, and most are constructed of titanium or other lightweight materials, and attached to a graphite shaft. The graphite shaft in this club will almost always be the longest club in your bag and the clubs will then get progressively shorter and the distance you hit them will decrease. The face of the driver typically has shallow grooves on sides of the face and is smooth in the middle of the face thus allowing you to spin the ball less and get more distance out of your shots. There are also different sizes that can be purchased in drivers. The largest that a driver clubhead can be is 460cc. More and more drivers are being made to this size, but you can find drivers in smaller sizes, such as 440cc and smaller. Also, the higher the cc number of the head the more forgiving it is on off center shots. The advantage of having a lower cc club head is the added workability that the head offers.
The fairway woods are also included in the wood category. Fairway woods include 3, 5, and 7 woods. The higher the number gets, the greater the loft gets and therefore the higher and shorter the club will hit the ball. These fairway woods also come with graphite shafts most of the time, although occasionally they are offered with steel shafts in them. The heads of all of the woods, though they do decrease in size, look relatively similar with a bulbous shaped head and a flat face on one side with which you hit the ball. The fairway woods though do have grooves all the way across the face just like irons but are commonly more easy to hit than the longer irons such as the three and four iron, and are therefore often used as supplements to replace those hard to hit clubs.
These clubs are a cross between a wood and an iron. While hybrids have a similar shape to a wood and carry the advantage of being easier to hit, they have the loft and therefore distance of irons. Many people replace their long irons, such as their 3 and 4 irons, with hybrids in order to increase the ease of playability. Though three and four irons are the most commonly replaced irons, there are many other irons that can be replaced by hybrids for ease of hitting.
Irons cover everything from short to mid range and up into long range clubs. Irons generally come in sets from pitching wedge through 3 or 4 iron which, as discussed earlier, can be replaced by hybrids. Irons also include wedges as well. They are usually purchased separately from the set of irons and therefore will be discussed below. Both iron sets and wedges come with steel or graphite shafts and the club heads have deeper grooves than woods all the way across the face and from top bottom. The higher the number of the club the greater the angle of loft is and therefore the ball will fly higher and shorter. Irons are also much thinner than woods or hybrids in depth and give you an improvement in accuracy. There are also two basic types of irons that you should be aware of when searching for your set of clubs. The first type is called a cavity back. This set has an indentation in the back of the club that makes it more forgiving and easier to hit for newer golfers or those with higher handicaps. There are different grades of cavity with the larger cavities being easier to hit and the smaller cavities being less forgiving. The other classification of irons is the blade. The "blade" is a club that is used by very skilled golfers and professionals, even though many professionals are now switching over to cavity backs. Blades have a flat back with no cavity that makes them less forgiving. Though they are harder to hit, when hit properly, they produce a better feeling than a cavity back.
Wedges are very closely related to irons in that they both have the same look and build as each other. The difference comes in the lofts of the clubs. Wedges are more lofted and are designed for very high accuracy and more spin than normal irons. Wedges also have "bounce". Bounce is the angle from the leading edge to the bottom of the sole. The higher this angle is, the easier the club will bounce off of the ground and not dig into it, which is good for chip shots around the green. There are also many different kinds of wedges to choose from. The most common of these are the gap wedge, the sand wedge, and the lob wedge. The gap wedge bridges the gap of distance between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge that can commonly be an awkward distance to attempt to hit without this club. This club allows for more distance than the other wedges but excellent accuracy as well. The sand wedge, debatably the most common wedge, is used for most sand bunker shots as well as many chips around the green in which you would like to get the ball up in the air and spin it once it hits the green. Though not a particularly long distance club, the sand wedge can be a very useful tool. The lob wedge is the last of the most common wedges and is used for short distance shots that will travel very high and spin a lot. This club provides the golfer with the ability to manipulate the ball around the greens with shots that check up quickly or high shots that spin back to the hole. A commonly asked question about wedges is where does the pitching wedge go in the wedge category and the truth is that the pitching wedge is generally placed in the iron category because it is usually sold with an iron set and not separately like many wedges are. Therefore the pitching wedge is not generally discussed among the other wedges.
The putter is debatably the most important club in any bag. This club is typically seen with steel shaft and sometimes with a squarer grip. The club face is flat or nearly flat and is smaller than any of the other clubs in your bag. The putter is used when on the green or just off of the side to roll the ball into the hole.
Club Care Tips
In order for your clubs to serve you in the best way possible, last for a long time, and look new longer, it is very important to keep them in good condition. These tips should help you in knowing how to care for them.
- Carry a towel when you play so that you can clean the club face off after shots.
- Clean the clubs after you hit balls at a driving range.
- While on the course, you can use a tee to clean out the grooves that the towel cannot get to.
- It can often be helpful to clean your grips with warm water and mild soap to keep them from getting slick.
What’s In The Staff’s Bag?
We interviewed some of our staff and asked what’s in their bag. They also offered some great golf tips.
Title: Customer Service Representative
Favorite Club: Putter
Experience: 45 years
Driver: Nike Sasquatch (Stiff UST MOI shaft)
Callaway X 3 wood (Stiff; stock shaft)
Callaway X 5 wood (Stiff; stock shaft)
Hybrids: Srixon #4 (Stiff; stock shaft)
Irons: Ping G-15 5-PW (Stiff; stock shafts) Cavity back
Ping Tour Gap Wedge (50°)
Ping iWedge Sand Wedge (54°)
Ping Lob Wedge (60°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport (Anser Style) Standard head, Standard length
Ball: Titleist Pro V1 (for better control)
Shoe: FootJoy ReelFit
2 Tips for you:
1 – Be honest about your game
2 – Get fit for clubs
Title: Internet Sales Manager
Favorite Club: Driver
Experience: 20 years
Driver: Adams 9032LS 9.5° (X-Stiff Diamana Blue Board 63x shaft)
Woods: TaylorMade R9 TP 3 wood (X-Stiff Aldila VS Proto By You 70x shaft)
Hybrids: Adams #3 (X-Stiff Matrix Ozik shaft)
Adams #4 (X-Stiff Matrix Ozik shaft)
Irons: Adams Idea Pro Golf Forged 5-PW (X-Stiff 6.0 Project X Steel shafts) Small cavity back
Cleveland CG-14 Black Pearl Wedge (50°)
Adams Idea Pro Gold Forged (55°)
Adams Idea Pro Gold Forged (60°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Mid Slant (Anser Style) Standard head Standard length
Ball: Nike Tour D (most used) (for better control)
Titleist Pro V1 (for better control)
TaylorMade Penta (for better control)
Bridgestone B330-S (for better control)
Shoe: Nike SP-5
2 Tips for you:
1 – Use the internet to research the best club to match your game
2 – Use the internet to find the best value
Title: Golf Equipment Specialist
Favorite Club: 3 Wood
Experience: 15 years
Driver: TaylorMade R9 SuperTri TP (X-Stiff Project X 7A4 shaft)
Woods: TaylorMade R7 TP 3 wood (X-Stiff Diamana Blue Board 83 shaft)
Hybrids: TaylorMade TP Rescue #3 (X-Stiff stock shaft)
Irons: TaylorMade R7 TP 4-AW (X-Stiff Nippon 1150 Tour shafts) Small Cavity Back
Wedges: TaylorMade TP Wedge (56°)
Putter: TaylorMade Monza Corza #1 Mallet head, Standard length
Ball: TaylorMade TP Red (for better control)
TaylorMade Penta TP (for better control)
Shoe: Adidas AdiPure
Adidas 360 Tour Limited
2 Tips for you:
1 – Get Fit – "You wouldn’t buy a suit without getting fit first."
2 – Look into hybrids
Title: Purchasing Manager
Favorite Club: Driver
Experience: 25 years
Driver: TaylorMade R9 460 TP 10.5° (Stiff TP Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 73g shaft)
TaylorMade R9 TP 3 Wood (Stiff Fujikura Motore 85g shaft)
Hybrids: TaylorMade TP 200 #2 (Stiff TP Matrix Ozik Altus Hybrid Graphite shaft)
Irons: Mizuno MP-60 4-PW (Stiff stock Steel shafts) Small Cavity Back
Wedges: TaylorMade Z TP Gap Wedge (52°)
Nike Forged Sand Wedge (56°)
Nike Forged Lob Wedge (60°)
Putter: TaylorMade Rossa Fontana Mallet head, Standard length
Ball: TaylorMade Penta TP (for better control)
Shoe: FootJoy Classics Dry Premiere
2 Tips for you:
1 – Test the equipment at a local demo day
2 – Buy online
Title: Listing Agent
Favorite Club: Driver and Gap Wedge
Experience: 30 years
Driver: TaylorMade R9 460 TP 10.5° (Stiff stock shaft)
Woods: TaylorMade R9 TP 4 Wood (Stiff Fujikura Motore 85g shaft)
Hybrids: Titleist 909H 21° (Regular stock shaft)
Irons: Titleist AP1 3-PW (Stiff stock Steel shafts) Cavity Back
Wedges: Cleveland 588 Chrome Gap Wedge (51°)
Cleveland 588 Chrome Sand Wedge (56°)
Putter: Odyssey Rossie II Mallet head, Standard length
Ball: TaylorMade TP-Black (for better control and more distance)
Shoe: Adidas Tour 360
2 Tips for you:
1 – Get a swing analysis done (shaft flex is key)
2 – Work on chipping and putting twice as long as you work with the other clubs
Title: Sales & Merchandising Technician
Favorite Club: 7 Iron
Experience: 10 years
Driver: TaylorMade R7 460 (Stiff stock shaft)
Woods: Titleist 909F 3 Wood (Stiff stock shaft)
Irons: Nike Pro Combo Irons 3-PW (Stiff stock Steel shaft) Cavity Back
Wedges: Solus Sand Wedge (56°)
Titleist Vokey Sand Wedge (60°)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot Blade head, Standard length
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (for better control and more distance)
Shoe: Callaway Club Saddle
2 Tips for you:
1 – Get fitted
2 – Try many different club and shaft combinations to find what fits you best
The scorecard is a document that you will receive when you check in at the golf shop to play a round of golf at a golf course. The scorecard is used to track your strokes, but it also tells you much more about the course. On the far left you will notice that written in the second to last and last lines in the grey box are the words "Par Men’s" and "Par Ladies’". These give you the expected number of strokes that a scratch golfer would get on the hole. The final numbers in that box are typically between 35 and 37. This is the total of the par numbers for the front nine added together. In the second grey box the same numbers are seen again after the back nine and then after that, typically a number between 70 and 74 is written. This is the total of the par numbers for both nines. Now that you know what score is expected per hole, you want to decide what tees to play from. The tees will be listed usually as colors: blue, white, gold, and red on this particular card. Beside these colors you will usually see two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is the course rating. This number, if above the 18 hole par for the course, tells you that the course plays harder than the par given and a scratch golfer would normally score that number rather than the provided par, but if the number is lower than the par for the course then you know that the course plays a little bit easier. The second number is the course slope. The higher this number is, the harder the course will be from that tee. An average course slope is 113. After those two numbers, you will notice numbers running across the rest of the page, one under each hole number. These numbers represent the distance to the middle of the green from the respective tee box. Then above the 35 or 37 or total for the front nine you will see all of the distances added up, you will see this again under the total for the back nine, and once more under the total for the full 18. In the first line of the grey box on the scorecard you will see the word Handicap. This word is followed by the numbers 1 through 18 with each number corresponding to a selected hole on the course. The higher the number given in this row, the easier the hole is on average. This particular row ranks all the holes from hardest to easiest to give you an idea of what the hole is like for most golfers.
Valuable Golf Terminology
90° Rule – a rule used on golf courses that says that cart drivers must make ninety degree turns to go to their ball from the cart path rather than driving all over the course.
Albatross – a score of three under par on a single hole.
Birdie – a score of one under on a single hole.
Bogey – a score of one over on a single hole.
Bounce – The angle from the leading edge of the club to the lowest point of the sole of the club, this angle helps the club not dig into the ground.
Break – the movement a ball makes on the green due to undulation.
Cut – a large curve of the ball from left to right (opposite for left-handed golfers).
Colors on Scorecard – the colors listed on the left hand side of the scorecard stand for the tees that you play from that are marked with the colors listed.
Double Bogey – a score of two over on a single hole.
Draw – a slight curve of the ball from right to left (opposite for left-handed golfers).
Duck Hook – a violent curve of the ball from right to left (opposite for left-handed golfers).
Eagle – a score of two under par on a single hole.
Fade – a slight curve of the ball from left to right (opposite for left-handed golfers).
Handicap – a number that represents the skill level of a golfer (the lower the handicap, the better the golfer). According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), the USGA Handicap System™ enables golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. The weaker player may be able to deduct strokes based other the stronger players handicap. The actual handicap score is based on a complex calculation taking into account your golf scores, slope rating, and course rating. To see how handicaps are calculated, the official USGA manual is available here: USGA.org. A beginner, very unofficial quick way to come up with a handicap, would be to simply state how many strokes you average over 72. In other words, if you average 100 strokes per game, your unofficial handicap would be 28 (100-72).
Hook – a large curve of the ball from right to left (opposite for left-handed golfers).
Long Iron – an iron that is used to hit the ball a long distance.
Mid Iron – an iron that is used to hit the ball a medium distance.
Par – a score equal to the score expected on the hole.
Scratch Golfer – a golfer who has a handicap of 0 and averages par of every hole.
Shank – a violent curve of the ball from left to right after being struck on the heel (opposite for left-handed golfers.)
Short Iron – an iron that is used to hit the ball a short distance.
Slice – a violent curve of the ball from left to right (opposite for left-handed golfers.)
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