As a beginner your golf club set configuration is critical. Your golf game needs all the help you can get.
- You have a hard time making consistent contact with the ball. Contact on the heel and toe of the club is common as well as topped and fat shots (hitting the top of the ball or hitting the ground first). You just plain have a problem hitting the ball with the center of the clubface.
- Your swing speed is slow due to inexperience with proper swing mechanics (although you younger, athletic beginners may be the exception).
- For you women and juniors, clubhead speed is slow due to lack of strength. This causes difficulty getting the ball up in the air as well as lack of distance.
- As beginner you may also have trouble getting the clubhead back to the ball in a square position. Your clubhead generally approaches the ball from outside of the target line (out-to-in) and at a steep angle. That usually means your typical shot shape is a slice – a shot that curves right.
- You often feel that it’s difficult to get the ball up in the air. This can be due to your slow swing speed or just from poor contact.
- Beginners tend to want to help the ball up by scooping under the ball, so you frequently hit fat shots particularly with your irons. You haven’t learned that hitting down on the ball makes it go up. This is also caused by that out-to-in, steep swing path.
- In the sand you are clueless. You don’t understand yet that to get out of the sand you don’t hit the ball, you hit the sand and the ball rides out on the sand.
The Beginners Ideal Set
The ideal set for a beginner would be one that takes into account these swing issues. Maximum forgiveness is the goal.
- To help with inconsistent contact all clubs should be oversized. An oversized club has a larger hitting area so there will be fewer mishits.
- For irons, perimeter weighting will help make those mishits go a little straighter. Shots off the heel and toe will be more solid. A wide sole will slide through the turf easier and get the ball up higher. Slightly shorter clubs will make accurate club-ball contact a better possibility.
- To help with that out-to-in swing path, an offset clubhead will get the clubface back to the ball a little later. That means the clubface will be more square to the target and not open. This will also keep the hands a little bit in front of the clubhead which will help with those fat shots.
- For long shots from the fairway or rough a beginner wants to choose woods and hybrid clubs with the most loft possible and a low center of gravity. More loft means it will be easier to get the ball in the air and it should go a little farther. It will also create more backspin which will counteract the side spin of shots and keep them from curving as much. Shots should be a little bit straighter.
- A beginner’s driver should have a larger head (over 430cc) to increase the size of the hitting area. Additional loft (12-14 degrees) will get the ball in the air and maximize distance. Added loft once again will increase backspin and make those left to right curves less pronounced.
- Putting is something that, with practice, could be better. It doesn’t take great athletic ability to be a decent putter. It’s still hard for a beginner to judge distances so 3 putts are still common. Alignment is an issue because you haven’t learned that you want to keep your head directly over the ball. Contact can still be inconsistent.
Beginner Set Configuration
To begin with, a beginner does not need as many clubs. You are allowed 14 clubs but a beginner needs no more than 10-12 clubs. Why make the game more confusing? A new golfer will find that they hit many of their longer clubs the same distance (especially women and seniors). Only when they get down to their 7-PW will they begin to hit clubs different distances.
Super Game Improvement irons are the choice for maximum forgiveness. SGI clubs will offer maximum perimeter weighting, larger offset, a wide sole, and low center of gravity. Club choice can be 6-pitching wedge or 6-sand wedge. The sand wedge selection should offer extra “bounce.” Bounce is the feature on the sole of the club that helps it easily glide through sand or rough.
The first clubs to leave out are the long irons (3, 4). Your iron set should start with the 5 or 6 iron and go up to the sand wedge (SW). For longer shots use lofted woods (5, 7, 9) and hybrid clubs (3, 4, 5). You may find you still hit them all about the same distance, so if you can experiment, test them all to see which ones feel the best. Leave the ones that you don’t hit well in the bag or at home.
The right set also depends on swing speed. Swing speeds between, 65-80 mph (women, juniors and some seniors) will need more woods and hybrid clubs and generally more loft to help get the ball up in the air. Average male swing speeds of 80-90 mph can begin to add a few more irons (5-6) but you still want to use hybrids and lofted woods instead of long irons. Woods are always easier to hit for beginners. Their larger heads and flat soles compared to irons create more confidence. Slightly shortened versions of 3, 5, and 7 woods (-.5″) are highly recommended for all beginners regardless of swing speed.
The driver should have a 440-460 cc titanium head. The new large headed drivers are easier to hit even though still the longest club in the bag. Make sure you have extra loft to increase accuracy and distance. If you find you still have problems hitting it accurately, try choking up an inch or so.
For a putter, you want one of the new large headed mallet putters. These new putters have greater MOI (they don’t twist on mishits) and their alignment aids make short putts much easier.
Set configuration – Woods (1, 5, 7), Hybrids (4, 5), Irons (Super Game Improvement) (6-SW), Putter (Mallet)
How swing speed effects set configuration and fitting requirements
|Driver Carry Distance||Swing Speed||Shaft Flex||Iron Head Type||Shaft Type||Iron Set||Driver Loft||Wood Set||Hybrid Set|
|200-225||95-100||F||GI||G & S*||5-SW||11-12||1,3,5,7||3,4|
|225-250||100-110||S||GI||G & S*||4-LW||10-11||1,3,5||2,3|
|250-275||110-125||S||GI, P||G & S*||4-LW||9-11||1,3,5||2,3|
|275+||125+||X||P||G & S*||3-LW||8-10||1,3||2|
|* graphite in woods, steel in irons||LW=lob wedge|
L-ladies, A-amatuer, R-regular, F-firm, S-stiff, X-extra stiff
SGI-Super Game Improvement