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    Pro Tip: Golf Club Buying Guide – How to Choose Golf Clubs

    Updated: Jul 21, 2023
    Pro Tip: Golf Club Buying Guide – How to Choose Golf Clubs

    Choosing the best golf clubs – or any golf clubs at all – can be a daunting task. With so many brands and so many golf club types, how do you know where to start?

    Our staff of PGA Professionals at GlobalGolf has created this golf club buying guide to answer your most pressing questions:

    1. What kind of golf clubs do I need?
    2. Which brands have the best golf clubs for me?
    3. What golf knowledge should I have in my back pocket as I start playing?

    Before diving into these answers, we want to remind you to take a deep breath. Everything you need to know to buy golf clubs is in this guide, and our golf club selector tool, USelect®, will instantaneously generate golf club recommendations specific to your game and preferences. We also have a guide specifically for beginner golfers.

    Just like in golf, we’ll take this one shot – or question – at a time, and you’ll feel confident about your next steps by the end of this article.


    What You Need to Know Before Buying Golf Clubs

    Before you buy those golf clubs, let’s talk about some basic golf knowledge that will go a long way in helping you feel part of this world. Having this understanding will also help you find the best golf clubs for you.

    1. Gauging Your Skill Level With Average Scores

    What’s great about golf clubs is that – to a point – they can help you where your skills are lacking. Knowing that higher-scoring players need forgiveness while lower-scoring players seek control, for example, will help narrow down your golf club choices. Knowing your handicap is very helpful.

    Below is a range of average scores and the type of golf clubs you need to succeed.

    Average Score: Below 80

    If you consistently break 80 on 18 holes, you likely are looking for ways to increase your distance and control. For a driver, that means you’ll search for a lower-lofted driver – typically between 9°-10.5° – and less spin; because you probably have a faster swing speed, these settings will allow you to still have a piercing ball flight off the tee.

    When it comes to irons, you’ll likely be looking for a forged feel where there’s a lot of workability. While blade irons used to be the end-all-be-all for low handicap players, technology has caught up and now many skill players enjoy cavity back irons in their bag thanks to the extra forgiveness that doesn’t sacrifice distance.

    Bonus Pro Tip: When it comes to club gapping, usually only professional golfers and low handicaps consider including driving and lower irons (2-, 3- or 4-iron) in their bags; mid to high handicaps tend to prefer hybrids instead, and those can still certainly be found in skilled players’ bags.

    Average Score: 80-90

    Shooting in the 80s means you’re probably around a mid-handicap range. The main features to look for in golf clubs at this scoring average are MOI (moment of inertia) and higher launches.

    MOI refers to how square the clubhead remains through impact thanks to the built-in resistance to the drag. Higher MOI golf clubs typically mean more forgiveness, though less workability.

    Higher launches help those with moderate or slower swing speeds get the ball higher, which allows for distance gains. This applies to drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons.

    This scoring range is all about tightening the wheels – what golf clubs will help you miss by a smaller margin of error while still gaining you distance to keep up with lower handicaps?

    Average Score: Over 90

    The largest dispersion rate lies with higher scoring averages, or those with higher handicaps. These players may find it difficult to get the ball off the ground and as far as their lower handicap playing partners.

    This is where “game improvement” clubs come into the picture. This typically means higher lofts, easier launches, lightweight constructions and oversized clubheads and clubfaces.

    These players will likely have many hybrids and irons that only go down to a 5- or 6-iron.

    2. Knowing Your Shot Tendencies

    Another factor to consider before you buy new or used golf clubs is your standard good shot and your typical miss. The majority of golfers slice the ball, especially off the tee, which means that the ball starts right and ends up very right for right-handed golfers; some players may also notice pulls or hooks – the ball going left for right-handed players – though this is less common.

    With today’s technology, there are many golf clubs that feature a draw bias – in drivers, fairway woods and hybrids – and offset – in irons. This helps you lessen your slice without having to change your swing.

    Drivers especially often come with customizable adjustments to weighting and lofts to help you have more control over your shots. Whether you want to draw – a manageable left-to-center shot for right-handed golfers that often provides more distance – the ball or hit it higher thanks to a lower CG (center of gravity) setting, there are drivers out there that do the trick.

    3. Trusting Your Swing Speed

    The last factor to consider before buying golf clubs is swing speed, or clubhead speed. While you can see from above that this also affects your priorities and some of your features, another big piece to this puzzle that swing speed solves for is your golf club shaft flex.

    Building a Golf Club

    There are four main parts of a golf club, three of which are your choice.

    1. Golf Shafts

    Choosing the correct golf shafts will optimize your distance, trajectory and backspin.

    In general, the faster you swing, the stiffer your golf shafts should be. Slow swing speeds should use more flexible golf shafts in order to produce more power and height. Here’s a good starting point for choosing your golf shaft flex:

    If You Can Hit 150 Yards with a... Then Your Optimal Shaft Flex Is...
    PW or 9-Iron Extra Stiff Flex (X)
    9-Iron Stiff Flex (S)
    6- or 7-Iron Regular Flex (R)
    5-Iron/Hybrid or 4-Iron/Hybrid(Male or Female) Senior Flex (A/M)
    Any Iron/Hybrid lower than 4 or any Fairway Wood (Females or Juniors) Ladies Flex (L)

    Stiffness levels are signified by letters: "L" stands for Ladies; "A," "M" or “S” stands for Amateur, Men or Senior; "R" stands for Regular, "S" stands for Stiff, and "X" stands for Extra Stiff.


    2. Golf Grips

    Another component that completes your golf club is grips. Golf grips are what you hold onto at the opposite end of the clubhead. They are about 10 inches in length and their materials and designs prevent your hands from slipping when you swing the golf club. The thickness of each golf club grip set varies, allowing you to choose your best size and favorite texture and color.

    Bonus Pro Tip: Sweat a lot? Try using rain gloves for everyday rounds no matter the weather.


    3. Hosel

    The hosel is another part of the golf club that connects the shaft to the clubhead. This is the part of the club that determines its lie angle, or the angle between the clubhead’s sole and the shaft. Some longer clubs, from drivers to hybrids, have an adjustable hosel.

    4. Clubheads

    Perhaps the most exciting part of the golf club is the clubhead. Once you’ve done your research and used USelect™ to find the right clubs for you, you can then narrow down your brands and customize your club set. Some of the most popular golf club brands include the following:

    Custom club sets are possible to order online at GlobalGolf as well as through our fitting services in our golf shop in Raleigh, North Carolina. Make sure your entire club set is personalized to your game with the help of our PGA Professionals.

    Golf Club Comparison: Exploring Different Types of Golf Clubs

    You need different types of golf clubs because each one goes a different distance or plays a certain shot. For example, a 6-iron goes approximately 10 yards farther than a 7-iron, and you’d use a putter over a wedge when you’re on the green.

    Below is a chart that shows the average distances per club type on the PGA and LPGA Tours.

    Club PGA Tour Average Distance LPGA Tour Average Distance
    Driver 289 - 361 yds 246 - 258 yds
    3 Wood 243 - 304 yds 195 - 217 yds
    5 Wood 230 - 288 yds 185 - 205 yds
    Hybrid 255 - 275 yds 180 - 194 yds
    3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 212 - 265 yds 174 - 185 yds
    4 Iron 203 - 254 yds 170 - 181 yds
    5 Iron 194 - 243 yds 161 - 173 yds
    6 Iron 183 - 229 yds 152 - 163 yds
    7 Iron 172 - 215 yds 141 - 154 yds
    8 Iron 160 - 200 yds 130 - 143 yds
    9 Iron 148 - 185 yds 119 - 132 yds
    PW 136 - 170 yds 107 - 121 yds

    What do all of these clubs mean? Here’s a detailed overview of the types of golf clubs you may find in your golf bag:

    1. Golf Drivers

    The "1-wood," universally known as the driver, has the largest clubhead, longest shaft and lowest loft (aside from the putter) of any golf club. Drivers are long-distance clubs typically used off the tee box for your first shot on a par 4 or par 5. Nearly every golf driver today features a graphite shaft while clubheads are made of steel, titanium and carbon composites. The driver’s clubface also has the largest hitting area of any club.

    By rule, a driver clubhead can be up to 460cc (cubic centimeters) in size, which makes the 460cc head the most popular available. You can find drivers in smaller sizes, such as 440cc or less, which tend to be used by more skilled players.

    A general rule, the larger the head, the more forgiving the golf club will be on off-center hits. A smaller clubhead gives advanced golfers the ability to purposely curve the ball left (draw) or right (fade).

    Club manufacturers have made several technological advances in recent years. Most notable is outfitting some drivers with adjustable features, which allow the golfer to alter the club’s loft and move weight to optimize launch angles, trajectory and shot shape. For example, a golfer who wants to hit the ball higher can add loft and position the center of gravity farther back in the clubhead. The golfer who fights a slice may adjust the club to a “draw bias” setting with more weight in the club’s heel section.

    Clubface technology has advanced as well. Seeking to max out ball speed – which translates directly to distance – manufacturers have experimented with various materials and thickness across the clubface. To the golfer, this means longer drives on both center and off-center strikes.


    2. Fairway Woods (also known as Fairway Metals or Fairway Metal Woods)

    While their clubheads are now made of steel, titanium or composite materials, fairway woods were made of wood throughout most of golf’s history; hence, they’re still regularly referred to as woods, although some prefer the more technically accurate “fairway metal.”

    The most common fairway woods are the 3- and 5-woods, though many golfers use woods numbered 7, 9 and even higher. The higher the number, the greater the loft of the clubhead and the higher and shorter the shot will travel.

    Most fairway woods feature graphite shafts, although some have steel shafts. The clubheads are similar to a driver in shape and materials but are considerably smaller.

    The fairway woods are mainly used on longer fairway shots as well as tee shots on par 4s and par 5s where accuracy is more important than distance.


    3. Golf Hybrids

    As the name suggests, hybrids combine elements of two different clubs – the clubheads are shaped like woods, while the lengths and lofts are similar to irons. The majority of amateur golfers, and many professionals, use golf hybrids in place of traditional 2-, 3- and 4-irons, as hybrids are easier to hit solidly from a variety of lies. Like fairway woods, hybrids are often used from the tee.

    What makes hybrids easier to hit than long irons? A number of factors, including their extremely low center of gravity (CG), which helps get the ball up in the air, and wide sole, which resists digging into the turf. Hybrids are lighter than long irons, too, so golfers can generate more clubhead speed, distance and height. This makes them a more popular choice than fairway woods when hitting out of the rough.

    Hybrid numbers begin with the 2-hybrid (16° – 18°) and go up to the 7-hybrid (31° - 32°) and higher.


    4. Golf Iron Sets

    When shopping for an iron set, you’ll see them listed per their set make-up (i.e., "3-PW", "4-PW, GW" or "5-PW, AW"). This shorthand indicates that all clubs in between are included, so a 3-PW set would include the 3- through 9-irons as well as a pitching wedge.

    Irons usually feature steel shafts, though graphite shafts are often offered as an option.

    Clubheads on irons have deeper grooves extending across the face from toe to heel and running parallel from top to bottom. These grooves help generate backspin that's necessary to control your shot.

    There are a few basic types of irons, each designed to fit a particular skill level:

    Super or Max Game Improvement Irons: This iron type is a cavity back, so-called because of the large "cavity" or hollow portion in the back of the clubhead. This design distributes more of the club’s weight around the perimeter, which creates a higher MOI and greater forgiveness on miss-hit shots.

    The sole is typically wider on the Max Game Improvement Irons to prevent the club from digging into the turf. The clubface is larger to give the golfer more confidence in hitting a solid shot. Beginning golfers or those with higher handicaps (20+) can benefit from this iron type.

    Game Improvement Irons: Similar in design to Max Game Improvement Irons but with smaller clubheads and thinner soles, these clubs fit a wide range of skill levels (5-20 handicap) and are the most popular sets.

    Players Irons: Players Irons are generally a cavity muscle back (CMB) or muscle back (MB) construction. These irons are used by professionals and other highly-skilled golfers. Most Players Irons are made from forged steel, rather than metal cast in a mold like Game Improvement irons, and boast a pleasing, classic appearance.

    “Blades,” as muscle back irons are often called, have a flat back with no cavity, making them less forgiving. On the plus side, pure blades let the golfer shape shots more easily than cavity back clubs, which makes them attractive to better players.

    Players Distance Irons: A fairly recent addition to the family of irons, Players Distance Irons feature the look and feel of Players Irons, but with larger clubheads for an added measure of forgiveness. Their clubfaces also “flex” more at impact to deliver longer shots.


    5. Golf Wedges

    Golf wedges are an extension of the irons but are usually sold separately (except the pitching wedge, which is included with most iron sets). Wedges have more loft and are designed for higher accuracy and more spin than regular irons, particularly around the greens.

    Most golfers carry a gap wedge (also known as an approach wedge) and a sand wedge, while the lob wedge is also a popular choice.

    The gap wedge (48° – 52°) bridges the gap of distance between the pitching wedge (43° – 47°) and the sand wedge (54° – 56°). The gap wedge is used for full and partial shots from fairway or rough, as well as chips and pitch shots around the green.

    The sand wedge is used for most greenside bunker shots as well as many chips and pitches. What sets the sand wedge apart is a feature called “bounce” – additional material on the golf club’s sole that displaces sand and also prevents digging on shots from the turf.

    With its ultra-high loft (58° – 64°), the lob wedge is used for very short shots that fly very high with extra spin, like flop shots. It’s extremely useful when you need the ball to stop very quickly on the green when you don’t have a lot of space to work with.


    6. Putters

    Once you’re on the green, the putter is the golf club used to roll the ball into the hole. The putter is arguably the most important club in your bag and is typically fitted with a steel shaft, a flat or squared grip to place the hands in the correct positions and a variety of clubhead options. The clubface on a putter is flat, with 3° – 4° loft.

    There are two main types of putter head styles:

    Blade Putter: The most commonly used putter style among amateurs and professionals, blade putters feature compact clubheads with a more traditional look. Today’s blade putters are usually built with cavity-back construction and an “offset” hosel, which places the clubface behind the golfer’s hands at address.

    Blade putters are typically for golfers with arced putting strokes and a finer touch. A popular example of a blade putter is a Scotty Cameron.

    Mallet Putter: These feature a much larger head, which may extend several inches behind the clubface. Because they’re heavier than most blades, mallet putters promote an “arms and shoulders” or “pendulum-style” stroke to limit wrist movement. Engineers have pushed the boundaries with mallet putters, enhancing forgiveness and improving alignment features with creative designs. While still less widely used than blade models, mallets have gained popularity among both tour players and amateurs.

    Thanks to the pendulum-like stroke, mallet putters are best for those who have a straighter putting stroke. A popular mallet putter that can be seen everywhere today is the TaylorMade Spider.

    There are other factors to consider when shopping for a putter, including alignment technology and adjustable weighting. Clubmakers have extensively studied how the eyes visualize the line between the golf ball and the cup, and added several creative features to help golfers see the line better at setup and increase overall feel.

    Putters are also balanced differently, which can work with or against an individual’s stroke. Some putters – mainly blades – are weighted in a “toe hang” manner, which means the club’s toe (end of the head) points downward at an angle when the shaft is balanced on a single point. Toe-hang putters work best for golfers with an arc-style stroke, meaning the putter follows a noticeable arc on the backswing and forward swing.

    Other putters are “face-balanced,” which finds the clubface pointing directly upward when the shaft is balanced on a point. Face-balanced putters are recommended for golfers whose strokes are more straight back and through, with minimal arc, and usually fall in the mallet category.


    7. Golf Club Sets

    A popular option among beginners, golf club sets are great starter kits. With a great selection of golf clubs and usually a golf bag, you can buy everything you need at once to get on the course sooner.


    What Golf Clubs Are Best for Me?

    With all this information to review and reference, let’s start taking some action. You already know about our golf club selector tool, USelect™. Get golf club recommendations personalized to your game instantly and narrow down your choices.

    The next step is to use our UTry® program. Try your top golf club choices – from drivers to irons to putters – for 14 days at home. Bring them to your golf course, the driving range or even a golf lesson.

    We want you to be confident you’re adding the best golf clubs for you to your bag. If you like them, keep them after paying the remaining price; if you want to return them, we provide a free shipping label.

    Saving money is a huge win when purchasing golf clubs for sale. GlobalGolf provides two ways to do it: buy used golf clubs and UTrade-In®. Buying preowned golf clubs is a fantastic way to upgrade the technology in your bag without inflating the price.

    Used golf clubs for sale on GlobalGolf are thoroughly vetted, cleaned and categorized so you know exactly the condition you’re receiving. When buying used golf irons, for instance, you could be looking at “Like New”, “Awesome”, “Bargain”, “Mint” and more conditions.

    You can also trade in your current set of golf clubs with UTrade-In® and use that value towards your next purchase. Imagine trading in your golf clubs each year for the next new model – you’ll be saving tons!

    Just a Little Bit More Golf Knowledge

    Now that you have the equipment side down, let’s make sure you’re using the right lingo next time to bomb a drive down the fairway. These are some of our favorite – and the most common – golf terminology and phrases you need to know:

    • Albatross (or Double Eagle) – A score of three under par on a single hole (Example: scoring 2 on a par 5)
    • Birdie – A score of one under on a single hole (Example: scoring 3 on a par 4)
    • Bogey – A score of one over on a single hole (Example: scoring 4 on a par 3)
    • Bogey Golfer – A player who typically averages a score of bogey on every hole, which adds up to a score of 90
    • Bounce – The angle from the leading edge of the golf club to the lowest point of the sole of the club. The more bounce on a club’s sole, the more it will resist digging into the turf; bounce also helps displace sand on bunker shots. The sand wedge typically features the most bounce of any club.
    • Break – The curve in a golf ball’s roll on the green due to slope. Putts are said to break either left or right.
    • Cavity Back – An iron design featuring a hollowed-out cavity behind the clubface, which places more weight around the edges of the clubhead for higher moment of inertia (MOI) and forgiveness. Many mallet putters are built in the same style.
    • Center of Gravity (CG) – The exact point in the clubhead where the head is perfectly balanced. The placement of a club’s CG plays a key role in performance. In general, the lower the CG, the higher the ball will launch off the clubface.
    • Cut (or Fade) – A shot that curves gently to the right when struck by a right-handed golfer. (For lefties, a cut or fade curves to the left.) This is a popular shot shape on the PGA Tour.
    • Double Bogey – A score of two over on a single hole (Example: scoring 7 on a par 5)
    • Draw – A shot that curves gently to the left when struck by a right-handed golfer. (For lefties, a draw curves to the right.)
    • Eagle – A score of two under par on a single hole (Example: scoring 3 on a par 5)
    • Fat Shot – When the club contacts the ground behind the ball, usually causing a loss of yardage compared to a solid strike. You may also hear someone call this a “chunk.”
    • Fade – See “Cut”
    • Forgiveness / Forgiving – A golf club is said to be forgiving if it produces relatively good distance and accuracy when the player misses the sweet spot. While less-skilled golfers need clubs with maximum forgiveness, better players often prefer less forgiving clubs in order to better control their shot shape.
    • Grooves – A series of straight, parallel lines cut into the clubface, typically horizontal to the ground. Grooves grab the golf ball’s surface and impart backspin. Some golf wedges have interesting groove designs that can add further control to your chip shots.
    • Handicap (or Handicap Index) – A number that represents the skill level of a golfer. (The lower the handicap, the better the golfer.) The USGA Handicap System™ – brought to use by the U.S. Golf Association – evens the playing field so golfers of all skill levels can compete simultaneously. Your actual golf handicap is based on an algorithm that takes your scores and golf courses’ slope and rate into account.
    • Hook – A shot that curves hard to the left when struck by a right-handed golfer. (For lefties, a hook curves to the right.)
    • Loft – The number of the club indicates how high and far the shot will travel. The higher the number, the higher the loft angle. When the loft is very high, the ball will fly higher but for a shorter distance.
    • Long Iron – An iron with minimal loft used to hit the ball a long distance. The 2 – 4 irons are considered long irons and typically have more roll-out than an 8- or 9-iron.
    • Mid-Iron – An iron with medium loft used to hit the ball a medium distance. The 5 – 7 irons are considered mid-irons.
    • Moment of Inertia (MOI) – A measurement (in grams per centimeters-squared) of how much a clubhead resists twisting on impact with the ball. A higher MOI means the club is more resistant to twisting (or more “forgiving”), so shots struck off-center will generally fly farther and straighter than a similar shot with a club of lower MOI.
    • Muscle Back – An iron design with no cavity in the back of the clubhead. This classic club style features more weight behind the sweet spot and is less forgiving than a cavity back model, but is often favored by top players due to its feel and ball flight.
    • Par – The score a scratch golfer is expected to make on a hole, assuming two strokes on the putting green.
    • Perimeter Weighting – Club design in which weight is distributed around the clubhead’s perimeter rather than its center. Featured in drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons and putters, this design creates a higher Moment of Inertia and enhanced forgiveness.
    • Scratch Golfer – A player with a handicap of 0 who typically averages an 18-hole score around even-par.
    • Shank – A shot, struck on the club’s hosel, which shoots almost directly to the right when struck by a right-handed golfer. (For lefties, a shank shoots to the left.)
    • Short Iron – An iron with high loft used to hit the ball a short distance. The 8 – 9 irons are considered mid-irons and typically have less roll-out than a 5-iron, for instance.
    • Slice – A shot that curves hard to the right when struck by a right-handed golfer. (For lefties, a slice curves to the left.) A slice is considered the most common swing tendency among amateur golfers.
    • Sole – The bottom of the clubhead (i.e., the part that rests on the ground when addressing the ball). The soles of fairway woods, hybrids, irons and wedges play an integral role in each golf club’s performance.
    • Thin Shot – When the bottom part of the clubface strikes the ball at or just below its equator, causing the ball to fly very low and often past the target. This is often seen on approach shots and sand shots.
    • Topped Shot – When the club’s sole strikes the top part of the ball, causing it to bounce or roll rather than launch into the air.

    Now that you know more about golf and golf clubs than you ever could have imagined, you’re ready to take on the challenge of improvement. GlobalGolf is here to support you in your journey, and we look forward to helping you enjoy the game we all love.