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For beginners, the sheer variety of clubs can be as intimidating as a deep sand trap guarding the 18th hole. Understanding the essentials of golf equipment is about laying the foundation for new golfers' success on the course.

In this article, we’ll outline everything from clubhead design to tips for buying clubs and we’ll show everything a golfer needs to make a decision on their next set of clubs.

Understand the Basics

The Basic Components of a Golf Club

Golf clubs have undergone significant evolution since their beginnings as bent sticks used by early golf pioneers in 15th-century Scotland. 

While the basic components have remained consistent, modern clubs now feature advanced materials, refined designs, and improved performance over their original counterparts. Today, nearly all manufactured golf clubs consist of three main components:


This is where the ball is struck when hitting a clean shot. Different types of heads are designed according to the club's purpose, whether it's a driver for long distances or irons with higher lofts for different shots and shorter distances.  The bottom of the club head that interacts with the ground when you swing is called the ‘Sole’ of the club.


The long tube that connects the head to the grip, which can be made of steel or graphite.


The top part of the club where players hold it. It's essential for control and comfort during the swing.

Get the Right Type of Clubs For Better Shots

Different types of shots are more suited for specific types of clubheads. Depending on the distance requirements, trajectory, or finesse needed for specific shots around the course, golfers should choose the club that will help them be in a great place for their next shot, or ideally in the cup.

Distance Control

Drivers and woods are designed for maximum distance off the tee or fairway. Irons decrease in distance from long to short and then transition to wedges as their loft increases allowing for more controlled shots.

For example, a 4-iron has less loft than a 9-iron, so shots with a 4-iron should, on average, go farther than a 9-iron.


Woods have a larger, more rounded head that is meant to launch the ball higher in the air with less spin for the extra distance that helps the ball roll out when it lands. Irons have smaller faces with specific angles (lofts) to help get more spin on the ball and limit the amount of rollout after the shot lands. Wedges are meant to launch the ball high and get it to stop and stay near where it lands.

Lie and Terrain

Wedges with wide and heavy soles are designed to help golfers get a clean strike from the sand and rough. In contrast, Irons have thinner soles that are meant to strike the ball from the fairway. Hybrids have a big head and a further back center of gravity than irons which help when hitting shots from the rough.

Spin and Control

Irons with more loft (Short Irons) and wedges are meant to launch the ball high in the air and put a lot of spin on the ball in order to minimize rollout and get the ball to stop where it lands.


How many clubs should a beginner have?

While the maximum number of clubs that a golfer can carry is 14, it will be much easier to learn the game using a condensed set of the more commonly used clubs. While these are guidelines, not every golfer is the same, different golfers may find success using a set that’s made up of slightly different clubs. We recommend that most golfers should have at minimum the basics covered.

So, what clubs do beginner golfers need? We recommend the following:


This can serve as the golfer's main choice off the tee. While not 100% necessary, some golfers may find it easier to hit a long iron or fairway wood off the tee instead.

One Fairway Wood or Hybrid

Fairway Woods typically have a bigger clubhead designed to help get the ball in the air without a lot of spin. Choosing a hybrid in place of a wood can also work well as they combine the best features of irons and woods, making them easier to handle than traditional long irons, and adding confidence for those challenging long shots.

Four to Six Irons

The must-have irons are the two short irons, typically an 8 and 9 iron, and the two mid-irons, 6 and 7. These irons will offer the most balance between trajectory and stopping power.

The long irons (3, 4, and 5 irons) can be a bit harder to hit but are long enough to be used off the tee effectively if a golfer isn’t comfortable with hitting a Driver or fairway wood. Hybrid clubs offer a mix between woods and irons, are more forgiving than irons, and can often replace long irons in a golfer’s bag for easier use.

Game improvement irons also known as Cavity Backs help minimize off-center strikes with a larger ‘sweet spot’.


Two Wedges

While there are many wedge options, beginners should stick to a Pitching Wedge and a Sand Wedge. The lofts for these clubs can differ a bit from set to set but should allow golfers more precise shots approaching and around the green.

One Putter

The flat stick. One of, if not the most important clubs in the bag. Going for a putter that feels comfortable in the hands will help maintain consistency and accuracy on the greens.

Having at least these clubs in the bag will enable beginners to navigate from the tee shot to the final putt effectively as they improve their game.

Understand your shots with a golf app like 18Birdies

Beginner golfers can have a hard time understanding the distance that each of their clubs can be expected to fly through the air. This can make some shots a bit more frustrating when trying to figure out why your shot may have ended up short or even flew a bit too long. Using an app such as 18Birdies that will use True Distance Club Recommendations from Tracked Shots to plan which clubs to use from tee to green will make rounds significantly easier.

Track Shot

18Birdies' Track Shot will record the starting points and endpoints of shots and help analyze the performance of golf rounds. Premium subscribers are also able to track additional shot details such as ball flight, as well as contact on the club face. The 18Birdies Track Shot feature can help recreate that feeling of a great golf shot recorded right in the round history.

True Distance

True Distance will help 18Birdies Premium Subscribers remove environmental variables and outliers to recommend the best club for every situation. True Distance for each club is calculated using the average track shot distance, including the most recent 10 shots tracked using Track Shot and/or Strokes Gained, excluding the two longest and two shortest shots.

Assess Skill Level

Identifying a golfer's current skill level is the first step when choosing golf clubs. A complete beginner, an intermediate player, or an advanced golfer may require different types of clubs to suit their game.

 Cavity BackMuscle Back IronsBlade Irons
ForgivenessHighMed / LowLow
Ball ControlAverageAbove averageBest
Ball FlightHighMediumLow
Skill LevelBeginnerIntermediateAdvanced

Beginner-friendly clubs are designed to be more forgiving, giving some wiggle room for swings that aren’t picture-perfect. They often have larger clubfaces and shorter shafts, making it easier to get the ball in the air.


Set a Budget

When it comes to purchasing golf clubs, it's essential for players to establish a budget before shopping. While they don't need to splurge on top-tier clubs, investing in a good-quality set can significantly impact their performance on the course.

Players should remember that the value of golf clubs isn't solely determined by their price tag but also by their performance and fit to their game.

How To Choose the Right Shaft Flex and Material

Selecting the proper shaft for a new set of clubs is an important decision that can improve early experiences and foster a lasting love for the game. 

There are two main variables when choosing golf shafts, material and flex. Clubs with graphite shafts are lighter and can be a great choice for golfers with slower swing speeds, offering a helping hand in achieving greater distances. Shafts also vary in flexibility, with flex shafts accommodating different swing styles.

Swing SpeedRecommended Shaft Material in Irons
Slower than 85 mph with a driverGraphite
Faster than 85 mph with a driverSteel

Flex can depend on what type of swing each golfer has but a general rule of thumb is that the faster the swing, the stiffer the shaft should be.

Swing SpeedRecommended Shaft Flex
Faster than 105 mph with a driverExtra Stiff
97 - 104 with a driverStiff
84 - 96 mph with a driverRegular
72 - 83 mph With a driverSenior
Less than 72 mph with a driverLadies

Get Custom Fit

Getting a proper fit for clubs is one of the most essential factors that can determine how much fun a player will have on the course. Poor-fitting clubs can be discouraging, leading to bad habits or, worse, causing injury. A golf professional or a certified club fitter can provide expert advice tailored to each golfer's individual needs. 

Swing mechanics 

A professional club fitter can identify the best club types based on swing style. They will be able to analyze factors such as swing speed, tempo, and release point to determine the best club specifications for each golfer's unique swing.

While the tables above may work as a rule of thumb, there are a lot more variables when considering swing mechanics that a professional fitter will be able to take into account when helping a golfer select clubs.

Skill level

Different clubhead designs and equipment materials suit players differently. A professional club fitter will be able to guide each golfer towards the best clubs for their skill level to help them achieve their goals, while also considering their potential for improvement.

Physical attributes

Understanding physical attributes such as height, wrist-to-floor measurements, and swing mechanics is crucial for custom club fitting, as it greatly impacts a player's performance. Taller golfers with longer wrist-to-floor measurements may require longer clubs, while shorter golfers might benefit from shorter shafts.

Consulting with a knowledgeable fitter who understands these physical attributes is essential for personalized club recommendations that align with the player's unique physique and playing style. For beginners, prioritizing physical attributes in the club fitting process sets the foundation for improved technique, comfort, and overall enjoyment of the game.


Lie Angle and Shaft Length

When it comes to improving one's golf game, understanding lie angle and shaft length can have a significant impact. Lie angle influences how the club interacts with the ground upon impact, altering shot direction and frequency of successful hits. Similarly, shaft length plays a crucial role in swing mechanics and the distance achieved with each shot.

The table below from Stix’s Golf Blog shows that taller golfers with long wrist-to-floor measurements will need longer golf clubs to maintain proper contact during impact with their swing.

Club LengthHeightWrist-to-Floor Measurement
+1”6’4” - 6’8”40” - 41”
+0.5”6’1” - 6’4”37” - 40”
Standard5’7” - 6’1”34” - 37”
-0.5”5'4" - 5'7"29” - 34”
-1”5'0" - 5'3"27” - 29”

While the above chart is a good rule of thumb concerning height, things can be a bit more complicated when factoring in a lie angle.

To help golfers figure out lie angle and shaft length, Ping has a tool on their website that will let golfers plug in their wrist-to-floor measurements along with their height. Once the tool has this information, it will calculate the optimal lie angle as well as club length. For a quick version, golfers can measure their height and wrist to the floor in order to get the recommended fitting specifications.

image2.jpgCredit: ping.com

Try Before Buying

While trying out golf clubs, it’s important to keep an open mind and focus on clubs that instill confidence when looking at them and swinging them to improve the overall experience. Taking the time to thoroughly test different brands, and sets as well as seek advice on clubs can pave the way for more enjoyable and successful rounds to come.

Select the Right Golf Clubs

There's a multitude of golf club brands and models on the market. Researching different brands, reading reviews, and consulting with fellow golfers can provide insights into which clubs are reputable and align with each player's unique style.

For golfers weighing their options between purchasing a box set of clubs or assembling their own set, the decision can pose a considerable dilemma. While opting for a box set offers convenience and affordability upfront, assembling a custom set provides the opportunity for tailored specifications to match individual playing styles.

The 18Birdies app, the ultimate digital caddy, makes managing golf equipment a breeze. Whether looking to crush huge drives with the perfect shot or land precise approaches with irons and wedges, 18Birdies is here to guide golfers of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. 18Birdies helps ensure every club in the golf bag is there for a reason.


Get Started with New Clubs

Transitioning to new golf clubs can come with pitfalls, but awareness of common mistakes can help players navigate the adjustment period smoothly. Avoiding the temptation to immediately revert to old swing habits and instead focusing on adapting to the new equipment's specifications is crucial.

Additionally, resisting the urge to overcompensate for perceived shortcomings in the new clubs can prevent inconsistencies in the game. Staying patient, trusting the process, and embracing the learning curve will help players unlock the full potential of their new clubs.

For golfers struggling to hit consistently, also check out 18Birdies’ AI Coach Golf Swing Analyzer, which can give personalized feedback and recommend drills that can improve performance on the course

Stay tuned for our next article, where we'll dive deeper into the world of irons and their composition!

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