Advice for the Beginning Golfer
There are many things a golf beginner can do. Very few of them involve over loading your credit card. Do not buy the highest priced clubs you see at the pro shop or the sporting goods store. You don't have a game that justifies this equipment. Advanced players have much more consistent swings that allow them to see the advantages of top line equipment.
You should buy a complete off brand set. This may include everything from wedge to driver. It is also possible to buy sets that only include irons. You may then add several woods or hybrids of your own choice. These clubs may be found in outlets, on-line or at used golf stores.
All sets are incomplete in one way or another. Let's discuss buying woods first. I carry a driver, 3 wood and 5 wood. Some golf beginners don't carry a driver. It is the most difficult club to hit well. Others might carry an extra iron instead of the 5 wood. These are choices that you should only make after having played for some time. You and your game are unique, no one can tell you every answer without watching you play.
Golf involves control and accuracy at great distances. Please have fun every time you play, but if you don't play the driver you can never reach your potential. Par 3 courses are great for the player who never wants to master the driver.
Drivers are made with very large contact surfaces. They are intended to help you keep more balls on the course. While more difficult to control, drivers are a ton of fun to play. Even the off brand clubs are very forgiving. 3 woods have smaller faces and are designed to hit from the fairway. They can be much more difficult for beginning golfers to hit well of the tee. Purchase an off name driver with a bright-colored shaft.
Many players hit 5 woods and 3 irons about the same distance. It is not unusual for a player to only carry one of them. I prefer the 5 wood, since I can't hit a 3 iron out of the rough.
Buy a driver and a 3 wood. You can add the 5 wood later if you want it.
There are three different putter styles and no one knows how many different grips. Many better players get a belly or longer putter after they develop doubt in their normal putter. These putters often have prices that reflect their shaft length.
Find a sporting goods store with an inside putting green. Six feet of artificial grass will be large enough. Now try different styles and models. Stand with your eyes above the ball so you can see the target line. A putter that is too short or too long will not allow you to see the line properly.
A good putter seems to swing almost by itself. You should never feel like you have to force the putter to swing. I like designs with a long back-end and some sort of alignment markings to help find the target line. Use a standard grip, there will be time later to try other grips if you like.
Don't spend a lot of money on your putter. There will be plenty of time to make a more expensive purchase later if you really need it.
There is nothing in the standard set of clubs that was designed to help a golfer inside of 100 yards. If you watch the pros play, they always lay-up to have a full shot into the green.
Golf beginners miss greens on every side including in the sand. These short shots require a different club, that you don't have yet. A sand wedge is designed to get your ball out of bunkers and to allow short high shots into greens. You will never hit these shots with your regular set's pitching wedge. Look for a sand wedge in the mid 50 degree range that feels comfortable when you swing it. I never take a full swing with this club, I feel very comfortable hitting it about 60 yards.
There is a big distance gap between a sand wedge and a pitching wedge. It's about 40 yards for me. I added a gap wedge. Mine is around 50 degrees. I hit this club about 80 yards.
Many players add a lob wedge to their bags. Mine is about 60 degrees and I hit it 50 yards. You should not buy this club until you are comfortable with your other clubs. It is very easy to mishit the lob wedge.
Some players can not hit a wood and others can not hit a long iron. Special sets are made for some people that have no woods or no irons. I really don't like long irons.
Many players replace their longer irons with hybrids. These clubs feel more like woods and are much easier for me to hit out of long rough. 3, 4, and 5 irons may be replaced with hybrids.
If you don't like long irons or don't hit them well, find an off brand 5 hybrid. Go to the range and compare the hybrid to your normal 5 iron. Now try the hybrid on the course. You should find the hybrid is easier to hit out of long rough than your iron. If this works then try again with a 4 hybrid and finally a 3 hybrid. Many players hit the hybrid farther than they do the equal iron.
Many players find their 3 iron, 3 hybrid and 5 wood all have roughly equal carry distance. I finally decided to carry just my 5 wood. This is a decision you will have to make.
Advanced players claim steel shafts give them better feel and probably longer club life. Beginners normally find fiber glass gives greater distance and less sting on poor shots. Buy fiber glass thru at least your pitching wedge.
You should play with this first set of clubs until you have fallen in love with this great game. Use them to solve your initial swing flaws and decided how you like to play. Then you will be ready to speak to a pro or golf shop about custom fit name brand equipment.