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How to Buy Golf Clubs- The REAL Way!

You wanna know how to really buy golf clubs?


There are some (especially those with huge marketing machines) that make it sound like buying golf clubs is rocket science, but it isn't.  

You're looking to learn how to buy golf clubs, not a house that you're gonna have to spend the next 15-30 (or more!) years in.

To get started, you gotta know what you really need, as far as which golf clubs to get.   

After that, you're going to learn which clubs are which, and if you truly need it in the bag.

You also need to know what makes up a golf club- this is a "how to" post, and if you're going to buy clubs, you oughta know what each component does.

Finally we're going to end it with what is, in my humble opinion, the biggest key when you're in the market for golf clubs.  

Let's get started!

What clubs do you need?

First of all, you need to know that you are allowed no more than 14 clubs in your bag.  But what you might not know is, you don't need 14 clubs!

Yes, just because you can carry 14 golf clubs doesn't mean you have to.  

If you're OK with only carrying a half-set, go for it, especially if you're a beginner golfer.  But what kind of set is that?  

It could be:

  • 3-wood, 4-hybrid, odd-numbered irons, SW, putter
  • 3-hybrid, even-numbered irons, gap wedge, high-bounce lob wedge, putter

And any other combination.  There literally is no "right" or "wrong" way to do it.  Well... if you carried 14 putters, that might be far from ideal, but who's gonna do that?

The key to finding the clubs you need is to get what's most comfortable to you.  

Just because they sell drivers doesn't mean you need one.  The 3-wood may be the longest fairway wood, but you don't have to have one.

The clubs are supposed to work with you, not against you.  

Speaking of, that brings up the next point...

There is no "right" way to fill your bag

GLG's bag

Here's an old bag shot.  In this WITB, I have:

  • Driver
  • 3-wood
  • 3-hybrid
  • 4-hybrid
  • 5-iron to PW
  • 52-degree GW, 56-degree SW, 60-degree LW
  • Putter

Fourteen clubs.  Nowadays, I've done two things:

  1. I (finally) bought a new set of irons
  2. I ditched the 56 and added a high-bounce 58-degree, to double as my SW/LW.  

My new PW is 46 degrees; after ditching the 56 and 60 and adding in a 58, that gives me an even 6-degree spacing between each of my wedges.  Don't worry, we'll discuss that later.

Yup, that means I've gone down to 13 clubs, but I made sure I still have my yardage gaps covered, so I'm OK.  You can do that, as well.

Interested in getting custom-fit for your new sticks?  Here's 7 tips to help you get it right!

As a beginner, you don't have to sweat the details.

There's a damn good chance that, when you're looking to buy your set of golf clubs, you won't to have to worry about that.

To put it simply, skip buying and carrying a 6 and a 7-iron.  The difference will (most likely) not create an appreciable difference to warrant the need for both.  Save yourself some money and buy a half-set.  Or, buy a full set of irons and keep half of them in the closet.  

For now, at least...

Let's talk about each club.

Here's a table with each club style, with a little description of both.  

  • Driver
  • Fairway Woods
  • Hybrids
  • Irons
  • Wedges
  • Putter

Wedges

Wedges can be tricky to buy.  You need versatility, being able to hit full-swing, pitch, and chip shots with them.

Avoid buying two wedges that are close together, say, a 54 and 56-degree.  That's not enough of an appreciable difference.

When buying wedges, it's best to base it off the pitching wedge.  The "ideal" is 4-degree spacing, but you can use 5 or even 6-degrees, so long as they're evenly spaced.

If you prefer, you don't need a true sand wedge.  A high-bounce LW or GW can be your sand club.

Speaking of bounce- that's the angle of the sole.  Some "rules of thumb":

  • If your typical turf and/or sand is soft, use more bounce
  • If it's firm, use less
  • If you're a "digger", meaning, you have a steep angle of attack, use more bounce
  • If you're a "sweeper", use less.

What makes up a golf club?

There are three basic parts to a golf club, and all need to be considered when you're shopping for them:

Grip

The grip doesn't get any love.  It's your only connection to the club, but in my experience, not enough people give it any attention.

There are many choices for grips, so it's understandable that it gets confusing... but that can't be an excuse!

And it's not just the material that needs to be right; you have to get the correct size for your hands.  Some golfers do fit the "traditional" size (.900"), but not everyone does.  Some prefer over sized grips.

Others like to have two different sizes- a smaller diameter in the area of your gloved hand, and bigger for the non-gloved hand.  Ever hear of the MCC Plus-4's?  They're made so the higher (non-gloved) section of the grip is thicker.  Any club builder can do this with any grip, through the use of build-up tape.

There's no correlation between grip size and directional miss.  Meaning, a grip that's too big won't only cause a slice, and a grip that's too small won't only cause a hook.  An ill-fitting grip will cause either directional miss...

Shaft

The golf shaft can be the most confusing of the bunch, mostly because there's so much BS attached to it.

What it does is, it connects the club head to the grip.  It's job is to deliver the club face to the ball square to the target line.  It also creates a "feel" in your swing and at impact, which is where most of the confusion comes from.

We know that golf shafts come in multiple flexes- L, A, R, S, and X- but what that means to you is very little.  

You want a shaft flex that, when coupled with the swing weight (head heft) allows you to feel the club head throughout the swing.  

This will create better swing mechanics (the timing and tempo), as well as a pleasing feeling when you hit the "sweet spot".

You see, it isn't just about the swing speed.  Everyone thinks "oh, I swing it {insert arbitrary club head speed here}, I need {insert arbitrary shaft flex here}".

It doesn't work that way.  Not entirely... you have to match your tempo, as well.   In a nutshell:

  • For a high swing speed, you need a stiffer flex
  • The more force you put on the downswing, the more flex you need
  • If you have a slower swing speed, you need a more flexible shaft
  • The less force you put on the downswing, the less flex you need

You could literally have a "pedestrian" swing speed, but, because you put so much force into the downswing, need a shaft flex that's one or even two flexes above what your swing speed says you need!

There's nothing in the "rules" about price equaling performance.  You don't have to spend a lot on a golf shaft, if you don't want to.  Though some do come in well over $200,  there are plenty of options.  Just make sure you're not wasting your money on them!

Club Head

We've already discussed the different types of club head.  Some want a "players" style of head, while others look for "game improvement".  What's the difference?  In today's market, not much.  

Look, the OEMs don't want to sell you something you can't hit, even if they segment their clubs into different categories.  

Your handicap doesn't dictate what you buy.

For irons, there has been a significant change to make them all more playable.  

They've done things like:

  • shorten the hosel length
  • elongated the blade length
  • increased the thickness to the sole and topline
  • added heavier metals and/or lighter plastics (they call it "polymer" to sound fancy)

All in an effort to redistribute the weight (and its Center of Gravity location) away from the heel of the club head and towards the center of it.  This increases its MOI, or Moment of Inertia, which makes them have more "forgiveness".  That's not just the "game improvement" or "super game improvement" clubs- it's all of them!

And drivers?  They should be playable, regardless of skill level.  

Whether it's 430cc's (the "player's" size) or 460cc, they'll have enough MOI to help you.  Think about it: fairway woods have less than that- most being <200cc's, and many golfers of all abilities can hit those.  Same with hybrids, which clock in around 120cc's.

I would argue that drivers less than 400cc would be difficult, but that's because it's being coupled with an overall length that's 45 inches or more.  You'll never, ever find that in retail- not from today's metal drivers, anyway.

RELATED: Is golf a "rich man's" game?

The Biggest Key, When Buying Golf Clubs, Is To Be Custom-Fitted

It's a broken-record thing on this blog, but I stand behind that 100%.  When you're buying golf clubs you need to be custom-fitted to your sticks.  I don't care if you're just starting out or been doing this for 20 years, it helps.

10 Pillars of Fitting

There isn't a lot that goes into a fitting.  That's kind of a misnomer, because a good custom fitting is in-depth, but on paper it looks that way so it's not a daunting task for the customer to get done.

Sure, you could get one of those "tour van" fittings, but just focusing on these 10 "Pillars", you'll find you'll be buying golf clubs that will work with you- not against you.  It's all about Common Sense, not BS.

How about you?

Have you been custom-fitted?  If not, do you plan on it?  What's stopping you, if you don't want to?

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Summary
How to Buy Golf Clubs- The REAL Way!
Article Name
How to Buy Golf Clubs- The REAL Way!
Description
Is buying golf clubs rocket science? Hell, no. You shouldn't just go into the store and buy, but get custom fitted for them! Getting the right mix of clubs with the proper fit will help you hit longer, straighter shots!
Author
Publisher Name
Green Lantern Golf
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About the Author

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!

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