Beginners Guide to Golf Equipment
The beauty of golf is that you can pick it up at any time in your life. Maybe you’ve just started a new job, and your company has a golf outing coming up that you need to prepare for; or maybe you’re retired, and you want an activity that you can do with your new neighbors; or maybe, you’re a young phenom who’s decided to pursue golf at the collegiate -- or pro -- level. Whatever your story is, it’s never too late to learn how to play golf. But it does come with a price.
The cost of clubs and equipment often serves as a deterrent to aspiring golfers. A single club can cost hundreds of dollars, and that doesn’t even include the rest of your set up: a golf bag, some tees, a few golf balls, and maybe a towel or some headcovers.
Needless to say, the price to play adds up pretty quickly. That’s why we strongly suggest you consider buying used golf clubs and equipment. On SidelineSwap, you can find lightly used clubs for a fraction of their original price.
What Golf Clubs Do I Need?
You’re allowed to have up to 14 clubs in your bag. If you’re a beginner though, you won’t need a full set just yet. We recommend you start with a driver, a putter, a sand wedge, a pitching wedge, a 6-iron, an 8-iron, and a fairway wood or hybrid club. Here’s a quick run down on each type of club:
When buying a driver, there are a few main factors to take into consideration. Head size and material – whether titanium or composite - are the most obvious, but MOI (moment of inertia) should also be factored in.
MOI indicates the stability of an object, or how resistant it is to being twisted. For golf clubs, this refers to how much a club twists when it's swung, as well as when it comes into contact with a ball. Clubs with a higher MOI twist much less, which results in straighter shots. Beginners should look to buy clubs with high MOI. Some drivers feature moveable weights that allow you to manually adjust the club's center of gravity.
Another thing to look at is shaft flex. Flexes range from regular, to extra stiff and beyond.
Lastly, be sure to research a club’s COR, or coefficient of restitution. This measures the energy transferred from the clubhead to the ball. Clubs with high COR will see less energy lost when they come in contact with the ball. So, the higher the COR, the greater distance you can expect on your shots.
There are two main types of putters: face balanced putters and toe balanced putters. Face balanced putters face upwards when the shaft is balanced on your finger, which puts the center of gravity right below the axis of the shaft. Face balanced putters open less on your backswing and close less on your follow-through, which makes them ideal for golfers with straight putting strokes. The face of toe balanced putters points toward the ground when you balance the shaft on your finger. They are best suited for golfers who have an arc in their putting stroke.
Golf wedges come in four different lofts. The two most common types of wedge are pitching wedges and sand wedges. The pitching wedge, which has a loft between 44 and 48 degrees, is designed for short to medium-distance chips onto the green. Sand wedges, on the other hand, typically have a higher loft between 54 to 58 degrees. These are primarily used to get out of sand traps or bunkers. Falling somewhere in between these two is the gap wedge, or utility wedge; in recent years, the lob wedge -- with a loft of 60 to 64 degrees -- has been introduced to allow players to hit higher chips than ever before.
There are two different types of golf irons: forged irons and cast irons. Forged irons tend to have a smaller sweet spot and are better suited for more advanced players. Cast irons, on the other hand, are cheaper. Blade irons have a thin face and a smaller hitting area, while cavity back irons pair a larger clubhead with a thin clubface. Irons are usually sold in sets of nine, with the number of the iron corresponding to the loft of the club. Lower number irons can reach longer distances.
Fairway woods can be used from the tee, the fairway, and occasionally from the rough. Modern woods are made from steel, titanium and composite materials. Woods, which have larger head sizes and longer shafts compared to other clubs, are numbered according to their loft: the lower the number, the lower the loft and the further the potential striking distance.
The most widely used hybrid - often called a utility club or a rescue club - is a wood-style club. These provide greater control from difficult lies, as they impart less spin than woods but more than irons. Hybrids will usually offer the same loft as the equivalent iron - generally between 18 and 27 degrees. Hybrid shafts are two to three inches shorter than fairway woods, again offering players greater control. Driving irons are also available for low-trajectory shots off the tee.
Best Golf Clubs of 2019
- Callaway Epic Flash: The revamped Epic Flash still features the patented jailbreak technology from the original Epic, in which two titanium bars connect the sole and crown to maximize face flexing.
- Cobra King F9 Speedback: To avoid increased ball spin, Cobra stretches its lightweight carbon-composite crown around the edges of the club head.
- Ping G410 plus/G410 SFT: The Plus model features an adjustable center of gravity. This new line of drivers features a weight-saving, super-thin crown crafted with narrow support veins.
- TaylorMade M5/M5 Tour Driver: These drivers feature an increase in face area, as well as two 10-gram weights in a T-shape track on the sole to help control ball flight in thousands of possible settings.
Putters (available in mallet or blade designs):
- Odyssey Stroke: Odyssey is careful to ensure that their putters don’t feature too much weight too far from the hands, so as not to hurt control and consistency.
- Ping Sigma 2: Features a hidden mechanism inside the grip that allows you to adjust the length from 32 to 36 inches, eliminating the need to cut the shaft down and get the putter regripped.
- Odyssey Toulon: The diamond-shape milling pattern on these 303 stainless-steel putters extends across the face instead of just in the center as it did on past models. All in all, this results in a softer, lower-pitched sound and a smooth feel when the putter comes in contact with a ball.
- Titleist Scotty Cameron Select: There is a hidden vibration-damping layer between the wraparound face inlays and the body.
- Callaway Mac Daddy 4: This wedge has impeccable spin technology that helps you create shot-stopping spin on all swings.
- Cleveland CBX: The CBX line features meaty, cavity-back, iron-like shapes for lower lofts. For higher lofts, the CBX design has a wider sole.
- Cobra King Black: Wide, shallow trenches on the higher lofts create greater groove volume for cleaner contact.
- Mizuno S18: The all-new S18 features loft-specific bounce angles, sole grinds, grooves and an updated center of gravity.
- Callaway Apex Pro: For this line, Callaway added a cupface through the 7-iron to help boost distance.
- Cobra CB/MB: This iron set features cavity-backs through the 6-iron and traditional muscle-backs for all other irons.
- TaylorMade P760: The blade length, topline width, and offset of the 3- through 7-irons is done to varying degrees specific to each iron.
- Titleist 718 AP2: A popular choice among Titleist PGA Tour players, the 718 AP2 focuses on stability, forgiveness and consistency in the low and middle irons.
- Ping i210: The i210 offers improved feel and increased perimeter weighting, and the 431 stainless-steel head features milled grooves.
- Callaway Epic Flash: Borrowing this from its driver equivalent, the Epic Flash fairway wood features a face with variable thickness, specifically a thicker perimeter ring that creates more flexing.
- PXG 0341 X Gen2: A lot of fairway woods position weight in the rear for forgiveness, but the center of gravity on PXG 0341 fairway woods is closer to the face for improved energy transfer and less spin.
- Titleist TS2/TS3: This line of fairway woods embraces speed-enhancing features. Among them are a very thin crown that lowers the club’s center of gravity.
- Ping G410/LST/SFT: All three models in this Ping line feature a new adjustable hosel with eight settings to change loft and lie.
- Callaway Apex (2019): This hybrid optimizes for ball speed, and allows more advanced players to shape their shots with a flatter trajectory and a mid-level spin.
- Callaway Big Bertha (2019): The latest version from the fan-favorite Big Bertha line features a high-strength steel alloy in a wraparound face for better ball speed over a larger area.
- TaylorMade GAPR: Each head style of the GAPR line features a slot in the sole, as well as a foam filling that improves feel and supports the flexing of a thin face.
- Callaway Rogue/Rogue X: This hybrid features technologies typically reserved for drivers and fairway woods. The result? A club that will inevitably help you hit distance shots.
- Ping G410: This club is an upgrade from the G400 that features more mass in a tungsten rear weight. This results in optimal forgiveness and launch.