Golfing equipment for beginners
A brief guide to essential golfing gear
Golf can be a particularly expensive sport and the more seriously you take it the more you are likely to spend. But you need not break the bank to get yourself kitted out with some excellent clubs that will be more than adequate for your golfing requirements initially. And don't forget the other golfing gear you're going to need such as decent waterproof clothing to ensure your round of golf goes with a swing.
Chances are if you are considering buying some golfing gear, then you have probably already had a go at golf in some form or another, whether it's just hitting a golf ball around the park with only one club, or trying your hand on the local ‘pitch-and-putt’ or even on a crazy golf course. So if you’re looking to buy your first real set of golf clubs, then where do you begin?
Admittedly the choice out there is vast and buying new golf clubs can be almost as mind boggling as buying a new car. But like buying a car, most of us don’t buy the top-of-the range model, and the same can applies when buying clubs. You don’t have to have the best and nor do they have to be brand new.
If you’re starting out, you would be well advised to buy a second-hand set of golf clubs. A well-cared for set of used clubs is often better than a brand new cheaper set.
Traditional golf clubs or blades have a smaller area for good contact or ‘sweet spot’ — making it difficult for the beginner. The newer ‘cavity-backed’ clubs are designed to be more forgiving, with the weight distributed more evenly around the clubface, effectively increasing the size of the hitting area. This means they are more suitable for beginners — even if you don’t quite get your shot right, it won’t be quite as bad as it would have been if you had used an older-style bladed club.
A set consists of a range of clubs to match different situations — whether teeing off at the start with a driver, or trying to dig your ball out of the bunker with your sand wedge.
- A typical set will consist of: woods, irons (including wedges) and a putter.
- Each club is numbered, (woods and irons are both numbered one to nine) with lower numbered clubs meant to send the ball further.
- Each club is angled to a differing degree, with a low numbered club having its face angled at a lesser degree from the vertical than a higher numbered club. For example: a two iron is angled at 18 degrees while a nine iron is angled at 46 degrees and the sand wedge at 58 degrees.
- The higher the number of club, the greater the backspin on the ball — meaning it won’t run on as far when landing.
- The putter is the flat-faced club which is used on the green to attempt to finally put the ball in the hole.
- If competing, you are generally allowed a maximum of 14 clubs in your bag (Golfer Ian Woosnam incurred a two shot penalty after having 15 clubs in his bag at the British Open in 2001).
Although you might think all golf balls are effectively the same, aside from the name on the front, then think again. Different types of balls are geared to suit players of different abilities.
- Beginners should use a two-piece ball which has a solid rubber center and surlyn cover. These balls drive the furthest at the expense of controllability, but are much more durable than the easily damaged three-piece balls used by professionals. This should ensure that you don’t go through dozens of balls during a round of golf (aside from the ones that you may have lost!).
- If you are losing balls at an alarming rate, you might want to consider buying second-hand balls at a fraction of the price. These have usually been reclaimed on the course from the waters by the course owners and sometimes even entrepreneurial kids!
You might think the type of bag you buy is not going to directly influence the quality of your golf, but if it is a particularly uncomfortable one, then lugging it around a course over several miles is going to leave you pretty tired by the time you’re edging towards the 18th hole!
Make sure it is comfortable with well-padded straps. You could also consider investing in a golf trolley to wheel your clubs around on, although you might not be allowed to use them on some courses or on particular days if there has been heavy rainfall.
Certain items of clothing can help with your performance by aiding your grip.
- A glove (worn on your left hand if you are right handed) can benefit your grip, although some people prefer to play without.
- Waterproof shoes with spikes will give you a firm foundation as you complete your swing.
Also, we all know how unpredictable the weather can be, so it is always best to be prepared with some waterproof clothing, an umbrella and perhaps a towel to wipe your clubs down.
You also need to bear in mind that dress codes vary from one golf club to the next. So while your jeans and t-shirt might be okay on the driving range, some golf clubs won’t let you on the course unless you meet a specific dress code, let alone into the clubhouse later to enjoy the hospitality at the 19th hole.