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How To Buy Golf Equipment

The Official Rules of Golf mandate no more than 14 clubs are allowed in your bag during a round of golf, and that includes your putter. So it is vital that you choose a selection of clubs that best fits your swing, where you play and your ability level.

Determining Your Ability Level

Players can be divided into 3 basic ability levels--low-handicaps,mid-handicaps, and high-handicaps. A handicap is the golfer's way of measuring their performance against the par on a course, usually in relation to a par 72 regulation course.

The Low-Handicap Golfer

A low-handicaps player has a single-digit handicap, meaning he or she generally scores less than 10 strokes over par, or an 82 or less on a par-72 course.

  • Woods
    • The low-handicap player should carry a driver and at least 1 fairway wood, most likely the 3-wood
  • Irons
    • The low-handicap player will benefit from lower irons in his bag, because the 3 or 4-iron is a difficult club to hit, but can be very useful if it can be controlled
  • Wedges
    • A minimum of 3 wedges--pitching wedge, sand wedge, and either a lob wedge or approach wedge--in their bags, with a maximum four-degree difference between each one

The Mid-Handicap Golfer

The mid-handicap golfer plays "bogey golf," meaning his or her score averages out to 1 over par on each hole, or somewhere in the 11-20 handicap range.

  • Woods
    • In addition to the driver and a 3-wood and a 5-wood, consider adding a 7-wood or even a 9-wood. These fairway woods give much better control and consistency than the harder to hit long irons.
  • Irons
    • Most sets are comprised of the pitching wedge and irons 3 through 9
  • Wedges
    • Three different wedges are recommended--pitching wedge, sand wedge, and either a lob wedge or approach wedge

The High-Handicap Golfer

The high-handicap golfer is either a beginner or has not had the time to hone his game to reach the mid-handicap level. The high-handicapper usually shoots close to or over 100.

  • Woods
    • You may not even want to have a driver in your bag. Instead, go with the 3-wood as your off-the-tee wood and add the easier-to-hit 7- and 9-woods.
  • Wedges
    • Up to 3 wedges--pitching wedge, sand wedge, and either a lob wedge or approach wedge--should be carried

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Determining the Type of Club

Various shafts and club head compositions and designs make it possible to select the right combination to suit every individual's golf game.

The Shaft

  • Materials
    • Golf club shafts now primarily come in 2 materials, steel and graphite
      • Steel shafts
        • Stronger, more durable and generally less expensive
        • Offer greater consistency from shaft to shaft
        • More control on shots, but requires a faster swing speed to generate the same distance as graphite
        • Recommended for stronger players who could use a little extra control in their game
      • Graphite
        • Generally lighter than steel and can be made in many more variations
        • Graphite is generally more expensive than steel and less durable
        • The lighter shaft allows greater swing speed for more power, but it sacrifices control
        • Graphite absorbs shock in a swing
  • Flex
    • Flex refers to the amount of "bend" in a shaft
      • Your shaft flex needs to match with the speed of your golf swing
        • Beginners and players with less powerful swings will benefit from a more flexible shaft
        • An average player has a swing speed of 75-90 mph, and should look for a regular shaft
        • Players with powerful swings - in the 90 -110 mph range - should purchase a stiff or firm shaft. This will provide a stiffer club for more control.
        • Many shafts are now available in a uniflex that will fit most any golfer's swing

The Club Head

  • Woods
    • Standard
      • Better control but a smaller sweet spot
      • About 150-155 cubic centimeters
    • Midsize
      • Positioned between standard and oversized
      • About 195 cubic centimeters
      • Different club head materials allow for a combination of benefits with a medium-sized sweet spot and lighter weight than an oversized head
    • Oversized
      • The largest club head size, up to 250 cubic centimeters
      • Offers the largest sweet spot of any head size, and is the most forgiving on mishits
  • Wood materials
    • Stainless steel
      • Less expensive, but slightly heavier than the more modern titanium and other alloys
      • The slightly smaller head gives a more traditional look and feel to the club
    • Titanium
      • Lighter weight allows for the creation of even larger club heads
      • Larger sweet spot

Types of Irons

  • Cast irons
    • Cavity back construction, also known as perimeter weighted irons
    • Most of the head weight on the outside of the head
    • A larger sweet spot because it puts more weight on the edges of the club face
    • Beginners who tend to mishit the ball more often would benefit from cavity back/perimeter weighted irons because they are more forgiving
  • Forged irons
    • No special weight distribution on the back of the club head
    • The center of gravity is in the center of the club head
    • Small sweet spots, offers lower handicapper more control
    • More advanced players who tend to strike the ball consistently in the center of the club would benefit from forged irons

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