Know what to look for when shopping for your next set of clubs

Buying new golf equipment can feel like a big job. It often requires a pretty substantial financial investment, and it can have a major impact on your game. Fortunately, 18Birdies is here to help with a breakdown of what to look for next time you’re in the market.

For former LPGA tour player Kris Tschetter there’s one surefire way to guarantee that you’re getting the clubs that are right for you: Go to a club fitter.

“People don’t realize what a difference it can make,” she said.

An experienced club fitter will be able to tell a lot from your swing, and will ultimately help improve your overall level of play. His or her goal will be to match you with clubs that help you hit the ball better while still allowing some room for improvement in your swing.

When it comes to matching a golfer with the right clubs, the main things to focus on are shaft flexibility, length, lie angle and grip size.

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In general, lady’s shafts are more flexible than those labeled for men or seniors, but the degree of flexibility can vary from model to model. Flexible shafts are nice because they tend to make shots feel more solid, even if they don’t have a ton of power behind them. If you’re a right-handed golfer and your tee shots veer to the left, however, it may be a sign that you need a stiffer shaft.

Shaft height can also have a major impact on the way you’re hitting the ball. Longer shafts can give you more distance, but shorter shafts help improve accuracy. The average American woman is about 5-foot-4, which means that she should be playing with a driver that’s around 38 inches.

In addition to checking that your clubs have the right height and shaft flexibility, club fitters will also take a look at the lie angles of your clubs. Most clubs are manufactured with a standard lie angle, but club heads can be bent to create either flatter or more upright angles. Having a lie angle that fits your swing can lead to more accurate shots, particularly when it comes to your irons.

The final big thing to consider when it comes to investing in new equipment is your grip size. Many people still choose their grip size based on the size of their hands or simply on what “feels” right to them. If you visit a club fitter, however, why not take the opportunity to experiment with different grip sizes? Ask your fitter if you can try the same club with a few different grip sizes. The launch monitor will be able to tell you fairly definitively which one is right for you.

Now that we’ve covered some of the variations you may encounter from club to club, it’s important that you know when it’s time to visit your club fitter or head to the driving range for a demo day. A good rule of thumb is that you should get fitted every time your handicap drops five to eight strokes, or whenever you feel inconsistencies between how you’re hitting the ball and where it’s ending up. PGA Professional Brett Porath suggests getting fitted at least once a year.

Though a lot more time and effort goes into selecting a set of clubs than a box of balls (and with good reason), Porath also emphasizes the importance of finding the ball that works best for your game. Rather than focusing on how a ball comes off the tee, he suggests starting on the green.

“Find the model that has the feel you want while putting and allows you to hit pitches and wedge shots with the feel and ball flight you prefer,” he said. Once you’ve found the right ball, Porath recommends taking a few along to the club fitter on your next trip.

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