If you want to take up golfing as a hobby or sport, you're going to need your own set of clubs. Whether you purchase them new, as a set, or buy them used, each of the clubs is necessary. Learn what these clubs are, and how you can use them to improve your game.
First, beginner sets of golf clubs include at least a dozen different clubs. Many golfers also carry an extra wood or iron as well. Basic golf clubs sets include the driver, or 1-wood, as well as the putter and pitching wedge. Three-nine irons are included in the set, in addition to a 3- wood and a 5-wood.
When to use what?
One of the biggest challenges in learning to play the game of golf is deciding what club to use. This depends on the lay of the ball. When the ball lies at a distance greater than 175 yards from the green, or putting area, golfers will use a driver or fairway wood (usually the 3-wood). Woods with lower numbers have a lower degree of loft.
Contrary to its name, a wood isn't made out of wood, but metal. Some players prefer the classic look of stainless steel clubs. These appear smaller and are heavier than titanium woods. Titanium woods typically feature larger heads than stainless steel clubs, which offers a larger sweet spot (the best place for the ball to make contact with the club).
The usual set of irons features steel clubs numbered from 3-9. Often, 3- and 4-irons are harder to hit with for beginners, so they tend to use 7- or 9-irons instead. The pitching wedge is also included in typical sets of irons.
Golfers can choose to buy irons made from casted steel or forged steel. Cast, or perimeter-weighted irons, are heavier on the club's outer surface and have a larger sweet spot. These are often useful for golfers with higher handicaps.
Golfers with lower handicaps tend to prefer irons made from forged steel. These are softer, which makes hitting the ball more difficult. These often are useful to golfers with lower handicaps.
In addition to these basic clubs, many clubs contain several different types of wedges. Wedges are designed to lift the ball into the air when it is hit. For example, the pitching wedge is used to hit one's ball onto the green when it is lying on the fairway. The sand wedge can be used for rescuing one's ball from a sand trap.
Two other wedges that are occasionally used are the lob wedge and the gap wedge. The lob wedge can be used for hitting the ball a short distance when it is lying on the green. A gap wedge is used when golfers want intermediate results between those of their pitching wedges and their lob wedges.
What's your handicap?
Golfers who know their handicap have an advantage in choosing their clubs. "Handicap" is the word used to describe the number of strokes it takes the golfer to play 18 holes on a standard golf course. Golfers with a high handicap will usually want to use all of the basic wedges, as well as 3-, 7-, and 9-woods.
Golfers with a mid-range handicap will find the same woods and wedges helpful as golfers with a higher handicap. Depending on their preference, they may use any of the 3-9 irons.
Golfers with a lower handicap will primarily focus on using the driver and 3-wood, as well as a 3-iron or 4-iron. Depending on the circumstance, they may use any of the wedges as well.
Selecting the right size in golf clubs can be critical to playing a successful game. Clubs feature different sizes of heads: standard, mid-sized, or oversized. Standard sized clubs are usually easier to control, but have a smaller sweet spot.
Midsized clubs are fairly easy to control and have larger sweet spots than standard clubs do. Oversized clubs feature a sizable sweet spot. The drawback to oversized clubs is that they are typically harder to control than clubs with standard or mid-sized heads.
Choose a shaft
Choose between clubs with steel shafts or clubs with graphite shafts. Typically, clubs with steel shafts are heavier, but are more durable and easier to control. Graphite shafts weigh less, and are often more expensive, but are somewhat less durable than steel shafts are.
Another important aspect of choosing a club shaft is the degree to which the shaft bends (also called shaft flex). Beginning golfers need more flexibility than pros or experienced amateurs do.
Regular shafts work well for average golfers whose swing speed is between 75 and 90 miles per hour. Uniflex shafts offer a variable flex, and work well for nearly all golfers. Stiff shafts or extra-stiff shafts are best for persons whose swing speed is between 90 and 100 miles per hour. Shafts with a flexibility rated 'A' are specially designed for senior golfers.
Special clubs for special golfers
Female or youth golfers need special golf clubs. Clubs designed for women usually weigh less and feature graphite shafts. Standard women's sized clubs are designed for persons between 5'5" tall and 5'9" tall. Smaller clubs are also available for people of shorter stature.
Another alternative is to use junior golf clubs. Complete sets of junior clubs are usually available, and sometimes work well for females of shorter stature. Additionally, 33" putters work best for persons under 65" in height.
To compensate for the size of the club head, use a 7- or 9-wood for a larger hitting surface instead of the 3- or 4-iron. Also choose a club that advertises L flex shafts; these are specially designed for female golfers.
Left-handed players need different golf clubs than right-handed players. This is because golf clubs for persons who are left-handed are oriented differently than golf clubs for right-handed persons. Using right-handed clubs is about as easy for a left-handed person as using right-handed scissors - it just doesn't work well!
After you've found the right clubs, head to the range and start practicing your swing. Of course, a few lessons from a pro would help, too, so that you don't develop any bad habits when you're just getting started. Now get going, and good luck - you're never too old to learn to golf!