Clubfitting for Beginner Golfers

So, you have decided to take up golf.  Great decision!  While golf can be frustrating at times, it will take you on a journey of self fulfillment and to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.  But how you go about getting the proper equipment to help you improve quickly?

What Equipment Factors Are Most Important?

While there can be a lot of factors to consider when fitting golf clubs, for a beginner we consider the length, club weight and shaft flex to be the most important.  Golf clubs sold in big box stores are sold as men’s length or ladies (shorter) length.  If you are taller than 5’11” you may need clubs that are longer than men’s standard length.  If you are a lady taller than 5’6″ you will need clubs longer than ladies standard length.  Club weights are primarily determined by the shaft that is in the club.  A steel shaft will weigh more than a graphite shaft and will make the club feel heavier.  Clubs sold in big box stores usually have the standard graphite or steel shaft that the manufacturer (Callaway, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Titleist) offers for their clubs.  Finally, shaft flex is a major factor in helping you hit the ball consistently and straighter.  Shaft flexes are usually designated with a single letter, i.e. L, A or M, R, S and X.  L is for ladies flex, A or M is for a amateur or mid men’s flex, R, S and X are for men’s Regular, Stiff and Extra Stiff.  A simple measure to determine which shaft flex you need is the speed with which you swing the golf club.  The faster you swing, generally speaking, the stiffer the shaft you need for accuracy and consistency.

What Clubs do I Need?

A traditional set of golf clubs consists of up to 14 clubs, including a putter.  By design, the clubs are used to hit the ball a specific distance.  How far you hit each club is determined by YOUR strength and launch characteristics.  The driver, or 1 wood, is the longest club in the bag.  The next ones are fairway woods, usually a 3 and/or 5 wood.  A new addition in the last ten years are hybrid clubs.  These are slightly smaller than a traditional fairway wood.  Irons come in length an loft combinations from a 3 iron to a Pitching Wedge.  Finally, wedges are used for shots out the sand bunkers and distances very close to the green.  These usually come in degrees from 47 to 64.  The higher the loft the higher the ball goes in the air.  A putter is used on the green to putt the ball into the hole.  When we build a starter set for our beginner golfers, we suggest just a few clubs to get started.  A typical set would be a 3 wood, 4 hybrid, 7 iron, 9 iron, Sand Wedge and a putter.  While these are only 6 clubs, this will allow you to get comfortable with clubs of different lengths and how far you hit each club.

Why Should I Get Fit?

We strongly encourage beginner golfers to get fit in order to eliminate equipment issues that can create swing flaws or cause you to make poor contact with the ball.  For example, if you are playing with clubs that are too long, you may hit the ball on the heel of the club face or in general make inconsistent contact.  If you are playing a club that is too short, you may hit on the toe of the club and your shots may go to the right (for a right-handed golfer).  Similar things can happen with clubs that are too heavy or too light.  Finally, shaft flex, in general, has a big affect on accuracy and launch height of the club.  If a shaft is too soft or flexible your direction will be inconsistent and you have the potential to hit behind the ball.  Too stiff of shaft will cause shots to fly low and short of target.

With a proper clubfitting, even if you get fit with just a few clubs, you will learn much faster and enjoy your experience.  If you have been playing golf for a year or less, now is the time to get fit!