There are essentially 3 things you require before you set your foot on the Golf course to play the game.
I will cover item 2 through a separate article. In this article I will only talk about the Golf kit.
A Golf kit consists of typically 12-14 clubs. As per the rules of the game you are allowed to keep maximum 14 clubs in your golf bag when you play a tournament. Though, my personal opinion is that 12 clubs are good enough to play Golf well. Especially if you are a beginner, keeping too many clubs creates confusion and is not a good idea. When you keep fewer clubs, you use each of them more frequently and thus master them better.
Never buy a brand new kit when you are a beginner. You must always train yourself with cheaper second hand kit. Golf clubs are expensive and when you are initially learning you will often hit the clubs hard on the ground, or accidentally on a tree or stones, and they may eventually break. It won't hurt if you are playing with low cost second hand clubs. If a club breaks, it can easily be repaired. Though the performance of a repaired club may not necessarily be the same as the original.
After you have learned the game well enough and are able to make clean contact with the ball most of the time, without hitting the ground behind, you are ready to gift yourself with a brand new set. This would usually take 8-12 months of good training and practice play.
Let me delve a little bit on the different types of golf clubs you require and why you need them.
Though, referred as woods for historical reasons (as earlier clubs were made from wood), they are no more made of wood, instead they too are metal clubs just like your irons and putter. Woods are used for hitting long shots either from the tee off point or at the fairway. They are hollow-bodied large headed golf clubs and are longer in length to provide a longer swing arc. This design helps generate a higher club head speed.
Depending upon the distance you are from the green, you would normally use a Driver at the tee off point. Drivers are rarely used on the fairway as they are designed primarily for hitting a ball that is sitting high on the ground above a tee. 3 Wood and 5 Wood are often referred as fairways woods and can be used even on the fairway.
As a beginner golfer, you may not have the swing speed to hit the ball to distances that professional golfers can. Hence, you would require to use a wood when you are more than 160 yards away from the green.
The driver is also referred as 1 wood and has the lowest loft as compared to other golf clubs. Loft refers to the angle of the club face. Loft controls the ball trajectory, which eventually determines how far the ball flies and how much it rolls after hitting the ground. The loft of a driver can vary from 7 - 12 degrees. Modern drivers have a loft adjuster which allows you to adjust to a loft that suits you. A 10 degree loft is usually recommended.
A 3 wood has a loft of 15 - 18 degrees, and a 5 wood has a loft of 20 - 22 degrees. To understand, as a thumb rule, the higher the number of the golf club, the higher is it's loft and the shorter is the club shaft length. The 3 & 5 woods are frequently used during the second shot of play, when your ball is on the fairway and you are still quite far off from the green. Higher lofted woods, known as utility woods, are also available in numbers - 7, 9, 11, etc. I do not recommend using these at all. You should instead use Irons. It may be noted than even 2 and 4 woods existed earlier.
Hybrids are a recent development to the golf club technology. They combine the fairway wood head design and the length of an iron shaft. Hybrid clubs are more forgiving than corresponding Irons and would normally give more distance than the corresponding iron. Though if you want to become a good golfer you should train yourself to be a good iron player. Hence, keeping too many hybrids in your golf bag is not advisable. Though you can add a high lofted rescue.
Irons are generally used when you are less than 160 yards from the green. Irons are very good for accuracy in distance and line. A standard set of irons are numbered as - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, P. The smaller the number, the lesser is the loft and longer is the shaft length. Hence, depending upon your own calibrated distance, as your approach closer to the green, you use a higher numbered iron. Though many professional trainers may advise you to replace the lower numbered irons with corresponding hybrids as lower numbered irons are difficult to hit – take my advice – do not do this. If you indeed want to become a good golfer, master your irons. As you approach closer to the green accuracy is more important than distance. And Irons are the best if you want accuracy. You can reduce your score considerably if you are an accurate iron player.
Wedges are essentially irons with a special purpose. They are more needed when you are closer to the green. Wedges commonly come in loft angles from 48 – 64 degree and have a blade like design with narrow sole. The Pitching wedge (PW) is your first wedge (usually 46-48 degree) and quite useful when you are within 80 yards from the green. The next useful and very essential wedge is the Sand wedge (SW). It is particularly useful to take the ball off a sand bunker and also very useful when you are within 40 yards from the green. Other wedges such as Approach wedge, Lob wedge, etc. are available as well. Though I do not see much of their utility. If you master your PW and SW well you can take care of nearly all situations around the green very well.
A putter is a golf club with a specific purpose of using it on the green to get the ball finally into the hole. Though some golfers (especially beginner golfers) often tend to use the putter even outside the green when they are not too confident with their wedges. Putters come in various styles and shaft lengths and what suits you best is best for you. I personally suggest a putter which is slightly heavier in weight and has a shaft length to match up with your height so that you do not have to take an awkward stance.
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Rajeev Kumar is the primary author of How2Lab. He is a B.Tech. from IIT Kanpur with several years of experience in IT education and Software development. He has taught a wide spectrum of people including fresh young talents, students of XLRI, industry professionals, and govt. officials.
Rajeev has founded Computer Solutions & WebServicesWorldwide.com, and has hands-on experience of building variety of web applications and portals, that include - SAAS based ERP & e-commerce systems, independent B2B, B2C, Matrimonial & Job portals, and many more.